There is something intrinsically surreal about masked nudes. Everything is displayed but we are deprived of the one thing that enables us to identify an individual human.
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.
My photographs are published on book covers, calendars and in magazines. There’s a lot to think about when shooting commercial nudes. Here is a small portfolio of my most popular glamour nudes and a few tips.
Twenty nude portraits of women that reflect their personality and lifestyle. Many of the images have been pulled from my archives and have been re-edited. When I did several shoots with the subject they have been grouped into a set . A new post featuring a different sitter will appear each week.
Personal space nudes is a collection of nude portraits of women depicted 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.
Daylight or Artificial Light
Nature has given us a large, bright light source complete with some very handy diffusers (clouds) which is wonderful for lighting nude photographs. Unfortunately we have no control over when these diffusers appear and, although the sun is always shinning it reaches us with varying intensity.
What lens have you got on that?
I hate talking about gear when I am using it. As a long suffering wedding photographer I used to dread the approach of the serious looking old gentleman, scuffed brown leather cased, 50’s vintage, camera round his neck. Usually he had just been fiddling with for at least ten minutes to take one photograph of his rather overweight, and definitely bored, wife in her best hat. I knew the inevitable question was coming.
‘What sort of lens have you got on that?’
‘That’ was usually a 6×4.5 Bronica film camera. We used to use medium format cameras because no one believed you were a pro with a 35mm SLR
My reply was often a completely genuine, ‘I don’t know.’
I could see him debating as to whether to rush off and exclaim to the bride that she had booked a complete idiot to take her wedding pictures, or whether to tell me not to be such a sarcastic bugger.
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.
I’ve been experimenting with (Ok mucking about with) photo painting using Corel Painter to convert a photo into a painting.
This is one of the first results. There’s a link to a YouTube video by Thomas Churchwell that shows you how at the bottom of the page.
This guy shows you how Thomas Churchwell on YouTube