Lip Streaks explores the way the combination of makeup and photography techniques can transform a model’s appearance. Melvin Sokolsky explains how the image was created.
Sokolsky says “Experimenting with the phosphor powders used in the production of television picture tubes, and the effect that black light florescent tubes had on these phosphor powders led to the concept of ‘Lip Streaks –1967.’
The black light sensitive television picture tube phosphor powders were mixed into a neutral lipstick and eye make-up base and then applied to Donna Mitchell’s lips and eyes.
This lead to a disparity in exposure sensitivity between her face and the makeup when lit by florescent black light tubes
It was that disparity in face/phosphor sensitivity that allowed for long exposures during which Donna moved her face from profile to looking directly into camera.
Within a 1/2 second exposure the streaks were fully exposed for a fraction of the time it took for her face to move from profile to rest; thus the face blur is not revealed.
It was this observation that marks a time in history in which technology lead to new imagery never before possible.”
Jodi Cobb’s photo of a maiko, or apprentice geisha, in Kyoto, Japan shows the geisha’s distinctive mask of makeup.
Although the geisha are often considered the face of Japan, their numbers are dwindling. There are only 700 true geisha left today, down from 800,000 a century ago.
At the start of her career, a maiko wears the heavy white makeup all the time.
Once she becomes a geisha, she continues to wear the heavy make-up until she has been in service as a geisha for three years.
She then switches to wearing less elaborate kimonos and simple makeup and starts to wear her hair pulled back in a simple bun.
This is because her “beauty” now comes from her maturity and "gei" or art rather than her appearance. But for formal occasions and dances, she will wear a katsura or wig and the makeup.
Jodi Cobb was the first photographer allowed unprecedented access to the geisha world for the book Geisha: the Lives, the Voices, the Art. “I think I was allowed into their world because I was a westerner and not Japanese, and some of these women…wanted the world to know their story.
I was really trying to be fair to the women…. I was...interpreting their lives to a world that really didn't know anything about them and their art. I ended up spending six months with geisha over a three year period. The real joy of photography for me is in the actual taking of the photograph.
It’s that zen state—completely focused on that one thing, that moment. I want my photographs to either be beautiful or meaningful—and hopefully both. Photographing the geishas was a combination of both.”