Sometimes, we become so obsessed at the presence of insects that we often overlook the magical moments – and the brilliant and tranquil photo-opportunities – they provide. In the image above, the butterfly and the shadow it creates, draw our attention to the man’s bare chest. The beauty of both the individual’s nude skin and the naked butterfly symbolize, at least in my eyes and mind, the harmony of the world of nature and of two different species. It also highlights the total absurdity of clothing.
Most of us see the colorful and graceful butterfly as a representation of the glorious wonder of the natural world and I readily agree. But would we still feel that way if all the butterflies in the world were covered with layer upon layer of butterfly garments? I think not as the garments would never equal the vibrant butterfly in natural beauty.
The wonder of nature is the beauty that it creates and the beauty that it inspires in our artists. The natural world has served as an inspiration for human artists since the beginnings of humanity. It begs the question, which came first, the artist or the idea?
Photography is a contemporary visual art that has allowed and encouraged countless persons (myself included) to appreciate not only the natural world but also artistic expression.
Since the beginning of art, humanity has always relied on nature for inspiration and for subtle messages to convey to the viewer. Although at times controversial, photography often does the same. In the above two photographs, the photographers have used both a butterfly and a leaf to communicate to those observing their work.
Working with natural objects not only enhances the visual art, it also provides a convenient and familiar accessory that most of us are able to readily identify and understand. No complex and cumbersome spaceships from an alien galaxy in outer space – in other words, an advanced degree in rocket science is not required.
The use of natural items in photography is, to a large extent, what provides it with universality. Almost everyone is able to identify and appreciate the idea or message that the photographer or visual artist is hoping to convey.
The photography of humanity, especially in the nude, is an extension of this practice. Artists of the time-honored format, using paints, pencils, etc., have been reproducing bare people for thousands of years. The fairly recent rise of photography has merely been a continuation of this tradition.
Nude photography affords both the visual artist. the photographer, and the viewer with images of humanity that they are immediately familiar and identifiable. The absence of clothing and other cultural or status markings afford the artist, the viewer as well as the subjects (models) themselves a comfortable and universal commonality without any distraction or distortion.
The natural world has always given visual artists a multitude of ideas and opportunities for expression. It is only fitting that the “natural” human body is frequently a subject of their work. Whether a painted portrait, a chiseled sculpture or a photograph, the art world and, indeed, the entire world, has benefitted from this inspirational relationship.