• josutherstphotography

Informing Contexts – Work Evaluation – Male Nude Shoot

Images of female nudity are ubiquitous. Those of male nudity are not.  When female nudity appears, it is accepted by most as something normal.  Yet male nudity elicits a different response; one of shock, discomfort or cries of perverted behaviour.  Yet the male nude has been celebrated in paintings and sculpture for hundreds of years. The male gaze is so prevalent today that we are normalised to viewing women in an objective way, but find it hard to view men when they appear more vulnerable through nudity.


Drawing inspiration from life drawing, painting, and sculpture, I compiled a moodboard of images and agreed to shoot a male life model who had contacted me for a shoot.


I chose to use the opportunity to explore his performance in front of the camera. Many of my images are heavily made up and styled in such a way that they can become someone else in front of the camera.  Here I would be exploring a completely stripped back and opposite situation.


Before the planned shoot I researched female photographers of the male nude.  The genre seems under-represented by female photographers.


Figure 9: Vivienne Maricevic. 2014. John H.


Vivienne Maricevic has challenged the lack of male nude images for more than 40 years (figure 9).  She creates images that challenge the male gaze and the presumption that the male nude is something that should not be seen.  Maricevic explores how we enjoy these images through the images that she shoots.  Her work considers why female nudes are considered more acceptable.  Many of her images are highly sexualised and objectify men.  This is not an area of the genre I will be exploring at this stage.


Figure 10: Frames ©D Niccolini


Dianora Niccolini is a fine art photographer who has explored the male nude through her stunning images (figures 10 and 11).  Her images seek to counter the general thought that the penis is a weapon and seen as threatening in images.


Figure 11: Hoops ©D Niccolini


She aims to produce images that are viewed by all, not just the gay male audience or the for scientific reasons.  Her work is viewed as beautiful images of a male nude form.


My Images

Using high key lighting and a white background, my intention was to create a clean, stripped away image that could be used for life modeling purposes if required.  My subject, Chris, is an experienced life model, but less experienced in front of a camera.  He  told me during the shoot that he feels part of the creative process when he is posing for the life drawing classes.  He told me that he often ‘zones out’ during the life modeling sessions.  I think this comes across in some of the photographs.


Figure 12: Sutherst 2017


Figure12 shows a typical life pose and I feel that I have captured it well, yet there is less connection between the subject and the camera than I am used to.  In my project, I am looking for a bigger performance. When I presented this image in a recent university tutorial webinar, a peer commented that they felt the subject was engaged with the camera and that they had a wistful look.  I can now see this and feel that the lack of clothes and props makes it more difficult for the subject to pretend they are someone else in front of the camera. Hence the connection is more subtle.


The subject is vulnerable and the penis is positioned in the centre of the image. This objectifies the penis and makes it the main focus of the image.  The comment was made that the image had been with the ‘Gay Gaze’.  I have taken the image in the same way that a gay man would have taken it.  I found this comment really intriguing and quite a compliment.  The explanation offered was that the positioning of the penis, along with the vulnerability of the subject are not considered to be the way that a female photographer would normally photograph the male nude.  However, due to the lack of female photographers of the male nude, I am not sure that anyone really knows how a female photographer actually shoots the male nude.  This is an area the requires further investigation as the course continues.


The image has its flaws.  The high key lighting is a little flat on the subject.  Had this not been a life modeling shoot, I would have chosen lighting that would have had a sculpting effect on the body.


Also the choice of lens was not ideal.  I used the wide end of a 24-70mm lens.  This has caused the hands to appear out of proportion to the rest of the body.  Next time, I will consider the use of an 85mm lens to remove this distortion.


The image was shot in black and white rather than colour so that the focus was purely on the pose of the subject.  I did shoot some images in colour as well as black and white (figures 13 and 14). I personally find the black and white image less voyeuristic and more acceptable to my eye.  Figure 14 is elevated by the change from colour to black and white to an image that is more artistic.


REFERENCES


IMAGE SOURCES

Figure 1: Sutherst, 2017 Pugile (Boxer), 1939 – Napoleone Martinuzzi, Ca’ Pesaro

Figure 2: Thomas White. 2017. Thunder Bay | thomas white. [ONLINE] Available at: https://twilliamwhite.wordpress.com/tag/thunder-bay/. [Accessed 02 April 2017]


Figure 3: François-Léon Benouville. Achills Zorn. 1847. © Musée Fabre de Montpellier.  Art Blart. 2017. Classical Modernism and the male nude body | Art Blart. [ONLINE] Available at: https://artblart.com/tag/classical-modernism-and-the-male-nude-body/. [Accessed 01 April 2017].


Figure 4: Male Life Model in York YO30 on Freeads Classifieds – Modelling classifieds. 2017. Male Life Model in York YO30 on Freeads Classifieds – Modelling classifieds. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.freeads.co.uk/uk/jobs/modelling/31756490/male-life-model/view. [Accessed 01 April 2017].


Figure 5: François-André Vincent. 1772. Nude.  Mail Online. 2017. Striking collection of male nudes from 1700s to go on display at London’s Wallace Collection | Daily Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2423593/Striking-collection-male-nudes-1700s-display-Londons-Wallace-Collection.html. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 6: Charles-André van Loo. Undated. Nude. Mail Online. 2017. Striking collection of male nudes from 1700s to go on display at London’s Wallace Collection | Daily Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2423593/Striking-collection-male-nudes-1700s-display-Londons-Wallace-Collection.html. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 7: Egon Schiele. 1910. Seated male Nude.  Seated male Nude, 1910 – Egon Schiele – WikiArt.org. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/egon-schiele/seated-male-nude-1910. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 8: Salvatore / Ball Point Pen and Water Color / 2014. John MacConnell.  The Huffington Post. 2017. Artist John MacConnell Discusses Painting Male Nudes (NSFW) | The Huffington Post. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phillip-m-miner/artist-john-macconnell-discusses-painting-male_b_6510000.html?slideshow=true#gallery/397080/10. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 9:  Vivienne Maricevic. 2014. John H.  Still Shooting Men. 2017. Still Shooting Men. [ONLINE] Available at: http://stillshootingmen.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2014-08-04T16:28:00-07:00&max-results=7&reverse-paginate=true. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 10: D Niccolini. Frames. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. 2017. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pwponline.org/blog/2011/11/29/of-myth-and-men-the-photography-of-dianora-niccolini/. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 11: D Niccolini. Hoops. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. 2017. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pwponline.org/blog/2011/11/29/of-myth-and-men-the-photography-of-dianora-niccolini/. [Accessed 02 April 2017].


Figure 12: Sutherst, 2017

Figure 13: Sutherst, 2017

Figure 14: Sutherst, 2017


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