Linda Ruan: Sexy Yet Subdued


Photography and Text by Linda Ruan, Copyright 2017




In this series of photographs, I aim to construct a scene that is sexy yet subdued. The product I am featuring is one of Coco Chanel’s fragrances: Coco Noir. Instead of centering all my images around the actual spray bottle, I cut out its label and paste it on either the corner or the center of each of my photographs.

Since the assignment is about erotica and I find photographing others might be awkward, I then use a tripod and hand hold my camera to shoot me and my lover. I set the ISO to 1600 because we are shooting inside where the light is low and I do now want blurry images. I specifically choose to shoot at night because I want to photograph some body movements in silhouettes.  My inspiration for shooting silhouettes is that one night I was staying up late and did not close my curtains. The warm outside light against the dark grey sky impressed me. Romantic and still are the only words that I could think of to describe that scene. So, I decided to photograph that moment for this assignment.

To me, erotic imagery is about desires. It does not have to be explicit sex, although majority of the mainstream media outlets capture it. I was especially shocked by the explicit nude male body when I saw Samuel de Cubber for Yves Saint Laurent’s fragrance M7 ad campaign (2002). Using overt sex to sell products might be too much and not that acceptable for viewers or buyers. Yet, it is undeniable that they might attract more attentions because viewers are then taking up the voyeuristic role of the erotic subjects.

I was originally thinking about capturing body movements all in silhouette, however, I found it extremely difficult to do because tripod made the timing, posing as well as focusing harder. It then turns out only two images that against the curtains are in good quality. I then decided to hand hold my camera, yet later I also found it hard to do because the distance is too close and sometimes I could not focus and release the button, though luckily, I got some good photos. I edited all my photos in a warm orange tone because I wanted to recreate the mood that I was feeling and thinking of the other night. Overall, this series of photographs is about the desire for love through intimate touch and allusive sex that are invoked by Coco Chanel’s Le Noir fragrance.


About The Author: Linda Ruan is a sophomore with Painting and Art History concentration at Bryn Mawr College.  To access additional articles by Linda Ruan, go here



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