Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nude Photography Workshop.

Now and again I happen across an invitation to join a NPW – or nude photography workshop -. Although so far they have failed to enrol me, my childishly giggling side has forced me to read some of the alluring texts that typify them.

We are talking the serious stuff here, meaning that which pretends to be legitimate while riding roughly the same commercial wave as the less serious stuff, by defining a thin but surely obviously distinct line between porn (not done) and erotic/artistic (well done). What we want is guilt free libido: a hard act for most to accomplish and more the stuff for psychoanalysis than for a photo course I fear.

Anyway, prompted by the latest one that I got from a local association, I thought I’d write my own guideline for aspiring nude photographers which I will then share with you not even at a fraction of the cost but absolutely free.

First of all let’s define nudity: the state of the body in which parts are shown that are usually clad in clothing. A notion that is of course culturally defined by local habits: so a topless of a native African in the 19th century provided ample emotion in defiance of the strict codes of propriety of the age, but got away with it because it went under the cover of true ethnicity whilst the bare ankle of a white lady would have called for public outrage.
Many, many years ago I used to take snapshots of my dog as he used to lay on his back shamelessly, legs spread apart, and title them: dog nudes. Still they were completely innocent images. Actually if you want a dog to look obscene, you need to dress it up.

In order to do nude photography the basics are:
A camera in working order (with film or a memory card in it)
A willing photographer
A willing nude model past the age of 18
Sense and sensibility
Somewhere suitable to house the session.

Given that most aspects of photography are exactly the same whether one is shooting a nude or say a pear, and the basic principles of light could be taught just as well if not better with a still life or a portrait, we must conclude that the sole specific purpose of a dedicated seminar must be to focus on those aspects that are not only typical but rather unique to the genre incidentally providing a glimpse on a simulated session from a voyeurs point of view, albeit a justified one. Crudely put, students are paying to watch nudity.

Stay clear of all that, even a serious teacher will only prompt you to imitate his or her results. You don’t need it. If all the above conditions are met there will be nothing in the way of finding your own way and style about it. Maybe it won’t be a great result the first time around, but then trial and error is always the way to original imagery.