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Some thoughts on Nudes at beach

I attempted this once before with different pictures (same shoot) and it failed to post apparently, so I am trying again.
For Trivia: Model is Stathena who is currently in San Francisco area of California, although she travels occasionally these days. Lovely and wonderful art model.

Nothing special about this image other than it has the elements I am talking about in them. one is a full frame not cropped and one is cropped as I would crop them. Other than some generic corrections, no editing has been done to the photos.

This is an older set (one that I realized I had not gotten to yet), but it got me thinking about nudes at beaches and I was wondering what elements are important to convey not only the figure, but the environment of the beach.

There is the Horizon.
  • how important is it being there at all?
  • How important is it being level? (I happen to have compulsive tendency to want to make it level even if not necessarily the best angle for the image)

The Waves.
  • How important is it to catch the waves in the image (if present)?
  • Should the image be extended out a bit to have them show?

Reflections. While sometimes they are not there because the wave just came in or is cresting past the model, sometimes they can be plainly there.
  • How much should be captured of the reflection if you only have part?
  • Should the reflection be cropped similarly to the actual body (as in not across joints)?
  • Should we try for the reflection deliberately?

Other Elements. On this particular beach, ignoring that nudes are normally not permitted, you are not supposed to touch or disturb anything on the beach. Thus they can't be removed before hand.
  • So how much of the background elements should be left in?
  • Does having some of the natural debris add to the image? (I personally would edit out the seaweed clump that shows near her forehead and likely the other three major pieces in the upper right (along with the what is probably a white piece of man made trash), but otherwise I would be tempted to leave the rest).

Anyway some thoughts I have had and am wondering how others feel about these elements in a beach picture.
 

Attachments

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Tim,

First thanks so much for posting and adding this diversity! Did you just arrive at the beach early before complainers would be around!

I have not seen images embedded as “icons” before. It does look very “Architectural” and the layout is really
good, but I really prefer prefer full size.

So allow me to post them afresh. I would like us, if we may, to first take in, lavish attention and enjoy your pictures and only after that address the many “should” questions you propose!

Asher
 
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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
First let me share with you a rule in my house.

I banned “Stop-it!” from being uttered by my family, especially grandchildren .... and my wife!

A lot of things I like to do: tickle the kids, trick them, play jokes and steal their candies and toys can be done without hindrance!

Here in OPF, similarly we would be happy to avoid like the plague almost any reference to the word “Should”, at least in in picture design.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
3458


Tim Dolan: “Nude on Beach 1”



3459


Tim Dolan: “Nude on Beach 2”

Now, Tim, we just have the pictures to enjoy.

I am happy to see this lovely redhead and the blue scarf!

I would value here group support and feedback!

What is fresh and any minimum tidy ups needed?

Asher
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
Hi Tim.

I’ll talk like might talk to myself. It’s easier that way. I can never offend myself.

Firstly, let me reassure you. I would never take a picture of a nude anything human. That’s just me. People here know how I am about that.
But if I approach the problems you have set here as I might any scene, let alone a beach scene, I might be able to present an alternative approach.

Presenting the goal as a nude photo has elements of objectivity. It presents the case as being specifically guided by the title. Sort of like for identification purposes. Like taking a photo of a bird, dog or other specimen for scientific classification or just perving at. That’s what the second cropped shot looks like.
Now I know what a nude is.

Nude on a beach is just placing the object in question in a set location. This isn’t about context so much as just a place to photograph someone. That’s the first I cropped shot. Now I know where she is. Big deal. Splashing waves and debris on the beach won’t do much to give the image context.

Context is about taking the situation, all it’s elements and details, things and places and establishing some meaning to it all, something we can get our teeth into, not literally of course.

I remember Westons nudes at the beach where he used the forms of the body to replicate or add to the landscape. The nude and the location became one place, one single idea, a complete context.

I’m not saying you can’t do what you’ve done but the result is less edifying. It’s sterile! Bland. Dull.

So you might consider tizzing it up a but.
The average Aussie bloke would call her a ‘3 scooner’ sort of girl. My wife would ask if her bum is that big.
Just because she’s nude doesn’t necessarily give immediate licence for art.

Personally I think almost nude has a better appeal. Let her do something. Have a picnic with her. Get her to collect shells, have a wade in the water. Go fishing. I was going to say let her decide but she’s a pro model and they make everything about the pose which usually turns out like yours: clumsy and awkward.

I was just thinking of the shots of Marilyn Monroe from Playboy. Now there’s a woman who knew how to be partly nude and do something with it.

So while your model is prancing around looking like she want to be there and enjoying the day and not just being paid for the shoot, you’re in there with the Leica or whatever shooting what feels good for you. While that’s happening you’ll see the content of the viewfinder and you’ll know when it’s right. Shoot like every shot has some worth. Something will happen.

