Seminar: Shallow focus Art Nude.

In this seminar I would like to show both how I shoot and how I think about creating my Shallow focus images. It is the thought behind these images that I then try to bring out in them. I also want the viewers thoughts to help create feeling within that viewer that perhaps  were not the same as mine but never the less are valid once viewing my images.

It is always an enormous challenge looking for different ways of portraying the female nude –particularly in a discreet and stylish manner. I basically like the idea of taking images of a nude but not letting the viewer actually see any detail, trying to leave the viewer wanting more.

This is taking the ‘voyeuristic’ intent of the nude photograph into another area where the nude remains a central part of the story – not the whole story. Here, we are given more information to construct our own story – rather than merely show an object.

Nude photography, particularly that done with a specific erotic intent, has long ago crossed boundaries to the point where the imagination of the viewer has often become redundant.

I have sought to return that imaginative power to the viewer by creating an imaginary series of liaisons or affairs. Into that I have introduced the ‘mind’s eye’ of the other protagonist in the affair.

The imaginary ‘He’ focuses on seemingly incidental elements which nonetheless track the progress of the affair. These elements remain in sharp focus, whilst the minds eye view of the subject remains gauzy, and ephemeral – and almost enriched in our imagination.

Good Photography can make clear statements, make you think and beguile you all at once. By approaching this subject matter in this way, I am hopefully creating a frame that allows the viewer to draw on their own experiences, and be beguiled in the process.

When shooting using minimal depth of field and creating shapes and colours of interest rather than sharp images of the subjects you have to understand what is happening in that unfocused image. How to choose the correct lack of focus for the image to still hold together? When an image is too unfocused it looses clarity yet when done correctly the viewer adds the clarity he or she needs to complete the picture.

What to watch for when shooting this Art Nude style. Defocused colours sometime appear as just blobs rather than adding detail. These have to be avoided at the time of shooting.

This style could be counted as “Fine Art” even though as a general rule Fine Art is often looked on as being exclusively Black & While or tones images. For me this actually works better when quite vibrant colour is used. When doing this type of shoot I often mix it with a soft nude boudoir portraiture shoot. The lighting and posing of the subjects are very similar with just the point of focus changing.

I would prefer to shoot inside in a bedroom or living room situation although have done outside shoots this way where the in focus images are then more of a glamour genre rather than boudoir.

The seminar will involve:

A quick slide show showing some images taken in this style. These would also include images submitted for my successful Fellowship panel and images which I rejected from the panel. By seeing rejected images I think we all learn what to look for in good images and what is to beavoided in others.

Shooting with a model – Normally I briefly show how I would do it, preferring delegates to shoot their own images with supervision from me. However, should delegates rather watch than take I would take more images to show how I build up a shoot by building up confidence in the sitter or model and working with the given surroundings.

Interaction with the course members generally allows delegates to take more away from the seminar than just ideas to try later. The fact a delegate would have their own images to work on later is, I think, more important than just having watched someone else do the taking. Critique my own images from the session and hopefully some of the images taken by delegates if they wish. Choose a couple of the images and then work on them showing my techniques in Photoshop and also to explain my thought processes behind my final selections. I tend not to heavily rely on Photoshop to create a good image but often it can help an image to evolve. It’s generally no more than I might have done when hand printing a negative on film