Photo by Petra Collins
The Ardorous is a collective of talented female photographers from all over the world. Their website, curated by Petra Collins, is an ever-expanding collection of cute stuff, babes, and summer fun. For this year’s Photo Issue, we asked the collective to interpret that infatuated puppy love swoon-inducing feeling girls get when they see a dreamboat slouching at his desk in the back of homeroom.
They were kind enough to discuss the stories behind their pictures and a few of their first crushes.
Photo by Petra Collins
VICE: Hi, Petra. Tell me a bit about the Ardorous collective. How’d it get started?
Petra Collins: I started it because I wanted to create a platform that showcased talented new female artists. The website was the first step for all of us to get our work out into the world and to collaborate and grow.
And how did you decide which photographers to invite to join?
I looked at so much stuff online before picking the one’s that jumped out at me. There's a mix of fashion, commercial, and fine art amongst the artists in the group, but hopefully the collective exposure helps everyone find more of what they're looking for—commissions, grants, gallerists, collectors, fans. We’re having our first group show on August 3rd at the Gladstone Gallery.
What’s the idea behind the “crushes” theme in the collective’s submission to this issue?
I wanted a feminine theme, but I also wanted it to deal with a coming of age experience. Crushes are an important thing that happens when a girl is growing into her sexuality. And since I wanted a variety of work and interpretations, there weren't many guidelines.
Innocence is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about crushes, but your shoot wasn’t innocent at all. Is there a reason you chose to focus on the more sultry side of crushes?
I wanted to show the dreamy/erotic side of a crush. A crush can be someone you fantasize about but never get to actually talk to or touch, like someone you masturbate to. I wanted to give a voyeuristic look into that.
Photo by Dana Boulos
VICE: Hey, Dana. Were you trying to convey anything in particular with your submission?
Dana Boulos: I wanted the photographs to feel as though the models, Niko and Meg, were trapped in their own colorful, crazy world and no one could stop them from doing what they wanted. Like a psychedelic Blue Lagoon type of fantasy, but in the forest.
Do you remember anything about your first crush?
I think I was in the 4th grade, and I remember there was this young Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike that I had a massive crush on.
Every girl has a Leo phase…
Yeah, I would always plan to talk to him, whether it was stalking him on the playground or "accidentally" dropping my bag right in front of him. I never had a shrine or anything like that, but I remember always having a plan A, B, and C on ways to get him to talk to me.
Photo by Dasha Nedykhalova
VICE: What was your first impulse when Petra gave you guys the “crushes" theme for this photo issue, Dasha?
Dasha Nedykhalova: I started thinking about people I knew who would look like cool teenagers in love, because the crush is all about youth. I thought a lot about what a girl who is in love would do—she'd stay in her bedroom looking at his photos, check him out, follow him around, copy his clothing… I wanted it to be natural and chill, so I explained my ideas to these two models I know, Anna and Frey.
I noticed they are rarely in a photo together. Was that purposeful?
Yeah, sure. Obsession is a very intimate subject and it’s so hard to face or talk to your crush. I wanted to show a crush through observations of both of them, like things that kids would do, stare at photos all day or follow each other around.
Photo by Kristie Muller
VICE: Hello, Kristie. Did you enjoy working on this project?
Kristie Muller: When I heard it was crushes I was actually pretty turned off. I really don't like working with themes. The word “crush” made me think of a young infatuated girl, lollipops, and skipping ropes. I considered pulling out of the whole thing. I sat around for a few nights trying to think of a loophole. Eventually it dawned on me to do a celebrity crush and I knew immediately who I'd be shooting.
Who's the model in the shoot? Did you have to sort of guide her and tell her how to pose or did she get right into it? I like that she is practically making out with the poster.
The girl in the poster is a good friend of mine named Dana Wright. We'd seen each other around Toronto, but really got to know each other while I was living in New York and she was working in Korea. I would be awake all night and we'd talk about everything. That's when we discovered that we both share a weird obsession for Eminem.
Why'd you pick Eminem as the crush? Why not 50 cent or George Clooney or any other famous guy?
I used Eminem because it is a sincere, actual crush that I knew of. I remembered Dana saying things like, "I masturbate to his music," so I knew it would work. This perspective of a crush is more my style. Even though the shoot was set up, all of the meaning behind each image is real and Dana didn't need that much guidance. I had a few things that I wanted to try and she was really into it and brought a lot to the table. We just drank beer and listened to Eminem.
Do you remember your first crush?
I think I was three or four years old when I had my first crush. At the time, my dad was working for a door hardware company and for whatever reason I became infatuated with his boss. He had a graying beard. I remember being really drawn to how the hair in it looked like silver. He always had on a different pastel polo shirt and was really tan. What the hell. This clearly wasn't a physical or even romantic type of crush, but it was a pretty severe obsession that I still don't totally understand. In hindsight I think it was the colors that drew me in…
Photo by Monika Mogi
VICE: Monika, what feeling or story were you trying to convey in your photos? Was it supposed to be reality or more of a dream scenario?
Monika Mogi: There is a longing in some of them. The boy and girl are focused on something, like writing a letter or reading when they’re not with each other. People who are in love are often more sensitive to everything, and when they aren't with their lover they're apt to prefer being alone to focus on a mental construction of their lover. The photos convey a story that revolves around a summer spent doing things that immediately become nostalgic.
Where did you shoot it?
Petra assigned the project right before I was leaving for a trip to Croatia with my boyfriend, Brian. We packed up a suitcase full of cameras, rolls of film, and a little clothing. I thought the crush idea was really cute and fun! Since we had never been to Croatia before and I didn't know anyone who I could use as a model, we decided to shoot ourselves and capture the romance between us. We camped for a few days on an island called Brač.
I like the photo of the girl in the underwear that says "boy of my dreams." That's the exact kind of slightly odd and obsessive thing girls do when they're infatuated with someone. It reminds me of that scene in The Virgin Suicides where Lux drew Trip's name on her underwear.
Yes! I love that scene so much. It's all very horny teenage girl hormones. Like my panties are calling for you…
Photo by Tania Oldyork
All clothes in Tania’s shoot were designed by Anna Oktober and styled by Dasha Lagenberg.
VICE: Hi, Tania. Your photos are a little more abstract compared to the rest of the girls’ submissions. What came to mind when you started shooting for this project?
Tania Oldyork: You may think we’re stupid, but my boyfriend and I misinterpreted the context of the shoot. We thought crush meant destroy, so our first ideas were more brutal. After we finally got what Petra meant, we decided it still had to be in our style, which is not sweet at all. We didn’t want to make it feel like an everyday life. Crushes are different for all people, and moreover for all the freaks. We don’t like acting, especially in all this love stuff. It took one night to think everything over and shoot something ridiculous when nobody was watching.
So these images are of you and your boyfriend? How was it collaborating with him?
Actually, we never shoot separately as there is no Tania or Roman. There is only Synchrodogs, the name we shoot under. It’s both of us. We’re always together.
And what about you—do you remember your first crush or an embarrassing situation that stemmed from having a crush?
Yes. There was a boy whose name I can’t remember, but let’s call him “A.” Our two families were going to have a rest in a forest. And in the end my mother asks me which car I want to sit in to go home and, of course, I reply, “In the car where A will sit.” That’s the day my mother, for the first time, explained to me that I was a very stupid child.