Annika Roser and Boudoir Photography. Is India Ready for it ?


 


The story first appeared in the Deccan Herald, June 2014. 

“I must warn you. You may find the images offensive”, she says, handing  me her business card over dinner in one of Jodhpur’s splendid  open-air restaurants.  American photographer Annika Roser, 25,  has just told me she specializes in  boudoir photography.

For the uninitiated, boudoir photography simply means taking pictures of people in the nude or semi nude for sensual or erotic appeal. It is pronounced as you would pronounce Wednesday in Hindi with an American accent.

I am a bit hurt for being taken for an average Indian  prude. Defensively,  I  fill her in on the debaucheries of Khajuraho, the Hindu tradition of nude sculptures and paintings , (including of our gods and goddesses). I mention Prabuddha Dasgupta  and I mention Sunny Leone.

Indian photographers (most fashion photographers at any rate) have indeed been doing a variant of boudoir alongside their main work all along. In their website’s  drop-down menus, ‘personal’ is an euphemism  for nudes.  But the women gracing their galleries are professional (or wannabe) models who have often been cajoled or paid to pose in the buff.

In Boston, US, where Annika lives and has her studio ( Ma Cherie Studio) ,  it’s the other way around. Women pay her to shoot them in all manner of undress. She charges 450 dollars for two hours of shoot time. And these clients are not professional models but regular American women ; school teachers,  doctors, housewives and just about anybody   with a desire to look beautiful.

“Today’s society weighs women down by constantly forcing their idea of true beauty upon us. Boudoir photography is a celebration of the female form, no matter what size, age, ethnicity, or social class the woman ”, she says.

The celebration of female form has been a tradition in India , long before boudoir photography began in the West . But keeping that tradition alive have been our  painters and sculptors. Not   photographers. While painters like Raja Ravi Verma and Amrita Shergill and thousands of nameless sculptors of Khajurao and  Konark, depicted the full bodied Indian women in all their voluptuous glory, Indian photographers, including the best of them, like the late Prabuddha Dasgupta , only ended up stereotyping Indian women into a certain body type. Their ‘personal’ galleries sadly imitate and perpetuate a western notion of beauty with their skin and bones models.

Boudoir, thankfully can reverse that trend. But will India take to it? India has been slow on the uptake but once it warms up to a photography genre, it takes it by storm.  We saw that with wedding photography. Till about 10 years ago,  everyone was happy with their regular wedding pictures but today anyone with money, is willing to throw obscene amounts of it, to hire, what in India is called, a ‘candid wedding photographer’,  propelling many a software engineers and B- school pass outs to  quit their jobs to become one  fulltime.

And Annika with her 5 years of experience believes boudoir can be done in any part of the world,  including India. She wants to test the Indian waters by coming here this winter.

Is it easier, however to be a boudoir photographer being a female? Annika admits that to to start off,  it helps. “ But I know a lot of men who are doing boudoir photography now, and at times I feel that the male photographers provide a different look. They understand how men look at women and what other men would like to see. They can show off the female form in a very different way from a female  photographer. I do not personally think that one way is better than the other, but its more of a personal preference for the client of whom they are comfortable with”, she says.

The most vital element of boudoir is the pose, says Annika. “With boudoir photography, you always have to pay attention to the pose. It is the most important thing. Since there are no clothes covering or hiding the body, you as the photographer have to pay attention to every little detail. I think, that is what makes boudoir such an interesting form of photography”, she says.

Annika does not only take the photos but offers to go out shopping for props or lingerie with her clients.  “I approach my clients as if they were one of my close girlfriends and we are just hanging out playing dress up. I talk with them a lot, often sharing personal stories”, she says.

Being constantly bombarded with  images of anorexic models, the fashion and the advertising industry, often  contributes to body-image issues in impressionable girls.    Boudoir with its depiction of everyday woman, can perhaps  do a bit of course correction. Annika, thinks  that with boudoir’s popularity women will realize they don’t have to look like the aseptic models  in magazines and  that they can be comfortable how they look and embrace their individuality.

And the gorgeous Annika Roser herself

19 Responses to “Annika Roser and Boudoir Photography. Is India Ready for it ?”

  1. Aleem Shah Mohammad says:

    I am quite sure that our society will never achieve that maturity ever. We know very well how much they are targets of religious fanatics, but the creations of sculptors and painters are mostly ‘unreal’ representations and leave a lot to the viewer’s imagination as well. Whereas, in case of photographs, they are out there, in the face, and a lot depends on the viewer’s maturity levels to classify them as per his/her own notions of pure art and obscenity. Unfortunately, thanks to our media including bollywood movies & print (especially the daily ‘doses’ of last page sauciness in the City edition), religious moralities, and the self-proclaimed lords of social morality, this society won’t get enough space for open & serious debate and discussions on this. In short, we will start accepting boudoir photography, the day we stop whistling and hooting on item numbers. At least a 100 yrs maybe?

  2. Ratnesh Mathur says:

    Some lessons from recent Nude sketches/Painting in India ( http://www.openthemagazine.com/…/conversations-in-the-nude ) & some lessons from history ( http://www.primitivism.com/nudity.htm ).

    But dont expect India to be ready for Spencer Tunick , in the near future. For that its mainly Germany, Czech Rep, Austria & some parts of central Europe. ( http://www.theatlantic.com/…/the-naked-world-of…/100344/ )

  3. Aleem Shah Mohammad says:

    True Sanjay bhai, but it is also being done within the safe confines of elite circles, or ensuring that their creations don’t come in conflict with the radicals.

  4. Lisa Beth Aronson says:

    but, Tunick’s pieces, from my pov, are not erotic…while boudoir photography is…big difference

  5. Lisa Beth Aronson says:

    the nude drawings do not look like ordinary people at all, again my pov…they are so geometric and hard edged

  6. Ratnesh Mathur says:

    Indian art (painting/picture) theory, Chitrasutra ( Vishnudharmottara, 4th CE) has 9 rasas or nine basic feeling-tones : the erotic, comic, pathetic, furious, heroic, terrible, odious, marvellous & peaceful. Each rasa elicits its appropriate bhava or emotional response in the viewer: respectively, love, mirth, sorrow, anger, energy, fear. disgust, astonishment & tranquility. All nude drawings are not geometric & hard-edged. Just like photography, drawings too can be undertaken with each of the 9 rasas, and they have the power to evoke the corresponding bhava.

  7. sanjay austa says:

    Thanks for sharing this Ratnesh.. Aleem.. there you go.. nude sketching is a big leap forward already don’t you think? Though I find it hard to believe everything that Mihir writes in that piece.

  8. Nidhi says:

    I feel India isn’t ready for Boudoir Photography as – 1.The “religious extremists” we have in India and in a country where films names have to be changed eg the recent Ramleela to Rasleela … MF Hussain was in such a big controversy. Eight criminal complaints were filed against him. 2. Also keeping the literacy in mind the MAJORITY haven’t reached to a point where they can understand it from the view point of celebration of eroticism, womanhood or as an expression. They would rather enjoy Sunny Leone’s ( I wonder why the religions extremists don’t protest that) erotic presence and the raunchy item girls. The kind of understanding the majority needs to have for SEX is very different like what most of us develop within the circle of Art and other creative fields. Which maybe the majority Indians had during the Khajurao era.. the healthy view point for SEX is missing in India. 3. Also having people in this country who already have blaming live in relationships and other ridiculous things like Chowmein would have Boudoir Photography to shift the blames on. Sounds stupid but is true they will. 4. At times I wonder with all erotic sculptures of Khajurao India seem to have had its own down fall in understanding of Sexuality, its acceptance and celebration. It is shocking how a country like that could come to a period were Sex and all things related to it became Taboo.

  9. Anannya Nikkiey Chawla says:

    Wonderful! looking forward to see more shoots in India. Indian photographer do good job but at times they dont recognise the thin line between making it glamorous & creating vulgar.

  10. sanjana says:

    if anyone is interested to photoshooting what are the basic rewments?plz inform

    • Melvin says:

      Male or Female, should be ready to pose, open and partner with your Photographer.

      You can pay and get your boudoir pics for yourself.

      There are boudoir photographers who require models who could work for them for specific assignments, you can share your portfolio, resume and contact details.

      Indian Photography industry dont have much demand as compare to west, where people are open to get their boudoir created for self boost. And there is good money involved.

      We have to start somewhere and lets be open and creative towards boudoir photography. Who knows India could be doing great in this on global level.

      All the best to each one of you no matter west or east, keep up the good work and share your knowledge so it grows more.

      Regards,

    • raksid says:

      No requirements sanjaana. U have to start by believing that you are a beautiful form created by the creator himself .

      Just celebrate your glory infront of the camera. Just make sure you trust the photographer and like his/her work.

      It is also important that you have clarity in what you want to see in the photos

      all the best

  11. sathi says:

    if i want to be as model what to do me?is that very much tough?

    • rakesh says:

      U just need to have the willingness to be a part of the shoot. Make sure you trust the photographer to be professional at all times( Good I deal would be to meet the photographer in advance) If need be bring somebody with you incase you are not sure about the photographer.

      One final advise discuss your limitations in terms of exposure and stick to the plan. “Lakshman Rekha” as we understand it better

      All the best

      R

  12. rakesh says:

    Folks,

    While I understand why most folks apprehensive about this art form, but that quite hypocritical on our part as most of our classic culture does not look down on Nudes and even sexuality.

    Anyways. I have been a nude/Boudoir photographer for years abroad and now I’m here. Let’s put the skeptics and traditionalist in their seats and celebrate the art form.

    R

  13. Asangi Sailo says:

    Hi,
    Can you please take the time to check out my profile on instagram. I’ma big fan of boudoir photography and I shoot whenever I have the time and I’m from the North East of India.

    Thanks.

Leave a Reply