That picture of me in my underwear on top of a guitar amp? You know the one on the YAPIT logo? Yeah, Ellen Stagg took that. She also took the ones of me in blue protector light smoking a cigar, and the ones of me lounging on a leather couch in a blazer. She’s also taken classic pictures of porn stars, burlesque dancers, pro-dommes, and hundreds of other professionally naked babes. In this episode, Ellen and I compared notes as photographer and model about the stories people project onto nude portraits, the distinction between objectification and exploitation, and the infamous creepy Model Mayhem GWCS (Guys With Cameras).
Ellen Stagg describes her work simply and directly. “I photograph women of all levels of dress and undressed,” she says when asked about the dichotomy between her erotic images, upscale fashion portraits and advertising layouts. “I love empowering women, celebrating and collaborating with them through my photography.” She has a BFA in Photography from the prestigious School of Visual Arts.The turning point in her career came in 2005 when she met porn star and actress Justine Joli. Joli was searching for a photographer to create additional content for her website. Through Joli, she met other women from the adult industry and continued to explore more erotic subject matter, but she ran into difficulty while looking for places where she could showcase her work. Deemed too “porn” for her commercial work and too “artsy” for porn sites, she opted to start her own website, Staggstreet.com. It brought her far more notoriety than she had ever achieved with her commercial photography and opened doors for television work and art exhibits.