Judy Dater, “Imogen and Twinka, Yosemite,1974,” Favorite Photographs for 2012, #5

Judy Dater, Imogen and Twinka, Yosemite, 1974

We have already explored several concepts or uses of the nude in photography and here is yet another one.  It is a study in contrasts, indeed a very touching one, taken by photographer, feminist, and biographer Judy Dater (1941-).  American photography pioneer Imogen Cunnigham (1883-1976) was teaching a workshop in how to work with the nude in Yosemite Valley in 1974, when Ms. Dater captured this beautiful image of an aged Cunningham and model Twinka Thiebaud (1945-).  Cunnnigham assumes an abstracted pedagogical pose observing the model, while Twinka stares back coyly.  The image is a study in contrasts as the two women, diametrically opposed look at each other across the tree:

  • young vs. old
  • dressed vs. undressed
  • working vs. playful

Interestingly both women are beautiful in their own ways: Twinka in her youth and Cunningham in her age.  We must recall Cunningham’s wonderful book and portfolio “After Ninety,” which highlights the beauty that comes with age.  I highly recommend this portfolio as well as Dater’s Cunningham photo-biography “Imogen Cunningham, a Portrait.”


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