Photojournalist Trevor Christensen knows that nude portraits are nothing new. But, his interpretation of the genre is. "It started out a little bit as a joke [with friends]," Christensen tells me. "The idea was that I was this hapless photographer who wasn’t aware that when you shoot nude portraits, it’s typically the subject who’s naked." In Trevor's version, it's he (the photographer) who is naked, while his subjects are clothed — and often giggling.
It sounds funny, and it is. But, Trevor was motivated by both humor and the serious intention of upsetting the balance of power in a typical photo-taking scenario. "I’m really interested in how the subject experiences their time with a photographer, because getting your picture taken is such a stressful experience for so many people," he explains. "When you’re taking someone’s picture, you have to learn how to make them feel comfortable, make them feel good about what’s happening... The subject is vulnerable, and I felt it would be really interesting to match their vulnerability in some way." When I ask if Trevor really feels vulnerable in these portrait sessions, he laughs. "Oh yeah, totally! Every single time I do [a session], there’s always this What the fuck? moment. What am I doing? Why can’t I take a normal photo?... It took me a long time to get the courage to even think about doing it."
Trevor posted the first four portraits in the series to his website in hopes of enticing potential subjects. Then, when a friend posted the photos to Imgur, web coverage of the project exploded, along with Trevor's social media following. Now, he plans to capitalize on this momentum and dedicate the next six months to expanding the series. His first eight photos are lighthearted, but also have the disarming effect of making the viewer feel vulnerable; it's as though the subjects of the photo were gazing at you — as if you were the naked one. It's a thought-provoking paradigm shift, particularly in the wake of the weekend's celebrity-nude-photo-hacking scandal.
For more of Trevor's work, follow him on Twitter and Instagram. And, if you want to be the subject of one of Trevor's photos, send him an email. As Trevor writes on his site, "I am a 25-year-old, straight, white male. I’m looking for anyone who does not match that description. Diversity will enrich this series." Click through to see his first "nude portraits."