I have been randomly posting a full range of my images to my twitter account, https://twitter.com/allablur. They do not need to be censored for twitter, and are not. I was very conscious however that on posting this particular self portrait, only taken in 2017, that I took it upon myself to adjust this image rather more than I do most:It was not in my head at the time I posed but in the final result I was conscious that the raised leg revealed a little too much detail. I accordingly shaded between my legs but let me state unequivocally that I still feel a sense of sexual vulnerability here that I do not feel in almost all of my other self portraits. This is curious because in many ways this is more natural than other more obviously erotic images of mine but in those other images I do not feel this same vulnerability. Why is this?
This photo was cropped not only to avoid the sensitivity that I feel in the previous image but also for the pure aesthetics of the composition. In my mind the form of the male genitals can possess a non-sexual beauty whereas to create the same with a photo that includes the anus is far more difficult. I feel comfortable with this image.
I’m also comfortable with images like this. It’s unmanipulated, not too revealing but crucially I am not looking at the camera so even though I am presenting myself in what could be considered an inviting way to an aggressive male, that invitation is not extended through my eyes. This is what concerns me most about the first image.
My feelings about that image are I suppose as close I will get to the feelings of the woman who is willing to present herself totally nude. I realise that I have seen it now in many images of models involved in nude art photography – while confidently looking at the camera in many poses, when it comes to the more revealing then looking away from the camera avoids the possibility of that look being interpreted as an invitation to the insatiable appetite of the male gaze. When the look is confident and defiant such images can be empowering to some models and I am sure that even I may carry that strength in some of my images. Just not this one.
In a recent post http://allablur.co.uk/a-model-for-another/ I outlined how for the first time I became a model for another person. That person was fotografm, a photographer from Berlin who mainly shoots men, most rather younger and more beautiful than myself, but also someone like me who indulges in self portraiture, nude self portraiture, which is how we became to know of each other perhaps 10 years ago through our presences on flickr.
I used to keep the ticket stubs (I still have many) to record the gigs I’ve attended but now I tend to take a camera and at least once during a set push my way towards the front to form a new log of the live music I’ve enjoyed. My biggest regret was not taking my camera to a Sex Pistols gig when I was one of an audience of about 30 people – I’ve vowed not to make that sort of mistake again…
I am drawn to want to photograph people who are a little different – their character, lifestyles or maybe simply their natural beauty. Here’s a selection of images of such people. I have a relatively simple technique – I encourage them to be themselves.
Mrs H. has more than a passing interest in historical costume and because of this I find myself at various events aimed at those who enjoy music from and go further by adopting authentic dress from the last century – retro or vintage, whatever you choose to call it, but usually great style!
I’ve always wanted to have another photographer shoot me naked – I’ve participated in nude group shoots and many other naked activities but have never been asked by another to be their model. It is also true that I have never pushed myself forward in this respect even when given these opportunities. In the back of my mind I knew that it would have to be somebody who I identified with and who was a talented artist in their own right. When the opportunity came to be shot by fotografm (on flickr) I took it.
In June he was visiting the UK from Berlin to take in the London and Brighton Baked Bike Rides. I was participating in neither due to two VERY important party invitations but on the Monday, because I happened to be driving towards his next destination I offered him a lift and the opportunity to do some nudes in the Sussex landscape. We also took the opportunity to take some shots at my house.
We took turns to shoot each other. These are his shots of me that I particularly like. I shall post mine of him separately. The apparent confidence in these images is because underneath it all we already knew enough about each other to know what we would like to shoot and where our boundaries might lie. As two photographers that deal with a wide range of nude self portraiture in our work including the artful erotic it was in fact almost business as usual, but with more flexible camera angles and an added creative mind!
I want to have a range of photography featured here, not just the nude which will stay as the focus of my main galleries. So here is the first little diversion into other subjects, some selected street photography – or photos taken in my street photography style – here all in colour rather than my more usual black & white.
In what I will with temerity describe as my art nude self portrait photography I have complete control over how I allow myself to be photographed. Some images are very much about body acceptance while in others I am able to turn myself into something that can appear quite different. Indeed in the latter case and in isolation many might wonder what possible body issues I could have.
The most significant statement of body acceptance that I make is through my participation in naked bike rides in my home town of Brighton. To be out there as a skinny, non-muscly and under-endowed male is a display of self confidence that I would not have been capable of when I was in my prime.
With all the cameras and this being my home town, there is some nervousness and to compound this it’s usually cool, 14C – 18C, with a breeze coming off the sea which in June is still cold. My variable manhood is always at its most modest in such circumstances and in many ways this is good for a scan of the thousands of images that finish up on the internet suggests that most participants, particularly the many young people taking part in the Brighton ride, have little physical reason to lack confidence in appearing naked.
It would be great if more men like me took part. But while we are under-represented it makes being out there ‘flying the flag’ more important. One object of riding for me is that the people in the crowds on those streets can see that they can more positive about their own bodies. Occasionally there is an unkind comment overheard but only once or twice on any ride – almost everyone is supportive.
Because of the nature of this blog I have dwelt on the most personal reasons for my participation. But importantly, I do the naked bike ride for other reasons too. In fact the only time you are ever likely to see me on a bike in Brighton is in the naked bike ride. I’m a very poor cyclist and would cycle in Brighton if more cycle lanes were in place. Less traffic, less SUVs, more public transport would ultimately mean a better future for the delicate planet on which we live. These are the more substantial reasons for riding and they can unite everyone participating.
It’s time to pull a few images on this theme together. To paraphrase what the original post said…
These are self portraits so this is me and only me, but at the same time I am none of the people you see in these images. I have total respect for the people who through choice or because of the way they are born find their lifestyles reflected here. This is me giving free range to my creativity, with frankness and hopefully with a little humour – these images do not represent fantasies of what I want to be or do other than in a little act for the camera. They are meant to be provocative, even confrontational.
I am a fan of other artists, often introverts like me, who put themselves out there “being somebody else” seemingly all of the time. Because they are known for it they usually have the confidence not to have to write the preceding paragraph. These are my efforts to be somebody else too.