a project by Camila Cornelsen
“X REAL is a female nude photographic project that I started in 2012. The cool part to stop, think and write this retrospect, now that the project is already completing three years, is to look back and realize that the main objective is still the same as it was in the beginning: I would like to shoot real girls without the use of digital retouching and images that were pleasing to men and particularly women.
The way I found to bring real people to the project is to photograph only women who apply to participate. After photographing, I select the pictures, give a color treatment, but never do correction on the images, so I do not erase stretch marks, cellulite and scars.
Along the way there were many lessons to be learnt, one of them was to create always a different session, trying to be creative about it. The photographic exercise was precisely to get in a house I’ve never seen and photographing a person I do not know, naked. So there’s no way to create a formula. The nice part of shooting them in their houses is that they feel more comfortable, and where you also can extract a greater amount of information about the girl. Yet, many of them are shy and for me this is one of the graces of the project. It is very easy to see that each person has its own personality.
It was not all a bed of roses. Soon after a three published photo sessions, I received criticism from women saying that the project only photographed skinny women, and that therefore “it was easy not to use photoshop”. I questioned a lot about this definition of leanness and fat. Finally I realized that no matter what is written in the dictionary, “being thin” or “being fat” is in the eye of each person.
I had to deal with female lack of confidence. As a woman, I have my best and worst days, so I confess that even not felling happy when someone gives up taking the pictures because “is off the weight,” or fought with her boyfriend, but I understand. I’ve had some photo essays that were photographed but unfortunately have not been published because of this lack of confidence. And by these cancellations and other reasons I understood that X REAL exists to show a comfortable nude. A nude that anyone can see, enjoy and relate to it.
My audience, which at the beginning was 65% male and 35% female, is now 50/50. I consider it a victory to have so many women accompanying and supporting the project. I feel a stronger message of empowerment has been passed down through the pictures, in part because of the candidates who participated. It seems to work as a chain. A woman participates, loves, feels strong and beautiful, and contaminates the women around them with this feeling. Many decided to participate because they know someone who did, or identified with one of the photographed women.
After 3 years online and more than 25 women photographed, I believe it’s time to test another media. So I have a project to transform X REAL in a book. It will be so nice to see it printed, passing into the hands of others and celebrating this time the project exists with the its followers. As I’ve been doing the whole project alone from the beginning, entirely independently, I found that taking it to a publisher now, it didn’t make much sense, therefore, the book will be done through crowdfunding.
I share here a selection of what happened during this time and some previews of what is yet to come.
I conclude inviting everyone to work together for the book to get off the internet and go straight to your hands!”