It will be of no surprise to any of you who read this blog regularly that I love a bit of outdoor nudity! It’s such a happy joyful thing. It was the awesome Molly Moore who introduced me to that joy. Sure, I had swiftly slipped out of my clothes in a park in Berlin and one in South London for a couple of al fresco photos before my day out with Molly in summer 2015, but I had never relished the feeling of being naked in nature. That day as I sank into a bath not of bubbles in my shiny white bathroom, but of grime and bugs under the dappled light of a canopy of leaves, I truly relaxed. Staring up at the bright July sunlight dancing and twinkling through the thick green leaves was as absorbing as looking at a night sky when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Later when I was preparing to post the first photo from that day I discovered the Japanese expression shin-rin yoku. Shin-rin yoku translates as forest bathing. It’s a practice that promotes the calming and restorative benefits of spending time in forests and participating in activities that keep you in touch with nature. Oh how I thoroughly endorse that practice! Two of those photos are now framed in my bathroom and they make me smile every time I hop in the shower. The white lie I tell visitors (because everyone asks about them!) who don’t know about this blog trips easily off my tongue now: “Oh, my friend belongs to a photography club and her monthly prompt was nudes and she wanted to do something a bit different.”
Since that day nearly two years ago I have had many more days out naked under the trees and it never gets less joyful. And even more than being the subject I love wielding my camera and being a catalyst for others’ forest bathing experiences. Some of my favourite photos from days out with friends will never make my blog as they compromise people’s anonymity, but are the ones where faces are free of frown lines but crumpled with laughter.
Tabitha with her arms aloft and her face tipped up to the sun, laughing like a sun goddess in her element; Chiaroscuro flicking two fingers at me and roaring into the camera as I laugh at him trying to climb a tree naked (updated on his instruction to include the shot of him telling me to fuck off!); Maria with an almost beatific smile on her face as I photograph her in a cemetery that nature is reclaiming; Haiku and I giggling like out of control school girls as we reach the other side of the bridge and both look over our shoulders at Jedi Hamster. Whatever personal reasons people have for taking part in Exposing 40 I love that they have so much fun doing it.
And of course there’s the faintly ridiculous. A dog and a fox crashing mine and Maria’s peaceful spot with their vicious-sounding fight. Exhibit A telling me to ‘get back down, I haven’t taken it yet’ during this shoot, not knowing that from my position prone across the path I could see someone walking towards me; small talk with walkers asking about some ruins as we grin and silently will them to move on so we can get our kit off again! Oh yes. Getting naked in nature really is the most uplifting freeing fun thing to do.
Here are a few of my favourite photos from those days out, including two completely new ones from recent shoots with Maria and Honey.