Conceptual “Nude Portraits” Set Web Abuzz
Burning up Imgur right now is the work of one Trevor Christensen, a photographer from Provo, Utah, who puts a conceptual spin on nude photography. To wit, his subjects are fully clothed. It is the man behind the lens who is nude.
The exercise is evidently an attempt to solve a very old problem in photography: how to capture something like an unguarded moment. Philippe Halsman famously tackled it by having people jump in the air; Christensen’s solution is to strip. Based on the reactions he captures, ranging from embarrassed to sly to kind of queasy, the gambit seems to work. (The same problem of getting an unguarded portrait is also tackled in a more violent, though similarly perverse, manner by another photography meme currently making the rounds: Patrick Hall’s portraits of people’s faces as they are tased.)
Christensen’s full artist’s statement about the “Nude Portraits,” from his website, is quite sober:
As a photographer I’m deeply interested in the experience subjects have during portrait shoots. When I guide subjects through the process of making their photo, I seek to create a calm, comfortable environment where they can be at ease in front of the camera. Despite my best efforts, subjects often feel a sense of vulnerability during the process. No matter the scenario, this power imbalance seems like an almost inescapable part of the experience.
The photographer/subject paradigm is one of inequality. Nude Portraits is about leveling the playing field in an unorthodox way. Instead of focusing on bringing the subject to a place of ease, where I am, this project brings me to a place of vulnerability.
This vulnerability is achieved by making portraits without clothing. These are nude portraits in the sense that I, the photographer, am nude, while the subject is not.
If you want to follow Christensen’s “Nude Portraits” initiative, he invites you to follow him on Instagram. And if you want a visit from the nude photographer yourself, he’s taking invitations both from Utah and beyond.
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