Courtesy of Pinque Clark
When Pinque Clark was a girl growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, her parents gave her a Brownie camera. She quickly discovered her love of photography. As she recounted in a recent one-on-one interview, “It was almost instant gratification even though back then it was film. But you could see what you were taking pictures of and I was always fascinated by that.”
Still she never intended to make it her career. While in college in Fayetteville, Arkansas, she started working for framed photographer Andrew Kilgore. Although she had never taken a photography class, he hired her and started teaching her his craft.
As Clark recalled, “I had a Pentax 35-mm camera that I carried everywhere with me and I really wasn’t very good at it. But he hired me and I worked with him. He taught me the ropes of black and white photography…. It was his influence that really taught me about photography and what is required a good photograph.”
Though she’d studied art all of her life, it was Kilgore who taught Clark her most valuable lesson. “I was familiar with light and dark but I didn’t know how to get it on film. Andrew taught me how to do that and told me it was essential. And this is something I tell people today – to have absolute black and absolute white in a photograph because without that there’s no true dimension.”
It’s a principal that Clark carries over into her latest collection. Working in Colorado, where she moved in 1980, Clark started shooting boudoir photos for a couple of newlyweds who wanted one year anniversary photos for their husbands. To commemorate the date with traditional paper gifts, Clark took boudoir photos of both and made them each a book for their beloveds.
The series has since expanded to include women and men, straight and gay. A twist on what is conventionally thought of as the female dominated boudoir genre.
The through line in all of Clark’s images is a strand of white pearls. What initially started as a prop to help uncomfortable models relax, the simple strands have become a key to the self-expression in each shot.
“When I decided to use boudoir as my subject matter for my new show, I just considered the pearls as one of the props,” explained Clark. “So I told people to just wear things or bring things they would not wear on the street. And I said bring your own interpretation of sensuality and whatever you want to convey.”
As she pushes her models to go beyond their comfort zones to express themselves, Clark has also tested herself with the boudoir series. “I love to take portraits and I’ve photographed lesbians and I’ve photographed gay men and I’ve photographed children and teachers and lawyers and doctors and students and dogs. But the whole thing just creates a challenge.”
This included adding men to her collection. “I chose men because they were willing to do it,” remarked Clark. “I didn’t want to limit myself. I don’t think that I can grow as a person or as a photographer if I limit myself to just photographing women, just straight, white, women. I think the intrigue of all different sensualities is what makes the show come alive.”
Clark’s boudoir series is currently on display at Decadent Saint in Boulder, Colorado. To learn more about Pinque and her photography visit her official website.