Matt Blum – The Nu Project

Matt Blum

The Nu Project


Matt Blum started “The Nu Project” with the idea that women of all shapes and sizes deserve to be photographed beautifully as fine art nudes. His subjects were volunteers through word-of-mouth or Craigslist–they came with their stories, their successes and failures, their scars, their survival of abusive relationships, their tales of triumph over body image–and he photographed them. These days the collection continues to grow; over 150 women (some with their partners) have participated, most in their own homes.

What: Nude Fine Art Photography–we hope to make a book of the work we’ve done so far, crowd-funded through Kickstarter (here’s the link to our Kickstarter).

Who: Any woman over the age of 21. Matt Blum does the photography and post processing. Matt’s wife, Katy, does editing and art direction.

What: Nude photography in the homes of the participants.

When: Ongoing since 2006.

Where: Minneapolis-based, but whenever we travel we try to set up shoots. In Novemeber we went to Brazil with the purpose of photographing for the Nu Project. It was two weeks and full of amazing participation by the women of Brazil. This fall we’ll head to Spain and Portugal for a couple of weeks to do some project shoots there.

Why: Because before this project it seemed like everyone who was photographing women in the nude was using either beautiful models and doing it beautifully or using non-model women and making them look extremely average. Matt figured there was a way to treat non-models like models and photograph them beautifully. We continue it because it is fun work and the response from the women who participate is overwhelmingly positive. As an added bonus, we hear from people (especially women) that it is changing the way they see themselves.




Matt Blum (born 1982) is a photographer based in Minneapolis, MN, USA. Matt is a self-taught photographer and entrepreneur. He and his wife, Katy, own and operate a photography studio where they specialize in lifestyle images and luxury domestic and international weddings.


Related links

Matt Blum

The Nu Project


11 Responses to “Matt Blum – The Nu Project”

  • Although far from new it is a sweet idea; the celebration of the body free from the fashion/idealistic/ western aesthetic. How and why we label and judge, mostly without any thought. Maybe these do tell a truth free from that. Or, maybe they show their own version of a truth, as subjective and idealised as any other?
    As for the photos; they dont really do it for me, but then I am caught up in my own dark little aesthetic cave anyways.

    well worth continuing with as a project.


  • Matt, congratulations on your project, it has garnered a lot of attention.

    I have to agree with John Gladdy’s comments. While I think this is a worthwhile project, I have to humbly say that to my eye, it falls far short of it’s stated objective to “photograph women of all shapes and sizes as fine art nudes”. Instead, I feel that Matt has mostly achieved “using non-model women and making them look extremely average”

    Now I’m not usually an artists statement nit-picker, but this just seems a bit too off the mark to not point it out. There are several nice photos here. No. 2 is delightful, and the woman is gorgeous. Looking at the whole project, it is very in-consistent. There are a few interesting photos, but far too many giggly shots which except for the fact that the women are naked, look like someones facebook snaps.

    However, what the hell do I know, I’m a guy who thinks Egglestons reprint of his rusty tricycle pic which just sold for $500,000 plus is boring. I’d love to hear another take on this.

  • I agree with Gordon’s comment about inconsistency. This must be a very small sample of the whole body of work … seems like it is a smattering that if it is representative of the whole, it would point to several series that need to be dealt with separately.

    Regarding the stated purpose, I think nos. 2, 3, 7, 9, 13 are the more successful of these, some conveying a bit of mystery and the wish to know more about the person. No. 6 is the most extreme and might make more sense with some text about her history. Fine art nudes have always been more abstract, this seems to break that barrier, maybe a bit too much by including lifestyle and portraits with smiles?

    Seems like a good start, hard to judge without further information … some of it is quite intriguing, it may need to be sorted out more.

  • Nice and noble project. However I agree with Gordon criticism and honestly I think it’s a lack of imagination by the photographer which casts a shadow over the images. The images need a little “magic”, perhaps it’s the boring light or the poses.
    Now I love Eggleston’s images and of course one of my favorite is the tricycle pic so I can’t agree with Gordon’s statement. Egglestone is about mood, loving the mundane and obvious in the daily grind and maybe to appreciate his work it’s best to at first forget his work as single images and concentrate on multiple images as in book form.

  • I think the point here is the beauty of the mundane and not necessarily the coldness of “SOME” fine art nudes…
    That first frame is IT! for me.

  • Carlo, I agree with you about the first photo, I like the first three in fact. Check out the galleries in the Nu Project link. There are some nice shots sprinkled in among a lot of not so great stuff. The best stuff tends to be of young beautiful women, quite the opposite of what the stated goal here is. Matt needs to work harder at learning how to make women with less than perfect bodies look beautiful.

  • what, for me, is always luminous and extraordinary about our bodies is the electricity and the lives and the desire and the fever that emmanates from sight and contact and joining….the body is not mysterious but in the way it never leaves its extraordinary draw and attraction and nutritional feeding of us….for me, this is rarely capture in pictures of ‘nudes’…and why most ‘nudes’ feel more like tv to me than life….more photograph than flesh, more pixel than cum or sweat or blood or groan or laugh…

    i like the idea of trying to show people in their comfortable state, but somehow, for me, it still comes across here as ‘photography’…or as ‘models’ or as pictures of people without clothes…in a state of being aware they are nude, rather than just being alive….

    maybe it has to do with the idea that people are being photographed ‘nude’ rather than observing….

    and in the end, that makes me feel less about the pictures or the people in them and more about the desire to go out into the world….

    all people are beautiful and compelling and light-touched and their bodies too and that is one thing that photography, or rather this kind of photogrpahy, often fails to convey…

    how to solve that?…

    maybe it cant be done with this approach…but then again, i prefer the electric to the static

    hope that makes sense

  • #1 was promising, and #10 has a simplicty and naturalness that could have served the other pictures, that are simply not that good, whatever the subject of the essay (while I admit I would myself even do a lot worse than that).

  • Each individual image is good, and # 6 is a stunner – a work of courage by the model and one that provokes serious thought. I don’t think the theme is accomplished, however.

    Bob, I like your point. Maybe the way to solve that is to hang out in a nudist colony, where people just go about being themselves but are naked. Or, perhaps, the photographer could just camp out in the homes of his models for a spell, until the novelty of being photographed nude wears off.

    And if he really wants to break the stereotypes of nude photography being all about beautiful models, maybe he should include some average, perhaps even skinny and flabby men and attempt to photograph them beautifully, too.

  • Damnit – was supposed to read, “the stereotypes of nude photography being all about beautiful female models”

  • Frostfrog :))

    agree completely :)

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