Last weekend, I did a nude shoot with the lovely Tania, as pictured above.
I’ve published one nude book so far and done numerous shoots but most of them are kept private as the models are sensitive about families / partners and what they’d think.
So, it’s great to babe able to actually publish these shots, LIVE, on the nets! Woohoo!
I was nervous because it was a paid shoot, we had limited time and I have very definite ideas about what I don’t want to do. For a start, you will never see retouching on any of my pics. You will see digital cropping, levels, colour vibrancy and the very, very occasional spot removal at the request of a model.
What you won’t see is the plastic-faced Stepford Wife ideal that is, apparently, sponsoring a whole new wave of how women can feel bad about themselves.
I regard women as naturally beautiful. It’s my quest as a photographer to try and capture how *I* see women and share that with the world. In my non-nude portrait work, models will regularly say to me, “Oh, you’ve made me look beautiful!” And I have to correct them, no I didn’t. The beauty is all theirs; all I did was stand at the right spot at the right time and capture the right rays of light.
Fundamentally, if you’re retouching the shit out of your portraits or nude work until the women look like bizarre Uncanny Valley replicants, then you are doing something wrong. Here’s my advice to you:
STOP. CONSIDER THE DAMAGE YOU ARE DOING. WOMEN ARE SEEING YOUR IMAGES AND WONDERING WHY THEY DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
Look, I’m a sociologist, I’ve read enough Kristeva and Barthes and Bazin to realise that every photographic image is not only a construction, it is an argument. I’m not arguing from some naive stance of ‘realism’ or ‘essential truth.’ I believe every image is a semiotic hand grenade, fling them around without concern and you will be hurting people.
To stretch the metaphor past breaking… this nude shoot was a minefield for me! I want to represent Tania’s beauty and personality, I want to show how the light hugs her hips and kisses her abdomen. BUT I don’t want to be part of the same old bullshit discourse where all naturalism is lost in the effort of creating an ephemeral, anonymous ur-female, in trying to capture the immanent.
So, have a look at my pics of Tania. Question how they make you feel. Question why I made them – what the fuck am I trying to say? What can I say in nude female photography that hasn’t been said a million times already?
Then, when you have the answers… write a book about it, don’t send it to me! 😛