Stacey Baker's Citilegs Project
Stacey Baker, Associate Photo Editor at The New York Times Magazine has turned her Instagram account into a mini art project. She began in March and has already amassed over 20,000 followers. We asked her a few questions about her work.
Tell us about your project?
It probably sounds strange, but I photograph women's legs on the streets of New York. I do it as I walk to and from work most days, during lunch in the area where I work at The New York Times and on the weekends. I always approach the women and ask for permission. If they're game, I take their pictures on the street or sidewalk with my iphone and upload many of the pictures to my Instagram account and to my tumblr, citilegs.com.
I think that the most successful images are kind of portraits of the women. The way they choose to stand and what they're wearing reflect something of their personalities.
Where did the idea come from?
I didn't really set out to do a project on women's legs. I took my first picture in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria in March. I like the cut of a woman's coat and thought it would make a nice picture. I approached the her and asked if she would let me photograph her. I photographed another woman in London and a couple of more in Central Park--always with permission. In all of these instances, I think I was drawn to what they were wearing or the shape of their legs or their stance. It was Patrick Witty's "Out Cold" series on Instagram--pictures of people asleep on the subway (patrickwitty). That got me thinking about doing a whole series on women's legs. It's taken off from there.
What has it been like approaching people on the street and asking to photograph their legs?
It's been fun. Most of the women I approach are receptive and even flattered. Quite a few have told me I made their day, which is really nice to hear. When I stop someone, I explain the project, show them other pictures I've taken, offer to delete any images they don't like and to email them a picture or two. I think the fact that their faces aren't shown makes them more open to being photographed.
Any surprising experiences?
I can't think of surprising experiences with any of the subjects. What has been surprising is the reaction to the pictures. A few weeks ago, Instagram published a post about the images, and now I have over 19,000 followers and a lot more comments, which have been fascinating to read. Mostly people remark about what the women are wearing, weighing in on whether they like the shoes, pants, etc., or asking the subject (who is often tagged with permission) where they purchased something. There have been some critical remarks about the women's bodies, which makes me uncomfortable. But I've also had a lot of comments from women saying it's great to see pictures of real women wearing real fashion.
Why not men's legs?
I'm not sure why. I may give it a go. I think I may photograph women because there's an element of envy--I wish I had their legs or their stylistic flair--and that isn't there with men. But who knows.
I should say I have photographed the legs of two male photographers Bill Cunningham and David Guttenfelder. Mr. Cunningham let me shoot his legs quickly one day just outside of the Times building, and Guttenfelder showed up at the office with stiletto heels in his bag wanting to be photographed!
Any plans to turn this into something bigger?
No, it's just something I do for fun.