I Am A Nude Art Photographer!
I read an article online this weekend about nude art photography. It’s an open letter written by Sven Elliard: The Irrational Fear of Nude Art Photography (Google it, seriously. It is a fabulous article). While I had never heard of this photographer until reading this article- his point of view inspired me. And woke me up to something I have been “hiding” from due to society’s imposed upon “standards”.
(climbs up step ladder to the highest soapbox of them all, waits for the fireworks and fanfare to subside before starting a rant…)
I am a photographer- er, wait. Backup. I was a nude model in my college years and am now a photographer. While I have never actually set a standard answer to the question- “What do you photograph?” Because I photograph a lot of things. I photograph almost everything! Landscapes, flowers (macro and distant, but more macro), insects, weather, street photography, urban landscapes- then if by almost instinct in a hushed tone I say “artistic nudes”. Why? Why drop my voice to a barely audible whisper? Am I ashamed of my work? HELL NO! Should I be? Again- HELL NO! But why the hushed tone? Because it’s taboo- still.
It is asinine to think that in this day and age nude art photography is taboo. On Instagram or Facebook (mind you they are owned by the same never-got-laid-pretty-girls-shunned-him in high school jerk) the hint of a breast, nipple, or butt cheek gets you banned for 30 days. Do it again- and you get booted permanently. Personal blogs, Tumbler accounts, Pinterest, and all over Twitter it is completely fine to post what you want. However- people still blush when they catch glimpse of a breast. Or you have to label your work with the dreaded NSFW (not safe for work) tag.
Human sexuality is treated as dirty or nonexistent, unless- god forbid it’s a woman’s reproductive health. Then it gets splashed all over the evening news and treated as some common affliction that should be governed over by federal and state governments- not left to the choice of the woman whose ovaries and uterus it actually is- but I digress.
As a photographer (getting back on the original topic) I do photograph a lot of implied (nude but not showing anything) and nudes of the female form. Why? Because I like to- no, you know what- I LOVE to.
A woman’s nude body is a stunning creation of nature. Curvy, voluptuous (like mine) or stick thin. Amazonian height or smallish. White, black, yellow, red… It doesn’t matter. A woman’s body is beautiful! It is powerful! It is the temple in which new life is created and it shouldn’t be shunned- yet it is. Or worse yet- is has been brought down to the level of “mundane” in this world of selfies and every joe-blow dipshit that owns a “great camera” posting pictures unsanctioned by his ex-girlfriend, ex-wife, or that one night stand that was all too willing to take her clothes off after a bottle of tequila.
What I create is art. Yet for the most part right now- those “photographers” out there on the inter-webs makes me cringe- they call themselves “artists”. No, you aren’t. You’re a douche with a camera, using it to take pictures of pretty ladies that wouldn’t dare drop a bra strap in your presence, but since you are holding a $3000 camera and say big words like aperture and exposure- she’ll pose for you. You are a stage 5 creeper- as myself and my ladies like to call them. I, again, am an artist.
I have gone to look at the art at Artprize every year. Have I entered it yet? No, but those are my reasons not to be splayed out here today. It make me laugh every time some mother brings her brood of ankle biters to the grand art displays and then unabashedly makes a huge deal about covering their eyes if a sparkly pierced nipple is peeking out from a photo on the wall. Heaven for bide, it actually be a full frontal nude of a woman (or man) - said mom rushes her children away in disgust and shame, cursing “the nerve of them to hang that in public”! Sweet cheeks- it’s art. It’s an ART show. Weren’t you trying to give your video game addicted little brats some culture? No, instead you make a big damn deal over something that is natural (do you shower and dress in the dark? Didn’t think so). You just made it seem dirty! Evil! Hopefully that will drive them to want to see nudity farther on down the line. And I would love to see your uptight little pinched face when you find that first nude picture your daughter’s girlfriend takes of her!
I am a woman, nude art photographer. That little clump of words alone has probably sent me straight to hell on more than one occasion. I would have to guess that 90% of female photographers in this world photograph only the following: babies, kids, weddings, seniors, and engagements. I will shoot all of those (except weddings- Joe Dirt, the bride’s cousins has a tendency to under-cut the quote I worked up by like $1000 dollars, ‘cuz he gots a good camera)- but only if they pay me. The nude art I photograph? I pay the model in images and a home cooked meal of her choice; I have been known to help with gas money now and then too. Each model/client gets all the best images completely edited by me. Most fellow photo snappers limit this to two hours/ 20 pictures kind of ratios, but I don’t. A little crazy? Probably.
Women aren’t supposed to photograph other women nude. I have uttered the phrase “I am a little bit lesbian” in regards to my photography. Bitch please! Bringing my former modeling experience into play here- I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera, I know how to explain and coach the model into what I want in my images. Besides- a female model is going to be more comfortable with a female photographer that cracks jokes and makes her feel beautiful. Not the “typical creepy” male photographers that grunt in approval of a great pose, or worse- don’t make a sound. Guys! Little advice! That creeps models out- really, REALLY bad. So stop it! Encourage them. Give them feedback! Save the grunts of approval for your alone time in the editing process, please.
Let’s add another level of- sure, I am probably going to hell from doing this… I absolutely love photographing nude woman with tattoos! A loud whoosh fills the room as the traditionalist male photographers suck all the air into their lungs and scorn me with their eyes. Cue massive eye roll here from them, not me. Tattoos are art. Of course- there is some really shitty art out there- however. Each tattoo has a story. A sentiment to that woman. To all the photographers (male and female alike) - send them my way will ya? If a woman’s tattoos shatter your high ethical moral standards because God frowns upon permanent skin art- by all means, I am available. If all you are going to do is photo-shop out that gorgeous feather tattoo on the model's wrist (because truly beautiful nude photography has no tattooed women) - you really do not deserve the right to lift your camera in their direction in the first place. Photo-shopping out that ink takes away a large piece of who that woman truly is- just don’t fucking do it!
I was told by my primary photographer when I was a nude model- if I ever got ink, I was dead to him. Well- screw you dude! I have ink and I love every little black piece of my life’s story on my body and I intend on getting more. The stigma that only sluts and dirty people have ink makes me sick. That’s why I love photographing it- it’s my little way of flipping the bird to all the traditionalist bastards that can’t stand to see a tattoo on a woman’s body.
I started my nude art photography photographing beautiful women with massive tattoos for Suicide Girls. I was a non-member photographer until I quit because the rules kept changing for me to become staff. They already have the people they want as staff photographers and fuck you if you think your “mediocre work” their words, not mine- even has a chance. I am an artist to boot, so getting the opportunity to photograph women with tattoos is just awesome to me.
If my photographs of a woman make her feel beautiful… If they capture the power of a women’s body… If they make her feel good about herself- then I have accomplished more than I had ever dreamed.
(Steps down off of soap box, cracks knuckles, takes a bow)