Beautiful women come to me and trust me to create photographs of them when they are most vulnerable. When nude, there is no place to hide; reality is truly laid bare. Wearing fashion, a multitude of sins can be hidden and the beauty of design, fabric, color and all means of line and form can be employed. It is for this reason that I have felt that photographing the nude is more honest and pure, and honors the model in a way that fashion never can.

The reality of a nude shoot is always on the model’s mind before we start. Without exception, every model who has posed nude for me has shared the weakness of their body image with me. It often comes in the form of, “Do not shoot this part of me. It is the one place I have cellulite.”, “I hate my nose and do not like my profile.”, “My breasts are a little saggy, but I think my ass is nice.”, and any number of similar comments. It has not mattered how young or close to the idea form the model posses. The concern about flaws is always at the forefront of the model’s mind. Several nude models have cancelled the shoot, or simply not show up due to this fear about how they look. A fashion model almost never makes these comments or shares these fears.

A new model wrote to me recently, “I love your art, but your camera is so brutally honest…”, she continued to describe her particular body image fear.

This was my edited response to her and applies to many women I have photographed.

First off, you are a gorgeous woman. You have a pretty face, a warm smile, bright eyes and a sexy body. Add to that, I find you interesting and to have a vibrant personality. Whatever my photographs reveal, never let that truth fade from your memory.

Now, the brutal honesty of the camera… and the photographer. Yes. It sometimes shows us things that don’t match what is in our mind’s eye. Using tools and techniques I can twist an image to more closely match what is in my mind’s eye, but never to my satisfaction. I think this is the frustration of every artist. Our skills often do not match our vision. As we improve our skills, our vision grows. This part of the artist’s struggle.

Of course, what is my mind’s eye is not the same image that is in your mind’s eye, and there is the ‘truth’ of what we have to offer. I can make a short person look tall, but how much effort will it take? Was it worth the effort? Why do it?

So there will always be a disconnect. Sometimes seeing your visage from another’s perspective is refreshing and sometimes distressing.

As a man, I can look at a woman and think Ooo-la-la. As a photographer I can look at the same woman and think she will never work as a model. The woman is still “Ooo-la-la”, but the criteria of what I need for my images is different than what I may find to be attractive.

You are attractive and your figure, movement, and personality are all great for creating more images together.

I understand your concerns, but they should not deter us from creating more images. You are beautiful and with time I will find the right angles and lighting to showcase your beauty even further.

Now reread my first paragraph and do not forget it.

As a photographer of the nude, I feel the pressure of capturing the beauty I see. A woman is beautiful and it is up to me to reflect that back to her, with honor and respect and show that I am a good steward of her trust. When seeing the images, I want the model to feel better about herself. I want her to be empowered and raise her head a little higher as she walks.

  1. Who am I?

    We go through life playing various roles and characters we believe we need to in order to make others like us, accept us, and have certain preconceived notions of what we are expected to be.

    Wife, mother, lover.

    Husband, father, protector.

    Supporter, provider, caretaker.

    Partner, collaborator.

    There is a cost associated with any role one takes on, and the value-proposition that results is a judgment as to what level of tolerance one has in comparing any value received versus the cost required to get that value.

    Sometimes we “sell our soul to the devil” in order to gain a better economic/financial standing in the world. We do that enough times, we play a role for so long that as art imitates life after a while we become this other person and lose who we really are.

    Who am I? Who is it I was born to be?

    Artistic nude imagery captures one moment in time of who we are, laid bare, not able to hide behind any mask of society’s expectations. This is who I am, full of flaws, defects, battle scars that show I have lived a life full of challenges, opportunities, pleasures, pains, sorrows.

    I am not perfect, I gave up a long time ago trying to meet expectations put on me by others. I refuse to embrace anyone telling me I am less than perfect, less than who I am, me.

    I refuse to give up my own power to anyone else.

    Do not Photoshop or airbrush my scars away. Do not alter my image into something social media has deemed desirable and/or acceptable for that is a standard no one can achieve.

    Artistic nude imagery should capture the beauty, the grace, the poise that is in us, in our hearts, in our heads. Soft lighting, quiet tones, complimentary poses and angles can capture the natural beauty we all possess and allow who we truly are to shine through regardless of age, weight, color, ethnicity, and body type without altering or changing who we are.

    The beautiful place is in my heart and head, the beautiful space is where I am at this moment. Artistic nude imagery captures that moment in time and no one can take that away from me.

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