Don’t scratch that!

I have been using film a lot recently for street photography, have posted some results but have lots more images to come. Yesterday I had three shots left on a roll (you will have to wait a few hours to see Croydon!) and for the first time in perhaps 12 years decided to use them on myself. With just three shots, no review, no concept (other than to quickly use up the roll) and zero preparation, the result was never going to be high art.

Now my memory goes back 27 years because that impromptu way of finishing a roll was perhaps how the first nude self portraits were captured. Then I did not develop the film myself. This time I did, but rather stupidly used a squeegee on the film. The softness is due to my use of a scratch removal filter. Lesson learned.

The title is a mixed reference – the thought went through my mind of not showing the image because of the alleged lack of ‘high art’. But (at a risk of boring those who have read this before), the art is in the long term project! It’s nice to return to film.

Nude self portrait captured on Ilford FP4 film.

Captured on Ilford FP4 film. Pentax ME with 50mm f1.4 lens.

Addressing “Why?”

It’s always tricky dealing with self portraiture, exaggerated when the subject is nude. If I put up an image of another person then, although I would like a deeper response, the reaction I most often imagine is a simple appreciation of the beauty of the individual, of the lighting, of the image.

But when it comes to the self portrait, in particular if the viewer is making the first encounter with the work of a new artist and the image is isolated without a context, am I thinking too deeply when I imagine that many people will ask ‘why’?

Addressing “Why?” was the title I gave this image when I captured it three years ago.

Male nude self portrait on bed

Those who follow me, you are evidently very accepting people, for whatever reason, you managed it, you got past the ‘why?’.

Now let’s get this straight. Very few people do ever ask me ‘why?’. But I imagine the question to be there, the elephant in the room.

For people who ask the question in a positive way, genuinely interested in what is going on, I am not going to give an answer here because it’s too complicated and I have to have something to blog about in the future! But you should be able to perceive some sort of answer from my ‘about’ page and having a quick look through my images.

For people who ask the question in a negative way, perhaps with incredulity or even disgust, I am going to give a  simplistic retort. ‘Why not?’. Whether it is me or the many other artists who produce nude self portraits, you see in front of you a naked person and you probably see it because you have been looking for nude art and have no issue with looking at naked persons. Why not simply give the artist kudos for being able to present this image to you without involving another in the exercise? It is after all the total creation of the artist; no other human being has been paid, instructed, manipulated or exploited in the creation of the work. 

Perhaps the most likely thought process producing the question ‘why?’ revolves around the perception of exhibitionist vanity or something similar. This is partially right – there is some exhibitionist vanity going on here, somewhere in the mix. But there is a little (or a lot) of that in almost every model exposing themselves in front of a photographer. It’s almost an essential qualification for being a good model. But there is hopefully a lot more.


My first nude self portraits date from 1986. Move twenty years on and this is what was going on in my mind and with my body in 2006. It was a relatively quiet year 🙂 But the usual mix of styles, not all to be taken too seriously…

I am pulling together images grouping them by year. Follow the tag Year by Year to collate them all. This is the first set and they will go up in no particular order.

Creative Commons License

Birling Gap

Abandoned (2010)

Although it may not look it there were a fair few people around at Birling Gap.  In this part of the beach however they were mainly naturists so the only thing to be self concious about was the rather odd activity of moving around and dumping oneself in short lived and rather odd positions for sunbathing, all done in the name of art of course. I kept the camera itself relatively discrete behind a rock because let’s face it, clothed or unclothed, the process of being observed taking self portraits is just a little embarrassing!

In the face of grandeur – nude in the environment

nude self portrait beneath the white cliffs at Birling Gap
Birling Gap, environmental nude self portrait

In the face of grandeur (2010)

Despite some people being about, there was a chance to get close to the cliff face and get this image. But one frame only! Under the circumstances I’m really pleased with the outcome.

Leaving for a new home

Nude male closing curtainw
Nude self at window in Worcester Park (2010)

Closing Down (Nude – 2010) I returned to my place in London yesterday for the penultimate occasion to clear out the last bits and pieces. I took the opportunity to use the empty spaces.