As a novelist, I create characters, populating whole worlds that don’t exist, except on the page. On a good day, I can make my characters seem more real than real.
I like to think I bring that same sensibility to my photography. Like a well-rounded character, a good photograph should suggest enough depth to keep the viewer engaged longer than a glance. A good image should stay with us the way a good story does.
I choose to photograph nudes for the same reason I open a novel mid-drama. Nakedness discomforts—sets you on the edge of your seat, so to speak, and makes you wonder what’s going on.
Being human is as much about being sensual as being sentient. To deny that is the same as pretending not to see, but, of course, we do that all the time. We see swimmers. The water distorts their limbs, but our brain corrects what our eyes see and shows us–just swimmers. Same with dancers twirling. The motion can elongate limbs, but, more often than not, we see dancers, not elongated blurs. The camera doesn’t make that correction, meaning that, without manipulation, photographs can appear surreal. In photographs with water or motion, that can be pronounced. In more classic nude poses, it can be as subtle as a shadow, muscle, or line the eye misses in its attempt to simplify and give us what we expect to see. Art is what we don’t expect to see but was there all the time. In pursuit of art, I like what the camera does, especially when photographing the human figure.
Of course, photographing the human form has never been easy. It’s more than light, action, camera. Like it or not, the figurative photographer must embrace society’s expectations (read hang-ups). That includes the feelings that society projects onto nudity and beauty. In other words, the figurative photographer must be more than technically proficient. She must exercise good judgement and all the fearlessness that all art demands of any person who wants to seriously practice it. In other words, I hope my photographs are tasteful but also don’t hold back. Open mid-drama–true of my photographs as well as my stories.
Jerrie Hurd photographing a model while sitting on a dock overlooking a lake. Nothing special, except that the creativity of the photographer, Sophie Gibbings, makes it seem like more. We could be floating in the wider universe.
Which is the point. That’s what we’re all looking for when we pick up a camera, pen or some other instrument to capture that elusive thing called “art.”