Nude photography is a genre of photography that is considered controversial and provocative for obvious reasons. While there are those who find it pathbreaking and edgy, there are some who consider it vulgar and indecent. I’ve had some experience with this genre as a personal hobby, and one of the questions I asked the photographers featured in this article is this: Is Instagram racist? The reason I asked this question is because it becomes evident to anybody who photographs nude models that Instagram is infinitely tougher on those who shoot models of colour. While there are Caucasian nude models, fitness models and even pornstars on Instagram who get away with the most quote — indecent — unquote pictures, even the barest hint of a groin or body hair in photographs featuring models of colour get taken down by Instagram. At least three photographers featured here have had to face issues with the social media app when it comes to censorship. “One can see a lot of nudity and sexuality being explored by the West, but when it comes to brown skin, it is scrutinized on dual structures. First, brown-skinned people like us censor, report and troll the art considered to be ‘immoral’ or ‘vulgar’, and then Instagram comes in, with all its power and a heavy hand on the artist,” says Raqeeb Raza who goes by the handle @daintystrangerphotos on Instagram. “I personally feel there’s some stringency in Insta algorithm with colour nudity. The cases of removal of posts, shadow banning deactivation are much higher than profiles with white skin nudity. Many of my posts got deleted though they were in no way objectionable,” adds photographer Sukamal Das. Despite the algorithm not being in their favour, these photographers continue to explore their art form and do it magnificently.

ARKA PATRA

“I don’t do anything special to make my models feel comfortable. I mostly work with people who are comfortable with their bodies. There is nothing unnatural about naked bodies. Having said that, I understand the vulnerability of being in front of the lens and that is irrespective of clothing. Which is why, I prefer to have the least number of people present in the room while I work on any shoot.”

RAQEEB RAZA

“I feel the body is something that is still unexplored and should be looked at in an objective way. It is not something restricted to human pleasures — it is also a work of art. Every body is beautiful, irrespective of colour, size and so on. The human body is my canvas and it is my workplace. It is everything that I have been working on to make people feel more comfortable with the bare skin.”

SUKAMAL DAS

“My aesthetics is to show raw emotion, whether it’s of love, joy, sorrow or separation. I try to extract the subtle expression which one goes through in their daily lives. It doesn’t matter which orientation or gender you belong to — those fundamentals will always be constant.”

SAUMYA SNEHIL

“The human body is nothing but a human container, the looks of the container don’t determine the quality of the human inside it but the relationship that we have with our bodies definitely affects the quality of life that we live.”