I love beautiful clothes and shooting fashion, but sometimes it's all too gimmicky. Man-made materials could never achieve the truth and raw beauty of natural forms. I wanted to experiment with nude photography to capture the human body in its most truest form. Shelayne Nicole is an artist from the Central Coast who models for fine art photography, and it was a pleasure collaborating with her on this shoot.
As a child, I studied fine art before I ever picked up a camera. Nudes, in the form of paintings, sketches, or sculpture have always fascinated me. The natural curves of a human body and the raw texture of skin are three-dimensional elements of a subject reveal light, contour, gesture, perspective. Western art, especially that from the Renaissance era, depicted strong bodies—athletes, dancers, warriors. These bodies expressed so much human energy and emotion in the way they pose. For this shoot, I was inspired by the artworks of Rembrandt, Renoir, Michelangelo, Raphael, as well as the self-portraits of American photographer Jamie Beck.
The photoshoot process was fairly simple. I brought in some fabrics (chiffon is my absolute favorite) and coconut oil to add that touch of shine on the skin (like makeup highlighter, but for the body). Shelayne posed on stools, apple boxes, and the ground, and with her diverse modeling skills, I just kept shooting without giving much direction. I started out with a beauty dish, but ended up switching to a strip softbox placed on one side of her, with a white fill card on the other.
What I would do differently next time: Direct the model a bit more to produce the images I had envisioned, instead of experimenting with posing and shooting without a clear purpose. I always have reference images to look at, and for this shoot they were portraits of women in very feminine, simple poses. It would've been better to focus on creating the ten or so shots I want instead of ending up with 1000 extra photos on my hard drive.
The photo selection process was quite easy, as I always listen to my gut when it comes to picking out my favorite images. I preferred the photos where her pose looked interesting compositionally, and where the light wrapped around her body in a way that shows the full range of light and dark, from the brightest highlights to the blackest shadows. Shooting in raw always helps when I need to bring out detail that sometimes gets lost in the shadows. I also added noise in Photoshop, because graininess just looks right in fine art-style photos like these.
I've been wanting to shoot nude photography for a long time, and I'm happy to have finally done it in the studio. Excited for more! Who wants to model? :)