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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Surfaces and Strategies – Shoot Mod3#4 – Male Art Nude – “Rick”

Going into my second male art nude shoot, I wanted to explore influences from Mapplethorpe.  Like Mapplethorpe, I chose to shoot the majority of the set in monochrome, so that the viewer’s eye is drawn to the detail in the images. However, the shoot also allowed me to explore the use of colour in images.

Figure 1: Sutherst. 2017

Figure 1 images explore a more voyeuristic approach than that previously taken.  The images have an elegant composition and produced an aesthetically pleasing view of the male nude.  These images are pleasing in composition to women and men. My model is comfortable in his gaze and engages well with the viewer.

It is surprising then, that part way through this shoot, Rick informed me that he does not like his picture taken.  This seemed odd to me, as here we were in the middle of an art nude shoot.

Rick does not always like his his body looks in shoots.  He is a naturist who is not ashamed of his body in that context.  Rick stands in front of the camera, as he feels it is something that he should do to much himself.  Had he not told me, I would not have realised that this shoot was a challenge for him.  In the images he appears relaxed and at ease. In part this will have been down to the relaxed and informal atmosphere I strive to create for each shoot.

Figure 2: Sutherst. 2017

So, we decided to have some fun and shoot Mapplethorpe inspired images that injected humour into the session.  Figure 2 shows the headless man and the Macbeth inspired shoot with Ribby the skeleton.  Ribby is the studio mascot of sorts!

Figure 3: Sutherst. 2017


Figure 4: Sutherst. 2017

Figure 3 shows the recreation of classic Mapplethorpe shots with a personal take – a Steampunk glove and animal print shoe were used. I used figure 4 (original by Robert Mapplethorpe. Ken Moody. 1985) as inspiration for these shots.  I recorded the shot at PhotoLondon.

I chose not to have a face showing as I wanted the focus to be purely on the shapes and body.  My images do objectify and depersonalise Rick to some extent, as the viewer does not make a connection with him, just his body and how I have used it. The poses are passive, almost dominated by the viewer, which adds to the objectification of the gaze.

The colour edit has a different feel to the monochrome images.  I do not feel it works as well.  The monochrome image is structurally better and visually more appealing. I think the colour detracts from the overall effect of the image.


Figure 5: Mapplethorpe. Dennis with Flowers. 1983. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.


Figure 6: Sutherst.2017

One of my favourite shots is the one with flowers (figure 7) which is based on figure 6 of Mapplethorpe’s. I was intent on getting the composition and sculptural aspects of the image balanced and visually pleasing.  I chose to shoot the image in colour to give the image a modern twist.

I decided that the use of an older white model would contrast well against the young Nubian model that Mapplethorpe chose. The intent was to challenge the images normally associated with male art nude.

The shoot continued in a humorous manner with a variety of props being used, including the Edward Scissorhands glove in figure 7.  This is a playful image that benefits from the dramatic lighting and monochrome edit.


Figure 7: Sutherst. 2017


Figure 5: Mapplethorpe, R. From: Robert Mapplethorpe Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works. 2017. The Art Story [online]. Available at: [accessed 02 June 2017].

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