Text and photos by Jo Minaxe.
I wanted to share some images from my latest shoot. This was only Greta’s second time to pose for a photographer. I have been exploring fine art nude and sensual photography for the last 5 years, and Greta saw some of my work and approached me about working together. The concept I had in mind was very simple; very little distraction with the focus simply on her. Her hair was our only prop.
Once she was comfortable on the bed, I gave her directions on movement and asked her to meditate on sensual moments in her life. Pretty quickly “Greta #1” came into view. I had a 1000 watt continuous hot light on her, and as she moved, you could see so much light reflecting off the white sheet on the bed, but her feet were beautifully shadowed. I used a wide angle prime lens so that I could get a sense of her whole body, but allow her foot to be the center of attention. I wanted to keep the foot in the dark because it created a sense of mystery to me, and this way the eye can follow the beautiful line from her foot, to her leg, and all the way up her body. I used the depth of field so that we can only get the sense of her, and hopefully all the light on the bed creates the feeling that she’s in her own world frolicking on a cloud.
Greta is a dancer and so I had her move a lot during the shoot. Even for a simple pose like lying on her back, I would still have her keep her hands or feet in motion. I used a 400 ISO so I could stop the motion in the image and hopefully allow the sense of movement to come through. That is how we got this image with her eyes locked on the camera.
We can sense the movement through the energy in her collarbone and hands. I recognize that I sacrifice some detail by shooting at 400 ISO, but for my taste, I really appreciate the energy that can be explored by allowing movement. I was keen on trying a black sheet for this concept because it allowed her hair to blend into the background; which allowed her eyes to really sparkle and hopefully communicate to the viewer. I used my favorite portrait lens; a 50 mm F1.8 It captures the light in the eyes. Her eyes indicate vulnerability while the positions of the hands indicate openness. In all my work, I’m hoping to find the image that seems both private and open.
I experimented bouncing a lot of light off her skin at close range. At one point, we had her kneeling on the very edge of the bed, with her torso very close to the light. I was lying on the ground below shooting upwards.
Moving the light closer created nice soft and even light over her full torso. I took a picture following the canvas of her torso to her face, and realized the image needed a little more. So I asked her to look up and put her arm behind her hair. This created more interesting lines for the eye, and it also helped foster the sense that she’s in her own world with her own thoughts. I asked her to take a deep breath and took the picture. This allowed the expansion of her diaphragm to be sensed by the lines on her ribs; so hopefully the viewer gets the feeling that this body is full of life and energy. It’s more than a canvas to be appreciated, but there’s a living person who is gracing us with her beauty. I’m very interested in exploring the body from angles that we don’t see when looking in the mirror, and here we see her breasts from a viewpoint that she herself does not see on a daily basis. Her breasts convey a sense of majesty, and the curves seem to move with the curves of her chin. When I’m shooting, I’m always looking for the moments when the shapes and lines resonate together. I appreciate this image because she seems powerful and she also has a sense of searching or wandering.
I brought out the wide angle lens again and this time I thought we should look for a lighter image. I asked her to be more whimsical in her movements. Her feet suddenly came into a lovely position and I asked her to keep her lower half still and try to twist over as much as she could with her top half.
Her expression has a sensual feel to it which makes the whole image very other worldly. She is playfully watching us appreciate her beautiful feet. The positioning of the feet creates a playful suggestion of two roads or directions to explore, and her head turn and expression gives us the idea that she is giving us permission to make this sensual choice. I really enjoy creating an image where through depth of field we get a sense of the person, with only a part of them captured in detail. I don’t think the image would be as mysterious and playful if we could see her face and derrière in detail. I hope the mystery allows the viewer to have an imaginative and expansive experience with the image.
As is often the case when I shoot, a good image often comes from an accident; a moment I had no intention of capturing. We were playing with poses and I was trying to shoot her torso from the side. I had Greta’s back lit and was trying to emphasize the shadows down the length of her side. To hold the position she got on her knees and was resting her derrière on her heels. My brain was looking for a full length image when I saw here feet and derrière together on the bed. I moved in close and caught this image.
Once again I’m using the 50 mm lens and playing with the depth of field. I wanted the eye to appreciate the curling of the toes and the amazing texture on the bottom of her feet. All these tiny lines and curves are juxtaposed with the stunning and simple curve of her derrière. The soft lighting allows us to appreciate an intimate viewpoint. In the end, this is my favorite image from the shoot. That is in great part because it was discovered by accident and therefore felt like a gift.