"In this country people equate nudity with sexuality",
said Adam, one of the volunteers for my most recent art project. Adam is a member of a Florida Young Naturists group, a community of nudists 18 - 35 years of age. The nearest to Boca Raton nude beach is in Aventura, just north of Miami, in Haulover Beach, where the sand is white and the atmosphere is serene, according to my model. I take my chances and photograph Adam on the public beach in Boca at 6 am in the morning, before the world awakens and anyone can get offended by a nude man ashore. We start working and I lose track of time, of course. The sun is barely above the horizon, Adam is sitting on the wet sand facing the water, small waves washing over his legs from time to time. An early riser and exerciser, a woman in her 60s, walks by (I was so immersed in work that I did not notice her and did not give Adam heads up to cover himself up) and says grumpily, "this is not a nude beach, we have children here!"
"There is nobody here, ma'am", I reply, "it is not even 7 o'clock in the morning." She walks on, continuing to curse and mumble something under her breath. To be honest, she looked more upset and angry with me, than with the actual nude man, most of whose buttocks were now buried in the wet sand any way. It makes me think of this quote:
Doing nude photoshoots is what I set my artistic vision at from the beginning of 2016. My goal is to have an art exhibit of nude photography by the end of the year (or January of 2017, at the very latest - so please hold me accountable!) and so far I have photographed a beautiful spiritual singer, a courageous 19-year old who followed her love to California, a youthful life coach, a super tall tech guy, and young and open to experimentation Adam, whom you met. I'm currently looking for more volunteers to participate in this project as I'm really planning to plunge into work between September 20 and November 1. You see, my mom is coming to visit and will help me with my seventeen-months old daughter and the beginning of November is when I am going to give birth to my second daughter...
For those CURIOUS about the project, but APPREHENSIVE about being recognized or compromised for appearing nude, there are many ways to DISGUISE someone's face (with hair, mask, fabric, leaves, etc.), or have the model twisted into a shape (or simply posed away from the camera) where the face will remain invisible. In addition to that the final photo can be composed in such a way that it leaves the face completely out of it. But it will, most likely, be a very liberating and unforgettable experience, so if you are curious, but hesitant, I invite you to discuss it :)
My reasons for doing this art project are multiple:
· to appreciate and admire human form as it is (I intend to use very little post-production editing to retouch the skin or alter the shape of the body);
· to become more accepting of my own body - to love it for its functionality and for the mere but grand task of housing my soul, as opposed to despising it for some perceived imperfections as compared to some beauty ideals that have been instilled in my mind since early age;
· to provide a liberating experience for other people (women, especially) and show them how beautiful they are. Being able to participate in a project like this takes guts. Even if in the final images the person's face is disguised in some way, such as covered by hair or a mask, or cropped out completely, it takes a lot of courage to strip away your clothes and appear just as you are, one-on-one with the camera - vulnerable and raw. I like what Padma Lakshmi, and Indian-born American author and model, said on this subject:
And the rawness and discomfort of the experience and overcoming that feeling is what makes it so liberating and rewarding in the end;
· to grow as an artist. To accentuate the form and shape of the human body I will need to experiment with various lighting techniques. Also, posing a nude model is not the same as posing someone who is wearing clothes. Overall, photographing nudes is a whole different world which will bring me more experience and improve my skill;
· to show the diversity of human form, how we are all the same, but at the same time oh so different;
· to push outside of my comfort zone, to help others push outside of theirs;
· to help people become more accepting of their bodies and not be afraid of nudity. Another one of our contemporaries, Emily Browning, an Australian actress, said:
When staring with this project, I did some research and came across some wonderful artists whose work truly inspires me. Here is the list of photographers and digital artists I have encountered so far, and if you know any other artists who specialize in or have a passion for nude photo art, I would love to get acquainted with their work, so please share their names with me.
Andreas Bitesnich - an Austrian photographer and musician; specializes in nude and portrait photography, whose work has been published in a gazillion publications: http://www.bitesnich.com/portfolio/nudes
Jade Beall - an American photographer and author who lives in Arizona; specializes in truthful images of women, inspiring women to love and accept their bodies as they are, promoting self-love through un-retouched photographs: http://www.jadebeall.com
Thomas Holm - a Danish photographer who shoots artful nudes:
Steve Richard - a Canadian fine art photographer who spends most of his time shooting dance, bodies in motion and teaching the art of light, language and line: http://www.steverichard.com
Daria Endresen - a Norwegian photographer and digital artist who creates surreal dream scapes laden with pain and mystery: http://dariaendresen.com/gallery/digital
Thank you for taking the time to read about my latest art experiment and we shall be in touch soon. In the meantime, love and admire your physical bodies and let me know if you would like to have them photographed. Nude, of course, because as Nick Offerman said, "the ultimate disguise is nothing. Nudity."