Every day on her 3-and-a-half mile trek to and from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, through Central Park, down to the midtown building that houses The New York Times Magazine, where she works as a associate photo editor, Stacey Baker keeps an eye out for interesting legs. It comes naturally to the Chicago-native.
Baker said she’s always been drawn to legs. “Some women want to be taller or have larger breasts, in my case, I always wanted to have longer legs,” she said. When she sees a pair that inspire her, she whips out her iphone and enters into conversation with her muse of the moment. She explains her project, shows them her blog, and asks if they’d mind if she makes a photo of their lower half. Baker said they almost always agree and more often than not, request to be tagged in the image, which she posts via Instagram and on her CitiLegs.com tumblr.
All Images Courtesy Stacey Baker
Baker said she isn’t particularly interested in any certain body type. “There is just something really beautiful about the female body–very sculptural and very beautiful.” She said she asks her subjects to stand in a way that’s comfortable to them. “It’s interesting, some of them immediately strike a pose,” she said. Baker believes you can get a sense of the personality of the subject through their stance.
The only thing that has been a bit disheartening to Baker, is when some viewers feel compelled to negatively critique the subjects’ bodies. “I didn’t expect that,” she said, “Maybe that was naive of me. I’m drawn to variety–from skinny to heavier, whatever interests me.” She said sometimes an interesting back and forth about body issues, obesity, and such, can develop between people posting. She tries to quickly catch any hurtful comments and delete them, but admits she doesn’t always have time to monitor them all. “The women are so kind to let me do this, I want to protect them from that,” she said.
Baker said she didn’t set out to do a project. She photographed her first pair of legs last March, after seeing a woman with particularly elegant legs in a hotel lobby. She kept at it, with encouragement from her boss, Director of Photography Kathy Ryan, and other photography friends. Her body of work is nearing 350, and she is not yet sure of the ending point. “I would love to get over to London and Paris for a weekend, before everyone starts covering up,” she said.
Photographer Stacey Baker shows her own legs.