January 18, 2012

Living Sculptures

My high school art teacher was a little eccentric, (which was a good thing and seems to be part of the job description for art teachers!) She helped students through personal projects that had nothing to do with the exam material, calmly reviewed proposals for twenty-foot high paintings, and was an expert at tackling students paralysed by artist’s block a week before the deadline.
One of my friends wasn’t happy with her work and on hearing her plea for inspiration, our teacher cried “but how can you be stuck- you’re a walking work of art!!!”
I could almost see the light bulb turning on in my friend’s head. Her subsequent self-portraits received an A.

Seeing the human body as a living sculpture isn’t exactly an original concept, or a difficult one for many photographers and models- the tricky part is often getting the viewer to see what you do.

For some people, the challenge is getting past the obvious:
“She’s naked.”
“That’s right- but look at the pose and the way
her body is positioned. It is perfectly symmetrical- the light makes her curves even more pronounced…”
“But she’s naked!”
And on and on and on…

Making an impression on other artists is even more difficult as most have seen it all before at the very least. Many have tried it themselves. That’s where the lighting, positioning and imagination come in- especially inside a white box with- if the team is lucky- a cube or step for the model to pose on.
Not that shooting outdoor nudes is easy- it isn’t- but a lot of decisions are already made. On location there are infinite focal points, a change of scenery usually within a minute’s walk, a variety of things for the model to pose with, in, on or under- and there’s a nice round sun to help with the lighting decisions (or hinder them until five ‘o’ clock precisely when the light suddenly becomes perfect)!
A studio is literally a ‘blank canvas’. There are so many ways to treat the curves, angles, ripples, joints and plains that make up a human body, that such a project could last a lifetime- and that’s without factoring in models of different genders, colours and shapes!

It is while browsing studio nudes that I find I can identify the best of the art models- bizarrely, this is because shooting abstract or sculptural nudes often involves doing the opposite of what modelling usually entails! As a model, scrunching yourself into a ball may not feel like the most attractive position, but when photographed from the right angle the creases and awkwardness of the pose are hidden and instead, you resemble a smooth living stone.
Close-ups are often joked about- it is a daunting thing to see your elbow in all it’s wrinkly glory… but if the viewer sees amazing texture captured in an abstract shot, then you have earned your meals that day!
While it is lovely to be recognised in photos (“another wonderful shot posed by _______” is always nice to hear), hiding models’ he
ads instantly makes the photograph about the form, rather than the identity of the person posing and so sometimes it is better to shut egos away, keep our heads down, and hope to be recognised for our incredible knees!

There are only so many w
ays the human body can be arranged and so accidentally copying someone else’s pose is a nightmare of many models. (Trying to avoid this with experimental posing often results in some hilarious outtakes!) However, trying to invent a new pose- whether it can be done or not- and, in the case of abstract nudes, banishing your inner model (along with the ego) is what, in my opinion can make a great pose.

And when the aforementioned great pose is captured by an equally-great photographer? That’s when the magic happens…


First image: "Underlap", by Matthew Scherfenberg. I love the marble-like appearance of the model's legs. (And could see this on a pedestal in a gallery!)

Second image: by Lightphile Studios. This is the definition of a "living stone". Beautiful pose.

Some more beautiful pictures:

3) by Keital.

This image reminds me of the yin/yang symbol
in the way that the model (Anita de Bauch)'s face is shown in one reflection but not the other. If you look without trying to separate the reflection from the real image, the different curves and lines take on an abstract quality.

4) by Jose Manuel de Caso

I see so many photographs of swans taking this pose, but it didn't occur to me that models could! I really like the sensuality- even eroticism- of this image, without it being explicit.

5) by B L Photography

It is always fascinating to see the work of art-nude models when they are behind the camera! This photo is a self-portrait by nude model Brooke Lynne- and a great example of an unusual pose that works to great effect.

6) by Jose Manuel de Caso

I love the pose and the contrast of the model's body with the dark background. Proof that the model does not have to be contorted to produce a wonderful image!

7) by R Davidson

I did not know the human body could make a heart shape in so many ways! If you focus on the model's outline, you can almost see another heart shape!

8) by Franklin Photographs

I love the way the lighting emphasizes the muscles and shadows on the model's body- and the tension in her fingers and toes.
Comparing this picture to the one above, it's a good example of how a small change in pose can change an image entirely.

9) "Ear", by Matthew Scherfenberg.

This image seems simple at first glance but the longer I look, the more details I see- especially the changes in tone around the jawline and hair. Beautiful piece of art.


Inder Gopal said...

Great post, very knowledgable

Alex said...

Very thought provoking post

KathTea Chin said...

Lovely writing and choice of images as always, Roswell :)

Anonymous said...

so beautiful and a stunning choice of breathtaking models work.