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Celebrating Self-Love and Sexiness in Intimate Photography

A woman with brown skin wearing makeup and a black lacy bra is lying in a bathtub with flowers in her hair.
Image by Luna Lee from Pixabay
Photographers can help us see our own beauty.

Intimate photography is more than just portraits of a nude or semi-nude body. Intimacy, eroticism and empowerment show up in this art form — in ways as unique as the subject.

It’s an experience unlike any other — so the subjects of intimate photography photo shoots have described. In front of the camera, there’s room to explore, embrace and find beauty in the body and the sensual self.

Host Anita Rao talks with artists LaQuann Dawson and Shoog McDaniel about their processes for conducting an intimate photo shoot and how they find growth and love through their self-portraiture. Writer, speaker, model and photographer Trista Marie McGovern also joins the conversation to talk about the modeling side of intimate photography and how those shoots have been a tool in her disability and sexuality advocacy.

Thank you to Courtney Napier and Detavius Niblack for also contributing to this episode!

Life Through the Intimate Lens
Two photographers share insights from their work

A Black man runs away from the camera wearing knee-high silver boots with heels and little else. He is looking back at the camera and has an afro. There are artistic red over-exposures circling him.
LaQuann Dawson

“It's different every time, what I get back from it. As far as my gender expression goes, as far as my mood goes, as far as what I'm trying to communicate to myself, or as far as what issues I'm having within.”
- LaQuann Dawson

A large-bodied person stands on a beach in shorts and a T-shirt with their arms raised to the sky in joy or triumph. They are holding a hat in one hand and standing on the sand, with waves in the background.
Shoog McDaniel

“I literally was healed from a lot of internalized fat phobia through taking photos of other fat people and seeing the undeniable beauty there.”
- Shoog McDaniel

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Kaia Findlay is a producer for Embodied, WUNC's weekly, live talk show on health, sex and relationships. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.