Between glamour and the more
formal naked figure lies a wide expanse of the erotic, the documentary and the
personal. Personality, whether it is the model’s genuine personality or make believe
conjured from the photographer’s and model’s creative collaboration is largely
created in the viewers mind by setting, clothes and props. In creating images of
the erotic photographers tend to swing between hard and soft styles. Whether
poised and flawless in a hard-edged setting or soft an innocent lying in a meadow
both create an inhuman woman. A creation in which the photographer, model and
viewer are all compliant.
That is not to say that these
images are not valid. The hard lines of modern architecture, scrap yards or decaying
buildings can contrast with and emphasise the sensual lines of the human body.
Hidden meanings and subtexts can lie within the images. Even if it is only the disdainful
self-mocking of the modern world.
The model needs to project her
real or imaginary personality, to be able to adopt poses beyond the stereotyped
repertoire of standard glamour and become an object of fascination to the
Millions of photos are taken from about five feet eight inches (1.75 m) above the ground because that’s the average persons eye line. Whether photographing fine art nudes, boudoir or glamour nudes it pays to look for a different point of view.
It is easy to take better photographs. Anyone, even the best at something can always get better at it. All you have to do is acquire more knowledge, practice, and maybe have a bit of inspiration.
1.2 trillion photographs are taken worldwide per year (statista.com). Before the introduction of mobile phone cameras ninety five percent of these billions of photographs where taken in horizontal format; compact cameras are ergonomically designed to be held that way. Now that eighty five percent of the population uses a smart phone to take photographs ninety five percent are vertical because that’s the way they hold it. Out of 1.2 trillion how many created rather than taken? How many are composed, and I don’t mean just with the subject fitted in to the frame? Let’s guess at 10% good composition is subjective anyway. So out of that billion or so how many are well composed? Think about your composition
The nude female form elicits a number of, sometimes conflicting, potential responses from the viewer of an artwork. It can be seen as the depiction of a human being as a sex object, an anonymous manifestation of beauty or the nudity can be used to foreground aspects or themes within the picture. The most common criticism levelled at photography is that it simply imitates another art form.
It is a common misconception that better technique will help you take better photographs of nudes. I recently took part in a critique where a photographer put up a technically perfect but aesthetically boring picture of a nude. He commented that he had no concept or message when taking the picture but would like to do more ‘artistic’ work. I suggested that if he worked on having the former then the latter might naturally flow.
I always try and get my students to have a concept or reason for taking a picture. This doesn’t have to be a highly intellectual artistic message which will emphasise the need for world peace. It can be as simple as documenting a walk or taking a portrait that tells the viewer something about that person. Think about a simple holiday snap. The reason for taking it may simply to provide a record of the place you visited, which is perfectly valid but, as soon as we add the idea of showing that it was really pretty, or a complete dump, what a good time we had, the people we met or even how much we drank the dynamics of our picture taking change. We are trying to produce a picture in response to our feelings about a place and convey an idea. As soon as you as a photographer start to work towards a specific theme or concept the creation process becomes much more interesting and creative.
These pictures are created with the help of many talented women. The finished images are a result of a collaboration between the photographer and subject rather than an imposition of a style on them. Some of the subjects are models but here you are projecting elements of their character and personality; they are part of the creative process and not merely a blank canvas on which to project my viewpoint.
Some appear in naked portraits; the art historian *Kenneth Clark defines a naked human body as exposed and vulnerable as opposed to nude which carries no uncomfortable overtone. In one sense the women in these photographs are nude as they project an image of balance and confidence. In another they are naked but they are not vulnerable or embarrassed*, they are confident in their nakedness.
It is very difficult to separate the artistic (fine art nude photography) of the nude from the erotic and the sexual.
When is a nude an attempt to produce a meaningful picture
and when is it merely a body displayed for erotic titillation?
Even the word artistic carries certain connotations. Many of the paintings that are now considered works of art by old masters were created for his Lordship to hang in his personal salon. In a later era it conjures up an image of a 1950s bloke in a Trilby accosting a gent with the words ‘Oy mate – want to buy some artistic postcards?’
Personal space is a collection of nude portraits of women at home in their environment. They are surrounded by treasured possessions and sometimes the detritus of real life. Stripping away clothing means the viewer only has the surroundings from which to glean information about the subject.
It takes a lot of guts to stand naked in front of a camera, to let it record, to let it see – you. To produce nude portraits. Some of these images have remained, fixed in tiny silver grains, for nearly thirty years. Then converted into electronic code they continue; their owners growing older, changing, dying, whilst they remain. Others were created quite recently and are just beginning their journey to become a record of what was rather than what is.
Capture me but capture my beauty my happiness and maybe a little sadness
These women maybe do not conform to society’s norm of body image but they are beautiful, sexy and confident.