How Cindy Sherman led me to start a fashion blog

Photography is a huge component of blogging, especially blogging that involves commenting on some sort of aesthetic, like fashion.

Of course writing is important too, but I think less so than when blogging was in its infancy, way, waaay back when Lady Melbourne was born, in 2007.

After all, nine years is an eternity when it comes to anything associated with the Internet; nine years ago ideas best expressed via words now engage more efficiently if done visually. This visual aesthetic will change too, which is why today’s eight-year-olds are enthralled with virtual reality headsets and can be seen routinely wandering about waving their hands in front of them, swatting away virtual foes. Photography, if the habits of eight-year-olds count for anything, will soon be replaced by direct interaction with a virtual environment – Yikes!

But let’s leave the future configuration of the internet for another day, shall we?

Before starting Lady Melbourne, seeing Cindy Sherman’s ‘Film Stills’ helped bring my girl-about-town blogging alter ego to life; her self-composed black and white self-portraits causing me to ponder why depictions of women in contemporary life are often times not made by women.

By photographing herself made-up to resemble staple heroines of the screen, she jettisoned a male auteur and instead catapulted her own sultry posing to stardom; she became the auteur and the star. Which is kinda like fashion blogging, if you’ll allow me to stretch my bow somewhat; her photography made me think realistically about self-publishing.

Film Still 15, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 15, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 4, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 4, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 2, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 2, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Now, there is undoubtedly a dark undertone to ‘Film Stills’ – not as much as in her other work, but it’s there. For the sake of commenting on how her photographs provided inspiration for Lady Melbourne, though, I’ll defer from going too deep into the wider machinations of Cindy Sherman’s work. Her art is a domain for tackling dark themes, whereas my blogging about fashion isn’t – aside from the odd comment about Kanye’s fashion label or the rise of active wear, so I’ll leave anything too deep to discussion in the comments, should you wish to kick anything off.

From a purely technical perspective, seeing Sherman’s use of an extension cord to fire her shutter, which is often deliberately conspicuous in her portraits, encouraged me to become both photographer and blogger.

She doesn’t try to be beautiful or in any way impressive in her self-portraits and by doing so, does away with any baggage of validation or other social stigmas associated with being photographed, especially as a woman. She takes them herself, in private, and then invites people to view them, never relinquishing control of the subtext, power or intended message that occurs when being a muse or model directed by someone else.

This was quite a revelation for me, and soon after I got myself a tripod and a remote shutter extension lead and began Lady Melbourne by producing portraits of myself in my favourite outfits. It’s a technique I still use today.

major retrospective of Cindy Sherman’s photography is on at Brisbane’s GOMA right now. Trust me, if you’re a blogger, photographer or someone who loves taking selfies, go along and be amazed at her prescience.

Film Still 17, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 17, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 58, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 58, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 3, 1977, Cindy Sherman

Film Still 3, 1977, Cindy Sherman