So in our infinite travels within the interwebs, we came across one photographer that completely blew us away with his Commando Art: @ThomasHolmPhoto. Most people from the surface, don't understand nude photography. But @ThomasHolmPhoto has a talent & art at expressing nudity in the most beautiful, raw, non-sexual manner.
Thomas "sees beauty in everything. He believes that when you strip away clothing, you are left with only the body, composition, facial expression, and light" which is really the challenging aspect of creating nudes into art. He's driven to create not only beautiful images, but also interesting ones. "I can't help but watch how light falls onto the human body in various environments. This variety is almost infinite, and it's a factor I work with through all my images. I'm mostly trying to tell a story, and evoke an emotion. I CREATE (not capture) a story, as a fairytale and even as a sculpture. I shape, edit, and distort these images to underline my view of beauty, and direct attention where I want it- just as a magician does a sleigh of hand. It may be trickery, it may not be real, but it hopefully leaves you impressed, amused, and even entertained for a short while after viewing it."
In his eyes, "nudity is natural to children, but as a society most people wrongfully find nudity to be taboo, obscure, and almost immediately apply a sexual meaning to it because they are only exposed to nudity in a pornographic way. Nudity is not inherently sexual, but rather it's how we're born."
LOVE @THOMASHOLMPHOTO'S MIND? WE ASKED HIM SOME MORE QUESTIONS..
How did I get into photography?
Well my dad used to be a photo amateur and had some darkroom stuff lying around. When I was about 15 I started reading up on using it and ended up gathering a working darkroom in a broom closet. I was shooting everything with and old camera and I wasn’t very good at it, but I loved to shoot and develop. I won my first photographic competition by borrowing a stuffed fox and putting it out into a beautiful place in nature. This taught me that I was better suited at creating images than at snapping what was just there. I started shooting portraits of friends and school mates, some architecture and after some years and a lot of knocking on doors I landed a position as apprentice to an advertising photographer in Denmark. Over the next 4 years there I learned to approach photography as a craft.
A little about myself?
I’m from a small suburb outside Copenhagen, Denmark which was nice and safe and I thought hugely boring as a kid. Interestingly I live in a slightly similar place now although closer to nature.
I’ve always had a creative streak, and a mechanical one. I love to know how things work - and why. I was told that at the age of 5, I loved to take my dad’s alarm clock apart and put together again, and I have always done some carpentry. At some point I bought a Land Rover and with no previous mechanical experience and (with a bit of help) I also managed to take that apart and renovate and make run again. And I do the same with images, sculpture, paintings. I can study things I enjoy for hours, trying to figure out why I like them or why they work. I find myself asking, "what makes this particular painting or whatever more captivating then the next, whats so particular about the composition and elements? It is one particular thing that works or is it the sum of everything?" I bring a lot of that analysis into images when I shoot.
What inspires me?
Very hard to say. I have an excellent visual memory so I can remember many pictures I’ve seen, as well as paintings, sculpture but also music. I often try to create an emotional component, and that itself can come from almost anything I’ve seen or heard. I very rarely try to copy others work, or my own but I will gladly use images as inspiration or a mood board for a particular pose or feel and show that to the model. Usually the best images from a shoot end up being something completely different though.
What's my ideal environment and energy surrounding a photoshoot?
My absolute ideal environment is stunning nature and a place with elevation so there are different levels where I can have the model interact with the nature. I also prefer the time to be near sunrise or sunset, and should also be fairly deserted or in a country that doesn’t have a huge problem with nudity. This dream scenario of course includes weather that is warm and without wind, but as any art model will tell you, this very rarely happens. It’s almost always windy and freezing cold. Since I pretty much only shoot nudes it goes without saying, I’m very relaxed around nudity. By default there is nothing sexual about nudity and most of the models I shoot with feel the same way so that aspect is not an issue. From there, on I'm really good at improvising and utilizing locations, so depending on how the model works I'll adapt my way of working- at least partly. If it’s an inexperienced model I’ll direct almost everything, and it’s a professional I always give space for her to contribute. Sometimes I’ll suggest a general location where I can see potential in regard to composition and shape, and see what the model can do in that place. From here, I'll shoot away, knowing that nothing will come out of it initially, bu t what's more important is that the model feels confident. At some point something clicks in my brain when the model and environment falls into place, and I take over completely and start micromanaging body, legs, arms, hands fingers, facial angle and expression and refine/perfect everything according to what I like. And I know with certainty when I have something that works. At this point, if there is a natural (or needed) break I may show the model some pictures from the camera, but only then and only if I’m 100% confident they are amazing.
What's my ideal photoshoot?
