What is Art Nude?
After the last workshop I did it opened me up to thinking a lot more about the thing I do the most of.. 'Art Nudes' it got me thinking about what it means to me, why I do it why I enjoy it and what makes an image become an 'Art' Nude as opposed to just a nude image?
(as a side note you may want t grab a cup of tea and a biscuit this could be a long one.. also worth mentioning it is just my opinions on certain things and others may feel very differently, of course I'm quite happy to discuss this and enjoy other peoples opinions! It also probably makes a big difference as I am specifically talking about images of myself and see myself very differently to how I see others and I see images of myself differently to how I see images of other models.)
Well... wikipedia always has some good answers to most things, so here is a section of what it suggests..
'Erotic responses to nudity are always present, but are not the primary focus of a work of art. The judgement of whether a particular work is artistic or pornographic is ultimately subjective and has changed through history and from one culture to another. Some individuals judge any nude to be unacceptable, while others may find artistic merit in explicitly sexual images. A feminist critique of the nude is the Male Gaze, which asserts that all nudes are inherently voyeuristic.
The nude is primarily a tradition in Western art, and has been used to express ideals of male and female beauty; athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos'
This is something that greatly interests me, then again I could talk creativity, and 'art' until the cows come home (or so they say.. I don't personally have room for cows in my back garden!)
I'm still not sure what defines a nude image as artistic... Good lighting helps, I tend to find images that are darker, perhaps side lit, often Black and white are what the brain automatically thinks of when the term Art Nude is mentioned, but this isn't always the case I've actually seen a lot of very beautiful colour images that are certainly art nudes, and also i'm not that knowledgeable on lighting set ups etc. so am not really one to comment on the technical side. One thing that I have taken not of though is the direction in which the model is looking...
As an example, this is from a shoot I did with Steve Bazley..
The lighting is dark, moody, what I would class as art nude lighting.. but the pose and the direction I am looking make it very.. personal? Almost suggesting 'look at me'.
My face is quite shadowed in this so it may not be as noticeable and also the pose is quite strong, which is something else in its self.
But generally... I think having eye contact with the camera/viewer don't necessarily make the image not-artistic but it does make it quite intrusive.. perhaps not something I would personally hang on the wall as the contact with the eyes turns the model into a person, (me) where as something where the model is looking away makes them automatically become more anonymous and therefore the image is easier to look at and appreciate the form/shape etc. without associating it as closely to being a naked person that you may or may not know.
This image, from Marc Byram, to me is suddenly quite different, obviously the pose is very different and the lighting set up but the feel to the image is also quite different.. I obviously know its me, I have to see my face quite a lot but the fact I am not connected to the camera says something quite different to me.
Similarly with this one below by George Davison
Anonymity - so I've said that looking into or away from the camera can make a big difference to the feel of the image, but how about if the face isn't present at all?
These two images by John Duder are of the same thing, im in a similar pose same set up same everything but one includes my face.. the other doesn't. I personally prefer the second as its more anonymous, but maybe you feel different? The below image is another from John, this time including no face and the only recognisable feature is my piercing, which if you didn't know me would un-associate it completely.
Personally I find images which are anonymous can be more erotic,
I even think images that are more explicit (as long as done in an artistic way) can be very beautiful (above my levels of comfort but I mean when looking at images of others), as long as the picture doesn't scream 'look at me'. The human form is something that I find very beautiful and at times erotic, so why shouldn't it be appreciated?! but I do find it interesting that I find it easier to view when it doesn't have attachment to a particular person.
That said.. I think I managed to give these a 'sensual', possibly erotic feel and they both do have my face in, but just no eye contact.
Also note nothing explicit is happening but its all about the implication - what did happen? what is about to happen? is that a look of pleasure? satisfaction?
of course, we all know it was a professional shoot, so the answer is actually nothing.. but the scene I was trying to create and express Is one full of emotion and suggestion.
I want to make the viewer create an image/story in their mind, as really the mind is the most erotic part of the body.
This brings me on to adding in Fetish to the whole thing, I have done a lot of 'fetish' shoots based around a number of different fetishes - Everything from feet to Latex to Shibari and some things you may not believe in between!
'Fetish shoots' don't actually always involve a specific fetish, or kink as such but they may hint at something quite powerful or erotic. This image below is one from Geoff Stenhouse, we wanted to create an image that heavily suggested a 'scene' to the viewer but was also done in an artistic way (it had a very interesting response, combined over just two profiles on which I posted it, there were 894 loves and 210 comments)
The most interesting response was a full story someone had written just based on their interpretation of the image.
Me being picky and fussy sees the potential to add further to this image, taking what i've previously said and perhaps altering the angle of my head to make it even more anonymous for me would perfect this further, but everyone has their own opinions on that. Plus that's just a criticism of myself nothing that Geoff did or could have done differently.
So why do I do it?
All of the above images say something very different to me, they convey a different mood, emotion, scene, thought process etc. I suppose in a way I would like to be an actress for these reasons also. I enjoy being able to create a piece of art by putting myself into the headspace of a certain character.. getting into 'role' and expressing that through my body and expressions. Also as I previously mentioned I very much appreciate the human form, I studied anatomy and it interested me greatly I love how well I've come to know my body, the way each movement I make will enhance a certain area or hide something else, having the ability to move my body in ways which transform it into a beautiful shape is something quite amazing in its self!
I like that I can take past experiences, emotions, feelings that I have had in my life and turn them into images. I like how modelling nude makes me feel expressive and alive.
I need to feel creative, its just something built inside me, I become very unhappy if I can't push myself to be creative and using my body in awkward, hard and beautiful ways satisfies that feeling.
Seeing the results, seeing the photographer be happy with the images we have created together is incredibly satisfying.
I guess there is also a much deeper and darker side to it, I wont go into any heavy details as its just not necessary but as like most people, I have had some very dark periods in my life.
I have struggled with body image and self confidence from a very young age, having constant battles with the way I look.
To then take a step back and realise that technically I make a living from other people using the way I look to create an image they can be happy with is something really quite incredible.
There are thousands of beautiful women in the world, each one individual and yet I spend most days posing in-front of someone's camera as for what ever reason they have decided it is me that will create and express what they want, that realisation is one of the most powerful things I have ever felt.
Modelling nude is very powerful, it is a release, a satisfaction, a creative and expressive thing to do and feel and I love it. I love that I have come so far that I have given up any other form of 'job' to do this full time. But that does mean that it comes with it's downfalls too, the pressure is intense, the fear that tomorrow I could never have another booking again and have to very quickly decide what to do with myself. I book far in advance for a reason, I like the reassurance that people do still want to work with me! I have given up most of my social life as nights out have to be well planned in advance to make sure I can take the following day off if i'm too tired etc. I travel a lot and spend the majority of my time either in my car or answering emails, although I am meeting new people each day it can be quite a lonely career, it can be difficult to switch from one headspace to the next, from fashion style posing to soft glamour, to shapely nude and each photographer has different styles, preferences etc. it makes it interesting but can also be draining.
That all said its the thing i've been most passionate about in my life and right now I wouldn't have it any other way. I love what I do, I am proud of what I achieve and I hope the satisfaction and enjoyment it gives me shows in my work and the ways in which I work!
I am very grateful to everyone that I have worked with and that each shoot I have done has helped me on a journey of transformation, its helped me find myself and express that in ways I could have never dreamed. Each day, each shoot teaches me something new and I hope I am as happy with it in the future as I am now.
There is of course much more to all of this but I think I've said quite enough for now, if you made it this far well done! :) here are a few more nude images that express all sorts of things, each of which I ike for very different reasons...
Clover & WykD_Dave