I also remember that when the Monroe shots were taken, Marilyn asked the photographer if her wanted to have sex with her. Now that’s commitment to the job. He declined, by the way. His biggest regret he later declared. Such is life.

So really, you needn’t ask us what should be done. You need to work on what you’d like the photo to show us. Is it just tits and bum or is it something more. At the moment it’s the former.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Well, Tom,

It might surprise your dear wife, but no one m, I know of, who works with nude models would likely even have the words “bum” or “tits” in their working vocabulary to each other and certainly not to the model.

I would expect and hope that all nude art photographers follow as strict guidelines for ethics and respect, as required of physicians who too are exposed to undressed women.

The concentration is on esthetics of shape and of necessity, shedding not only of clothes but also of over sexuality.

It’s more akin to draining an image of color and then concentrating on form and texture, soft glancing light rays or dimensionality from the play of light with form.

Of course one never escapes the reality that we are, as photographers, and often men, looking at the bodies of younger women who otherwise would be hidden.

In a way, it’s like visiting a museum, where on display, even the poorest person can enjoy views otherwise beyond their reach. But they don’t lust or insult the Art. There are no dismissive equivalents to “fat bum” or “sagging tits”!

Your very best and most apt direction was to to the work of Edward Weston, making his muse fit into the landscape as a valid complement to the scene, or pointing to the natural vivaciousness of Monroe who actually enjoyed the moments of life.

She did indeed have sex in public, but on the lap of her lover in the flashing darkness and rocking of Paris trains passing through tunnels! But any picture, was a treasure for the very lucky passing photographer!

But generally, nude photography is not about body parts rather it’s adding more to the accumulated and competitive endless expression of awe at the human, and especially female form.

The sexualized imagery belong in different categories suitable for men’s magazines and aids folk boosting their own mood or performance.

The best nude photography is more like the engineering sketches for a racing car as opposed to the grit on the face of the driver fighting for the finish!


Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
@Tim Dolan (Longwatcher)

Tom’s pointers to the craft of Weston and the joy of Monroe, provide, in my opinion, a superb complementary pair of guides.

As a photographer have your own concept and get a model who enjoys being herself and being part of the imagined scene to be created.

If you need leaves in the picture, collect them and sprinkle them to your taste. If the skyline is best for you at an angle, go ahead.

In my point of view shared by many appreciators of Art, you should be catering to your own wishes and whims to frame and build a picture that thrills you.

As you are human, then there could be a chance others might share your enthusiasm.

Essentially it’s this:

1. Include what builds the picture and try to exclude as much of everything else by optimizing you angle and shooting position or simple selecting adding or moving things.

2. Watch the light, as that is what makes everything dimensional and reveals or hides elements.

3. Explore views are different than what could be gathered by simply glancing here or there. Move around so relationships change and discover new possible relationships for the forms that interest you!

Asher
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
Hi Ash and Tim.

You’ll need to excuse Ash. He thinks everyone is as couth and cultured as he.
We’re a bit more egalitarian down under. Everyone from the prime minister (occasionally a woman) to school children use ‘tit’ and ‘bum’ to describe parts of the anatomy, along with a few other terms you might not be familiar with.
I don’t apologise for that. Language can be a barrier or an identifier. You choose.

All I’m saying here is you might as well have photographed a duck on the beach. Being a nude woman does nothing for the beach.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Of course Tom,

I know nothing about Aussie vernacular beyond a few scattered words from the TV like mate and the “barbie”!

Here however I have asked models and they feel objectified by the “tits” and “arse” nomenclature as if they are parts of livestock or, (by hearsay), the line up of choice women at a brothel.

In the world of figure art, it’s only the woman and her shape that’s most important, not her personality nor role in society not any fitness as a mate.

If she exudes personality and meaning, then perhaps the picture is no longer in this realm of fineart!

So the only time one would call out “a large rear” would be if it the artist isn’t directed by that particular “robust” and more generous body type to be creative.

Here, personhood is not part of the picture and is never trampled on or insulted in any way.

Again, in my rarified world of figure artists, just uttering one word “tit” with a grin would, for me, mean I was going to kick someone off set!

Again, back to your two examples: Edwards Weston obsesses about positioning his nudes on the hillside for example in the light he had though about and examined for two weeks!

These weren’t accidental great shots out of 3 rolls of film

I am open to whatever Tim or any other photographer has in his or her head. I don’t make any rules except I have a right to be moved or not!

Asher
 
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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Model is Stathena....

“..generic corrections, no editing has been done to the photos.


.....thinking about nudes at beaches and I was wondering what elements are important to convey not only the figure, but the environment of the beach.


the Horizon?

If you show it make it horizontal unless an angle is part of your design and if so be bold show it’s your intent and no accident!

The Waves?

