In his series, Camera Club (1995-1997), Chris Verene employs his camera furtively, but without entirely concealing it from view. Verene infiltrated the world of "camera clubs," groups of men who lure young women into modeling nude or seminude by placing classified ads in newspapers and pretending to be professional fashion photographers. He posed as a camera club photographer, joined the group and played the part, but then turned his camera on the photographers themselves. Later, Verene worked with a friend, a young woman who posed as an aspiring model, and deepened the investigation. By positioning himself behind the men and pretending to be tinkering with his camera – loading his film, testing his flash – Verene could easily release his shutter without arousing the suspicion of his already distracted colleagues.
The resulting pictures telescope the usual photographer's gaze and emphasize the predatory nature of photography. Verene's compositions mirror the power dynamics of the situation: the men's backs, hairy legs, and balding heads dominate the picture plane and their lurching posture reveals their avidity. In contrast, the women in the background are small in scale; Verene protects their identities by keeping them generally out of focus.