Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Female Photographers and Self-nudes

Originally uploaded by aikitherese.
I have come to the conclusion that some of the best nudes I have seen have been self-portraits by women. On flickr, you can certainly find plenty of nudes -- as well as on other photo sites.

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 ( 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..

Friday, August 19, 2005


The University of Michigan's Museum of Art is currently showing about 20 images from Monte Nagler, an accomplished large-format photographer. It's showcasing his newest book, published by the UM Press - Monte Nagler's Michigan ( here). The black and white photographs are mostly landscapes, and true to his Ansel Adams background, only one has a person in it. However, this is Monte Nagler's Michigan -- not mine or yours. His photos are beautiful, and as an admirer of his work, I would love to have any of them hanging on my wall -- especially the one of the inside of the Capitol dome in Lansing.

I met Mr. Nagler about 5 years ago at an event in Ann Arbor. He's easy to talk to, and at that time, I was just getting back into photography and taking it seriously. It's good to see that someone can make a mid-life career change like he did, and be successful at it. Unlike a lot of photographers schooled by Ansel Adams, Monte has focused on areas other than the Western US. His landscape work is wide-ranging, and very popular. His Michigan is presented in such a way that you know he loves his home state, and we are lucky to have a person of his caliber recognized by the Governor as a "state treasure."

The images at the UMMA are downstairs in what is called the "Paper Gallery" I call it the purgatory gallery because it's dimly lit, and is really just a hallway past the bathrooms and leads into office spaces. They usually have photo exhibits down there, unless it's a major showing on the second floor, like they did with Manuel Alvarez Bravo a few years ago. Hopefully, when the UMMA gets their addition, photography will be displayed more prominently there.

Diana Cameras -- Fun Stuff

As the Stomach Churns
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I finally got out my Diana camera Monday and took it to the Michigan State Fair -- shot a roll of Ilford HP-5, actually developed the film during the same week, and scanned in the negs yesterday. For the first time, I got a bunch of images from it that I really liked. Maybe it's the subject matter (partly) or maybe it's that I am finally getting accustomed to its idiosyncracies. Whatever, I think out of 16 shots, at least 4 are real keepers.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Daughter Does Good...

I am a beast.
Originally uploaded by I am Jacques Strappe.
My daughter Marjorie scored a big one with her Best of Show entry at the Michigan State Fair. She had already receieved a State Fair Gold Ribbon award, and she was judged against other gold ribbon recipients. So, you could say she's the best of the best. In any case I am happy for her, quite proud, and also a bit envious. Way to go, kid!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Argust 5th

Argus 5th
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Tomorrow is Argust 5th (August 5th) the 5th world-wide Argus day. A day to take your Argus camera and shoot some film. See the Argus Collector's Group for more details!

You can see last year's Argust 4th images here: