Neck Folds & Carol James On TiptoesFriday, May 04, 2012
As the piles of unfiled envelopes on my basement floor diminish, I find gems and junk. The latest find is somewhat of a gem, although because of the nature of this blog I cannot show some of the “better” photographs. The envelope had the following heading: Nude Class- First in Focal Point, Jan Feb, March 2005 – Man Ray Imitation.
The nude class that I teach at Focal Point is my best attended class. Since 2005 I have managed to make it more comfortable not only for my models but also for the young men in my class who find it uncomfortable to photograph the male nude. I teach my students that just like painters and sculptors must learn about the human body in figure classes, photographers, even if they do not have the intention of ever shooting nudes, must learn as it is the only way of knowing how a body reacts to posture and movement. What people do underneath their clothes affects what they look like with clothes on.
I tell them that every picture that I ever took of Provincial NDP leader Carol James was one where I would signal and Ms James would stand on her tiptoes. This action affected her posture and made her look ever more incisive and sure of herself.
My students from the very first class know that I cannot abide by neck folds (even though my variation of Man Ray's famous picture here has a most noticeable one) or the unsightly ones that occur under the arm when the arms are moved so. The know that they must change the pose or use hair or a scarf to hide what usually is the blackest black in a photograph and thus the very first spot on a picture that we will look at.
I teach my students to approach the nude with a wide angle lens so that they have to be in extreme proximity to their undraped subject. I warn them to be careful and to use a good underarm deodorant and to chew gum or suck on a breath mint. They are going to be close and bad scents can offend.
The pictures you see here are commonly called grab shots. I “grab” them while I can with fast film. My students are tethered to a studio flash. From my spot I can only take pictures on the run. Of late I find that I have less time to do this and I spend most of my time observing, suggesting and correcting. There is a frustration in not being able to take pictures of unusually good looking and or interesting models but it is a frustration that I must compensate by telling myself that my students may be learning stuff that will serve them well in their future photographic careers.