If you don’t want waves or beach or skyline, why choose that spot? All the questions you ask are about what you wish on your plate for your artistic feast!

Like the angle of the horizon, if you include waves make them a useful easential
Part of your composition or you could take the shot in a quarry or builders yard!

You are not “there” by accident. So what was it of the location that you felt might go with the model and what was it about the beach that perhaps needed the model for you? What opportunities for building some unique for have you imagined?

In general, for art form of a nude figure study, you might not really need any color at all. But then again this is just your vision. If you are thrilled, we will catch up with you.
Reflections? These just come with water. If there are clouds, they will be in the sky and reflected in the water. The model will bevin the wet sand looking back up at her and the waves might catch her red hair and her eyes might show the waves.

You, for the time of the shoot have to be either a “peeping Tom” observing what happens when a nude girl poses on the beach, or else you have to be “Master of The Universe”, responsible for every position, pose, gesture, reflection, highlight and shadow, wisps of flying hair, breasts hanging over the side of her body or toes lost in the sand.

There are no other “oughts” or “shoulds” here, just the choice you have for watching the model a simply deciding when and from what angle you will shoot or else working with her so that some creative composition happens at the expression of your will power and pressing ideas that come from inside your head.

Other Elements

You decide alone what your rules will be for this picture. If you feel you MUST not misrepresent the “truth” of what was there, then don’t change anything just adapt your position or location so that’s not even necessary.

I personally will scatter leaves or sand or pick up trash: whatever I feel I need for my pictures.

The only rules I would have for myself are:

1. Don’t humiliate or frighten anyone or their pets and don’t leave a mess.

2. Respect the model as if she was precious but not your girlfriend or treat. Find our her comfort zone for exposure and get a signed release.

3. Consider having a chaperone as routine.

5. Give your model a private place to change and her own bathroom.

6. If you promise pictures deliver them!

7. Select the best of your shoot, photocopy the best prints and make notes on what you like and what worries you.
 
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Asher,
If I am paying a model, I always get a release.
And because some of my work falls under the rules of Title 18, chap 2257, I always get IDs for the records, even if that particular photo shoot doesn't need them. I don't expect to ever be checked, but just in case, CMA.

In this particular case, The model's husband was acting as escort and lookout.
While at the beach or other outdoor locations privacy may be limited, At the studio I have a room for the models to change in.

And you are giving me some things to think out, which I appreciate, even if not necessarily as many thoughts on those elements as I was hoping.

As for sex, never when someone is getting paid for the shoot.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher,
If I am paying a model, I always get a release.
And because some of my work falls under the rules of Title 18, chap 2257, I always get IDs for the records, even if that particular photo shoot doesn't need them. I don't expect to ever be checked, but just in case, CMA.

I had not heard of this statute but it’s important for photographers or creative digital artist who might depict acts of lovemaking and not realize that there are laws requiring strict record keeping of age name and previous names of all actors!


In this particular case, The model's husband was acting as escort and lookout.
Generally it’s advisable to not allow that but to have your own, independent chaperone!


And you are giving me some things to think out, which I appreciate, even if not necessarily as many thoughts on those elements as I was hoping.

I have tried to avoid the “shoulds” of photography rule-givers, as first I am a rule breaker and second I wouldn’t want you to be restricted.

I feel that it's your job to be committed to what’s being created internally in the “Cathedral of the mind” and work with that self-directed vision to export that essence in physical form, to this real world as your art, with your personal stamp on it!

I fear that “my rules” are possibly damaging to your art!

However, I will now try like a good surgeon, to show possible corrections, while not causing any obvious damage.

As for sex, never when someone is getting paid for the shoot.
Ahah, perhaps that’s why some models try to refuse to take their earnings: got it. I was too slow!

Asher
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
All that for a photograph.
I’m impressed.
It does seem though that someone out there is making sure Tim covers himself well. (Both literally and figuratively).
And all I need is a bus ticket to my destination and permission from Christine to get out of the house for a while.

What happens if such an event draws a crowd?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
All that for a photograph.
I’m impressed.
It does seem though that someone out there is making sure Tim covers himself well. (Both literally and figuratively).
Photography requires none of this if one sensibly avoids photographing:

  • military installations,
  • adjacent apartment windows,
  • kids without permission
  • and especially Folk seeming to be available for or actually mating!

And all I need is a bus ticket to my destination and permission from Christine to get out of the house for a while.

What happens if such an event draws a crowd?
You give out your card and tell them you will photograph them too for a good sandwich, a fruit and just $500!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Actually, after careful reading of your link to Australian Law advice to photographers in “Public Places”, I’d say that the laws are pretty much the same!

But in Australia, local authorities might have extra restrictions that need to be known, such as photographing in an Olympic Park.

But the wording seems more well mannered in downunder!

Asher
 
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