“love the experience”
Somewhere along the line, I became convinced I would need to get naked in front of the camera in order to get the perspective of myself I was really after.
It just so happens that e.g. coyle is one of those rare photographers who has himself been on both sides of the lens. We talked about this during our introductory consultation, one that took place at his insistence and lasted for several hours.
Ed is a true professional, as well as a dedicated artist. I was at ease long before he deemed ourselves fit to proceed with the shoot—his dedication to preliminaries is a function of the fact that he works primarily with women, an arrangement where the power dynamics are markedly different.
I learned over the course of the shoot that I was his first straight male subject, a distinction by which I felt rather honored. It would appear that we would be learning from each other...
It’s hard to say for sure how the experience felt. I was nervous, sure, but not because of anything he did. He was too focused on angles and lighting (while toiling in his custom-built studio) to think of ceding to the trappings of lechery. Here is a man who has, quite literally, seen it all...or almost all. This is precisely the kind of photographer you want to expose a new you, if you’re willing to take the risk. Once committed, my nerves settled down quickly.
Ed is a man of great discretion. While he has disciplined himself to keep his client portfolios private, I could see this restraint was a challenge, a function of his desire to give me glimpses into the possibilities presented by his other projects. But, he never once crossed the line, that is by sharing images which he clearly knew must remain private.
Nude photography is a tricky business in contemporary society. Ever looming is the damning indictment of ‘pornography!’ or, less severe, bad taste. Having studied both to great length, I can say with confidence that neither applies to Ed’s work. All I had to do to gain this assurance was consider his finished product.
It is extraordinarily difficult to get a true sense of how others perceive you. Few are capable of stepping outside themselves and see their bodies through other’s eyes. Let me submit that this is one of the roles of the skilled nude photographer. And there is something about looking at the human body in the nude, with all its distinctive lines—highlights and flaws—that allows one to get the full picture of the remarkable aesthetics of the human form. At one point, Ed and I considered one of his raw proofs, and we shared the same assessment.
“It almost looks like a Greek statue,” he said with a laugh.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said, more with surprise than with vanity.
Of course, it is impossible to know from the start what fruits a shoot will yield. True photography does not work this way. But if you can muster the courage to present all of yourself to e.g. coyle, allowing him to direct and study the light he produces to suit you, you just might find that you love the experience.