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Les Frigos, Paris

Much of my time in Paris with Emmanuelle was spent wandering around looking for art nude locations (as well as opportunities). This set came about in exactly that fashion.

Emmanuelle introduced me to ‘Les Frigos‘ (aka ‘The Fridges’) which is a huge artistic commune set adrift in the middle of Paris. Reclaimed from the Parisian industrial wasteland, it was occupied by various artists and artisans in the 1980’s and then spray-painted and rebranded as ‘Les Frigos’.

Moving through its cavernous bowels, from studio to studio, we made our way up through the building, arriving at its top floor. Chatting as you do to the artists along the way, one kindly offered us the use of his studio during his lunch break. Like all the best studios it had great light, fading away from the window into the deep darker recesses of the building.

Behind The ScenesPositioning Emmanuelle close to the window there was just enough light to try some art nude / slow shutter photographs, although made difficult with the lack of a tripod. Needs must when the opportunity’s put before you and we still ended up with interesting shapes nonetheless, shooting hand-held.

Again, like our set in Colioure, I could see a lot of Francis Bacon in the twisting blurred shapes we were creating.

A lot of conventional art nude photographs are static. Pin sharp and precise, they detail every hair and follicle of the subject being photographed – and whilst I feel there’ll be time enough for that – it’ll only be when I’ve found something new to say with it.

In the meantime it’s time to break some rules. Time to find out what’s been done before and try to push it in a different direction.

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On The Rocks, Colioure

We’d exhausted Perpignan and we were now looking for something new.

Taking the coach to Barcelona we stopped off at the beachside town of Colioure for a day. Walking through its streets we hunted for some art nude location and finally found ourselves at the beach. I was immediately drawn to the rocks. They were sharp, edgy and carried these amazing lines of texture which I knew were going to practically shine in black and white.

Behind The ScenesSince I wanted to use the rocks as the main backdrop to the shots, we spent a lot of time clambering across them looking for lines of compression that might mimic the line of a pose. Without having the benevolent depth of field that normally comes from shooting a landscape (with its shrinking perspective of clouds) I looked for patterns in the rock to position Emmanuelle, and as a result tell the story of each frame.

As it turns out, the rocks were every bit as sharp as they look in the photographs and it was further testament to Emmanuelle’s tenacity as a model to pose against them, incurring a multitude of small cuts along the way.

Whilst shooting I was thinking about the signature look of the Pre-Raphaelite art nudes I’d seen in paintings before. As well as mimicking their arched poses by rock pools, there was also one other overriding atheistic at play. The women, as with Emmanuelle, have real bodies. They have hips, stomachs, breasts and real curves and that was something I wanted to come through to support the references I was trying to make.

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L’Appartment Nu, Paris

Late in 2011 we decided to meet up in Emmanuelle’s home town of Paris, France (which I was able to combine with a conventional fashion shoot in the north of the city). Unlike that shoot, the art nudes I did here with Emmanuelle became the complete antithesis of the latter. Whereas the fashion shoot was very precise and polished, this would not be. Looking back, it was clear that the only thing that Emmanuelle and I had carried over from Perpignan was our commitment not to repeat ourselves.

Initially I had been thinking about shooting again in the streets but Paris isn’t that kind of city. With its closed off court yards and facades it was the complete opposite of Perpignan’s narrow streets and tall buildings throwing down lots of soft light and privacy.

Behind The ScenesFortunately Emmanuelle knew a friend who was renovating a nearby apartment. In between all the hoovering and sanding of floors that was taking place, we moved in for the day. The room was bare and empty, stripped of all identifying furniture and styling – reduced to its barest essentials. A naked appartment.

When shooting art nude on location, you obviously want that location to be in the frame but at the same time I didn’t want anything to distract from Emmanuelle’s naked form. The emptiness of this apartment perfectly suited the atheistic I had in mind: A window, a floor, a naked body, nothing more.

In avoiding the Parisien streets we’d instead arrived at another quintessentially french icon: the french appartment window with its slatted shutters. So omnipresent and recognisable in Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘Last Tango In Paris’ – an ordeal of a film to watch that regularly veers between brilliance and self-indulgence – this appartment had those self-same windows. Looking at these photos now it feels like that they couldn’t have been taken anywhere else but Paris.

But this was October and it was freezing.

The warm, lazy summer of our south coast Colioure shoots was behind us now and since the flat wasn’t being rented, the heating had been turned off. Despite the cold, Emmanuelle, nothing if not pragmatic, got ready and we started to shoot quickly – with her diving under my big ski jacket inbetween takes. It was just as well because the polythene sheeting we’d found in the adjacent room was nothing but freezing – but it gave the shots an important extra texture compared to the wood of the floor and Emmanuelle’s skin.

Preparation is normally key but as hallmark of our art nude work together we were typically unprepared. Just a camera, Emmanuelle and the opportunity to shoot. What else would we need? In these circumstances I’m always looking around for things to pull together and change the dynamic of a shoot. As luck would have it, there was a steel bed frame in the other room which became pivotal to the final sequence of shots.

I wanted to shoot in slow motion – but really slow motion – with 1-2 minute takes but for that the camera would have to be seriously still. A tripod would have been nice but it wouldn’t have given me the low-down angle I was looking for. In the end I zip-tied the camera to the bed frame and leant it over Emmanuelle’s body. Perfect. She now could move around as much as she wanted and yet the camera would stay perfectly still.

In the end I was really blown away by the some of shots that we came away with. Emmanuelle is a very chameleon-like model – which is part of the reason it so much fun to shoot with her – and the frames we ended up with show a fantastic variety of ghost-like personalities.

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Silk shapes, Colioure

Moving on from our art nude shoot on the rocks we climbed up the grassy hillside overlooking the Colioure coast line. Buffeted by surging winds atop of an old world war II bunker we used the strong breeze to create some new shots.

Taking a silk bed sheet that Emmanuelle had brought to use as a picnic blanket, I got her to step inside. The wind was so strong that it immediately folded itself around her. Glued to her frame, it became almost translucent at the points of contact. By throwing different shapes and poses we ended up creating some seriously unusual images.

Whilst shooting, I thought back to a famous sculpture by Italian Futurist Umberto Boccioni which now lives in the Tate Gallery, London. Called ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space‘ it shows a striding figure moving against the wind. And whilst not a direct facsimile, the way the silk was blowing around Emmanuelle’s body reminded me of his sculpture and also the twisted tortured shapes of Francis Bacon’s paintings (in particular ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion‘).

Art Nude Photography of Silk Shapes in Colioure - Flickering I Roam...The combination of swirling material and peppered clouds really worked well together and I’m really pleased with the results of day in what was another one of our spontaneous art nude divergences. I was even more so delighted, when I was later approached by Alexandre Dubois of FAINT Magazine to have a selection of these shots featured in their launch issue.

As with a lot of the art nudes on this site, I’ve always wondered how they would look like printed out in large, almost life size scale. As at result of creating this web site and re-examining them, I mean to find out.

That said, If you would be interested in purchasing any of the images that you see here (or anywhere else on the site) please feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements.