Alex Guiry is a photographer who wields his camera in the passionate exploration of untamed environments and the people that inhabit them. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Guiry’s images are drenched with the rain, beauty, serenity, and intensity of the Pacific Northwest. This particular photo series, entitled Naked Nothing, embraces nude portraiture— male and female — in natural and urban landscapes, framing it not as an object of sexualized desire, but rather as a means to celebrate selfhood and let go of inhibiting insecurities; whether running through a field, arching between trees, or balancing on urinals, each body is strong, confident, and standing up with an identity that needs only itself for validation. In a fascinating and eloquent statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Guiry further explained his socially-informed approach to photography:
“All genders have a tough time with body image, and a number of my models have opened up to me about battling with an eating disorder. For a lot of them, this is their first time undressing in front of a camera — or a stranger for that matter — and I’d like to think when I shoot with these girls, something brilliant happens: they realize how liberating it is to be naked, happy with themselves, and to not give a fuck. […] I want to portray these girls as someone who wants to be there, behind the camera, not overpowered, submissive, fragile, or backed into the corner by the male gaze of the photographer and audience. The nudity draws the viewer in, and holds their attention long enough to rethink why they came here in the first place.”
Furthering the images’ ability to heal and empower, Naked Nothing also holds a personal significance for Guiry. His father died shortly before he began the project. Explaining the series’ connection to this event, and how photography can reconcile trauma and restore peace, Guiry writes:
“Naked Nothing is where I could secretly curate my feelings of pain, loss, love, depression, and the rebirthing cycle. My largest anxieties are about my relationships with people, so in my work I’ve romanticized three key figures that are vaguely present in most of my stories: my father, an ex, and the girl I can’t have. Being active in nature, paying attention to light, and listening to zen philosophy, have all helped to calm the constant commentary. Learning to use photography as a tool has been a large part of my healing process as well.”
The combination of nudity and photography as a means to spiritual and bodily healing has appeared in some of Guiry’s other series; Running on Empty, for example, is a photo essay of a young woman’s journey through bulimia towards self-love and acceptance. And whether documenting the body in its nude state or not, all of Guiry’s lifestyle portraiture is infused with the same passion and search for the subject’s empowerment. Check out his website, Tumblr, and Facebook for more examples of his beautiful and heartfelt work.