Photographing the flesh in its real and true form is not everyone’s cup of tea, but nude photographers capture human essence in its true form. India as a country has often had a bone to pick with nudity being portrayed in pictures, films, ads, and other forms of media. At the crossroads of this dilemma between whether to portray nudity or to let things stayed covered up, are nude photographers who are trying to let the curves and edges not be a topic to be shadowed any longer. Bingedaily spoke to nude photographers in India who tell us how they are breaking the stereotypes, the stigmas and the controversies surrounding nudity.
Nude photographers in India think sex education is important
Rajdeep Das was never really fond of working in a routine job and hence chose to be a full-time Fashion, Nude and Portrait photographer because that's where he felt he could prosper and explore more.
“Nude is something that interests me, be it a nude sketch, a film which has nudity, a portrait of a nude figure or simply porn. I remember, when I was a kid, I was very curious about the female body, but due to lack of sex education or proper guidance from the elders, I resorted to finding answers on my own,” says Rajdeep.
“We as a society have failed to build a basic relationship with a man and a woman, hence we do not treat them as humans but two separate entities. I wanted to question society, critic my own way of being, un-learn and re-learn things. It was July 2019, when my father gifted me a second-hand camera. Nude/boudoir wasn't something I already thought of but I started with simple portraits and when I was pushed out of my comfort zone and ventured into this new genre I realised that this is the only place where I can challenge my insecurities.”
Rajdeep does not believe that India will be receptive to nude photography any time soon. The reason he believes is that we do not have a proper sex education while growing up. “In addition to this, women are always tied up with things which don't allow them to explore themselves as human beings.” Rajdeep sees boudoir as a pretty strong and powerful way of showing the existence of women as a whole. “People are going to be receptive to boudoir or nudity in general only when they are familiar with sex education, get proper guidance in their puberty, exposure to proper nude arts and understand the difference between emotion, aesthetics and soulful existence of NUDE figures.”
Nude photographers in India wish to break the notion that nudity is a bad thing
Rikrivu Banerjee has been dabbling his hand at nude art photography for the last 9 years now. Extremely insecure about his own body image, Rikrivu started doing self-portraits. “The effect was instantaneous and I started to fall in love with the whole process of clicking nude art. I realised that if I could get rid of even 10% of my reservation which I had against my own body then it's still a huge leap.”
“I always believe that being naked in front of the lens is the easiest thing but at the same time the most difficult. It is easy because there's no excessive effort behind being naked. But at the same time, it is extremely difficult because society conditions us into believing that nudity is a bad thing that goes against our culture.”
It was a challenge for Rikrivu to continue this passion of his, irrespective of the reception of it. However, slowly but steadily people are accepting it and it is a gratifying experience. “People should not shun away from anything outside their spectrum under the garb of INDIAN CULTURE. Nude art is an institution in our culture and evidence is inscribed into the walls of temples and one of the most detailed and documented guides of sex in the Kamasutra. Although I would always preach that sex and nudity are two very different things but sadly it is bunched under the same label here.” This renowned nude photographer in India says that the dream would be normalising nudity because it is a choice and everyone should have the chance to select what they feel good in.”
Nude photographers in India feel we can improve as a society
Going by the name A Soulful Body, this nude photographer describes himself as a poet whose poetry is his pictures.
“Every body is a masterpiece. But beauty product companies and the marketing world is ruining and making things difficult for few people to accept their body as it is,” says this nude photographer. “I try to help my subjects love their own body first before expecting from others.”
This nude photographer feels there is a lot of scope to improve as a society. “You can see how sick some minds are in our society. They start acting crazy on seeing a nude female body and start commenting and judging them if they find they are not approachable. It will be a long journey, and I have just started taking the first step towards it. After all, I am learning a lot about myself, about women and their inner feelings in this journey and it's quite eye-opening.”
Nudity and porn are different
Saurabh Bansal is a fine nude art photographer from Delhi. Whilst on the journey to discovering himself, he would watch himself naked in the mirror for hours on end just admiring how beautiful the human body is.
“I joined art classes as a nude model and loved expressing myself for artists to draw me beautifully. After a certain incident, I realised I could do better and wanted something more. This is when I started shooting self nude portraits with my camera.”
“My work is loved by people and I soon found platforms that supported artists like me. Today, it is my passion as well as my profession. India is far behind in understanding the difference between nudity and porn. Nudity is not porn. Being nude is not an invitation for sex. Nude is how we are born and how we die. Sexual feelings are controlled by the brain not by the nude body.”
“The majority of people are influenced by the media and Indian media shows nudity in a sexual way most of the time. We as a culture need to see nudity and sex as separate entities.”
Why is it crucial to break the stigmas and taboos?
Tathagata Deb found the 9-5 life too overwhelming and has been dabbling with photography since she was 15 years old. He finds refuge in this art.
“Well, there is a fine line of difference between nudity and vulgarity and it is the intent and/or the purpose behind a photo. I find it very challenging to work on something so sensitive and stay right by that fine line,” says Tathagata pointing out that this was the primary reason for him venturing into nude art. “There are a lot of social stigmas and taboos that bind women into their own shackles and I find it daunting to break those with my art. Nothing feels as good as slapping a toxic mentality on the face with art.”
This nude photographer highlights the fact that nudity is liberating. It is freeing the mind, body and soul. “There is nothing to be ashamed of your body, your sexual desires, yourself above all. Do this exercise, go in front of the mirror, strip naked and gently touch all those imperfections in your body and think of the happiest memory you have. You will smile looking at yourself. That should tell you what nudity is and what the power of freedom is.”