Dynamic Nude Self Portraits Depict One Woman’s Changing Body Over Seven Years (NSFW)



Over the duration of seven years, London based photographer Polly Penrose created a series of dynamic self portraits that examine a woman’s changing body and it’s emotional reaction to a physical space. The series, titled Body of Work, began in a purely organic way, stemming from her desire to capture eccentric nude portraits, while aware she could more accurately dictate concepts and ideas using herself as a subject rather than a model.

Each portrait is a reaction to how the body can ‘fit in’ a physical space. Often, Penrose has never seen the location before, and she never enters a space with a concrete idea. Open to unrehearsed experimentation, each image tests her stamina; whether she can balance upside down on a chair or stretch into a downward dog-like yoga pose, while running back and forth between her positioning and the camera’s self timer. Each pose is also an emotional response to her feelings at that specific moment in her life. For example, she forms a tight ball of excitement on a yellow chair as she reacts to her recent engagement. In another, she is overwhelmingly calm and balanced, nine months pregnant, awaiting the birth of her first child. Then we see the almost sacrificial, exhausted pose two months into motherhood.

Penrose imagines she will continue taking self-portraits until she can no longer move to do it. The complete series Body of Work was on exhibit earlier this year, and Penrose says, “I have taken more since [the show] that definitely feel like a different chapter, they are less aggressive, definitely more tender and soft, which is interesting.”









All images © Polly Penrose

  • Suzanne Cossette


  • peculiarwallflower

    So bold and daring yet so intimate and beautiful.
    A woman’s body is art, and these photos project it perfectly.

  • fgh976

    d beautiful.
    A woman’s body

  • kimminji

    beautiful poses in terrific project

  • Yes, beautiful, naked women usually are, but the photos objectify more than celebrate – in my opinion.

  • In this selection I see less content about the changing of the body with age, and more about how a photographer thinks and sees. The dirty feet in the air, the kids chothes stuffed around the dresser, the body caress of the plastic chairs is brilliant stuff that speaks as to how a photographer sees things others do not. Calling out “objectification” generically may be missing the point. We may never get a perspective on the visual power of a woman’s naked body, and yes, Polly’s work is an object juxtaposed with yet other objects in our modern world, and in her conducting of this work she makes a visual soundtrack I find engaging and thoughtful. Bravo English Gell.

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