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Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 12:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I like to accumulate vintage photography books and magazines, books mostly, esp glamour photography. In both media the terms "figure study" or "nude study" come up. The phrases faze out in the 1980's but I saw it used here a couple of days ago. My question is: what are they "studying"? I mean it's not academic. There's nothing particularly scholastic about a woman, naked, ignoring the camera, lit with experimental (it's experimental for a reason) lighting, in an odd position. There's no degree in Nakedwomanology. No scientific communities commission these studies. The studies' claims are never challenged. I mean sure, Da Vinci studied the nude female and male, back then his work actually furthered art and science. Today it just sounds like an attempt to legitimize that style of photography. Am I missing something? I think we should just call it what it is: Nakedwomanology. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img] Kidding aside, "figure studies" no longer help out science. What about art? Do "nude studies" further art or is it like running in place in a spot where you have a particularly nice view?
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 12:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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lines, shapes, shadow, light for starters.
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 01:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You can study all that without a naked woman. But no one studies "lines, shapes, shadow, (and) light" as exuberantly with eggs, leaves, pencils, beetles, piles of scrap metal, etc. You see many more figure studies (the vast majority seem to be female) than you do drainage hose studies. To me the idea of studying a naked woman with a camera is a bit farsical. It seems more like a guy wanting to take pictures of a nude woman under the thinly veiled guise of it being scholarly. I think taking naked pictures of women is fine (obviosly, I've been on this board for some time) but the ruse of it being a "study" kills some integrity.
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 02:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Nope, nor can I explain why people call themselves "fine art photographers" when thier photography is niether fine nor art... or another favorite "stock photographer" which seems to translate to taking pointless pictures in the vain hope that someday someone will be silly enough or desperate enought to actually purchase an image from these self labelled hopefuls.
I recently attended a meeting were six people described themselves as "stock photographers" but it turns out that not one of them had ever actually sold a picture....ever
Another good one is "professional photographer" most people attatching this tag to thier names are not in fact photographers by trade... it seems that professional now means I can't actually earn a living taking photos but in my dreams I do...

I guess we all like to label anything and everthing in an effort to validate our existence, or improve our social status in the eyes of our peers...

Now let me see.... what label can I give myself... maybe "professional freelance glamour stock photographer [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

yer that should make my crappy pointless images of women look a whole lot better [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 03:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
But no one studies "lines, shapes, shadow, (and) light" as exuberantly with eggs, leaves, pencils, beetles, piles of scrap metal, etc.

[/ QUOTE ]

you're missing the whole point. the fact that a woman is a breathing, living organism makes it a tad more organic than a static pencil, egg, scrap metal etc.

as an artist i need interaction with my subjects. otherwise, i might as well be shooting tabletop product photography (zzzzzzzz)

why don't fashion photographers shoot clothes on mannequins?

you may be missing the whole "human angle" to this.

just my opionion. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 07:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Part of the problem I would propose is the long running debate as to what is "glamour" and what is "artistic/figure" nudes. I once had a model say that if she was looking at the camera it was glamour, if not it was artistic. In any case, for me when I do what I call a "figure study" I am indeed trying to determine how best to capture the beauty of the female form in conjunction with light, shadow and sometimes context. Yes, I take pictures of naked women because of course they are the most beautiful creatures on earth but for me, the first image below is a figure study and the second is a modest attempt at a more glamourous shot.







I see a clear difference in style - perhaps others do not.

regards

mark
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 08:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I wasn't entirely sure if you were seriously enquiring, or just being a smartass, (Well, I knew you were being a smartass, I wasn't sure if you were just being a smartass... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] )but I thought I'd answer seriously, more-or-less, since you happened to hit a sore spot with me regarding precision of language versus jargon.
There is, and has been for centuries, a specific use of the word "study" in artistic jargon, which generally implies experimentation. Merriam-Webster online:
7 : a literary or artistic production intended as a preliminary outline, an experimental interpretation, or an exploratory analysis of specific features or characteristics
Although a study may very well stand on its own, or even be a finished piece, by implication, it is either a preparation for another, more complete piece, or an experiment performed for its own sake.
My understanding of the genesis of the jargon "figure study" (dimly remembered from an Art History class many years ago...)is that, just as you have used it, it was intended as a mostly deprecatory term for pictures that were, on the whole, nothing but naked women. It evolved into the more modern understanding of a subset of "fine art nudes" (another term ripe for literary dissection, BTW) because, well, enough examples of the genre ARE fine art that it fit...
For the record, my figure studies are for MY learning, not anybody else's, but I think they stand well enough on their own to present them as Art on their own merits...
Here's another thought; I know traditionally, figure studies are abstracted, and don't include models' faces, but in my mind, if the purpose of the shot is to experiment with lighting the figure, it's still a figure study. Then again, going by what happens in my mind isn't usually a great barometer for the world at large...
--Sam
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Actually they do. . .
Old 09-22-2005, 09:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
But no one studies "lines, shapes, shadow, (and) light" as exuberantly with eggs, leaves, pencils, beetles, piles of scrap metal, etc.

[/ QUOTE ]
They just don't post here. Check out photosig or go to any art school.
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Re: Can someone explain the figure \"study\"?
Old 09-22-2005, 09:46 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Why do places that are open 24 hours have locks on the doors?

How can shrimp be jumbo?

Why do guys who come their hair over a bald spot not see what we see?

It's just a word.

If you take a drafting or painting class, they often have you concentrate on things like hands, feet, torso's etc.

You are "studying" them in the sense of form and accuracy and trying to duplicate them in a pleasing manner.

Some people like to shoot nekkid ladies in a tame manner and call it art. Some like to shoot them in provactive poses and call it glamour. Some like to shoot them in fancy clothes and call it fashion. Some like to shoot them doing very bad things and call it fetish.

You can argue about the terms all you want, but it's still about the beauty of a woman.

If someone has to explain the beauty of a woman, than I give up.

Mark
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As someone who niether golfs nor fishes. . .
Old 09-22-2005, 10:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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nor has any interest in doing so, could somebody please explain to me the fascination of sitting for hours dangling a line in the water in the hopes of some finny creature taking a shine to what ever is on the end of that line. Time to sit and contemplate? Sure but I can do that in bed and stare at my belley button with the same effect. (or out on the back lawn if I want to connect with nature.
And how anybody can get a kick out chasing a little ball around acres and acres of green lawn, only to have that ball make a fool out of them, is beyond them. Exercise? Sure but a long walk will do the same and is a heck of a lot cheaper.
I'm NOT being factitious, I truly do not understand what motivates these people. But I'm also hoping you get the point.



"Down off her pedestal"
E-Oil painting (Painter) from my original image.
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