The Nude Competition Winners
Julie Cook took first place in the Single Image category with this image taken from her body of work "Beauties of Today" which she had been photographing over a period of four years.
"I had already seen Dirty Martini perform in Las Vegas," explains Julie. "She came to London as a burlesque ‘celebrity’. Her work engages with sexual performances in public spaces as well as the visual pleasure and complexities of the pose in relation to photographic portraiture. The context of the work is important: an original working men’s club in the East End of London, revived for a new fashionable ‘artistic‘ audience while still operating as a working men’s club. It has a great history of popular entertainment. I had already set up my lights and studio for the night and asked Dirty Martini if she would like to be part of the series. She immediately said yes and asked if I would like her nude. I was very pleased as not all burlesque performers want total nudity and most of the series is clothed. I think the strength of this shot comes from the combination of the different elements in the image and the confidence she has in her body."
The nude is not a new style for Julie. Her work has explored issues around voyeurism for a long time and she focuses on spaces that allow public displays of sexuality and an opportunity for the enjoyment of sexuality outside of the private and personal space.
A Photography Lecturer at the University of East London on Photography, Julie has enjoyed a career orientated around the design and magazine industries. She uses her commercial work to fund personal projects and has published and self-published photography books. "Beauties of Today" is distributed through Julie's website and through her activities with ABC Artists’ Book Co-operative – an international group of artists using print-on-demand technology.
Julie's lecturing role prompts her to consider how the industry is changing. "Photography is becoming an increasingly popular area of study," she notes, "and this has to bring new opportunities and ways of doing things that will be totally different from traditional ways of working."
"I would advise new photographers to stay focused on the things that interest them, and to try to get work on the back of that. Stay up to date with what is happening culturally while still referencing and remembering the history of photography. Friends and contacts that you make through your own interests are the most likely the ones that will help your work develop or open doors."
Julie's favourite commissions was three covers for Bizarre magazine, shot in Lord Litchfield’s studios. "The dressing rooms were covered in his old Polaroids, the models were always quirky and Mike Trow (the Art Director) was great to work," she recalls. "He gave everybody room to contribute to the day and we had a lot of fun doing it." Julie now wants to exhibit "Beauties of Today" and to continue making books. She has another big body of work – "Olympia Moments" - to be edited and collated. She is also working on a new MA programme at the University of East London and a print-on-demand book symposium. "I have to make some money from Dirty Martini’s portrait so I can pay her the agreed commission!" she says.