18+
Photo project

Culture Naked: Nude Portraits of Artists

Photographer Julia Radionova has been taking nude photos of her friends and acquaintances for four years. They are usually people from the art scene: artists, architects, musicians. Julia is having her first book published now with the best of these photos. We are showing some of them.
Julia Radionova

Ukrainian photographer. Born in Odesa, lives and works in Kyiv.

— I wanted to take film photos of naked people since I was a teenager. When I was 16, I saw Terry Richardson’s Batman & Robin series and was amazed at the boldness and realness of those photos.

I majored in ‘directing mass events’ and worked in the field for some time, but it didn’t bring me joy. In my thoughts, I kept coming back to photography, and I really lacked personal fulfilment. I knew that if I didn’t start then, I’d lose the momentum.

Then I met Maria Vtorushina and talked to her about it. She said I should try right on that day, so we went to buy a film camera.

My first try was really bad, even though the amount of movies, exhibitions, and photos I had seen seemed more than enough for a start. But I realized that the only way was to shoot constantly and dedicate a lot of time to it.

My first try was really bad, even though the amount of movies, exhibitions, and photos I had seen seemed more than enough for a start.

I like the works of Terry Richardson, Davide Sorrenti, Nobuyoshi Araki. They are quite provocative and bold, and they have life in them. I also love Helmut Newton and David LaChapelle for their charm and extravagance.

a curator and artistic director of Kyiv Art Week

People in my photos are artists, curators, art historians, architects, models, musicians, writers, journalists, and photographers. We usually do photoshoots at their places or outside. I recently started shooting in studios, although only because they are easy-to-find locations.

It’s the hardest to shoot outside because you never can tell if people will see you and how they will react. Some just come close, stop, and silently watch the process.

Some just come close, stop, and silently watch the process.

Some are quite polite. For example, when I was doing a photoshoot for a journalist I know near a garage, its owner politely asked if we could give him a couple of minutes to get some things without disturbing the model, who was right then completely naked and standing on her knees in a very provocative pose.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always go this way. There was one time when we were shooting for an eco-festival in the Hryshko Botanical Garden, and these two passers-by started acting aggressive, all because they saw a naked guy in a wig and in heels. That day, I bought my first defence spray.

I took all these photos over the span of four years. Almost all of them are from the project called Julia wants Beautifully. The series runs through all my work, and in it, I show my generation.

I think every photographer is dreaming of having a book with their works come out. Even though I was not going to do it now because of the war, a publisher reached out to me, and we made a deal. Of course, I am very happy about it: four years worth of my effort will now be turned into a tangible, physical thing. Besides, one’s first book surely matters the most.

During the first three months of the war, I couldn’t take any photos. I tried, but no picture would turn out good. I even started thinking that I might have to start everything from scratch because I’d lost all my skill that I gained in three and a half year. I cried a lot and had to make myself go on working.

Then I apologized to models for failing their photoshoots and started again. I’m lucky that many people love my art and are ready to pose ten times over until I finally end up with something good.

I’m lucky that many people love my art and are ready to pose ten times over until I finally end up with something good.

Order the Julia wants Beautifully photobook at this link.

New and best

1 294

380

300
836

Read more