Body Image my beginnings & #altogether reflection
I began taking photos of nudes as part of celebrating our bodies without photoshop in 2013, models consisted of friends and I took part also if I wasn’t prepared to be photographed in this way, how could I expect anyone else to be?
I wanted to make my models as comfortable as a possible, so in doors (whether that was at my home or theirs) under studio lights (interfit) with a plain background was my preferred shooting style. At the beginning I think I was more obsessed with getting the lighting right, and using a ‘stock’ of gathered poses for all my models. I was quite apprehensive to start, I’d never photographed anyone this way before, and I wanted to ensure that my models were in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. As a photographer I think it isn’t just about the technical aspects shutter, its about rapport with the people you have in front of your camera, and a vision to be thinking of the next great shot.
I am unsure how I feel about those 2013 photos now, it was undoubtedly a great stepping stone to get me into thinking about this project more, but that is the good thing about the start of a new project you can develop it, and it will often lead you to places you hadn’t thought of. Models volunteered for various reasons; not only as they believed in the cause; but to also visually share their journey with their body at that moment in time. It was truly humbling to hear about their stories from eating disorders, mental health and post baby body to name a few.
Not just women: Perhaps the most prominent thing about the start of this journey was men volunteered to be included, having strong feelings about the way mens bodies can often be misrepresented in the media. One of my favourite actors Wentworth Miller was sadly subject to a body shaming meme in 2016, this upset me with social media hounding the guy when he wasn’t feeling his strongest mentally, I needed a response to this.
My volunteers said they were very nervous before, but after the shoot they appreciated that it was a very empowering experience.
In September 2017 my ‘Altogether’ exhibition at Sun Pier House Tea Room was in full swing. This was a collection of pieces of positive body image, using everyday (non model) nude subjects, photographed in non-traditional places. This exhibition seemed a natural progression for work that I have been producing since 2013, the pieces for ‘Altogether’ have been taken over the previous 18 months, and include locations such as derelict buildings, marsh land, nature reserves, and in the studio. I want to portray an image that individuals could relate to, ‘real’ bodies without the furnishings of Photoshop or designer clothing, taking it right back to the basics of who we are fundamentally underneath, Human. I have found this series of photographs a real balance, of ensuring the importance of the message, affirmation of my own skills, sympathetic to my subjects and the audience eye.
“Didn’t have time to write a comment in the book but here’s some thoughts. What struck me most about your photos (apart from the lovely pictorial qualities – lighting, composition etc) was the way that the people in them seemed relaxed and confident – happy in their bodies. This gives the pictures a calm, self-contained feeling at odds with the fact that here are naked people in places where otherwise they wouldn’t normally be naked. I’m guessing that this probably comes from your relationship to them, their trust in you and your approach as a photographer. This makes the photos very different than just nude figures placed in unusual places and takes it away from what you might call “art” photography into something more personal and much more interesting.
So, just as well I didn’t have time for the comment as I seem to have written a short essay. Looking forward to where this takes you.”
-Dick Perrin Film maker and Photographer
“I don’t usually like photography Nikki, but love what you have done”
-Peter Reed Painter
“Nikki Price is, in my opinion, is one the major talents to emerge from the Medway scene. Her visual images show a genuine love of humanity.”
“I’m not a model in this series but have modelled for Nikki before and can 100% confirm she is a wonderful photographer to work with, she really makes you feel at ease!”
Some of the responses from the comment book from my #altogether exhibition Sun Pier House
‘Viewing the photographs still provokes old feelings that conflict’
‘Incredible honesty…amazing composition too’
‘Very rich we are so programmed’
‘Really beautiful work’
Thank you to everyone who participated, supported, and followed my work on this topic so far.
Watch this space as there will be more on the topic of identity in the future, and next week I’ll be doing my usual yearly round up of photographs so stay tuned!
Getting to Know Richard Heeps -a few inspired thoughts
After the Richard Heeps inspired workshop I learned that he would be doing an informal gallery talk about his work. For some reason (perhaps the Americana) I had though that he was American, here’s my love of coming across new artists -I like to be surprised!. I soon learned that he was in fact from Cambridge, and studied in Farnham, he had visited America on 5 occasions gathering his work for his latest exhibition.
I instantly warmed to Richard, starting his talk by telling us that his photography had started as a hobby, he did go to art college however has never displayed any of his work from this time.
I wanted to know more about his aspirations and thought processes behind his art and there were somethings I could relate to. Richard said that his photos were displayed in the chronological order that he physically took them. I could instantly relate to this, although I do have a tumbled approach to my creative thoughts sometimes, I also like to be very methodological with my work. I’m never tempted to move onto say editing another shoot, until I am 100% happy with the outcome of the first. On such profiles as my flickr account everything is displayed in the order it was taken. I suppose this maybe a consequence of documentary photography, noting the passage of time or a natural order of things. You wouldn’t start with a photo of a demolished building and end with the building as it was, upright, I don’t know perhaps you would, that’s the beauty of Art and being creative.
Another beautiful element to his work is that it is largely from his own interest and inspired projects, which is something I’m sure all photographers would relate to.
Richard told us that he really gets to know the people in his photos before taking their picture (using mainly friends), this was particularly reassuring to me as I do often think that my own photos may look a bit ‘samey’ using the same people, however I think I have shown that if you get to know people really well, they feel more relaxed which will bring out the best in them and therefore your photos.
A good tip was also to keep sending your photos to various magazines and websites to get your work to a wider audience, I am regularly looking for competitions and opportunities like this. A nice thought to keep on doing what you love as per a previous blog.
A lot of work for Richards recent work is capturing things before the are gone, and I think the same can be said for analogue photography, unless we keep on, it may fade which would be a real shame, don’t get me wrong I think that the accessibility to digital cameras by most is fantastic, but feel that some generations may not know what it is…..(another blog here maybe?)
What I also got from his talk was to not be afraid of long term projects, i.e. spanning many years. I have started a self portrait project near or on my birthday, from my last birthday onwards. I think my challenge is also to collate all my childhood photos, I don’t think I have many of these (another project coming along I think!).