Shawna Ankenbrandt, Nudity in Fine Art and #NationalNudeDay

July 14th National Nude Day, and what better way to acknowledge this unconventional holiday than by celebrating nudity in fine art. Artist Shawna Ankenbrandt is no stranger to the subject - her fine art photography regularly admires the female form, and she approaches her subjects at the intersection of nature and "au naturel". Who better than to discuss photography, fine art, feminine sexuality and (of course) nudity on #NationalNudeDay. The below is a guest post by Shawna Ankenbrandt:

I took this is Joshua Tree, California. I was on a camping trip with friends and it was just a spontaneous shoot. I never travel without a camera.


The nudes in these images are integrative - where the female body, the feminine sexuality, becomes the same as the dirt, the sand, the forest. It's not separate and reveals to us our great beauty as being part of a whole rather than being objectified, separate and in turn isolated.

This image of Agi & Elaina is one of the 1st nudes that I shot. I found this location through a friend and had to shoot there. My son was only a year and a half old, so I threw him on my back and went rock climbing. The girls walked up on the ledge and I captured this moment.


I like to keep my process very organic. The images are fully inspired by the landscape, not by the person in the image. I pick a certain location and do a lot of research on that location. I love to find places that nobody has been to. A lot of times I will hop into the car and just drive out to the middle of nowhere, turn down dirt roads and just explore different areas. I capture moments when I feel the person is fully immersed into the landscape. It could be a certain posture or movement that captures my eye.

This image was taken in the same location on the same day. Agi and Elaina were crossing through the lagoon and I was experimenting with doing double and triple exposures in camera. I love the ethereal effect that occurred.


I think it’s important to add that I never use models. These images are all of my friends or if I’m traveling alone the images become self-portraits. My family inspires me and are fully involved in the process. I never use assistants. My 7 year old son will often travel with me and assist me. They are also a big part of the editing process. I will ask my husband or son what they think of a certain picture, sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I don’t! It usually takes me a year or more to know if I like a certain image. I will go back through images years later and find 1 that I passed over that I decide to include.

This is one of the images that I found years later. I initially passed over this one.


This is my homage to Ansel Adams. I was driving down back roads in Oregon and was in awe when I drove up to this location. I was with my son and didn’t have a model, so I set up the tripod and camera. I ran out there. The tree was a lot bigger and pokey then expected when I got out there. I had my trusty assistant help me with this one.


I recently started experimenting with different printing processes and have fallen in love with the photogravure process. It’s a chemical process were the image is etched onto a copper plate, ink is applied to the plate and a small edition of images are printed from the plate. The images have almost a 3D quality.

It’s the 1st image that I printed as a photogravure. It's one of my favorites. It was taken in Maui.
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