Ever since Instagram banned women from showing their nipples in photos, the hashtag #FreeTheNipple has trended. Women have been posting pictures of their nipples on the site – and promptly been banned by prudish Insta-moderators.
For photographer Mike Dowson, it’s important that women are allowed to display their flesh. Manchester-born Dowson’s new book Naked Fashion Girls shows a number of first-time models posing as naturally as they can in everyday surroundings.
Dowson, who now lives in Paris, says: “Women who display their sexual presence openly are much more erotic than those who come over as aloof and distant.”
Whether it’s women posing by chainlink fences or standing among the roses in their garden, Dowson believes his book captures casual sexuality “packed with joie de vivre”. And a lot of freed nipples.
“Some people call these models tarts,” Dowson admits. “But that’s because their shamelessly sexy poses polarise attitudes. These are women who can’t be categorised.”
Refusing to be po-faced about his work, Dowson admits his photos aren’t art. “Art is a lie in search of the truth,” he philosophises. “Photography is merely a fascinating pastime in which everyone can indulge. It’s not to be taken seriously.”
His other work includes Girls On Film – videos of Parisian models to be sent to prospective agencies. “The typical model portfolio of stills photos is too static,” he notes. As for his love of working with models? “Sex sells! That is a very true statement, and beautiful women sell products. Although I’m not sure why that is – I love all women. I never restrict myself in what I find beautiful.”
Dowson says he hates photos that take ages to set up and prefers “intimate, spontaneous moments.” There’s certainly plenty of those in his book, as Loaded reveals. Just don’t take these photos too seriously.
Naked Fashion Girls is published by Goliath at £22.99
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn