Surfaces and Strategies – Shoot Mod3#2 – Female Art Nude
As discussed at the end of the last module (See blog post from 24th April 2017), I planned a female art nude shoot in order to consider gaze in a photograph.
Again, for this shoot, I used a professional art nude model, Em Theresa. I decided that for my first art nude shoot, this would be a good move. This allowed me to concentrate on getting the shots I wanted without having to explain to the model what looked good on camera and what didn’t. Also, there was no awkwardness when shooting the model as Em Theresa is used to working with many different photographers.
Over the past few months, I have developed my own style in photography. I wanted to make sure that injected this into an art nude shoot. So I chose to use a harsh lighting set up and increase the clarity of the shots in camera (as well as in Lightroom if needed). The intention of this was to emphasise and exaggerate the muscle tones and make them as defined as possible.
During the shoot I was very conscious of not taking images that would merely objective the female form. My priority was to observe and record how the body looks in certain positions. I also drew on inspiration from Edward Weston and others to get me started.
Figure 1: Sutherst. 2017
Figure 1 shows a range of images that were taken during the shoot. The images are characteristic of those that we would anticipate from an art nude shoot.
For some of the shots, I experimented with lighting. I used a single light behind the model to create a silhouette. This was trial and error with positioning until the effect was as I intended. I also needed to turn off the main studio lights in order to get the light level correct. I also placed a small window blind in front of my model to get the striped line effect. Placing the model on a black fabric covered stool in front of a black backdrop had the advantage of Em Theresa appearing to float in some of the images.
I am pleased with these images as they do not objectify Em Theresa and are emotional, beautiful images.
I then chose to work on body shapes and muscle tone (see figure 2 below).
Figure 2: Sutherst. 2017
I wanted to take full advantage of how flexible Em Theresa is and create both symmetrical and unique shapes. Again I took advantage of the black fabric covered stool to create some effects.
The use of a single light placed to the side of the model created some dramatic effects and really enhanced the muscle tone in her back. The post-production mostly involved using a monochrome Lightroom preset called Toto, which adds an almost metallic feel to the images and enhances the muscle tone further.
I particularly like the oddness of some of these shapes. The images were all taken in one shot and are actually shapes that Em Theresa can make with her body.
Figure 3: Sutherst. 2017
Figure 4: Weston. Nude Study IV, Mexico. 1925
Figure 3 shows one of the fun shapes I decided to try. Inspired by Weston’s shot in figure 4, I asked Em Theresa to produce this shape. She was easily able to tuck her head fully underneath to make it appear as though she has no head. Then to add a ‘Jo’ touch to the image, I asked her to make the shape of a heart at the top of the image. I really like the image as it is very representative of my sense of humour which is always evident in shoots.
Figure 5: Sutherst. 2017
Figure 5 was inspired by surrealism and was taken as a bit of a joke towards the end of the session. The model’s head looks superimposed in the circle, but this was taken in one shot.
During the shoot I was very aware of how many male photographers like to take nude pictures of women and present it to the world as art. The women appear like props in the images and often the poses are not sympathetic. For some male photographers, this is all they photograph and that concerns me. Whilst it is okay to showcase the nude form as acceptable, why do these men not photograph men? It always seems to be women who are the subjects of these images. Often the poses are aimed at looking at the body only. Very little attention is paid to the expression on the model’s face. This is where I differ from the male photographers. To me, the narrative of an image and the motion that the model can portray is of equal if not greater importance than the body.
Em Theresa was very comfortable in front of the camera as she is a professional art nude model. I do wonder if a non-professional model would be more or less comfortable in front of the camera with a photographer of the same sex – this I will investigate throughout this module.
Before the shoot, I was wary about how my shoot would go and how it would be perceived by others. I had a vision of me acting like an amateur and inexperienced photographer. I wanted to produce images that had an artistic integrity and did not want to be found lacking in this area. My dream was starting the shoot with refined ideas in my head that I could explore with the camera. I researched the images of others and will discuss this in future blogs.
Back at the start of the MA and even as recently as in the middle of the last module, I never thought of myself shooting these images. I viewed art nude as having hidden agendas and motives. I have long admired Helmut Newton’s work but was reluctant to explore art nude myself. This all changed in the last module and here we are. First art nude shoot under my belt. Next one planned is male art nude which offers a completely different challenge.
Figure 4: exhibitions & events | ArtSlant. 2017. ArtSlant [online]. Available at: https://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/66370-westons-westons?tab=EVENT [accessed 02 May 2017].