A nude portrait is a complex image. The first impression is that it appears to be about sexuality, but it rarely is just that. That is more our Madison Avenue conditioning coming into play.
One of our clients described her images as expressing ownership of her body; she could do and express what she pleased, with her figure as the medium. These where for her – her husband will enjoy them, but they were not for him.
At the start, many women are nervous – intimidated, even – by what they are about to do. But once begun, they embrace going for it. Watching the change and evolution is always amazing and humbling to me.
For some women, the path of the nude portrait is one of self discovery. One client had developed a bad reaction to being called pretty. A whole collection of emotions rose up – from denial, to suspicion, and always tears. Yet near the middle of the session she clapped her hands in glee, shouting, “Oh, my god, I really am pretty!” With that realization, her reaction to being called pretty just faded away. It was exciting to watch, like the birth of a butterfly, which is how she described it as she left.
Even just creating a nude image is transformational, and this gets reinforced as friends and lovers express their reappraisal of the woman who does it. She is perceived as being bold, even fearless for doing a nude collection, and thus stepping into the role.
Fran, my assistant, always chuckles when a client tells her that very few, if more than one person, will see her very private collection. Yet nearly always we discover their joy of how they look gleefully moves them to show a much larger circle of people.
A nude image portrays the subject as someone comfortable in their own skin. Yet it’s fascinating to see that the nudes we create are rarely the slender stunning beauties you would expect. They are all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicity. They all, however, have a wonderful inner beauty that they are delighted to see.
A nude portrait, more than any other choice of portrait, is a very intimate, personal and bold statement of self. It reveals so much more than the exposed skin. It’s complex and liberating.