Photographers are often said to bare their souls through their pictures.
But Parisian Erica Simone has taken this to the next level by literally laying herself bare – she has photographed herself in nothing but her birthday suit on the streets of New York.
The 25-year-old has turned doing daily routines in the city to works of art simply by removing her clothes.
And Simone made the daring decision to step out from behind the camera and go au naturel in a series of self-portraits taken in and around the Big Apple.
Speaking to the Daily Mail she said: “At first it was like, ‘Can I really do this?’ I was into the idea, but I didn’t totally have the [nerve] to do it – I’m not totally an exhibitionist.”
“But I managed to do it on my first day of shooting in the West Village and I didn’t even get arrested.”
“I think that was just a combination of good timing and luck, and it is not as if I just spent the whole day walking around naked. I was fully clothed until I was ready to take the shot.”
“It’s not about sex. It’s crazy that it’s illegal to be naked. The whole process was really liberating and it made me feel freer and more comfortable in my own skin and not be ashamed of my body.”
In the pictures, she rides the subway, checks out library books and shovels the snow on the sidewalk outside her apartment – all in the nude.
The 20 shots are part of Simone’s new exhibit Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen, which opens next month at the Dash Gallery in Tribeca.
Simone said the inspiration for the exhibition came to her during Fashion Week two years ago.
She said: “I was sitting around thinking about fashion and what would we be if we were naked and what if we didn’t have fashion to show who we were, our status, how much money we had, all these things.”
“Then I got the photographic idea of shooting people naked in the street, but just doing regular things, not especially posing, or being naked, but doing whatever.”
She said was not sure if she herself could go through with it but was intrigued by the challenge of staging the shots – which she took using a remote sensor – and stripping down to her birthday suit.
She said the general public were very accepting of her nudity and she did not have any bad experiences while doing it.
“Most people were laughing, smiling or applauding and cheering. They seemed OK with it,” she said. “The most challenging one was on the subway. I had to ride the whole way from West 14th Street to the end of the line to get the right shot.”
“The only person I told was the guy next to me as he had to hold my coat. But by the time some people even found out about it, I was clothed again.”
Simone also said she has come a long way from the first shot to where she is now.
“The first few times I was so nervous and I guess innocent about everything, and yeah it was scary a bit as well,” she said.
“But now I don’t care about being naked. I am more concerned about getting the shot right rather than worrying about being naked or what people in the streets are thinking.”