A painting of me

Advanced Figurative Photography: Part 6

   10 December 2009, terribly early in the morning

Tonight is my last Figurative Photography class. Since talking about the class previously, I’ve had two more sessions photographing nude models. It’s strange how normal the whole exercise becomes. The second and third classes were more about setting up lights and figuring out what to shoot, rather than dealing with the fact there is a totally naked person in front of you. That’s not to say I got better pictures during the subsequent session.

During the first session I took pretty vanilla photos of nude people. Some of the photos turned out nicely, but a lot of them were pretty plain. So, I thought for the subsequent classes I’d just muck around with things and try to take different sorts of pictures. During the second class, in between taking regular portraits and what not, I had the models stand up and down while I took longer exposed shots. I wanted to end up with safe-for-work nudes, shots that hinted at the nudity and the human form.

During the third class, I brought my flash, and tried using that while photographing. I took some long exposure shots where I’d fire the flash and move, so you end up with an echoed image after the first. A series of shots using my flash and a flash light to illuminate the scene turned out nteresting. (And at times a bit messy.) Someone wanted to photograph the body with images projected onto it, and that actually turned out pretty interesting. The model looked like he had a full body tattoo. We ended that class doing multiple exposures using my flash and long shutter speeds in a black room. These photos have a sort of ethereal look to them.

You can see everything I’ve posted from my class on Flickr, though the set is probably NSFW. Tonights class is probably going to be spent looking at photos.



  1. OK, this is the Internet, so I will proceed to spout off on a subject (photography) about which I know nothing…but projecting an image onto the body? I feel like it’s been done a billion times — along with feather boas — as one of the first things that people play with when photographing the nude form.

    your class seems like it’s full of serious photographers, which is why I’m surprised that this came up. It’d be like if one of your classmates was enamoured with his/her new camera and took a bunch of obnoxious super-boke pictures with no subject or interest.

  2. 3 hours in a class room with 2 models and a few other people isn’t the ideal setting to photograph in. So, even if you had avant garde visions for what you’d like to shoot you are really limited to some pretty basic stuff. Photographing a dude with body parts projected onto him might be played out, but it is something different to spend your time on. Doing something other people have already done is probably a good learning exercise. And really, if there is one thing i’ve learned in the class, it’s that pretty much everything to do with nude photography is going to be played out.

    There is a mix of people in the class. One lady shoots everything with a Canon G10 (point and shoot) she doesn’t quite understand how to use. A couple people are actual photographers. There are a few people like me who are do it as a hobby. People are serious in that they are taking a class, but it’s not a fine arts course at OCAD.

  3. don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for high art here. I just think that the projection — like pointless boke — doesn’t add anything to the image, and distracts the photographer from the actual subject.

    and I didn’t mean that I thought your class was full of zomgpro photographers — I know you’re “just” a hobbyist, but I think your photos are pretty interesting. They’re definitely not “hey check out my fancy camera tricks oops sorry that’s all I’ve got”. I figured your classmates were similarly enthusiastic hobbyists (G10 lady sounds surprising).

  4. I just think that the projection — like pointless boke — doesn’t add anything to the image, and distracts the photographer from the actual subject.

    I’d disagree here. People may be projecting an image because they think the image and the subject relate in someway. Or they may want to photograph textures on a skin for some reason. Or etc. Certainly it can simply be about aesthetics, but its not always going to be the case. So I don’t think it’s quite the same as “check out this crazy bokeh dudes.” (And even with stupid bokeh, you can find images that use depth of field to good effect. This is actually a good cheeky nude.) There are all sorts of photoshop filters and effects that are cheesy and overused. That doesn’t mean even the cheesiest of effects can’t be put to good use by someone with a clear idea or vision. It’s really up to the photographer to make a photographs of note. (Though, honestly, I can’t think of anyone using selective colour or tone mapping or to do anything great, but maybe someday someone will.)

    The lady with a G10 is actually a sculptor. So while she’s the least proficient with her camera in the class, she’s definitely got an artistic eye. Everyone usually shows up to class with some interesting photos.

  5. you make good examples of why photographing a subject with an image projected on his/her body might be awesome. But do any of them really relate to “Figurative Photography”? That’s why it seems like it’s missing the point — the photos are interesting, but not because they capture the human form in an interesting way.

    and — I didn’t say boke is stupid. Pointless boke is stupid. That I think we can agree on.

    anyway. It’s too bad you’re not going to continue taking courses in this line. I thought some of your portraits were really cool. Do you often get a chance to shoot with elaborate lighting?

  6. You don’t think you might have a narrow view of what constitutes figurative photography?

    I don’t really have access to these sorts of lights, so I’m not sure when i’d be able to take photos like this again. The AGO has a pretty nice collection of lights. I think there are places in the city you can rent equipped studio space. I need to look into stuff like that more. I might try and join Gallery 44 as well.

  7. I think I have a narrow view of what constitutes a field with a narrow name. Why would someone go take a course about a specific thing just to divert that time and expertise to something else entirely?

    you could always become one of those crazy Strobistish types.

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