I went to see the Bill Brandt exhibition at Tate Britain today. It’s free and on till January 2023 so if you’re in London at all I recommend it.
I love Bill Brandt. I can’t remember exactly when I first saw his work but it was probably during university in the mid-nineties and it was certainly his (and Man Ray’s) work that first got me interested in nude photography.
After getting back from the exhibition I scrolled back through my blog and through my unused photos folder and it’s quite ridiculous how often I’ve channeled him, either through direct replicas or through heavily influenced black and whites.
In the unused folders were a couple of homages dating back to my lockdown project in 2020. Brandt had a habit of naming his images by the location and date they were taken so here I have done the same. The shot that inspired mine is below.
‘Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing. I interfered very little, and the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.’ Bill Brandt
Flicking through my photo library recently it struck me how frequently when photographing other people, male or female, intimate or not, I choose to drop down low and shoot up the body. I love the way the camera holds the body in reverence when working from that angle.
This week, as a result of turning that angle on myself, I found myself appreciating my shape in a way I rarely do. As we lie in bed looking down our bodies or as we stand in front of the mirror we are often subjecting ourselves to a gaze of judgement and self-criticism. With photographs that capture these perspectives the pavlovian response can be to look for flaws. But here is a view I have never seen before and instead of judging myself I find myself admiring my curves, thinking my shoulders look strong and smiling at the memory of the sun bouncing off the side of my body. I celebrate the landscape of my body.