This is the first nude photo I ever took. It was an absolute turning point for me.
In photography school, we were given the assignment to take a nude photograph. The deadline was approaching and no one would pose for me, so in a moment of desperation, I plucked up courage and decided to take a self-portrait.
This was before Instagram and the internet as we know it today. I was 19 years old. I lived with my mom and my very Catholic grandparents, and I didn’t really have the privacy to do a lot of things like take naked pictures of myself. So I took a broken mirror we had in the bedroom and locked myself in the bathroom, where I had a little more privacy and perfect lighting. And I took the picture the best way I could without showing my face. Not that I thought I was doing anything wrong by showing my body, but in the world I lived in, it felt wrong to have a nude self-portrait. I didn’t want to get confronted.
It was only after a short period of time that I discovered just how empowering that act had been.
Today, when I look at this photograph, I find a lot of symbolism in the image, such as the broken mirror, the ties in my joints, and the hidden face.
But I also see the influence of Mexican photography that I had, the way he saw the world. And it fills me with memories and emotions.
Regardless of all the story that this photograph has and the relationship that I have to it, I also like it as an image, as an image itself. It is a nice photograph. And it is the photograph that opened the door for me to self-exploration. To the reconquest of my body. It was the beginning of the work I do now.
Now to the technical aspects:
I took 36 shots of the same motif with my first camera ever, a canon ae-1 with a 50 mm lens (soon more on how I ended up having that camera). I used Ilford HP5+ 400 ISO. Then, in the lab, I cut the film into three pieces and developed each piece with a different developer, using Kodak Microdol X, which I believe is no longer in production, D 76 and HC 110. And then I enlarged a photo of each film on Ilford multigrade paper, if I remember correctly.
These photos are in my final portfolio for that trimester, and I have no desire to take them out, so instead of scanning them, I photographed them.
I hope you can still see the differences (black and white) in the photos.
Click on photo to view larger.