In 1991 Shannon Bradley-Colleary commissioned a photographer to capture a series of nude photographs. Twenty years later she called me hoping to revisit that time with a similar positive experience.
When Shannon first contacted me, she expressed an interest in my fine art–not in boudoir or glamour photographs. I mention this point specifically since some folks have expressed confusion about the context of this fine art nude session.
After our first introductory conversation, Shannon sent me a series of twelve photographs taken by Helmut Lipschitz in 1991. They were amazing. So, when she arrived for her fine art session, I suggested that we first spend a few minutes duplicating the poses from twenty years earlier.
Given Shannon’s expressed interest in seeing how a body changes over time in the context of body dysmorphic disorder, this seemed like a natural starting point for the session.
I unfortunately didn’t own a background canvas similar to the one Lipschitz used and since we had less than an hour to complete our work, I elected to use the black background I typically use during my fine art nude sessions.
As we began, I quickly moved Shannon through each pose so we would have time at the end to create a few photos in my typical fine art style. To further explain my approach, I was inspired to reproduce the original photographs because I felt that the documentary exercise would be appreciated in later years as Shannon’s body continued to change.
And I also must admit that it was a personal challenge to duplicate that lighting and those poses. After I had captured each of Lipschitz’s original twelve poses, I repositioned my lights and photographed Shannon in my own fine art style—the style of photography that had initially inspired her to select me as her photographer.
As a photographer, my fine art photography celebrates the human form and uses the contrasting nature of light and darkness to accentuate the positive in every subject–regardless of height, weight, gender, or body shape.
With this approach, I strive to reveal the beauty I see in everyone. As you view this body of images, it’s important to note that my fine art style is typically more forgiving than the images styled from the duplicated poses. The reboot of the original session was done as a form of documentation; those poses were not intended to beautify features as is sometimes my approach in fine art photography.
In fact, my only goal for the early photos in the session was to quickly create similar poses to what Lipschitz used twenty-one years ago but with my lighting style. And even though the resulting comparison photos aren’t necessarily representative of my typical fine art style, I feel they are an excellent testament to how a body can change—beautifully—over time.
After this session, Shannon wrote a blog post describing her experience. That post was picked up by the Huffington Post which in turn was noticed by a local Fox News affiliate which much have then interested the producers of the TODAY show. The TODAY show segment featured includes in-depth analysis including interviews of me, Shannon, and several body-image experts. This segment is no longer available online.