Do you remember the first time you were intrigued by cameras or when you realized that capturing behind the lens was something that interested you?
I’ve always been around cameras and film. My paternal grandfather worked in audio-visual taking pictures and making movies. Even though he died before I was born, I was surrounded by his work. My uncle was a photographer for the military and did it on the side to make extra money; he was really good. My mother was an artist and she used photography as a medium sometimes but in general, everyone in my family had a camera of some sort and so pictures or movies were always being taken. I first realized that I loved taking pictures in an extra credit art class that had photography as one of the options. I later took photos for the yearbook and I was hooked.
Have you felt supported by your family and peers?
Supported as a photographer, yes, doing nudes, not always.
What is it about nude bodies that make you feel works well in photography?
I just love the human form, the male form more specific and how everyone is so different. I think mainly though, it’s the trust and intimacy between two humans and that bond and trust that develops because one is so exposed by revealing their most hidden of body parts. Mr. Keith Vanderlin was my college Fine Art photography professor and my advisor. Normally, an ‘A’ student, he almost failed me in a class once. Trying to figure out a way to get me to pass the course, he told me to try and figure out how to put a nude into all of his assignments. I had to do a lot of extra credit but I passed. He said my only good work was my nude work. He opened my eyes and told me which photographers to study, like Thomas Eakins, Nan Goldin, Eadweard Muybridge, Fred Holland Day, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray and George Platt Lynes…mainly the innovators of male nude photographer from the start. I had my own influences that were more modern, like David Vance and Jim French.
Talk about the excitement and comfort levels when you scope locations?
I like to rock climb and am a certified scuba diver. I guess I like the excitement and danger of going into an abandoned building. I used to be a lead investigator on a ghost hunting team too, so it’s just in my blood. I love going into an abandoned place for the first time because of all the new and exciting possibilities of places and objects to use with a model. My mind swirls with fascination and intoxication. It is both heart and soul-stirring and thrilling to no end. I am cautious of the surroundings but willing to take that risk to get a great photo. I am as much into everything as the model. I feel the same way when I climb to the top of a mountain and look down at the landscape below. I just love the combination of nature taking over in a place of abandonment with the naked human form; it is an organic blending of man and nature, a symbiosis.
Why do you think most do not support nude work? Do you see a social struggle with the human body?
I think most people do not support my nude work because it is mostly of men. Even my own family; they do not want to look at my male nudes but are often surprised and tell me how good an image is, they just don’t want to see a penis. This country still has a lot of puritanical beliefs and values when it comes to nudity. Being naked is not evil or against God, but it causes most people to lust, so it’s a sin in their eyes. Or it brings out there inner homophobia.
People aren’t taught what is art. Even in college, we were told that art is in the eye of the beholder, it’s in their own perception and convictions. For example, we didn’t have to draw the penis on male models in our drawing class because if you did, you were automatically assumed to be gay but at the same time, all detail great and small of the female anatomy was drawn. Not even my art teachers would stand up for me when I chastised the guys or girls who refused to draw the penis.
The art world is prudish too, which is so weird. I sometimes shoot in a building that is nothing but artists, however they would be highly upset if they caught me taking pictures of a nude model on the stairs or hallway. It is so amazing to me that artists, who are taught how to look at, critique and judge art can be so put off by the male nude. Up until the time period when photography was invented, you rarely had a female model in the art classes and studios. They only allowed men to model for the male artists. Female nudes did not start becoming popular until the late Victorian era and more so after the turn of the century and World War One. The nudist movement became popular in Europe and in the United States but after World War Two, it was associated with Nazism and so deemed evil. Men like to look at naked women but they don’t want to look at or have women look at nude men. It’s a double standard.
You mentioned working for a while, stopping, and then feeling as if you were a novice in the photography world. What exactly do you feel about yourself and your work at the moment?
I started doing nudes back in the early 1990’s. In 1998, my paternal grandmother was 90 years old, just survived breast cancer and had a stroke. My family put extreme pressure on me to give up my life to take care of her since I was not married. I gave up my job, my condo, everything, to move across the country and take care of her. I was making more money than I could spend, traveling to Europe and across the country while at the same time had no debt. In the prime of my life, I basically became a pauper, to become a full-time caregiver to my gram. A year later my maternal grandmother fell and hurt her hip and so I also started taking care of her.
I feel my photography work is good. Not novice by any means. I have formal training after all. I do what is considered Fine Art and if one has had any kind of formal training, they should be able to tell that my work is of high quality. I may do some things that may appear to not be professional on purpose but it’s because of my own personal tastes and for certain reasons. I’ve been told in the past that I was a master of lighting. I know that I am really good at composition. In college, I could critique a photo better than anybody I knew except the teachers. But, because I’ve had and lost studio spaces, decided to work in nature or in abandoned buildings, I feel that I am not stuck in a certain style and consequently have to really know my trade and be skillful. Not too many photographers can do that. I can work in many different styles and techniques. I can be strict on doing just Fine Art Nudes but sometimes I do erotica. I don’t do porn and if people knew the difference between the three it might not cause so many problems Not only with the world of the viewer but also with those moderators in charge of websites who have the power to delete your photo(s) or ban you from the site.
Eddie Christie Interview, PART 1
Eddie Christie Interview, PART 3