Intimate Moments ~ Frank Yamrus and Emily Heller

I am heading to San Francisco next week and in thinking about the visit, I thought I would share some compelling photography by a few San Francisco photographers. Years ago I met Frank Yamrus at Fotofest and saw his work, Rapture. It has stayed with me for years, as has Emily Heller's portraits. Rarely do we see ourselves so intimately and clearly. Our biology is inescapable.

untitled (Paul), 1999

In Frank's words...

"Foremost, I see this work to be about rapture. These portraits were taken over a four month period from October 99 through January 00. I was interested in exploring intimate and honest moments of "rapture" that we usually do not have the opportunity to witness outside of personal experiences, let alone contemplate in a still photograph.

In this project I have stripped the subject and the viewer of all context and environment to examine these very moments. As a point of departure, I have asked my subjects to masturbate to orgasm(s). Much of this project was about trust and comfort level; therefore the images were shot in my home. Each subject was photographed from the initial moment of stimulation through 8-10 minutes after orgasm(s). The first 20-30 images were about establishing a deeper comfort level, another level of trust. In order to examine this state of "rapture" the subject needed to let go. In many of the images, the subject appears to have reached this level while other images represent the struggle of this process and reflective of certain truths. The editing process brought me to these images before you.

The window of time represented in this collection of images is approximately 5 minutes before orgasm to approximately 5 minutes after orgasm. There are a few images that are the actual moment of climax, but the work is not specifically about orgasm, but about rapture. Although the physiology of the physical crisis is unavoidable, I am more interested in the psychology of this time frame. These photographs represent a blending of the psychology and physiology surrounding this event."

untitled (Greg), 1999

untitled (Del), 2000


untitled(Jeffery), 1999

untitled(Astrid), 1999

In her Portrait series, Emily Heller states, "Food is a pleasurable, important, and joyful part of everyday life but it also has a dark side. It is the ultimate symbol of our overconsumptive culture as we literally feed our bodies with our search for identity, status, and a sense of belonging." One feels the discomfort of a voyeur when viewing the images, experiencing unavoidable tension between the natural and the strange.