As the owner of a photography studio which specializes in beauty and art nude photography for women, and the creator of two art projects that feature the human form, Rodney S. Braun often finds himself labelled as “that guy who does naked photos.”
It hasn’t always been that way in his career. Rodney started out in traditional wedding and family portraiture when he began in Winnipeg over a decade ago. It wasn’t until a Christian woman, pregnant with her first child, requested that he do a nude silhouette of her burgeoning belly (so very relieved that she had found a Christian photographer for this), that he even considered the possibility. That session, along with miraculous experience of becoming a father to his own son shortly after, set him on a path to becoming an expert in the field of maternity/newborn portraiture. Rodney eventually became highly sought after at Joel Ross Photography where, together, they added a successful portrait studio to Ross’s wedding business.
But Rodney was not content. He was tiring of doing the same thing over and over again and began doing little art projects with friends as models. He also enrolled in a life-drawing class. Slowing down to see the way light hit the curves of the body captivated his attention and transformed his photography. Rodney’s use of light and shadow has never been the same.
Eventually his wife, Sonya, noticed his new talent and the positive effect his portraiture was having on women. She felt his work needed a context, so she came up with the idea of a studio entirely focused on women–celebrating the unique qualities of women, bringing out their beauty, and helping them to build a positive self-esteem. Eve Studios was born.
The stories from clients affirm their choice to develop this niche. Sonya feels it is especially important in a time where beauty is given such a narrow definition. “We wanted to create a place where women could come and be totally comfortable being themselves and actually be able to see how beautiful they are–the way they are. It really doesn’t matter to us what a client is wearing (or not wearing); it’s about spending time with them and bringing out their true beauty.”
Unfortunately this also is an age where the body has been so sexualized and women so objectified that many are unable to see the simple beauty of the body without associating it with what is obscene or lust-provoking. And that, for the Brauns, is very sad. “On the one hand are those who are addicted to seeing increasingly hard porn, and on the other hand are those who are fleeing everything to do with any nudity in an attempt to escape the harmful effects of lust on relationships. There’s got to be a positive alternative.”
Rodney and Sonya would love for people to consider a third view as a possibility–that of recognizing the beauty of how we are created–and learning to see with eyes that take in the whole person rather than focusing on parts, that see the body as an expression of personhood rather than a separate entity divorced from mind, heart, and spirit.
“The body is not inherently bad. It is how we see it that has been corrupted. We all have a choice.”
Certainly some images out there do not encourage this choice. Certainly, the choice is not always easy–even when the art gives that opportunity. But given the media-saturated environment we live in and the easy acces to pornography the internet affords, we won’t be escaping nudity any time soon. It’s best we learn healthier ways of viewing the body and teach our kids the same. It can start with art.
To learn more about the Braun’s latest project, H2Oohhh, visit www.rodneysbraun.com. It opens this week-end on Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 p.m. at Pixels 2.1 Gallery on 217 McDermot Ave.