The “World’s Best Asexual Art Nude Photographer” may be a title that I’ve given myself in jest, but there is a kernel of truth at the heart of it. I am asexual and it has an oversized impact on who I am as a photographer. It drives how I work, the type of work that I do, the environment I create, the language I use, and the value I attach to art, consent, and boundaries.
But what does it mean to you, as a potential artistic collaborator?
It means that the nude form does not have the effect on me that it does on your typical cis male photographer. No sexual attraction towards the subject means nothing to get in the way of the work. Let’s unpack that a bit more.
It means that there is no “mission creep.” If we set out to do a fashion shoot, it doesn’t turn into an implied shoot. If we’re shooting implied, you won’t be asked to do “just one” nude snap. If we’re doing fine art or fashion nudes, you won’t be asked to do any erotica or spread leg shots (not an option anyway!).
If you ask mid-session course correction, brace to be turned down. I am a big believer in integrity and I don’t ever want to have it said that I agreed to do one thing and ended up going beyond established boundaries.
It means is that I’m not there for anything but the work. I’m not some creepy, socially inept, slavering GWC (“guy with camera”) looking for a way to turn a $500 camera into an excuse to get women to take their clothes off. I am definitely not looking to date you, become friends with benefits, or ask you to join my MLM network (ick…this sentence makes me want to shower).
It means I’m looking for collaborators, not “just” models. Asexuality in this photographer means that artistically my visual vocabulary isn’t as refined as someone who spends their day thinking about how to present someone in the most sensual way possible. I just don’t have the inner fantasy life that allows me to pre-visualize every aspect of a shoot. I compensate for this by trying to create an environment where the subject is driving the train. Y’all are the ones doing all the hard work; shouldn’t you have an oversized say in what is being created?
Yes, (he says with tongue firmly planted in cheek) I’m looking for models who are Power Bottoms.
It means I’m doing my damndest to create a safe space. A benefit of being asexual is that being anywhere near your personal space is anathema to me. I also present as a cis white male and asexuality isn’t exactly the most visible community on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, so a healthy degree of skepticism about the above will not hurt my feelings in the least! References will enthusiastically be provided upon request.
It means that bringing a friend, spouse, partner, or chaperone along is not only welcome, but encouraged. There are some creepy ass fucks out there and models need to be careful about walking into situations where they’re a) at their most vulnerable, while b) alone.
Finally, it means that there are genres or concepts I will not shoot. My asexuality is why I won’t shoot boudoir, for example, or high-concept fashion and fantasy. I admire the fuck out of photographers like Lillian Liu, but I also know that that style of photography requires a level of imagination and post-shoot creativity I do not and likely cannot possess.
I’ll stick with my Newtonian (as in Helmut) aesthetic, thanks!
So why do you do it? That’s a damn good question! There is no short and simple answer, so I’ll unpack that in a later post.