Art and Shame

My first artistic nude!

Artistic nude

I originally opened this with the intent of testing Capture One and how it handles editing in Photoshop. Once I got going I couldn't stop. The result is something I'm going to end up hanging on the showroom wall.

It’s been a long road for me in my development as an artist to get to this point. The biggest hurdle, aside from fear, was shame.

Shame seems to be everywhere in our society these days. It’s this strange social construct through which the majority attempts to control the actions of the minority through passive aggression. Perhaps it’s a holdover from Puritan rule during our colonial years, or it developed naturally when we started seeking the safety of tribes. Wherever it comes from, one thing is certain it’s a form of oppression much in the same way that being verbally abusive is a form of aggression.

When I first started taking ‘sexy’ photos I was shamed by a peer, “Oh, you’re going to be that photographer.” Friends asked when the porn company was going to start up. And I have to admit that I still fear the kinds of looks I’ll get when other parents think to themselves, “Hey, that boy’s dad is a photographer I think I’ll look up his name and… oh my GOD!”

It’s especially scary with social media being the way that it is. Step out of line in the wrong way and rather than having to deal with the oppressive stares of the PTA, you’re looking headlong down the barrel of twitter and facebook, the rage of angry, faceless people peppering you from all corners of the globe.

And yet social media has taught me something about shame. If you read the shamers’ posts, watch their videos, and try to understand their logic you find a rather liberating truth hidden there. I think I finally found it as I watched the real model shame Instagram models in her viral video. Watching her flaunt her breasts for the camera as she shamed everyone else, I realized that the shame these people carry is always their own. It’s a manifestation of their own fears, an outward expression of their own inadequacies, and admission of their own failures.

That realization freed me in a way and was helped along by yet another discovered truth; I’m not alone.

The more I do this, the more I find people of like mind. They’re often quiet because they too fear the shaming, but they’re out there. They send me private messages or pull me aside from groups filled with sidelong glances and confess their appreciation for what I’m doing.

The more I shoot, the more I share, and the more I put myself out there, the more I find that I’m not alone. It’s a nice feeling not being alone, and if you’re reading this you should know that you are not alone either.

I’ve learned that to be an artist, the subject of art, or simply to live a life unencumbered with the restrictions of someone else’s shame means that we don’t necessarily need to live in the shadow of it. Yes, it’s still there, nipping at our heals like a cold snap in the morning air, but if we defiantly press forward we’ll find that we can achieve all those things that our detractors fear we will once we loose ourselves from someone else’s shame.

More Photos:



A Note About the Photos:

If you follow my Instagram account you know that I teased these the other day then didn’t post them. You’ll also notice that while the main shot has a lot more work put into than the others, it keeps with a similar processing found in two of the others. The fourth shot, the one I shared to Instagram, looks drastically different. The difference and delay stems from my stubborn refusal to put up something that I knew could be better.

For those of you that are into photo illustration, I processed the Instagram photo in Lightroom 5, before moving to Photoshop CS6 to do my editing. I’d actually processed a batch of six photos in total and was getting ready to do this post when I realized that the Instagram photo had artifacts in the shadows and some banding. I looked at my photos open in PS and discovered that as I tried to push the shadows more banding appeared.

I’m not sure where the problem originated from but opted to try the files in Capture One Pro 8. It meant watching a number of Youtube videos to familiarize myself with the new system that I’m planning to move to once Adobe does the inevitable and converts LR to subscription based.

It forced me to do a lot of learning and step outside of my comfort zone, but I love the richness of the Capture One versions. I’m leaving in the Instagram version as a comparison but I’d love to hear what you think.

Which do you prefer, the Capture one shots or the much more golden Lightroom photo?

Praise for my Courageous Model:

There are very few models that I think I could have achieved this with. Granted, the number of models in the area with the kind of courage that Crystal has is already small, but her unending patience while we shot was critical to the process. Artistic nudes are incredibly difficult to do. The amount of control you need to have over your light is very difficult to master and is such a far cry from portrait photography but it’s something I endeavor to get better at.

So a great big thank you goes out to Crystal Marie for having faith in my ability to do this and trusting that art would be the result. Be sure to head on over to her page and give it a 'like'. She's only 5 away from 1,600.

While you're at it, head over to my facebook page as well and give me a 'like' too! I'm only 1,403 away from 1,600 (they always love the model, never the photographer).