Capturing Natural Beauty:
Male Nudes in Utah
Capturing Natural Beauty:
Male Nudes in Nature @ Southern Utah Portfolio
Traveling with two male models to Southern Utah provided us with a great opportunity to explore the theme of figurative nude imagery among an incredible natural background. I invited another photographer along to share expenses and shoot with me. The venue we choose is landscape near Bryce Canyon in Utah which offers brilliant red rock colors and amazing textures and shapes.
My personal motivation for combining the natural landscape with nude male models is that I have enjoyed capturing images of both models and landscapes and believe that both have a natural beauty. There are millions of images on the web of landscapes as well as male nudes, and I enjoyed the challenge of creating compelling artistic images featuring both elements. I can never capture one of the best images of Bryce Canyon, but I can strive to capture a compelling image featuring these iconic red rock scenes with male models that is somewhat unique from existing images. Additionally, I strive to create art that one might desire to frame and view over time, and the addition of the dramatic natural scenery adds an element of interest.
One of my goals with this portfolio of approximately 100 images is to capture both close up and large scale setting images, primarily featuring at least one male model. I feel it is important to provide some context for the model where you as the viewer can appreciate the natural beauty and scale of the setting and ideally I can find an interesting way to incorporate the model within the setting. Other times, I am fine to focus up close and emphasize the model with just a hint of the setting.
I traveled with two Canon DSLR cameras and used two zoom lenses (24mm to 70mm and 70mm to 200mm) for all of the shots. I tried a few fill flash shots, but primarily used natural light with a polarizer at times. I have done minimal editing, so the sky and surrounding areas appear fairly close to what we experienced in person.
We benefited from an imminent storm at times which added sky drama including intense cloud formations and sky color. For some of the landscape shots, I used HDR to capture a wider range of tones and color.
I have worked with Ethan on previous projects and he is a very experienced nude male model. He has a great ability to interact well with his surroundings to create interesting poses, at times based on yoga or stretch poses. He also can provide strong facial expressions to go along with a specific pose or theme that he wants to convey or simply turn on "model face". This was my first shoot with Matthew who is an actor based in Los Angeles and it was nice to have a second model for select scenes. Matthew has some past experience shooting nudes in nature as well as a variety of acting roles to his name.
We spent a part of three days traveling hundreds of miles as a team of four. One of the obvious challenges is locating compelling natural environments that are remote enough to not have others around, but yet not so remote that we would be unable to easily and safely access the terrain. Due to extensive up front research and consultation with another photographer (Gordon N) with experience, we had a starting plan which we mostly followed.
We found ourselves at times driving on dirt roads that were not well maintained and quite rough at times. Our most impressive landscape was most likely ours alone only due to some wet roads from an earlier evening storm that turned a part of the road to access the area into a mud pit in the early morning. We passed a vehicle stuck deep in the mud and we were able to go around on some higher ground and arrive to find a parking lot with only one car at 9AM. We rapidly shot for about an hour and a half until another vehicle arrived. This was a park that at times has a packed parking lot, so we felt very fortunate to have access to this unique setting for our shoot.
As we had a model nude in nature, some type of incident was quite possible. In this case, one of the models received a yellow jacket sting to his penis. Luckily, he is not allergic and felt better after a short while.
We only had one couple come across our shoot while the models were nude. They smiled and mentioned that they had heard this was a very scenic trail and we laughed and replied, yes, quite beautiful and natural indeed. Usually, we could hear others approaching, but at some of the venues, we had the models in a very open area (such as when they stood on a huge boulder) and it would have been tough to cover up very quickly.
If you wish to explore this natural beauty for yourself, I would recommend you visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in Utah. We did not shoot in either park as we required more privacy in our setting.
I plan to return to other locations in the future with additional models to further explore this theme. I welcome any model referrals/inquiries or photographer inquiries into traveling with me on future “nudes in nature” shoots.
I would be happy to review options for providing you with a framed copy of any image from this portfolio for your home.
Behind the Scene and Landscape Shots:
The main gallery below featuring 105 images. You can click on an image to enter full view mode. Behind the scene shots and photographer's narrative follow lower on the page. If you're interested in a framed copy of any image, please contact me for details.