Sensual Self-Examination of the Digital Photographer Natacha Merritt
The American photographer, artist and biologist Natacha Merritt (born 1977) grew up in San Francisco during the 1980s, She had a liberal upbringing, where there were no taboos..
Thanks to a bilingual education in French and English, she enjoyed the complex privileges of dual citizenship. The family moved within San Francisco almost yearly for most of her childhood. She hated the big houses, and always eagerly waited for summer, when her mom, grandma and she would share a bed and a small sweaty apartment in the south of France.
In an interview with Dian Hanson in the book The New Erotic Photography she tells, 'Dominic, my French gay nanny, helped raise me 'til I was 13. His idea of giving me a bath was to get in with me to scrub. Looking back I realize how important it was for me to have 'come to age' in such a safe, sheltered, almost surreal environment where I was allowed to be as sexy as I wanted to be without ever having to worry about the men in the house being aroused.
Pictures of Their Sex Life
Merritt shot her first erotic photograph in 1997. When her boy-friend at the time (she was 18 or 19) gave her one of his digital cameras she instantly began taking pictures of their sex life. At the time, the technology was so new that the frames were a low resolution 340 by 480 (the size of most thumbnails today!!). No flash or memory cards and after 20 shots you had to stop and download them onto a floppy drive, while she didn't have a computer.
Cock In Her Mouth
But despite these limitations, she was instantly addicted to this format. And the camera, in turn, made her sex life more interesting: those few captured pixels amplified the sensations. Nowadays she's probably best known for her self-portraits at arm's length with a cock in her mouth (see Premium).
Merritt considers her photography to be successful erotica when she shoots an image that has the power to get her aroused. She is making this erotica first and foremost for herself. Discovering facets, angles or moments that she hadn't been able to appreciate before arouses her.
In the same interview, she explains, 'Pornography is the stuff that's created by people who wish they were doing something else. It's the stuff that no one would do if they had "made it" in whatever career they dreamed of: The model wants to be an actress, the director dreams of making legitimate films, even the viewer wishes he had the real thing. I do not think pornography is intrinsically less noble, or "bad," though. On the contrary, I think it ages very well.
Cirque du Soleil
She continues, 'Shooting a roll of film has been lingering at the top of my to-do list since I met Eric Kroll (in 1998). I shot one roll with a disposable underwater camera three years ago and haven't developed it yet. The first six years of my creative development I was avidly at the forefront of technology. My skills developed roughly at the same pace as consumer-end digital cameras. My relationship climaxed with digital during my work for Cirque du Soleil. For the first time I needed 11 million pixels. I was projecting erotic visuals 40 feet high on Plexiglas. Today I switch between high-end and low-end digital.
The following text and images (Fig.10 to 14) come from Merritt's earlier mentioned book Digital Diaries (Highly recommended) and includes the following intimate passage from her diary:
Cannes, France, 07-25-93
(I was 15 years old. About the sexual encounter I had with my boyfriend at the time. This relationship was from 14 to 16, the first man I loved. I had never taken a photo before that. He is a fashion designer, I still wanted to be a lawyer.)
I was just lying there pretending that it wasn't affecting me. Maybe because this excited me more, to pretend he shouldn't be aware.
He slowly ran his finger up and down my outer lips. His touch was repetitive: slow, languid caresses. He lay next to me half asleep, having come twice. He was paying very little attention to his hand movements and I lay motionless, with an invisible growth of energy mounting around my pelvis and in my thighs.
My clitoris was being slightly stroked by my little lips. Suddenly the fear of him stopping and falling asleep ran like pleasure down my body.
This drew the excitement up even further. The wetness rose slowly out of me and onto his fingertips. They slipped into me, then up out of my vagina between my lips, gently his nail glided over my clitoris, I came underneath caress.
I glued my hips to the bed as this sensation rose in waves of pleasure. I was holding it back, making it last longer. At the peak of my orgasm he rolled on top of me and shoved himself inside me. My legs were crushed up against my breasts.
He pushed in deeper than ever. Violent cramps of pleasure exploded in my stomach. I squeezed him as hard as I could, and the pleasure persisted until he pulled out and came all over my thighs. (from Digital Diaries)
A video on a recent Kickstarter project by Merritt in which she wants to record the sex life of spiders...
In the extended Premium version you can discover more about Merritt's fascinating erotic photography book Digital Diaries, interesting observations on the similarities between Jeff Koons' sexual self-portraits and hers, more on her powerful "Footkiss" photograph and many more explicit examples of her lustful self-examination.
Click HERE for the drags, drugs, and sexual dramas of the photographer Nan Goldin
Sources: The New Erotic Photography by Dian Hanson, wikipedia.org
Let us know your thoughts on Merritt's digital sensual fantasies in the comment box below...!!