When photographer Vivienne Maricevic contacted me suggesting I take a look at her collection of male nudes, I was thrilled. I love featuring boudoir, erotic, and fine art photography on my site, but most of the subjects are women. There simply aren’t a lot of photographers who specialize in male nudes. Vivienne is one of them. She has a mission to obliterate the double-standard around fine art and erotic photgraphy: that it’s acceptable to show a nude woman, but not a nude man. I interviewed her here about the genesis of her work and her mission to show the male form in all its naked glory.
You’ re on a mission to demystify the male nude and change how we perceive men’s bodies. You especially want to rid the culture of the censoring of male genitals. Have you always challenged the status quo? Where did your envelope-pushing streak come from?
From a young age, I always had a sense of individuality and being creative. I first exhibited a painting when I was in the second grade, and when I went to view it, I immediately knew that I wanted to be an artist. I was never a follower, never did what was in at the time and still am that way today.
In some of your photos, you insert your own hand and foot in the frame, often next to a man’s penis. How did you get the idea to do this? What was the reaction from your subjects?
Never wanting to become jaded, when photographing the male nude, I am always looking for new and different ways to photograph him, and came up with the idea of putting a small part of me in the photo. This keeps it fun for me and my subject, doing different scenarios.
Why do you think there’s a double-standard about nudes — that it’s acceptable for women to pose nude, but not men? Is this bias more of an issue in the United States than in Europe?
The U.S. is still very much a puritanical society. Nudity here is seen as sexual. Europeans are far more accepting of sexuality and nudity, which they see as just being naked. Far more publishers in Europe wanted to publish my photo book, but I kept searching for an American publisher. It took a lot of convincing for Schiffer to publish it, and I’m thankful to Pete Schiffer who did.
Your photos are quite intimate and many of the men you shoot have erections. What is it like photographing men in the presence of obvious sexual tension? How do you create a sense of safety so your subjects are comfortable being vulnerable with you?
My photographs didn’t start including erections till later on in years of shooting men. In my early photos, the subjects are quite far away and in the same age group. As time went on, most of the men started saying how erotic the photo shoot was, and they were getting semi-erections and erections. I always do a pre-screen phone call, prior to the photo shoot, stating my boundaries and mentioning erections. If it happens and we’re both on the same page, then it happens.
I was always creative and through school, I painted, had a good eye, and noticed light and composition, and applied it to photography. I’m self-taught. I went along, learning while photographing, shooting film and thoroughly looking over my contact sheets, and developed a sense of what a good photograph is, and is not. I love other photographers’ work and appreciate the masters, but when I started out photographing, I wasn’t aware of anyone. I like to have my own style and way of photographing, which is keeping everything as simple as possible. I prefer available light, just me, my camera, and my subject.
What has been the reaction to your work from your colleagues? From the public? From women?
I’m still waiting for some sort of recognition but it has been slow arriving since the media is not accepting of publishing male nudes, not even the well-known women’s magazines. But it doesn’t discourage me from continuing to photograph the male nude — it encourages me to keep going.
This question would never be asked of a photographer who photographs nude women. I would not have married my husband if my photographic work were an issue. He has always been very supportive of all that I do. Former boyfriends, it’s was, and that’s why it didn’t work. Will this double-standard continue? I hope not in my lifetime since I will always be photographing the male nude.
Do you have any upcoming projects, and if so, how will they expand the reach of your work?
I am photographing a new aspect of male nudity that has not been equally represented in our society. It hopefully will bring to light my mission and passion for photographing male nudes. I’m not elaborating on it since it takes time for me to to build up a body of work to share with others.
Visit here for more of Vivienne Maricevic’s work.