Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 3

   25 October 2009, early evening

The third figurative photography class I attended was split, more or less, into three sections. We started the class with an overview of nude photography. As with the class on portraiture, we more or less covered the history of nude photography from the advent of photography to the 70s or so. (I believe we are covering more contemporary nude photography in an another class.) As with the previous class, there were a few names I recognized, and plenty I did not.

I haven’t really sat down and looked at a lot of nude photography, so it’s interesting to see how different people approach the subject, and how it has changed over time. The very early nudes seem to have a lot in common with classic sculptures of the body, or paintings. This is to be expected to some extent. This is also probably due to the nature of cameras at the time. They were large and cumbersome, and the exposures were quite long. Most of the photographs we saw from the early part of the century were of full body nudes. As cameras get smaller, and film more straightforward to process and develop, you start to see more interesting takes on the subject. Surrealists like Man Ray were doing pretty interesting things with the nude body. Other photographers whose work I thought was quite good include Peter Hujar,
Lee Friedlander, and Bill Brandt.

The second part of the class was reviewing each others work. Everyone presented 3 photos from the previous week’s class (Stacey, Dave), 2 portraits they took outside of class (Shima), and one self portrait. It was interesting seeing what everyone decided to photograph, and how they lit their subjects.

Finally we went up to the fifth floor of the AGO to check out the Beautiful Fictions exhibit currently taking place. I ended up going to the AGO again today to check it out once more. It’s a really cool collection of contemporary photography. There is a lot to see, and a good variety of images, so it’s well worth the trip to the gallery.

Next week we are working with nude models. That should be an experience.

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