Beauty VS Discomfort

brokenfacesmBeauty is a problem. Most of us, like it or not, have let fashion photographers and moviemakers decide what kind of bodies are beautiful–young, overly thin–mostly. The fine art nude photographer needs to work against that norm, or embrace it and try to find something new in it. Art is not art unless it shows us something we haven’t seen before. Connie Imboden www.connieimboden.com goes one further, she like to discomfort and distort images, forcing the viewer to see something he/she might not enjoy except as art. Here are a couple examples of photographs that I’ve done that are intended to discomfort. What do you think?

In the case of the black and white image, water distorts the face as it breaks the surface.

In the case of the colored image, a sheet of mylar reflects a distortion of the body, including those floating fingers.

Nursing Baby and Color and Limits of Acceptability?

One teacher I work with regularly and another photographer that I admire both feel strongly that color is too graphic for fine art nudes. The teacher would have me believe that the photograph isn’t art unless it’s classically black and white. The photographer friend just likes classic photographs. What can I say? I like color. I like this image in color partly because the background colors are so vivid–the grass and the pond. Also I think it’s warmer and softer more fitting for the subject matter. Black and white begins to feel distant and old-fashioned for me.

Here’s the black and white version.

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Ah, but there’s another problem with this image. What is our tolerance for photos of nursing mothers? I was thinking we’re more OK with fine art nudes than nursing mothers until my husband reminded me that Elle just did a cover photo of a mother nursing her babe. It’s a supermodel mother who looks ten times better than the rest of us when we’re doing the mom-thing but it is probably groundbreaking none the less. AND IT’S IN COLOR!!!

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So here are the questions?

Color or black and white?

Nursing mom is OK? or are we still uptight about that one?

I’m hoping your join in this informal poll by leaving a comment.

Invitation to Longmont Show and my Photo

Don’t often to get accepted into shows in my local area. I’m blaming midwestern uptightness and my general subject matter. That said, I took a chance on a show called “Interpretive Landscape” that’s opening in Longmont, Colorado June 12 at 6 p.m. and got in!!! My idea of interpretive landscape is to add a nude–of course. Don’t know the gallery. It’s called DARKROOM at 515 Main Street. Could be big and impressive or small and intimate. Doesn’t matter, it will be showing my photo called “Lady of the Lake” and I’ll be at the opening. Hoping, maybe, you’ll stop by as well. I’m told June 12 is 2nd Friday in Longmont and lots of galleries will be open. You could make an outing of it. Hope you can make it. And, yeah, for a little Colorado love of my art.

PS the thumbnail here doesn’t show the whole photo. Check my galleries for the full experience or come to the show!

Three Images Accepted Jackson Hole Photo Contest!

Not a show. This is a print sale and contest. New thing for me to try. I sent the accepted (juried) images to sponsors of the contest. They print and offer the unmatted, unframed prints for sale. They also select cash winners. Wish me luck.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming was a cow-town when I was growing up in that area. Mostly I remember the western clothing store with the stuffed, upright bear. Impressive to a youngster. Now it is an upscale community with lots of galleries, so I’m excited to be showing there.

All three images are photographs that have been in other shows. If you follow this blog, you recognize them. Tried and true.

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Crop, Chop, Can’t be too Careful!!

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Here’s the cropped version of the same photograph. Both include a lot of environment, more than I usually like to include, but, in this case, I’m trying to show the figure as small in a larger world. The cropped photograph gives a bit more focus to the figure. In the uncropped photograph, the overhanging branch gives a rounded feel as if the environment is embracing the figure, but he’s almost lost in it. So much environment, that I’m not sure the eye knows where to go.

I’m torn. I’m not sure which is the better photograph. Cropped? Uncropped?

I’m taking opinions and votes. Leave a comment.

The point is, cropping a photograph is never an easy decision and I’ve seen crops that ruined the composition. I’ve cropped badly and had to go back and rethink. Good photography is NOT point and shoot. There are decisions during the shoot and decisions after the shoot. None easy.

Back to Back–Red Photo Series

It should be obvious, by now, that I’m doing a series of red photos. Why? When it comes to fine art nudes, it’s hard to top the old classic black and white photos that we all love and remember. Those black and white images are removed from reality (we don’t see in black and white) forcing us to think about shape and light rather than skin tone and body form. With that in mind, I wanted to try color that wasn’t literal. Red seemed a good place to start.

This photo was taken on a light table with three lights, one covered with a red gel. The second figure is actually a reflection from the light table. In this kind of set-up, you’re forced to get in close because you don’t want to catch any of the table or the lights in the picture. Means you have to simplify the compostion to minimal elements, which is the charm.

This one prints medium to small, works well with a black or white matt and has sold repeatedly. Done in series of 25 with only a few numbers remaining.

I think it hangs best any place where a punch of red works.

Red Flower

photo red flowerThis one is all about simplicity. Flowers, model, black background, done. Note that it is almost, but not quite, centered in the frame which adds to the sense of simplicity.

It helps if the model strikes a pose that also suggest a casual, uncomplicated attitude. Red flowers against pale skin, nice full lighting. What else is there to say, except that sometimes the seemingly simple shots are the hardest. They are usually the ones that you catch between more complicated set-ups.

This is digital capture and digital print. Prints in series of 25. It prints large or small but seems to work as a more intimate piece because, while seemingly modest, it is suggestive. I would frame it with a white mat/ black frame. Bathroom or bedroom is where I’d hang it.

Slice of Red

Extreme lighting can be good or very, very bad, but when it’s good, you get something like this.

This was done in the studio with one very bright light colored with a red gel. That means you only capture the parts of the body that find the light, but the resulting shapes can be extraordinary. I like how this shape tapers almost to a point top and bottom with just enough curve.

Red adds drama to the composition. The little edge of back on the far side also adds interest, as do the strands of hair.

This one is best about 7×10″ approximately with wide white mat and black frame. It can be bigger and also works as a small, intimate piece. It glows when placed near a lamp or light. I’d suggest bedroom, near the reading light. In series of 25 numbered prints.