October 12, 2011

Water nymph

My friends know by now that I’ve got this blogging tradition: when I go off on trips, I try to return with a naked photo. My readers expect it.

I keep telling my friends that the naked photo tradition is a serious project that leads to in-depth discussions about the body. At academic conferences, the mere mention of naked photos leads to all kinds of feminist critique of the dominant culture. My friends are willing to jump into that conversation, but they can’t resist teasing me about the project. “You have to admit,” one friend said to me frankly. “It’s a little weird.”

They kept reminding me of an unfortunate incident that happened a few years back. We had climbed to the top of a mountain, and three of us posed naked for what I thought would be a lovely silhouette shot. I’d given my camera to Dark Curly Hair because she didn’t want to pose. She snapped a few pictures, we put our clothes back on, and we walked back down the mountain.

Then I looked at the photo.

In the picture, the three of us are standing in yoga poses, dark silhouettes against a blue sky, other mountains in the distance. It was a lovely shot, except for one thing. A single ray of sunshine, like the hand of God, was shining directly on my butt, which glowed almost supernaturally.

My friends thought it was hilarious. I never posted the photo on my blog, but the image is apparently imprinted indelibly in their minds because they’ve never forgotten it. We’ve had many sensitive discussions about body image, but always somehow the conversation always turns to the infamous white butt shot.

“Do you still have the picture? Or did you delete it?” asked Makes Bread.

I’ll never tell.

And I’ve learned my lessons about trying to take group shots of naked women. It’s too difficult. Trying to get a group shot of women who are laughing and joking around, and paying no attention to the photographer – well, it’s worse than trying to take a holiday photo of four kids. They just won’t sit still.

So instead I asked just one friend to pose. She is the oldest of the group, an elder really, so it seemed right. We stepped off a hiking trail that meandered along a stream, and she stripped off her clothes.

“Shake your hair out,” I kept saying. She’s got really long gorgeous hair, part dark and part silver, and I wanted to catch the way the sun glinted off the silky strands. But when we looked at the photos, the unposed shot — the one in which she was undoing her hair as she walked down to the stream — was our favorite.

Water nymph

Quilt Artist as a water nymph.

(Readers who want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and  here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. )


Dale said...

Oh. Lovely.

Cindy said...

That's a beautiful shot. She looks so comfortable with her body.

Anonymous said...


And I do remember the story about the white ass pic. Too funny!!!


fairbetty said...

I must say, of all the naked photos of yours that I have seen, this one is my favorite.

Sandy said...

I agree with fairbetty. This photo is the best yet.

Liz Miller said...

Make that three for this being the best picture yet.

I love all the movement, and her understated strength.

Also, it looks like a painting.

Magpie said...


And then I was thinking that, but for all of the other people at the waterfall, I could have had my kid take her clothes off and pose...but it might be a Christmas card...oh, but, we did actually send a Christmas card with her stark naked - when she was three...

Maybe Quilt Artist should use this as her Christmas card. :)

jo(e) said...

Ha! Her Christmas card tradition has been to take a photo of all of us on this weekend and then send us the group photo. Maybe this year we'll just all get 8 by 10s of the water nymph instead.

YourFireAnt said...

Jo(e), this is one of your best efforts. It reminds me that it might be time to climb down a more local water fall. hm....?

kathy a. said...


i met up with two internet friends last month, and we got to talking about various things, and of course the naked photo was a topic. not me, the brave and beautiful one who posed for you.

Zhoen said...

At home in her skin. Lovely.

Jeff said...

This looks so natural & idyllic. An exquisite image of femininity, humanity and nature.

I like how this contrasts with your previous "naked" photo of the hotel setting; be it man-made versus natural settings as well as gender poses.

Reading what kathy a, said, I imagine this could be a fun conversation among blogging friends but I also see how it could be a topic for many which may not be easy to act on. Your history, trust built up through your friends and sensitive approach makes for a great series.

Anonymous said...

This is my first encounter with your naked photo tradition. I absolutely love it. What a stunning photo. I have to admit it makes me want to pose naked and have Roger snap a pic for you. LOL!

Amanda said...

Genuinely perfect.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I love the tasteful way you do these--FUN! K wants to see them.