Nude photos from sessions with female friends are the principle departure I make from my photographic haiku practice. Let me begin by saying I dislike most nude work by photographers. I rarely see anything I find original, and frequently it feels gimmicky.
But after years of taking pictures, when I turned 50, I decided to see what I would do photographically with a nude subject. With forced constraints from natural light and identical setup — nominal props or costumes— in my small sparse apartment, they were always a creative challenge.
While I started with a hired model, very quickly these shoots became a collaborative project with my set of friends (and their friends). Over eight years, the few multiplied into a hundred. Most have returned multiple times.
Each woman volunteered for different reasons. Each wanted to explore some aspect of her femininity and sexuality. While some got in touch with their innate exhibitionism, most pushed through a million paralyzing fears of being seen and judged. But they were curious to see how I’d see them. Engineers, lawyers, moms, artists, doctors, educators, and entrepreneurs, they decided to try this with me. Images are anonymous largely because no one wanted to deal with the consequences of being photographed nude.
Said one model: “There was a desire to capture a beautiful moment, relatively organically, the way bodies move through space naturally.”
Even though the photos are fully improvisational, they are not “pure” scenes I just stumbled across; consequently I exclude them from the set of photographic haiku. Still, they are extremely personal, and embrace many of the aesthetic properties of simplicity, a bit of mystery, and wabi sabi.
I believe that the camera is an energy modulator — it takes the wholeness and intensity of things “out there” and it funnels it down through a little frame to me, where I can digest it safely.
The phenomenon is widely observed. War photographers are sometimes killed in battles when they’ve stood up in the middle of firefights. They…