Naked Fashion Girls Hardcover – 9 Apr 2015
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About the Author
Mike Dowson, born and raised in Manchester / Great Britain, left home at sixteen and moved to Paris. He made snap shots there of everything that he saw and got to know many different photographers. Photography enabled Dowson to travel, to work for Vogue, Elle and Playboy, to become acquainted with pretty women and to also make a decent living in the process.
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Reactions from the guys visiting my home are predictable. It's the reaction from girls and the subsequent hours of conversation that I enjoy the most. Here are a few of the topics that frequently come up.
1.) A culture of insecurity and external validation seeking masked as narcissism. In nearly every city in the world today you see people taking selfies. After primping and prepping they snap countless shots from numerous angles only to be topped with even more numerous filters and effects. Finally the photo is posted to social media and the wait for the dopamine drip of validation begins. Predictably these selfie snappers want to present a glamorous and interesting picture of themselves to a world of followers they do not know and will never meet.
Mr. Dowson's work is nothing like this. Flattering or unflattering…it doesn't matter. These photos would generally be considered as snapshots. Most importantly they are interesting. When you see the girls you're instantly drawn to their appearance, but quickly your mind wanders to trying to decipher what the heck was going on leading up to, during, and after each photo was taken.
Are these really fashion models? Are they strippers and prostitutes? Are they just "normal" girls from the street? More importantly Dowson, via this thought-provoking book and his excellent blog, ask the viewer if it even matters. They are just people. Young women without pretense and labels.
Are the Moscow stripper or Siberian village fashion model hopeful any different than the young woman globally represented by the pretentious model agency? Does culture even play into the equation or is photography today more about unconsciously revealing human nature as a whole?
Most all of the girls visiting my home are quick to point out that this book is pornography. I disagree. More importantly, who cares? I do, and a lot of the men I know do to, but for an entirely different reason. We're tired of seeing mass produced personal PR photos designed to sell a lifestyle which the subject typically doesn't even live, and which most men know isn't even as desirable as it appears. Which leads to…
2.) Who views this kind of work? Working in this industry I know with certainty that most girls, unsurprisingly, only want photos that present them in a flattering light. In Eastern Europe, where I live and spend most of my time, it's still more patriarchal. These girls that visit my home often say they wouldn't want to, "Ruin their chances to find a valuable guy. A guy with money and education." A quick look at Amazon owned Alexa's rankings show Dowson's blog trends very heavily towards men with the highest levels of education viewing the site from home and work, while the numerous carbon-copy photo bloggers we see trend to high school and college students viewing from school. Counter to what most of the girls think, Dowson's work appeals to the educated man with a (likely high-paying) job, while the mainstream work sells dreams to kids. I've yet to hear a good response from any girls when I present this information.
3.) Mr. Dowson's beliefs. In addition to this book I couldn't recommend Mr. Dowson's blog enough. Not just for the photography, but for the quotes, thoughts, and a look into Mr. Dowson's lifestyle. The Trans-Siberian railway adventure serving as an interesting story, and his thoughts, including his passion for animals, allowing us a look inside the mind of a man who spends so many days in a position many men likely wish they could. No spoilers…I'll let you give it a look for yourself.
4.) Mr. Dowson's first book. As a collectible, this book should only increase in value over time.
Bottom line: This book definitely shines simply as a photo book, but it surpasses that in so many ways. Why would I preorder a book all way back in May, pay to have it shipped all the way to Eastern Europe, and then wait nearly five months to leave a review? Quite simply, because Mike Dowson's work is worth it and the conversations it has produced and continues to produce are priceless. Conversations with my guests, but equally important are the conversations Mr. Dowson work provokes the reader to have with themselves.