I have been making black and white film portraits since the late 1970’s. Ten years ago I decided to reach outside my comfort zone to explore nude portraits. The nude figure has been the subject of artistic interpretation for thousands of years in sculpture, paintings, drawings and more recently in photography by great talents such as Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, Imogene Cunningham, Ruth Bernhardt and Jock Sturges, among many others. Over time, my approach and technique evolved. My project expanded to include approximately two hundred people.
This body of work spans a decade and includes nude portraits of playwrights, actors, choreographers, bankers and, artists, as well as aspiring and professional models. In making these images, I have followed the advice of the great German portrait photographer Lotte Jacobi who said, “let the subject rule the photograph.” I surrender to the collaborative process, encouraging my subjects to pose and gesture in their own unique way. Sometimes spending several hours or even a full day is what creates the opportunity to capture subjects in a revelatory way.
An ongoing collaboration with some of the models has brought the process into their home environments (in addition to the studio). This expanded scope has inspired the subjects to more personally shape the direction of the images we create together. I am extremely grateful for the friendships, time and cooperation that Brianna, Emma, Hayley, Maya, and Milena have provided, so that I could experience the profound honestly of these photographic portraits.
– Gary Samson