Last time I blogged about “why the nude” as a photographic subject. But for a while I have been interested in photographing the male nude in particular. Much of my reasoning is a simple desire to be to be different and unique. A quick trip through Tumblr brings up a LOT of photos of nude women, mostly created by straight men. Right or wrong, women have been the subject of the male gaze in art for millennia. While the male form was once a common topic for figure studies, you don’t see it as much these days in art photography. Or at least not as much as you see women. So my initial reason for choosing male subjects was a case of not following the herd. When everyone else zigs, I want to zag. But beyond that, the male body is interesting unique and different ways. Look at how the light falls across the musculature of David.
The contours are unique! Men’s arms, backs and legs bring a sinewy landscape that is very rare among women, and that means there are more “new” images and shapes to be found. Plus, men tend to be less self conscious about the changes in their physiques as they age. We all break down, wrinkle and sag with time and with these changes comes character. Yes, the body of a twenty year old is spectacular, but there is no experience, no wear, no stories of hard fought battles or loves lost. One of my favorite images is of Ross- something in the past left extensive scarring on his back.
But those scars speak to experience, sometimes hard won, and he carries them with dignity. That character is just something you won’t find in the body of a twenty year old!
The more I work with men, the more I find myself “seeing” the body in a different light. The challenge of photographing a subject that does not come naturally pushes me in ways and directions that benefit my work in so many ways. Photographing the male nude may not be terribly common, but I would urge other photographers to explore it. You might just expand your artistic vision as well as your portfolio!