Our friends at COOPH are back, this time with reinforcements. They enlisted the help of famed celebrity portrait artist Greg Gorman to explore the complexities of nude photography. The video is tasteful (though they did pick an odd soundtrack) and handles the issue with care.
Of course, nude bodies have been a major focus of artists as long as art has been around. Roman statues are all about the nudity while olden-day art world stars like Praxiteles, Titian, and Goya all built work around their appreciation of the delicate interplay between light and the human form.
Photography and the human form are inextricably tied and the line between what is art and what is pornography is so fine that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart basically gave up trying to define it when he wrote, “I know it when I see it.” The eloquent and appreciative studies done by Ritts, Mapplethorpe, Weston, Cunningham, and Stieglitz have cemented the nude as worthy of artistic interpretation. Recently the works of Neave Bozorgi, Henrik Purienne, and Ryan Muirhead have pumped some fresh air into the approach to capturing nudes.
That being said, it can be a nerve wracking matter to tackle. Working with a model for the first time is stressful. The temperature has to be just right so as to not leave them feeling uncomfortable or with impossible-to-Photoshop goosebumps. The feeling and feng shui of the room must be just so — not only aesthetically appealing for the image, but also comfortable for the shoot. A robe should be handy so as to not leave your subject feeling too vulnerable. And while you’re trying to juggle all of those components, both the model and the photographer must also establish and sustain a rapport to ensure casual and comfortable composure during the shoot. Basically, lighten up it’s just art.