Lauren Naylor is a 27-year-old conceptual portrait photographer currently living in Los Angeles, CA. Her dark, moody fine art portraits aim to evoke core human emotions that she believes are commonly repressed or ignored in American modern society.

You can find more of her work by following her on 500px, visiting her website, or connecting with her on Instagram.


Deep Blue by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

When you think about nude photography, you might be a little wary on the subject—maybe you’re picturing some amateur photographer promising artistic integrity with less-than-refined ideas floating around in their head. At least that was my opinion on most contemporary nude photographers when I first started doing photography, nearly 9 years ago, with a narrow mind and an old 35mm camera.

I would have never thought back then, shooting double exposures of clouds and street signs, that I would be shooting nude photos of women, and definitely not of myself, in the present day. I had admired the work of Helmut Newton and Edward Weston (and still do!), but thought those good old days of ‘nude vs. naked’ were long gone and all that was left were hidden motives.

Deep In A Quiet Storm II by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

After learning the photography basics and becoming bored of the double exposures, I slowly started trying on fine art portraiture and grew to fall deeply in love with it. My portraits took on many styles in the early years, as all developing photographers come to terms with that difficult question, “What the hell do I want to shoot and how do I create a body of work that is my own?”

Arches and Light by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to feel like I had found my niche in photography, and a personal style began to develop. That sigh of relief had finally hit me: I was working towards something I truly loved and believed in.

It was simple: portraiture stripped of culture, civilization, or association. All that’s left is human emotion. And most of the time clothing distracts from that concept and all the feelings that go along with it. Nude photography and self-portraiture began to take on a life in my work.

Formations by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

When a photographer shoots their subjects in the nude without a sexual motivation (whether underlying or not), one has to wonder what IS the meaning behind it?

The reason for me goes back to the general concept behind my work: Pure emotion.

Loss and Gain by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

When someone looks at my photos I want them to get lost in the ethereal detachment, unburdened by all things except pure feeling or mood. Emotions have always been held at the highest in my life, and they have always been the key to most of my decision making.

Clothing is just one thing that can take a person out of that ethereal world of feeling. It dates and defines a culture. It can define what kind of person the model is supposed to be, and can also define the mood of a photograph, which can in turn clash with the intended mood.

When I started shooting without the distraction of clothing I discovered such an ease to my conceptual process. Looking back at my earlier personal work, I find it almost silly that I was trying to incorporate elaborate clothing into photos with such a strong tie to nature and the simplest of essences that makes us all a part of it.

Deep In A Quiet Storm by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

Every nude photographer has their own approach, but I personally am not necessarily focusing on the subject’s body or the beauty of their anatomy when I’m shooting.

Most of my subjects are female, probably because I can more easily relate and channel my concepts and moods through women better than I can with men. Men have always been a challenge for me, but I never want to stop pushing myself and experimenting with new things that make me nervous.

Lucid by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

Two Mountainous Forms by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

The Line Between Fine Art and Softcore Porn

Unfortunately, what I said above about photographers with ulterior motives wasn’t completely off-base. It has always been a controversial topic with an unfortunate amount of truth to the negative side of it. Let me start off by saying in no way is this every nude photographers’ agenda and every model/subject has a choice of which kinds of photographs they partake in and what kinds of poses they agree to do, of course.

The topic of controversy is the amount of “fine art” nude photography that is out there today that is unquestionably distasteful in nature. Most of the time it involves overly suggestive posing that borders on the line of, yes, softcore porn. That’s fine if you’re shooting boudoir, but most of the time that wasn’t the intended purpose.

I can’t help but feel like these kinds of photos are becoming more and more prevalent in modern photography and I would love to see this trend fade away into the abyss of the outdated what-the-hell-were-they-thinking category.

Hold Time by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

When I hear about talented photographers shooting nudes inside my own community that are bragging about their sexual escapades with their models, it’s even more of a buzz kill. I have a problem with this, not because of the personal decisions made by model and photographer (hey, do whatever you want!), but because it’s disheartening to have such faith in an artistic concept, only to have it unmasked as just a phony imitation.

It’s like finding out that your favorite band actually buys all of their lyrics and doesn’t write anything themselves. The authenticity you once trusted in and sang along to (or maybe even cried to) during one of those long agonizing breakups is now void.

With the Tide by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

It can be a controversial subject with a sometimes very fine line between tasteful and…not. However, I think that nude photography plays a huge part in how I communicate through my photographs, and I’ll continue to stand on the “nude” side, doing my best to advocate creativity, not crass.

Flee by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com

Lucid II by Lauren Naylor on 500px.com