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.
I have just completed my annual revision to “all a blur“, my most personal gallery. I have added new images from 2015 as well as adding some and cutting others from previous years. In doing this I think the collection is now stronger and I hope the rationale behind the images is clearer. However, in case of murk, I’m picking out three images to talk about here.
Firstly, I brought together some of my most provocative images from 2015 for this imaginary private exhibition, which may distract attention from the original image of a coy nude in the bathroom.
Secondly, I had the courage to bring into the gallery some more images from the days of film. Flowers feature heavily, as does the penis, which makes a rather more flamboyant showing in the other photos than in this image from 1998. Taken in my Kentish Town garden, whereas exhibitionists get excited about the possibility of being seen naked in public, I can assure you that I am quite the opposite! I am glad I came up with the title, which confronts certain people from my past, as well as my own insecurities.
Bully, for you (1998)
Thirdly, an up to date combination of two images reflecting how I constantly wrestle with myself on what to present on this website.
A naturist tiff (2015)
On both of my websites, scottyh.com and here, I write about “my strongly held view that there is nothing offensive about any aspect of the human body, especially when presented in a way that makes an artistic statement or conveys its beauty”. It is because of these conceptual, some might say confusing, images that I recently added the italicised words.
I need to say, for those that do not know me, but maybe primarily for those that do, that in making this particular artistic statement I’m not afraid to construct some images which have very little to do with the way I really am. In this final image, the title is a clue, because although there seems to be a dispute and there is some erotic charge between the two men, they are not lovers. It is merely a provocative way of presenting myself and my internal arguments over content, and right now it appears that he who is not afraid of the erotic is the more confident presence.
Which leads us back to the first image, my private exhibition of my private masculinity, which includes the lovers’ tiff photo but also two other images that you may well never get to see otherwise exhibited, carefully cloned into the frames. The ‘prints’ are image manipulations, the walls actually carry rather more modest images. The cloned figures seem to me a world apart, but are as real a representation of me as the figure with the flowers in the garden.
Some years on from the jitters in that garden, it will surprise some that I still get a little nervous when taking my clothes off in public, say on one of my World Naked Bike Ride appearances. The Naked Bike Ride is an event that is partly about demonstrating body confidence so it’s vital that those like me who have had issues participate. With the knowledge that I have now, that I am as much a man as those who teased me many years ago, I can participate with confidence, even if the bike wobbles. So bullies, I ride for you!
This is a blog about an idea which didn’t really work!
I have a new project, Open Access and I shall shortly have to write more about it. I had the idea in my head about 18 months ago when I created this image…
While this was intended as part of my project, this was a part which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression. The location is the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way footpath near Plumpton.
This was part of a shoot which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and, with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance, 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression.
The film has languished in the camera since that day and was only developed this week. A quick look at the Open Access link will reveal how my thinking on that project has evolved over that time. There is the naked human, but he is smaller in the image; there is a timer involved, but is is not a cable; of course there is a camera, but it is not necessarily a film camera; and there are areas of light and shade, but they are in colour.
The Access Land location is at the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way near Plumpton, East Sussex.
I’ve had a go of trying to post as my real self for several months now, posting nudes to my flickr account, my mainstream Light Touch website, G+ and Instagram, all with the name scotthortop or similar. But it’s awkward – I still think too hard about who might see what and it definitely cramps my style.
So allablur.co.uk is back. Not that it’s ever gone anywhere, but fitting the content that slips so easily in here into Light Touch alongside all those stock photos and the commercial art simply does not work. I should have known it before I set off in that direction, but live and learn.
The other thing I have learnt is that I do not have to post any of my professional work or more commercial art here. I don’t have to prove my ability in those very different conditions – it’s a world away from my artistic vision and it detracts, so it’s gone.
What I now have is a newly designed site with space for the first time to place words besides images, and what is more all content is also presented on the mobile site is a way which makes the most of the small screen and weakens nothing with everything in the right place.
It’s only been in place a few days but it all seems to work, so I am pretty happy. Click on the logo or go to my home page to see what it looks like.
(Update Nov 2016: this page was originally written when the blog was in a different format, but the sentiments still apply)
I have just finished watching Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, Lars von Trier’s movie which IMDB describes as “A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.” To illustrate the emerging sexuality of Jo, the main character, the writer and director von Trier has her recount two experiences from her pre-teens.
In one, she described the feeling she had when climbing ropes in a gym “with the rope between my legs, the sensation, we called it”. In the other, she described “playing frogs”, sliding clothed on her front over the tiles of a soaking wet bathroom floor with legs splayed.
Given his notoriety, I half expected von Trier to come up with something more sensationalist than this. After all I have grown up to be in many ways the complete opposite of a nymphomaniac but I share very similar childhood experiences with Jo, the ropes in the gym, (I assume we have all been there?) and I played frogs once, but perhaps more daringly, in the pouring rain in my back garden. The things we do when growing up. I just did not expect two of my experiences to be echoed in a Lars von Trier film.
“On the tiles (1997)”
The image is not me ‘playing frogs’ although it does have erotic undertones, which were not intended when I captured it on grainy underexposed film in Kentish Town in 1997. It’s completely unretouched, part of a series of images I chose to call ‘dirty film’. That title, some would suggest, does have something in common with Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, but that does von Trier a dis-service because his films are rather deeper than that.