Leonard Nimoy is a photographer.  Who knew?  He has been since he was a young man and has exhibited worldwide. He has published two books of his work, the most recent of which is The Full Body Project.  I recommend it not only for its beauty and his respectful portrayal of women, but for the fact that he allowed his models to portray themselves.

From the forward by Natalie Angier:

“Mr. Nimoy is, of course, the photographer who took the pictures in this volume.  Yet the authors of each image’s storyboard are clearly the women arrayed cleanly and nudely before us.  Not only did the idea for ‘The Full Body Project’ originate with one of the full-bodied subjects, who, as Mr. Nimoy recounts in his preface, approached him and asked if he would consider taking her picture. More importantly, the women in the photographs seize the aesthetic and emotional reins through the time-honored primate strategy called ‘making direct eye contact.’  In most artistic renditions of the nude, the subject’s gaze is indirect:  lowered modestly, cast distractedly or dreamily to the side, or otherwise incidental to the experience at hand.  Freed of a temptation to dwell on the subject’s mental landscape that the portrayal of a direct gaze might provoke, the viewer can focus instead on the landscape of the naked body, and the artist’s exegesis thereof.

But the women shown here do not avert their eyes, either from the camera or from each other. they look us straight in the face and ask that we do the same.  Significantly, their gaze is not hostile or defiant.  It doesn’t say, what are you staring at, chum?  Does my fat body repel you?  Nor is it campy or vampy or in the least bit embarrassed.  Instead, it is the gaze of gimlet-eyed women who know perfectly well that they are on view, and that their unclothed bodies are not the standard models of beauty as brought to you by museums, the movies, or Maybelline.  Yet by fixing us in their level-headed sight, the women politely but firmly demand that we begin our inspection at eye level, where the self is exposed and makes its humanness known.  We get to know these women before we begin appraising their bodies.”