Be Inspired by the Unique Images of Yuri Benitez (NSFW)

All images by Yuri Benitez. Used with permission.

“For me, photography is practicing magic,” says photographer Yuri Benitez. He adds, “I’m able to create physically (at least a bi-dimensional creation) something that is on my mind.” In a career that goes back to the 1980s, Benitez has found a photographic identity that lures his audience into his personalized creative world. His nude images offer a dynamic visual, as he looks to combine human form with both shape and textures. In this piece, he shares his latest project “Faceless,” as he aims to make the female form “universal” through his timeless black and white imagery.

Essential Gear for Yuri Benitez

Every photographer needs the right tools to bring their vision to life. Benitez says, “My gear is always in my mind when it comes to lighting planning, and of course the visual approach that involves the optics (lenses). As for my cameras, I know them well enough to know and feel which will be more suitable for a specific project.”

Here’s what is in the hands of Yuri Benitez.

Benitez explains, “I usually tether my camera to my computer, and I’m able to review my images on a monitor while photographing the models.” He further explains, “As the images are appearing on the screen, I can realize my ideas are coming to reality, and most of the time they surpass my expectations of what I first imagined – therefore the enthusiasm keeps erupting. I share my excitement with my models, which they welcome, and in return, they contribute and suggest new ideas to the process.

Continuing, he tells The Phoblographer, “I work most of the time in the studio, so I rely mainly on artificial lightning, could be strobes (Profoto and Speedotron), or continuous light tungsten (Desisti). I always try to illuminate my subjects with as minimal equipment as possible. My goal is to try to light my scenes with one light, but with a lot of flat reflectors (polystyrene) or hard reflectors (mylars), or diffusion screens.”

Yuri Benitez Presents: Faceless

The project sent to us by Benitez was born out of his long career in the photo industry. Having worked with big brands, shooting commercial and fashion photography, he began to realize his desire to be more creative through his personal work. “It occurred to me, maybe to experiment with female nude photography, in the comfort of my studio, providing the models the intimacy of an enclosed and controlled environment.”

“Having to deal and talk to several model agencies, I established a good relationship with some of them, and they knew how respectful my team and myself are with the models. So with that in mind, I asked if there were any models that would like to do a session as an exchange for shooting for their book and modeling for my artistic nude project.”

It was from this point he started to develop Faceless.

Inspired by the likes of Jerry Uelsman and Helmut Newton he realized that shooting the series in Black and White would be an expression of his own personal taste. In his words, “Maybe it is that a monochromatic image funnels the perception of the image to the bare essential, the light. On the sentimental side, it reminds me of my days at the darkroom, with the smells of Dektol and the Stop bath, and Fixer from Kodak.”

As you see from the images, his subjects always remain anonymous, hence the title of the series. Curious, we asked Benitez what his main motive was for shooting the images in this manner. “My intention is to capture the beauty of the female form, and at the same time, making it universal, not identifying any person.”

It’s a unique take on a popular genre. And it’s allowed him to present the female form with both class and empowerment.

On Creating Faceless

“I have created this portfolio to show a different approach in this genre. I have seen lots of images, which are beautiful but a little bit repetitive. My images are created in which I consider a creative concept, not showing a usual environment, but instead a surreal or unidentified ambiance. My images keep the sensuality but avoid any sign of vulgarity or bad taste, and always showing the female body as an expression of art from Mother Nature, which I only capture in a moment.”

Meeting The Photographer

For Benitez, his enthusiasm for photography began when he was a teenager. “I fell in love at the very first moment with the concept of developing and printing in the darkroom my own images. It was a magical moment, and nowadays the analog process is still so romantic.”

When embarking on his professional career, his initial interest was product photography. He found the genre captivating and loved the use of softboxes when creating his early work. As his career progressed, so did his goals. He tells us, “At that moment I was very inspired by the intensive colors and “graphic” look of the images shown in directories such as “The Black Book”, and “American Showcase”. And I was driven to enter the advertising industry. I worked with major Ad agencies in Mexico City (Leo Burnett, McCann Erickson, Y&R, Publicis, NCK, Ted Bates).”

As the decades pass, Benitez continues to evolve. We asked him to share which area he feels he has evolved in the most pertaining to his photographic journey.

“For me, my main evolution has been in my lighting. Every day I learn from the big master; the Sun. I like to analyze in any given afternoon (or morning or dawn, etc.) how nature is lit by our only source of light. Through the clouds, bounced from a building of mirrors, under the branches of a tree, at a very low angle on the beach, or even at night with a full moon, when the specular silver dim light is reflected from its face. Every day I learn something new for my lighting.”

More on Lighting

It’s clear that his passion for light is the heartbeat of his photographic practice. More than any other topic, Benitez speaks about lighting with a tone that portrays unconditional love. He has so much to say on the subject. And, of course, we’re more than happy to give him a platform to express what he feels.

“For my conception, the light for the photographer is the chisel of the sculptor, thus I prefer to have full control of my lighting schemes…I have learned that the best source of light is the sun, and what I try is to mimic the same in the interior of the studio.” Not only is light his passion, it’s part of his photographic identity. He enthusiastically tells The Phoblographer, “…colleagues refer to me as the guy who uses “one light” (usually). I consider that to be my identity among other photographers.”

In Closing

Whenever a photographer sends us a project containing nude photography, we take extra consideration before deciding whether to feature it. The female form will always attract an audience, but here at The Phoblographer we refuse to feature work just for the sake of superficial attention.

With Faceless, Benetiz brings a fresh twist on an otherwise over-saturated genre. His combination of shape and humanity, glossed over with the black and white aesthetic, delivers both a compelling and soothing style of photography.

Although Benitez shares his admiration for the female form through his images, photographing women isn’t his main motivation. Offering his final thought, he says, “My motivation is my desire to express my ideas, and to have them materialized out of my mind.”

You can see more work from Yuri Benitez by visiting his website and personal portfolio.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host professional photographers within the industry.