SERIES OF NUDE PHOTOGRAPHS WHERE PHOTOGRAPHER IS ALSO PHOTOGRAPHED BY HIS MODELS
I came across a statistic that 93% of Hollywood movies are directed by men and I was shocked by this disparity.
I am a 33 year old male and my whole life I have been surrounded by close female friends. I grew up in an environment where it was normal to spend summers naked on the beach with friends and family, where we talked about sex before we even experienced our first kiss. Looking back, I believe that this kind of upbringing is healthy. It was ok for us to explore, imagine, dream and discuss.
When I studied photography I explored nature, sports, still life and other genres, but I became particularly interested in nudes. It was only logical, since I was at an age when girls were constantly on my mind. Still today, with a smile on my face, I will answer that my favorite subject to photograph is the female nude. I can hardly describe how grateful and how amazed I am when someone trusts me so much that they are willing to be so intimate and drop their clothes in front of my camera.
I have never used my nude photography as a part of my portfolio. I always worried about exploiting someone's beauty in order to get wider audience and more likes on social media. I had a conversation with my girlfriend about my love for photographing female nudes and my concerns about participating in a long tradition of men objectifying women. I started to think about how I could challenge that history and how I could play with people's expectations when it comes to nudity. I decided, in addition to photographing women, I would also put myself in their position, letting them take photographs of me. I would give them the opportunity to reverse the gender bias, making them director and allowing them to explore male nudity through the camera lens. Using a neutral backdrop, minimal props and similar lighting, the photographs align the male and female gaze in a search for equality and a celebration of different kinds of beauty.
When shooting, we are not naked at the same time and compositions are not planned ahead of time. The photographs happen naturally, while having a conversations about sexuality, gender, and many other interesting themes. You can read few words from models at the bottom of this page.
For any questions or if you would like to participate in the project, please use the form below or my email: email@example.com
FEW WORDS FROM THE PARTICIPANTS
RACHEL: A woman as tall as I am tends to stand out. At six-feet tall since the eighth grade, I have been painfully aware of how others view me physically for more than half my life.
I, along with every other woman on the street, have experienced objectification (whether silent or cat called, which is jarring no matter how "flattering" the caller thinks he is being) nearly every day of my life post-childhood. There are too many think pieces on the subject to count, but each speaks to something inherent in our culture: women's bodies are objects, put on this earth to be leered at, ogled by, "appreciated" by men. Men's bodies? Meh, who cares. Is he strong? Yes? Okay, good. No? That's fine, too, he has a manly brain so he can make all those important decisions about business and politics and what women should be doing with their bodies.
There are plenty of men who will argue that they are under pressure, too, to be muscular, broad, tall. And maybe there's a little of that, but a man who is none of those things can still be accepted and even revered in society, unquestioned and thought knowledgeable if he presents his thoughts plainly. An unbeautiful woman, an unusually shaped or sized woman, a plain woman will have to fight for an ounce of the same attention.
Where magazines glorify a woman's body, they idolize a man's achievements. A feature on an unconventional-looking woman will beat you over the head with what feel like defenses for putting her on their cover. "She's smart, we swear! Listen to her jokes, they're really good, we promise!"
Working on "Reversed," made me think, yet again, about this dichotomy. This time, however, in a new light. Bodies viewed not as "male" or "female," but as bodies of their own right. Focusing on the tiny details—the bend of a knee or curve of a shoulder blade, where gender is hardly even determinable, gave me the opportunity to be completely comfortable in my own skin. To be viewed so closely, yet not as a "woman," and not as an "object," but simply as a collection of muscles, bonds and some other stuff that houses the soul and mind of the person that I actually am. I've carried that impression with me and hope that more opportunities to warp and meld the way we think and view our perception of one another keep arising for me and for our community in general."
HELENA: "Being born in one of the most equal countries in the world, and raised in a family where nudity was something completely natural, I have never felt compelled to hide my body, or by definition, equal it to something sexual. Quite the contrary, it has allowed me to comfortably get to know my temple and shamelessly explore my sexual curiosities. And maybe more importantly, I have been free to practice my rights as a human being and do as I please with the vehicle I have been given. This is not most women's reality and I am fully aware of how blessed I am. I was very intrigued when I learned about Jaka's project. I got excited about the opportunity to get a glimpse into his world of photography, but also being a part of something less conventional. Personally, the challenge was never about finding the guts to undress in front of his lens, but to co-create a beautiful shoot that would bring justice to his vision. I quickly realized the importance of being relaxed behind the camera and communicating that feeling, as it shapes the dynamics of a shoot. I gained so much respect for photographers' creative ability to incentivise models to naturally express themselves, and not least Jaka's. I never would have thought, however, I would feel more naked with the camera in my hands, than I did being in front of it. This was my chance, nonetheless, to play with perspectives, light and great chemistry. To fully appreciate the subtle, but beautiful details, visible when the three elements magically work together.
I'm so grateful for this experience and to Jaka, for his genuine love of photography. Though we are not our bodies, our bodies are temples and shall be treated as such. Womens and mens alike."
MARIA: As an actress and model I've had over 10 years experience of being exposed in various stages of undress in front of audiences and mostly under the direction of a male's artistic eye. With the current state of gender imbalance behind the camera, in the rehearsal room or in the studio it can often provide an additional bout of self consciousness for a female performer. It takes a very conscientious director or artist to know this and create an environment to counter insecurities and make their muse feel confident to do what they do best. With this knowledge and experience I of course jumped at the chance to experiment with a little role reversal! The mission of this project immediately piqued my interest and while most things that happened in front of the camera met my expectations, I was most surprised by what happened when I got BEHIND the camera. Being photographed by Jaka was wonderful and a breeze. Not to mention a lot of fun! But having a camera placed in my hands created the first anxiety of the day. I've never photographed anything really beyond pictures of my dog on my iPhone. What's more, I had never experienced the responsibility of simultaneously balancing a creative vision with nurturing my subject. Silent and contemplative gazes where I was looking strategically at lighting and composition I could feel translate as critical ogling and I, as the viewer in power, was prompted to adjust. The project made me feel confident, powerful, beautiful, and exuberant. The natural reciprocity that comes with the mission of this work creates a truly unique collaborative artistic experience. I couldn't recommend it more for anyone that wants to step outside of their comfort zones regardless of where you're coming from because I'm convinced everyone will get exactly what they need out of the exchange.
NAFISA: I came to this shoot with an open mind and knowing that Jaka was an experienced photographer and having seen his photographs I was already comfortable to be working with him. All throughout the shoot he respected my space and asked me constantly if I was comfortable with the temperature and if the poses were okay with me. And when the roles changed, I was quite unsure on how to go about trying to pose him since I've never photographed a nude man before, but he was great at doing his own poses and from there I started having my own ideas. The nakedness was also quite uncomfortable at first, but I'm sure it was a mutual feeling. I'm glad that we got along well and had great conversations throughout the shoot. I can't wait to see everyone's photos and what they've come up with. Good luck Jaka!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A PART OF THIS PROJECT ?
Please use the form on the right to contact me, or if you have any other questions about the project : firstname.lastname@example.org
My studio is in Brooklyn where this images are being created.