July 27, 2012

Genital Photography: Can It Ever Be Considered Art?

“Art-porn“, “erotic bodyscapes”, “edgy art nude”. There are so many names for it, but in general it amounts to the same thing: close-ups, usually labial, featuring “arty” strawberries, “sensual“ flowers, “fun” Skittles, or god-forbid, the “edgy” tiny lego-men. Ubiquitous on DeviantArt and usually prompting a disbelieving headshake at something that seems at best porn and at worst extremely uncomfortable to look at.

Except that by chance, I came across some images that broke the mould. While I think that with the exception of those horrendous doctors’ stock pictures, genital photography almost always has to be considered erotic, I wondered if it could ever be seen as artistic too.

It’s a standing joke that you can take any photograph of a naked woman, convert it to black and white and call it art-nude, but there is a bit of truth there; taking the colour out of an image often prevents it from being garish. (Though that could still be achieved with muting the tones or converting the picture to sepia). Keeping an eye on the colour is definitely a good idea- let’s face it, whether we’re porcelain, ebony or any of the many shades in between, our bodies have parts that can look a bit scary and red (and even blue, depending on where your veins are) close up!
Still, black and white is a matter of colour balance, not the kiss of life for a bad picture! In my opinion, to give genital photography a chance at being viewed as artistic, there must be another quality about the image that draws the eye, besides its subject matter.

While searching for images to illustrate this piece with, I have now seen far more photographs of genitals than one person ever needs to see (!) As a nude model, I am unfazed by nakedness, but I still found that being confronted with a large screen-filling technicolour penis before I’ve had a coffee is a bit jarring! Certainly in this woman’s opinion, if it is immediately obvious what the subject matter is, then the brain registers little other than the fact that the photograph is explicit. There are so many textures and lines in the "down below" areas that creating an image based around shape can be achieved in a multitude of ways- it just requires the photographer to use their imagination.

 Something else that I think can work well is juxtaposition (which is a great word that does not get used often enough!) Photographers and artists do it all the time- we’ve all seen the classic “woman’s body photographed from behind next to cello” picture, and I recently saw “woman’s hips next to pear”! Give the viewer another object to compare or contrast with (the first person to suggest a vegetable has to look through my photo research “reject pile”!) as it can not only add interest, but narrative as well.

Traditional artists have painted and drawn the genitals for a long time, and been called artists (look at certain Neolithic sculptures- and more recently, Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings)- but it’s a little easier to convince the public that the thing on the wall in front of them is indeed “art” when it‘s a historical artefact, or a depiction of some petals at first glance! With the medium of photography, it is far more of a challenge… but in my opinion, something that can be achieved providing  the challenge is accepted!


Image credits:
1) Turhi
2) Jemiro
3) Altering Reality
NB: The "images that broke the mould" are by Ekaterina Zakharova. As I have not received permission in writing to publish her images, I have linked to her profile above instead.

July 21, 2012

The photography of Hendrik Kroenert

Hendrik in his own words:

At the beginning of 2006 I met my companion Melanie who unfortunately died in 2010. She was very active on deviantArt so I joined dA myself as Niemans. At first I only watched, but after a while I became infected by her creativity and began to explore the art of photography. I bought a bridgecam, but soon recognized that this camera did not fit my needs. I sold it and bought my first DSLR in March 2008. Shortly after, I attended my first workshop and that drew me into photographing people. I think it was also in 2008 when I tried film photography and bought my first medium format camera from a friend. At first I used more digital when shooting, but nowadays I try to capture more and more images on film. My main focus is on artistic nude photography: I like photographing women. Bored by too sterile digital studio images, I try to work at home or better still at the model's place or any other interesting new location. Also my models don't have to be thin and have a perfect skin. I believe every woman has something beautiful, and I'm trying to show it. Clothes are masquerades and I want to show my models without that. Just their humanity, not hiding beneath cloth. My work has been influenced by photographers like Alexander Bergström, Neil Huxtable and several other artists on deviantArt.

Big Beautiful Curves
This is about showing the beauty that lies in women with curves through an very abstract, graphical approach

Silistra - My first art-nude shoot back in december 2009.


Generations: If I can find more matching models I would like to make a series out of that theme.

Orchideen-Lady -  I really like that Polaroid. Too bad Fuji ceased the production of the FP-100B shortly after the picture was taken.

Merdeuse - Sometimes I like to provoke a little

New Body

Many thanks indeed Hendrik for sharing your work with us. We wish you all the very best for the future.

July 6, 2012

Photographer's choice: Neil Huxtable by Hendrik Kroenert

Neil and his band, the Mark Percy Band. Left Laurence Harrison, centre Neil Huxtable, right Mark Percy

We are starting a new kind of feature.

"Photographer's choice" is a feature about a photographer chosen by another photographer. Our first feature of this kind is by Hendrik Kroenert from Germany. He contributes this interview with a photographer he most admires and has known through his membership of deviantArt. The photographer in question is Neil Huxtable, also known as Talkingdrum. Hendrik has selected some of his favourite nudes from Neil's deviantArt gallery.        
Hendrik is a competent fine art photographer in his own right and we will soon be featuring his work. Meanwhile we are happy to post his choices and we hope more photographers will come forward to suggest that the work of other photographers should be featured here on UdA.

As Hendrik observes, Neil Huxtable's nudes are quite different in that he tends to portray real women, as opposed to conventional fine art models, though he also photographs professional models.

The following interview with Neil was published by Hendrik in his blog a while ago, only the choice of photographs for UdA has been updated, augmented with Hendrik's handpicks from Neil's current deviantArt gallery.

Real name? 
Neil Huxtable

When and how did you get into photography?

My father was really into photography and I grew up in a household with a studio and darkroom. Although I didn’t use the studio I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. I got my first SLR when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

                                                                                     Who is your photographic role model?

It’s hard to name just one but I have been really inspired by Sally Mann. When I was at college I really liked Edward Weston (and still do).

What do you do when you are not photographing/retouching?

I’m a musician by trade so that takes up a lot of time. I’ve just got my studio back (music) after a 9 month refurb so I’ve not been as active on the photography front as I normally am as I’m spending a great deal of time in there catching up.

What is your favorite camera?

My favorite camera to use is my Bronica S2a but it has focusing issues that I can’t seem to cure so it tends to get side lined for my Hasselblad.


I shoot on both but a the moment I much prefer shooting on film. I have D700 which is no slouch but when I shoot models I always shoot a combination of film and digital. When I look at the results the film wins every time. There is something much more beautiful with film, especially in its tonal range.

If film, which is your favorite film?

I like Ilford Delta 400 (or HP5). I like to see a little grain as it gives an image “bite”.

Retouching images yes/no?

Yes I spend a lot of time retouching. I don’t look at digital retouching any differently from working in a darkroom where you’re dodging, burning, toning, touching up and doing a host of other things to manipulate an image. It’s just so much easier to do it digitally. My personal feeling is that whatever is done to an image, the processing work should not be evident. It needs to be done with subtelty and in such a way that it doesn’t show, unless of course the manipulation is part of the art as in adding textures and tones etc. I think it takes great skill to “process” digital images well.

Thank you Hendrik for your choices, it is indeed a great feature!

If you are a photographer and would like to propose another photographer to be featured here on UdA please contact us at univdartistes @ gmail.com

Models from top to bottom: Claire,Helena, Hannah, Anonymous, Tansy Blue, Keisher, Katie, Ang, Anonymous, Mellie, J-Lo, Sheenagh