Our photography has quite developed in the last couple of years where we stepped up our ambitions and set up some goals. As a natural part of our motivation to improve, the subject of nude photography came up.
However, the genre of nude photography is not as neutral ground as other genres like portrait, landscape or wedding. People react differently, and the line between a photo being seen as pretty or ugly is a different one every time.
So this kind of photography is challenging because you have to be very sure about what you want to show and tell, and in terms of shooting it.
How do I feel about nudity?
You can't avoid analyzing and self-reflecting your own feelings toward nudity. Even though theoretically, the model is just another model and you have to compose a great picture with the help of light and posing, emotionally it doesn't seem so simple to me.
I like to blame Germany (or at least the part of Germany where I've grown up) for my prude side, and I like to credit Denmark for softening that prude side and give me some indifference towards naked bodies.
When I moved to Denmark as a young teenager, the most horrific part in school was gym class. Danish pupils shower after class, in a large group shower, very naked, very naturally, not minding visible body parts at all. Where I come from in Germany, you don't. I felt very awkward and uncomfortable.
I have now lived in Denmark for many years and have been to and showered openly in indoor pools and gyms, I've seen my Danish friends naked many times, and have been naked in front of them a couple of times.
I also have become very interested in women's rights and feminism recently, pronouncing that a short skirt doesn't give anyone the right to call a woman a slut, and that mothers should be able to breastfeed their children everywhere. I even challenged people's perception of boobs.
However, even though I walk around telling people that everyone should be able to do with their bodies as they please and dress them how they like, I still feel awkward enough about nudity to not being able to really looking at nude photos in a neutral and artistic way. In a changing room, I can look away. The purpose of a photo is to be looked at.
On top of that, nude photography of men is even more challenging, as media not often portrays naked male bodies in an aesthetic way. So I actually find it hard to think that a photo of a naked man is beautiful, even though it might have different, if just it would have been a woman. Yes, this is kind of sexist.
How Does That Work With Nude Photography?
Well, theoretically I believe that people should be able to do with their bodies as they please, and that involves being photographed naked. That I feel shame and embarrassment kicking in when looking at pictures is my brain, that has been trained to find nudity shameful for many years. Re-programming it and looking at nude photos to see the same aesthetics I see in other pictures, is a part of fulfilling my own expectations of how I want other people to treat people. How can I scold body-shaming, when I somehow do the same, just quietly in my own head?
Also, a lot of emotionally touching photo projects include nudity as nudity represents vulnerability and honesty. I want to be able to take photos, that can touch people and make a difference.
That I am so torn and feel so strongly about this subject, only challenges me more to take on my own doubts and the one of the models and society.