Working with likeminded people who genuinely have a deep desire to create magic images. The exact location is less important but a beautiful environment in nature is high on my list. Again I prefer shooting around sunrise/sunset as lighting generally is magical at those times. When working with a model who really understand the emotion I’m trying to convey, and who can express emotion with her body (dancers are particular great at that) it’s hard not to create something with an emotional appeal. In the end the ideal photoshoot is one where the images end up looking great and tickle the viewers soul.
What else is on my bucket list of creativity?
I would like to try creating sculptures (I’m lousy at drawing) and might do that at some point. However, I simply don’t have time to get into it full force, and I don’t like doing things half way. I’m in the process of creating a method to print my images on silver, gold and palladium attached to various materials and printed as one off art pieces. It’s early days and it will probably be another year before it’s something I feel like flaunting but it has some promise. I also dearly would like to go back to shooting 8x10 polaroid images with some vintage lenses. Large format photography is just so different from normal digital cameras and it’s a very expensive way of shooting (with at least $50 per click of the shutter), and is something I can’t really afford that at this point. I adore wet plate Collodion (tintype) images because of the texture and look, but I’m not going into chemistry again, been there, done that.
I just did a 2 week trip with Roarie Yum all over the Southwest, visited amazing places and shooting fantastic imagery. With the right model, I definitely want to do something like this again. Also on occasion, I enjoy running workshops because I enjoy teaching and inspiring others to grow their creativity.
An interesting story from a photoshoot?
So, I wanted to do a shoot at the cosmic navel in Utah that I had stumbled upon while researching locations. It's a huge weather pit, and it needs to be photographed just around sunset to not have deep shadows. After photographing in two slot canyons since sunrise, walking and climbing 11 miles, we drove into Escalante to get essential food supplies. It was bad timing but necessary. We left again around 6pm and drove for about an hour to the place where we were supposed to park, and should have walked 3-4 miles. I think I have missed a sign that said 'Authorised vehicles only' so we ended crossing a riverbed, and found a sandy track going in the right direction. A couple of miles onwards I simply didn’t dare drive further or we’d be stuck down a slope we couldn’t get up from again. So we started to walk.
We walked for about an hour on sandy roads. Roarie started to get some blisters so she took her boots off. And my boots? They were uncomfortable, getting filled with sand. We were late and we knew it, and as we started walking faster I told her my dream scenario for where to shoot from and where she would be, which turned out to be impossible. About 15-20 min before sunset we saw some huge rocks on the far left and with the help from a handheld GPS with pre-plotted coordinates, we figured it must be up there. I had found no knowledge online of the elevation of the place so this was a bit disconcerting. It looked more or less like a movie-set volcano from one side and with inclination of 25-50 degrees and we started climbing it. It turned out to be 660ft high!
Neither of us uttered a word, we just grinded our teeth and pushed onwards. Roarie was with bare feet and I carried my camera backpack, tripod, water, flashlights, extra clothing and Roarie's boots clipped to the pack. We parted halfway up to reach the rim in different locations, just as the sun dipped under the horizon. I quickly set up camera, Roarie undressed into place (or the best position possible with some difficulty). We shot for a total of 4-6 minutes as it was rapidly getting darker and we still needed to get down safely (we both prefer not to die). Roarie got dressed, I shot a couple stills and we quickly packed, put on lights and scrambled down. There was absolutely no time for breaks. We almost got lost in the dark on the way down at a huge ravine, but thankfully I had my handheld GPS showing the way I came up, so we backtracked this route down. Here, it was a 1 hour walk back to the car and Roarie still in bare feet, in cold sand. The journey continued with a twenty minute drive in loose sand at night, and an hour on washboard roads. We talked and dreamt of getting a fuck-ton of Margaritas and some Fajitas once we got back. Finally, we were exhaused and back in town around 11 PM. There weren't any restaurants, or even a gas station open, so we ate some nuts and a granola bar, had some Whiskey from the stash and went to sleep. Of all the models I have worked with, only a small hand-full would have been able, and dedicated enough to put in the effort for this place, so a huge shout-out to Roarie is in order, she’s a genuine star!
Ends up, that day we walked about 18 miles and climbed up 1500 feet of elevation, with much of it in slot canyons and loose sand from 5:30 AM to 11 PM. We ended up creating 5-6 fantastic images and some spectacular scenery, so it was absolutely worth it!
Art nude photography is about planning, collaboration of like minded souls and often very, very hard work and setting aside your immediate needs like food, sleep and warmth. And this brings me to one of the image comments I generally dislike, as it shows a blatant lack of understanding for the process and legwork involved: "Nice Click…"
Photographer & Interviewee:
@ThomasHolmPhoto | http://www.commandoart.com