The Muse of Inspiration Can be Found in a Book

Tim Anderson
4 min readMay 1
inspiration, muse, photography, nude photography,

Even though it is 2023 and I am already thinking about next year, and hoping that some sense can be made of the turmoil we seem to experience on a daily basis, I am looking back on certain things that formed the basis of my photographic lineage. I am in serious thought about returning to that genre but in a much different format. (more later!)

Inspiration can come from many sources, a thought, a vision, the way the wind plays with a branch, a full moon coming from behind a cloud. You know them. You have seen them and more. I hope you have captured those images in some creative manner.

My Muse is constantly twisting my head to look in one direction or the other!

If you are a figure photographer, as I have been, sometimes inspiration can seem to disappear. What do you do then? How can you rekindle the flames of creativity? One of the ways I do it is to go to my library and pick out a book that just might serve as a hard-back Muse. Just looking at covers of books can serve as inspiration.

It’s been a few years since I first turned the pages of a book that came to me in the form of a press release. That formidable volume still serves to inspire me. That book is NAKED: The Nude in America (pictured), by Bram Dijkstra (Rizzoli USA, 2010), and I have to tell you, even though I have turned its pages many times, this book is a treasure trove of inspiration! Covering sculpture, painting, photography, caricature, cartoons, and even a handful of visual extremists, and other forms of portraying the nude in American art.

The author is a cultural historian, rather than an art critic, refusing to separate “high” and “low” art, charting instead such momentous historical events such as the discovery of pubic hair, the invasion of the pin-up queens, “the inexorable rise of the breast” during the 1950s, and the puzzling fluctuations of American prudery. (from cover end flap)

With more than 420 illustrations this is an incredibly wide-ranging representation and survey of the male and female nude throughout American history. The back cover photograph is the iconic picture by Judy Dater of Imogen Cunningham preparing to photograph Twinka (1974, courtesy of the Scott Nichols Gallery). On the Title Page, Arthur Tress has a photograph of Twinka

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is a writer/artist/photographer. You can help support his creative efforts by joining Medium: