A friend, who also does fine art nude photography, hates props. He thinks the human form unadorned is cheapened by the addition of mirrors, machines or almost anything else. Hard enough to make the skin tone right, capture the muscle tone and movement. I nod my head. He’s right, of course. And he’s wrong. When the prop gives contrast and interest to the composition, it’s hard to say it’s not important to the picture. I like these two photographs because, in both cases, the prop is central and minimal giving the human form lots of room to be the point of the photograph.
Both were done in a machine shop with lots of grease and everything else. That can become an even bigger issue. You begin to include too much of the environment. Then the photographs begin to look like: “Oh, we have an undressed person in the machine shop.” The trick, I’ve always believed, is to use the environment, make it part of the photo, but not lose the focus which is the human form.