Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley 

“Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.”
~ John Berger
I got a chance to talk about my nude art work a few months ago in a pizza shop. The conversation with a couple and their female friend got fairly in-depth as we talked about my art. This picture usually develops often in my travels when I mention I do artistic nudes. And in this case, like several others, it’s the women that usually drive the discourse. First, they want to see the pics. I take them to my website ( or show them some of my latest work on my phone. After that, the questions, discussion, or debate commences. 
The absolute most common question I get is… ‘Why do they have to be naked?” This comes from a more conservative circle who don’t understand why I do this. I get that. My art is not for everybody and I’m not trying to persuade anybody into my court on this. And therefore the answer I give to this question is, THEY DON’T. They do not HAVE to be naked. They are nude because I CHOOSE to photograph them this way.
Other times there is instant appreciation and the discussion turns to inquiry. How do I find models? What do I look for in a nude model? Who are my inspirations… both model and other photographers? How did I get started? The girlfriend wanted to know what kind of nudes I enjoy (other than my own). I initially thought they were trying to get me to talk about porn. But that wasn’t the case as they explained to me that my style was different from what they were familiar with, however, surely every artist must also appreciate different styles and and hate others.

The friend of the couple pointed out that she liked how I used “real” women who look like somebody you might see shopping in a store or standing next to you in the elevator. She felt it was cool that somebody could find beauty in people like herself and not just “Hollywood” women, as she called them. The conversation also brought to mind the debates, in which I sometimes engage, on the distinction between a photograph of a nude woman vs a pic of a naked chick. I’ll scroll past the latter all day. 

Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley
So what is the difference between art nude photography and a photo of a naked person? That’s a simple, yet complex question. On the face of it, nakedness simply implies a condition of being without clothes or something that covers your modesty. Yes, there are other functions of clothing, but let’s stick to the point. Any image depicting nakedness can be claimed to be art or artistic by the creator or subsequently by anyone who views it. I used my cell phone to take photos of a girlfriend while she showered or sometimes when she exercised outside on the back patio. Is it art? I can be, if I say it is. And subsequently so, it is if I display it in an artistic environment with other similar depictions and call it, “Life of the Domestic Nude”. Therefore, weight is given to the creator, the viewer, the context, and the environment in which the photo is displayed as to determinant factors to answer the question of artistic value and merit. 
Conversely, if I take the same shot with a camera that allows me to slow down the shutter speed, I can blur the cascading water and maybe her hands as they pass over her face and through her hair. I could shoot with a wide-angle lens and capture more of the surrounding bathroom for the environmental portrait aspect and shoot upward from a low angle. I might narrow the aperture down to reduce the light which illuminates her backside more than her front as she faces the shower head… and intentionally underexpose it. This creates a vignette on the backside of the composition whereas the front side is already in shadow. Maybe I’ll shoot at a higher ISO to introduce grain and edit the shot in Black and White. 
Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

At this point, I’ve employed fundamental principles of photography, introducing motion, perspective, balance, light and shadow variance, depth of field, grain, and use of monochromatic techniques. I’d bet if you saw the shot, you could see geometric shapes in the composition. If I never used the photo in an art gallery or if I never even called it art, it would still likely be widely accepted as an artistic composition on it’s own merit. Why? Because I used artistic tools to consciously create something. You don’t have to be called an artist to create art. Art is an expression. A person who creates something that is an outward manifestation of their expression, views, or emotion has created art. If you do it repeatedly, your an artist whether you get paid for it or not. If you get paid, then you’re a professional artist. 

I don’t often put a name to my style of nudes, but what the girls were used to seeing was glamour nudes. What they saw in my art didn’t reflect much of that. I’m glad for it. I hardly ever need a make-up artist or a hair stylist. I like my nudes as raw as they come. I shoot the nude in whole or in macro parts, but I shoot all of her. Nudity restrictions hamper my creative abilities. I usually find my models by asking or they get referred to me. It is not often that I get someone who sees my work first and then contacts me, although it does happen. Over they years, especially in the US, word of mouth is what garnered the majority of my model finds. 
“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” 
~ Agnes Repplier
Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

Shape, hair, eyes, are usually the first things that get my attention, in that order. However attitude is the prevailing factor. I say it all the time. I shoot as much as what’s inside the model as I do the outside. If the attitude is not a fit, then I can’t do it. That’s not to say she or he has a poor attitude, just that for whatever reason, their hearts are just not in it. 
Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Diane Arbus, Jerry Ulesmann, Sally Mann, Spencer Tunick… these were my initial inspirations. My photography professor, Michael Johnson first encouraged me to try nude photography. Dave Rudin was huge for me when I was still fresh and had finally switched to digital. He shoots film however and was already an established art nude photographer in New York. He contacted me offering encouragement and insight. He attended one of my art nude workshops and I got to see him often on his trips to Las Vegas. I get inspired by practically every model I work with. There’s always something that is unique which they bring to the table. 
I love working with the muses who I shoot often and they let me play, experiment, and have the patience to stick with me when I do crappy work. There have been some I only worked with once and it was just as impactful. I can say I’ve shot hundreds of models. It seems like at damn near every point in my life, since I began shooting nudes, there has been someone there to help me. Since I first began, I once went a whole year without shooting a single nude. In 15 years, that’s only happened once and I pray it never happens again. Top 3 models I’ve shot the most… 
Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

I don’t need for other art nude work to be like mine for me to enjoy them, but I don’t particularly like implied nudes, nor nudes that trend conservative. It’s so subjective. My favorite nude/photograph of all time is Dave Rudin’s art piece of Carlotta Champagne. In fact… I think I will do a blog post on that one photo at some point. But it’s an easily conservative piece that is nonetheless the best photo I’ve seen. I’m not particularly a fan of sexualized nudes. And there is a difference between that and erotica. Your idea of what sexualized is may be different from mine. Mine even has degrees to it. Maybe I’ll talk on that at some point, too. Can sex be art? Sure. But more on that later. Everybody has their range on the art nude spectrum. I can only explain mine… ambiguously, so.
I’ve been happy to work with 4 women here in Vietnam. Art Model, Alisia was someone who was referred to me and we put together our collaboration soon after. It was a long photo shoot! I was ecstatic that she had that kind of patience for a first shoot. We discussed the possible concepts and then just got to work. I let her move, pose, and tried to provide as little direction as possible. I wanted to take what was given and see what resulted. That has been my approach most times, but if the model has difficulty and needs help on how to move, I can step in and direct. I placed Alisia where I needed and just let her go for it. My job was to capture her performance with the right light, perspective, and angles. We did that and I think we created some fine art. I am very appreciative of her. I thank her for helping me celebrate the female form with this art.
Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley