The Irrational Fear of Nude Art Photography
This is an open letter Sven Ellirand which I think sums up a lot of frustration of both photographers and models in the nude art genre.
The Irrational Fear of Nude Art Photography
by Sven Ellirand
My entire life I have suffered a misconception related to my work that really mirrors my society's misconception related to the human body. I always saw the human body, and what it is capable of, as the most beautiful thing on the planet. I believe it should be celebrated. In understanding the basics of human development, we are as much a part of this Earth as rocks and trees. Our obsession with hiding what we naturally look like and excusing it with shame, citing it as a sin, doesn't make any more sense than a tree growing bark because it doesn't want you to see its trunk.
I primarily shoot nudes, not because I prefer that, or want that, but because it feels natural. I also primarily shoot in nature, not necessarily because I find places that I like, but because I allow places to find me, and continue my adventure to the next place. The two seem to naturally go together: the most naturally beautiful thing on the planet in the most beautiful examples of the planet. There really shouldn't be that big of an argument about it, but there are a bunch of black lines drawn all over it. To deny the beauty that exists in nature is as asinine as man placing himself at the center of the universe and proclaiming his own intelligence as a species. The society I grew up in destroys nature and made the most natural aspect of nature's most beautiful work forbidden and ugly. Where is the intelligence in that.
The problem lies in perception and severe misuse of the medium. Nothing new. Obviously, amongst artists there is a far wider acceptance of the beauty of natural, but there is a fine line between celebrating the beauty that exists in nature and talking a girl out of her clothes or exploiting a spouse or girlfriend who trusts you, just as there is a fine line between artists and clever con men. Most of the "art" I see out there makes me not want to say that I am an artist. Everyone has their right to creativity, that's fine, but what used to be beautiful and powerful, seems to now be over run with mundane. The beautiful work is no longer as important as how well the mundane work is marketed. The true works of art are becoming harder to find, hidden behind stacks and stacks of cookie-cutter crap.
This is really an age old debate that I don't really care to engage in, but exist at the ass-end of: the people who stare at an Adams landscape and see the beauty in mundane VS. the people who stare at a Weston nude and see beauty as it exists in the mundane. I'm not meaning to place nature in the mundane, it is divine, but it doesn't move much. Basic understanding of composition and exposure aside, the "art" of landscape photography is really just the art of getting there. In these beautiful aspects of our planet, why would you not include the most beautiful thing on the planet? Each of us sees the world differently, and our individual perception is what makes us so beautiful, but why is the nature I shoot deemed less appropriate than the nature you choose to look at because I have something natural in mine? Why is my work forced into a NSFW corner of the planet by the mundane masses, when I am simply shooting something beautiful and natural? Why is beautiful and natural openly ugly and deviant, but secretly exactly what I meant for it to be? I refuse to take a photograph that I would be ashamed to show my kids, why are you protecting your kids from my work, instead of giving them the opportunity to see the beauty that exists in nature, and allowing them to develop a rational appreciation and respect for natural?
My view of the world...
...my view of art...
.....my view of beauty...
....... that is what I project in my work. Each frame is not of a subject, but of how I see that subject, specifically unique to me, but also as grand as the view of infinite before me... my collective unconscious; Our collective unconscious, as it would appear void of conscious, societal interference; Moral law, as it existed before falling victim, tainted by modern, temporal expectation. Everyday language becomes the simple, technical aspect of the base process, while creative process is released to natural selection. The possibilities become infinitesimal, and the result is out of our control, yet we find that it exists, exactly how it is supposed to exist, in spite of us, and because of us. Multiply that equation by the infinite possibilities that exist in an additional soul and will, free to choose anything and everything, times the infinite freedoms of natural law, and you will then only begin to understand the spirituality that exists in what I do.
This is the genuine divinity that resides in working with art models and nature, inexplicably capturing a specific moment in the vastness of time and space that, even in its specificity, is still subject to infinite interpretation of infinite perspective. In being exactly what it is supposed to be, it will never be exactly what it is, while remaining exactly what it will always be.
While my philosophy and perspective evolve daily, those are the kind of things I think about when I'm out shooting or treating my work, and it pains me to have all of that reduced, demeaned, to what someone is or isn't wearing. If you don't see the beauty in it, then stop looking at it, but who are you to mandate how others might perceive it?
What do you think?
Would you like to take better photographs?
Would you like to take a big step forward in a photography career or as a keen enthusiast?
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