23 October 2012

The Fantastic Anonymous Nude

“There are those who so dislike the nude that they find something indecent in the naked truth.”  
– F. H. Bradley

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
When I first started shooting nudes several years ago, I based it on a partnership with my models. Everybody else’s interests come secondary to that notion. My job has been to do the best I can to create images that the model can appreciate and use for their portfolios or private interests. That can mean helping them advance and promote their careers or just giving them something to hang on their walls at home. Nonetheless, I do what I can to help promote the art model and their services. That’s what the Las Vegas Art Models Group was all about when I created it and ran it for three years.

Sometimes I get the privilege to work with a model  that doesn't want the recognition but would love to participate in the creative processes that I use to create artistic imagery based on the nude.  For their own private reasons they would prefer the anonymity to the promotion. Instead of recognition, they would rather go incognito.  My responsibility is to not only respect and protect that decision but to also admire it. Responsibility to admire?? Yes, I take it as a responsibility to admire.

“Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism.”  
– John Updike

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

The Anonymous Model is becoming a bigger part of my workflow and I like it. Sometimes that’s the only deal-breaker in the decision to model or not.  Anytime I can make that decision easier, more simple, or otherwise oriented in my favor, I’m all for it. More times than not, the best shots come from the anonymous. It can even be argued that taking the identity out of the artwork is actually makes for a better piece than one where the model is identifiable. The position stems from the notion that the artwork is more important than the model. Light, shadow, form, shape, composition, balance… these are elements in artwork that mean the most. Bringing in the model’s identity might actually be a distraction within the artwork rather than lending support to it. This is not the case in every art nude, of course. If you look through the majority of my work, you’ll see that many of my models identity is reveals. Actually, let me rephrase that because a face revealed does not mean an identity revealed, especially since I never use last names and I only use the alias requested by the model.

“What spirit is so empty and blind that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?”  
- Michelangelo

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
But the Anonymous model can be photographed several ways. It could mean the face is fully revealed, but there may simply be no alias tied to the image. Or it could mean there are no facial features. I've had some models who've requested I compose out or crop out their heads entirely.  I can use hair, props, or simply strategic angles to hide faces if necessary. The rest may require creative Photoshop or post op techniques to hide a face. It doesn't matter how it’s done, or the reasons why a model may require anonymity. I just love doing it.


Joanie said...

I think anonymity allows the viewer to focus on the form rather than the face. It also allows the viewer to finish the story for themselves.

Joanie said...

P.S. I love these photos! Especially the last one.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Allowing the viewer to finish the story is an excellent point.

Karl said...

As with most parts of life and art, if the shoe fits, wear it. Working with an anonymous model can bring great art out of both of you. The anonymity tells a unique narrative. Working with models who aren't concerned with anonymity brings a different set of gifts to the session.

Regardless of the approaches, both are valuable outcomes. I can't imagine your photos of the beauty in the Fremont Street bathrooms working at all without seeing her face. The same goes for these, their anonymity is a large part of their success.

On to other things... I can't wait to spend more time in LV and hopefully meet some more of the great models there. If you are open for it, we could plan a collaboration or something else fun.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Dave Levingston does this really well. His nature anons are some of the most gorgeous work you'll have the privilege of viewing. Head on back this way my man. We'll put something together.