Fashion photographer, Amelia Allen has just released her first book; but she didn’t need the usual team of stylists, or even any clothes… nope, Allen dropped the lot and turned her focus to Naked Britain.
Inspired by the image of a naturist couple in Kent, England, taken by Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt in 1968, Allen went on to study his work in photography at A level. “I often photographed my friends naked and loved that the images where people appeared most vulnerable and raw were the most beautiful and honest. This triggered an interest in a community where people were naked all the time and I researched naturism to see if this existed in the modern day.”
As a fashion photographer, Allen works in an industry obsessed with body image, dressing her subjects to create the most polished or unique look – to capture the opposite of all that is natural and drive must-have consumerism; but in a world obsessed with social media and presenting perfection, a little research suggested that British Naturism is a lifestyle that is still very present and thriving.
“The journey from fashion photographer to Naked Britain has been driven by a professional, and personal interest in modern attitudes to nudity and the relationship between fashion and the individual. Is today’s fashion increasingly subsuming the person, or does the person continue to shape their own style and project a sense of character? And in a world without the language of fashion, how would we behave, communicate and be assessed?”
For the last two years, Allen has inhabited both worlds, creating a social documentary that depicts 21st century British naturism. “My journey saw me strip-off and immerse myself in today’s naturism. And with it came liberation. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the naturist world, so I could understand the psychology behind this lifestyle choice and be equal to the subjects who feature in my book.
“Nudity demands that we look the person in the eye, to assess them for who they are, not what they project. Shorn of clothing, people must connect as equals, regardless of wealth, occupation or status. As you will see naturists go to discos, dinner parties, tennis matches, and bike rides all naked. They go to naked theme park events and there is even a naked holiday village where people shop, dine, explore, and enjoy their vacation all completely nude.
“Without the support of the naturist community I couldn’t have made this book and exhibition happen. I have not only grown professionally but personally, too, and gained a huge amount in self-love and confidence by taking off my clothes and learning to accept my body a little more than I did before.”
Amelia Allen’s Naked Britain is available now via Waterstones or ameliaallenphotography.com
Words: Sarah Hardy
Photos: Amelia Allen, Naked Britain (Kehrer Verlag, 2017)