Revealing Venus in Tuscany
Tuesday 21st May 2013
Mark Lawrie discusses the fine art nude
A well-travelled English photographer was explaining light quality from around the world to me. He described the light in Canada as being like the light from a flashlight, In England it’s like the light in an oil painting and Italy, well it’s like a watercolour light. Now being from Canada, our stunning and long sunsets are far from flashlights but when I went to Italy I instantly saw what he meant and why he loved creating images in the light of the Tuscan sun.
Doing nudes under that wonderful sun is heaven.
Each year a collection of photographers join me under the umbrella of Revealing Venus. These last two years we have been exploring Italy, before that it was Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I collect some amazing models for them, this year it was a mixture of playmates and fashion models. With Max, my partner in Italy, we find the most fantastic locations to be our backdrops and inspiration.
With our own personal chef we set up ‘camp’ in a stone and brick villa. We discovered our next door neighbour was Miu Miu Prada. While we didn’t have her over for breakfast, it made it cool being there
Revealing Venus is not so much an instructional workshop as it is a place to be inspired, experiment and break away from your normal workflow; a place and time to create some personal fine art nudes or exciting portfolio pieces. We really mix it up, sometimes wandering off on our own with a model, sometimes getting all the models in together, taking turns directing them. Of course, when we turn the models loose to just play we capture great images out of the chaos.
One thing I found fascinating was how several photographers could photograph the same model at the same time but by picking different angles, lenses and postproduction work would create radically different images. Part of the charm of the week was being exposed to such unique approaches and growing from that
We had some amazing places to play in. The Fortress of Girifalco, overlooking the city of Cortona was closed down for two days for us to roam through its three floors and courtyards. We had two prestigious vineyards closed for our use, as well as an art gallery in the heart of Cortona. We even had the run of a sprawling estate home which vastly amused the owner watching us. Not to mention our home-based villa.
It always surprised me that they would happily close these places down for my collection of photographers and models based on my name. We were so grateful they did though; these are places you could just not normally get into. The art gallery actually stripped images off the walls for us but even let us use their paintings as backdrops for some of our images.
Now British photographers may find the castles and stone buildings a bit routine with your wealth of castles but my Asian and North American photographers were fully enamoured by them.
Each photographer took around 3,000 images. That is a lot and it’s not because we were sitting on motor drives but because the diversity of models and locations, along with the wonderful light, presented so many opportunities. The long days made a difference too. While a lot of the shots were carefully planned as either crafted images or tricky experiments, we also had spontaneous frenzies.
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