Originally uploaded by aikitherese.
As a bona fide art form, the nude has a long history. Most artists were men, thus nude females as a subject were always from the male viewpont. As photographers started doing nudes, they were at first photographing similar subjects and settings as some of the paintings done by their painting forebears.
Enter Edward Weston and Imogene Cunningham, who in my opinion, photographed some of the best nudes. Weston's were sometimes abstract, but always sensual, and I think were always very positive images. Cunningham's images were of a variety of women, sometimes soft, other times abstract, but again, always strong images.
Since then, how many photographers have shot nudes? Tens of Thousands? How many ways can one show the female (or male) form? Millions? Almost always, there has been the photographer and the model -- two minds. Is the product that we see because of the photographer or is it good because of the model? I suspect that if we based an image on glamour or sex appeal alone, rather than the body as a landscape,we might have differeing viewpoints on that. But, what if the subject and the photographer are one and the same? Then, the image becomes a personal statement combining the emotions and physical attributes of the model with the technology and photographic abililty of the model.
Until digital, the best instant feedback one could get for such self-images was a Polaroid. Not really well-suited for most serious photographers. You still had to wait a while to see the results. With digital, one can view the image via the LCD remotely (for those with flip-up screens) or at least see it immediately afterwards. The mood of the shot, positioning, and so one, do not get disrupted. The photographer then adjusts her position to get exactly what she desired in the shot. Easy? I wish it were so, because if it were that easy, anyone could do it. It still takes - vision, persistence, talent, and a thick skin. You are not just the photographer, you are the model.
There are many talented female photographers that do self-portraits on flickr (www.flickr.com). I am pointing out one that goes by the screen name of aikitherese. Her self-nudes are sensitive, dynamic, expressive, and just damn good photography. Sometimes they remind me of Weston, Stieglitz, or Modotti. Overall, many of them could hang in a gallery somewhere. Take a look --aikitherese
I don't believe I could shoot anywhere near as good a nude as those Therese does of herself. I certainly could never capture myself the way she does -- and I would not even attempt it.
So, is it the photographer or the model that makes a great nude? Sometimes they are one and the same and you can't separate them..