Adrian Samson, ‘Girls I Never Knew’

Award winning photographer Adrian Samson started out in advertising and has come to prominence for his intriguing take on the female nude. Here’s a sample of the London-based Slovak-Hungarian’s latest collection, Girls I Never Knew.

Girls I Never Knew originated as a rection against the conventions of the form: painstakingly choreographed and rigorously structured encounters between photographer and model, both invariably experienced professionals. Samson wished to capture “women doing something which makes it more intimate and uninhibited. I wanted to catch that beautiful moment when the are not ‘trying’ to ‘show’ their beauty – it is just natural.”

He placed adverts on Gumtree for non-professional models, regardless of age, shape or race, attracting over 100 respondents. “I wanted to take the random and with it the risk. Neither party would know quite what would happen.” Although various props and scenarios were employed for the shoots, the abiding characteristic of the collection is one of playful informality – Samson lulls his subjects into an almost child-like lack of self-awareness, resulting in deceptively complex work which is disconcertingly both erotic and innocent.

The initial reticence of any such encounter with non-professional models was quickly diffused with the terse invitation, “Okay darling, let’s get you naked.” This is also where the props and scenarios come in – not as the raison d’etre of any one tableau but rather as devices to set the subject at ease, as vehicles for revealing each model’s personality. And it’s their personality that is the true star of the show.

“Each leaves the viewer with the question of the motivation behind each these girls’ needs and reasons for her being there,” Samson explains. “After all, they came to me. Was it a fantasy, aspirations to be a model; secret snaps for a lover; as an erotic adventure; liberation or downright exhibitionism? Look at each picture and seek the reason for yourself.”