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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Surfaces and Strategies – Shoot Mod3#3 – Male Art Nude – “John”

My first male art nude shoot was with an experienced model, John.  An amateur model, John has been magazine published in the Netherlands and Japan and has been published on various websites.  John explained that he had come to modelling by chance and really enjoyed it. He had previously completed quite a few shoots for magazines aimed at the gay market and this provided me with an opportunity to provide him with some different images for his portfolio.

Figure 1: Sutherst. 2017

I chose to shoot the whole session with lighting that would have a sculpting effect on the body, and add dimension to the image.

The images in figure 1 show the model as vulnerable due to the lack of clothes and the fact that his body is the object of gaze.  The model is has been placed into a passive role for these images.  The poses do not show the action shots we expect to see from male models. The images are quite flattering to the male body and they reinforce the model’s masculinity by showcasing the penis, definitive symbol of masculinity. I have tried to display the penis as flattering and as a biological organ, rather than a just a phallus demonstrating strength and dominance. In the righthand image in figure 1, the penis is objectified to some extent as it lit to accentuate its form.  In the other images, it is implied but not objectified in the same manner.

According to Dyer (1992: 7) “Even when not actually caught in an act, the male image still promises activity by the way the body is posed. Even in an apparently relaxed, supine pose, the model tightens and tautens his body so that the muscles are emphasised, hence drawing attention to the body’s potential for action. More often, the male pin-up is not supine anyhow, but standing taut ready for action.” This is true of many of the images from this shoot. As viewers, we assess strength of the male model by studying their poses.  We look for straining muscles and poses that demonstrate strength. The direct stare also portrays strength.  My intent for the shoot was to try and portray the male nude in a different light by trialling different shapes and emotions, rather than the traditional art nude shots.

Figure 2: Sutherst. 2017

Images in figure 2 were shot on a black posing seat in front of a black back drop.  I wanted to give the impression of the model floating.  The idea behind these was that they should be humorous images that make the viewer look more at the expression and emotion in the image rather than the naked form.  In this form, the images are quite successful, but not really the images I was intending to shoot.  Figure 3 better fits my expectations for the shoot.

Figure 3: Sutherst. 2017

The images in figure 3 were discussed at length with the model and myself. My intent was to produce images that showed inner turmoil and distress. The idea was that the performance of these poses could fit well into any aspect of my work.  They also allowed for more expressive work that does not depend on makeup and clothing.  I have left these as colour images to emphasise the humanity behind the pose.  The viewer is drawn into why the model is posed like that.  What is the message? I wanted the image to make the viewer engage with the meaning behind the images.

Figure 4: Sutherst. 2017

To further explore the male form, the latter part of the shoot concentrated around body shapes without the penis taking the viewer’s eye away from the muscles and body. The lighting adds a dramatic effect to the images.  Increasing the clarity in post-processing also contributed to the tones and textures in the images.

I used the wide end of a 24-70mm lens.  This could have caused distortion in the body, but due to the angles chosen for the shots, this does not appear to have been as much of an issue as I have previously experienced.

Most of the images have been converted to monochrome rather than colour so that the focus was purely on the pose of the subject.  I did shoot some images in colour as well as black and white. I personally find the black and white image less voyeuristic and more acceptable to my eye.  The images in figure 4 are elevated by the change from colour to black and white to images that are more artistic.


Dyer, R. (1992). Don’t look now: The male pin-up. In The sexual subject: A screen reader in sexuality (pp. 265–276). New York: Routledge

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