Tag Archives: philosophy

Creative Process: Nudes in Nature

Nudes in Nature Lucas JamesI’m teaching a class this weekend entitled “Nudes in Nature”.  I’m out of my comfort zone with this workshop, as I really don’t shoot nudes outside.  It’s just not my thing, mostly because the subject risks becoming clichè or trite.  How many images are there of: nude on a rock, nude in front of a bush, nude on the sand, etc?  I’m guessing billions.  But I’m a firm believer that struggle leads to growth, so I’m all in for the course.

So how am I going to get around this?  Whenever I get stuck, I go at a problem from a different angle.  Forget the nudity for now and let’s focus on some concepts.  We’ll fill in subject and technique later.  Bear with me through a decidedly non-linear creative process after the jump.

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Letting Things Simmer

Sometimes I need to let things, ideas or images simmer.  Such as when I like an image, but I’m not sure if I love it.  Some images are easy.  Some you know are “it” the moment the shutter snaps.  Others have to digest, simmer or just sit for awhile.

Anisotropic Images

I’m of many minds 2.

Anisotropic Images

I’m of Many Minds 3.

These are those sort of images.  I like all of them and I like how the red in the background turned out.  But I’m not sure how they fit into the current mirror series.  They fit visually into the series, but I am questioning whether they add to it.  But I do like the multi-faceted (pun intended) aspect.  To me, it visualizes mental anguish or complex decision making- times when the mind moves rapidly from one subject to another.  I’ll have to let these simmer mentally for a few days.  I’ll print them and keep them on my desk and in the course of a week or so I’ll know if they belong in the series. Of course, maybe this is the start of a new series…

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Self Image in Photography

The Mirror Series of art nudes deals with self image in photography and its inspiration for the came from several events.  The idea to work with dull metal as a reflective surface came during a workshop with Connie Imboden at the Maine Media Workshops.  I bought a piece of aluminum sheeting and brought it into the studio to play with.  I shot this image with a model named Margaret.

Margaret art nude anisotropic images

Image of Margaret- inspiration for the mirror series

When she saw the image, her first response was “Oooh, I like that one!  I look thin!”.  That struck me as odd, because Margaret was anything but fat!  It shocked me that this lovely, confident young woman had an image of herself as needing to be thinner.

The other event (around the same time) was that I suddenly noticed myself looking older.  I thought maybe it was job stress, or not sleeping well, or turning 40, but when I started looking closely at photos from the last couple of years I realized I had looked this way for a while.  It was just that my mental self image was tied to the 30-something version of me.  I had been ignoring the aging visage in the mirror and substituting the younger version in my mind!

Out of these two events came the idea for the mirror series.  I wanted to explore how we form our self image and how different events, media or actions could distort that image.  I also wanted to probe the difference between image and its interpretation.  Margaret and I could clearly look at the same picture and see two different things because we brought different biases and histories to the viewing.  The mirrors I use are intentionally imperfect, so their reflection cannot be a true representation of reality.  Their reflections are warped, uneven and fuzzy.  And yet their images are “real”- they exist!  It is up to the viewer to decide how to interpret them.  The resulting image is more like a memory- blurred and imperfect- than like a true photograph.

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