Nude Photography; The Rituals of Life by Michael Bomberger

As a photographer, there is something especially satisfying about the moment you start to edit images from a shoot - and this is especially true if the shoot included American model Stephanie Lauren.

As a photographer, there is something especially satisfying about the moment you start to edit images from a shoot – and this is especially true if the shoot included American model Stephanie Lauren.

While Stephanie has literally “done it all” in her decade of modeling, her signature look is one of sophistication and glamor that would be perfectly at home in Weimar Berlin, the Moulon Rouge of Paris, or perhaps even an American context like classical Hollywood or Harlem’s Cotton Club in its golden years. In a word, Stephanie’s “look” is one of easy and sophisticated beauty and elegance. Stephanie’s work in black and white can sometimes be a world class reminder of a world that many of us have sadly left behind.

  • It would be a mistake, I think, to see Stephanie’s work only through the rose colored lens of nostalgia; instead, she has much more to say about the relevance of the past to each of our present existences. Despite our postmodern age–in which “less is more” is the predominant trend in social interaction, art, architecture, sculpture, and other areas–beauty, elegance, and the rituals of sophistication that goes with them have a special relevance to the times in which we live. For centuries, human society has developed such rituals of beauty and elegance, and they have special meaning because of the feelings they impart and the bonds that they create.

Reflecting on Stephanie’s work made me think about my own, admittedly old fashioned, childhood and the rituals my own family repeatedly performed. Gatherings before dinner for cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars allowed the family to pack away the stress of the day. A formal Sunday dinner, held without fail, but oddly at about 3:00 in the afternoon, imparted a sense of community and carefully crafted a sense of well being and permanence with old mahogany, gleaming silver and crystal, and crisp Irish linen. Christmas Eve was lobster; Christmas Day turkey or pheasant; Easter was a leg of lamb; the ritual remained the same, and was played out with regularity and without fail. It was something I probably undervalued at the time, but one I certainly benefitted from with its stability and its predictability.

It does seem that a new devotion to beauty, elegance, and the rituals they impart are poised to make a return as many of us grow less confident in the political and economic structures we have built and their ability to insulate us from our fears. Indeed, with the fallout of the Pandemic, fears of recession, unemployment, inflation, war, and supply chain problems it sometimes seems our carefully crafted world is falling apart at the seams. The stresses only serve to point up the transitory nature of the internet-driven social media networks and their other limitations.

  • It is, instead, those old patterns–those rituals of life–that play out between people in person that matter the most. Patterns in which beauty, elegance, and attention to detail do not simply exist for their own sake, but are gifts imparted from one person to another intended to create bonds of friendship and love. Its a human ritual as old as time, and a place where human truth can be found.
  • There is an interesting point about formality that Europeans tend to understand much more than Americans do. Taking full part of social ritual means dressing and acting the part, but is not done to enhance your own social status. The intent of formality, instead, is to unselfishly play your part in the social ritual to enhance the experience for the others involved.

The monochrome images were made during a photo shoot in Pennsylvania in a warm day in June and are intended to provide a space in which you can take some time and think about how the images and the glamour they represent might relate to you, your life, and your role in creating bonds with others. Devoid of the distraction of color, the images are presented simply in black, white, and shades of grey. Images of one human being, but symbolic of us all. As you ponder the images, think of them as one of those gifts; a gift of sincerity, honesty, and true beauty. Elegance, as part of the rituals of life.

About Michael Bomberger

Michael Bomberger, founder of Archangel Images, is an art photographer based in Pennsylvania, United States.  Bomberger’s work focuses mainly on elevating expressions of the purity and elegance of the human form, capturing high quality images in both digital and analogue media.  His work has been featured in galleries and magazines in both Europe and America.  

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