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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Surfaces and Strategies – Shoot Mod3#7 – Male Art Nude – “Clint”

The next art nude shoot was with another experienced art nude model.  Clint works very hard on maintaining his muscled physique and was very comfortable in front of the camera. Clint also has a number of tattoos that have personal meaning to him.

According to Dyer (1992: 8) “it is still the case that muscularity is a key term in appraising men’s bodies. This again probably comes from men themselves. Muscularity is the sign of power-natural, achieved, phallic.”

During the shoot I tried different approaches to the staging.  I used a translucent cloth pinned to the backdrop to add texture to the background.  I also shot images where Clint was sitting in an ornate chair, as well as some more traditional poses.

Clint is very experienced and was able to make a compelling connection with the camera through his direct gaze. The direct stare is very powerful in these images.

Once again, the images have been converted to monochrome so that the viewer’s attention is focused on the form of the image, and is not distracted by colour.

Figure 1: Sutherst. 2017

London-based photographer Danny Baldwin believes (Kail 2017) “the thing about tattoos, is that they can cut one of two ways: while they can reveal the vulnerabilities of their bearers, they also can shield and fortify their defenses”

Baldwin crowd-sourced funding through Kickstarter to display his photography exhibition celebrating the rise of the tattooed male model.  The body of work featured over 100 tattooed male models. Baldwin explained “Long an outsider art form, tattoos have become a powerful form of creative expression used to help individuals stake claim over their bodies – an act perhaps nowhere more meaningful than in the fashion industry.” (SKIN DEEP 2017).  He continued “Encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity, Skin Deep features over 100 black and white nude images of professional tattooed male models shot against a stark black, signature background.”.

Baldwin’s work proved inspirational in how I staged some of the shots in this shoot.

Figure 2: Sutherst. 2017

As in all my shoots, an injection of humour is inevitable, as shown in the right-hand image of figure 2.

“With just a lens between them and me, and stripped of the character that a designer’s clothing demands, each tattoo is specific, personal and unique to the bearer, chosen by the model to say something special about themselves.”

– Danny Baldwin (SKIN DEEP 2017)

I wanted to produce images that showcased Clint’s tattoos and implied nudity, without necessarily showing the penis.  The thinking behind this was that the tattoos (and muscles) would take centre stage in the images, without the penis drawing the attention of the viewer. These images are shown in figure 3.  These images are successful in that respect. The viewer is aware that the model is naked, but the tattoos and muscles are the main feature of the images.  

Increasing the clarity of the images in post-processing has added to this effect.

Figure 3: Sutherst. 2017

“With Skin Deep I want to show a wider audience something that is visually stimulating and celebrates how these people are breaking the mould of what others think by being true to themselves in an elite industry and expressing who they are through the medium of tattooing,”

– Danny Baldwin (SKIN DEEP 2017)

Figure 4 again successfully details the tattoos and muscle tone that was a key feature of this shoot.

Figure 4: Sutherst. 2017

As usually happens in my shoots, we then got to the part where emotion and drama become the important factors.  In figure 5, Clint was able to portray different scenarios that I presented him with.  I used the wide end of a 24-70mm lens to full effect here.  I wanted to emphasise the distortion in the body it can produce, particularly in the shot with the hands appearing to come out of the image towards the viewer.

Figure 5: Sutherst. 2017

Figure 6 shows some more traditional poses and shots that we obtained during the shoot. They are pleasant enough shots, but not as effective as the earlier shots in this post. In these shots, the frontal shots are dominated by the penis and it is positioned in the centre of the image. This objectifies the penis and makes it the main focus of the image.  Because of this, the resultant images have what I believe to be the ‘Gay Gaze’.

Figure 6: Sutherst. 2017

The most successful shots of this shoot are, in my opinion, the images where there is a tension between nakedness and concealment. In these images, the penis is not the main focus of the viewer’s attention.  They are as much about Clint’s individuality and identity as they are about the fact that he is naked.  The images reveal as much of Clint as he wants to show us, and the tattoos tell us more about him, without answering all the questions.


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

KAIL, ELLYN. 2017. “Nude Photo Series Celebrates the Tattooed Male Model – Feature Shoot”. Feature Shoot [online]. Available at: [accessed 08 June 2017].

SKIN DEEP. 2017. Kickstarter [online]. Available at: [accessed 08 June 2017].

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