March 2013




Artist’s Statement

Here’s what I know about shooting nudes in photography. Nothing. I know more about shooting Apple boxes and objects on stands or classic landscapes. Shooting nudes has been new for me. It involves a dance between two people, actions and reactions: their ideas and mine. In the landscape or still life, the object is there and one places it, lights it, and controls it. In the nude, the person may contribute his or her own ideas or movements.

In these two series, I have shot a male nude in action, with his actions traced, like contrails, with talcum powder, and a female subject with props, fabric and mirrors, in still poses. The latter seem more passive, yet in both series, the decisive moment, the moment when the model’s and my concept come together perfectly, is interactive, combining their power as model and mine as artist.

Keith was my trainer at the gym and an exceptional athlete; we spoke often about developing one’s explosive power. He could do a standing jump onto the top of wooden boxes almost five feet high. At first I imagined shooting him using long exposure with cool lighting to capture the trajectory of his dynamic jumps, and strobes to freeze his action at the apex of his jump. This failed and I had just a blur. So it dawned on me to cover his body with talcum powder and use four slaved strobes – two as backlights, one as a side highlight, and the other as an overhead powered by two 1200 watt power units, plus one large soft box directly over him. Keith did a number of variations of jumps – straight up, more forward, etc. – until we were both out of power – battery and talcum for me and physical energy for him.

For Emily, her toying with the drapery and use of the mirror, a prop and her “reflection,” a prop particularly suited to a female in this society, was coy and seductive. While I could fully see the young model, her gaze was turned away from me, and thus the viewer. There is a certain combination of modesty and coquettishness about these images that I find alluring.




Paul Hagedorn (b. 1956) built his photographic reputation on a taxonomy of American and Western European cultural icons – the Eiffel Tower, Italian street scenes, southern landscapes reminiscent of the Hudson River School – places he captured for their ethereal, legendary beauty using a classical documentary style. Countering this meditative work is the rambunctious spirit of his early career in advertising graphics, where he was a hands-on image-maker, similar to a Hollywood producer. His work with nudes reinvigorates this directorial excitement. He seeks visceral results, immediate affect, moving away from the impressionistic to the active and expressionistic. His nudes are exciting, involving and affective. His subjects emanate strength and mystery.

Insofar as creating fantasies and reinvigorating them, the The Nudes series echoes elements of Hagedorn’s other recent series Peachtree Battle, Imaginary War Games, where, in his Atlanta, Georgia, studio, he has made models, painted backdrops, rummaged figurines and props, and assembled installations that replicate the infamous boy’s release: imaginary war games. Riffing on these childhood fantasies, plus video gaming, TV news, and World War II “B” movies, he has fabricated an array of territorial battles on air, land and sea. The work is cinematic, reminiscent of mid-century black-and-white films, and the tone is entirely new: explosive and blazing bright.