Hudson Manilla
The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow
© Hudson Manilla

Following text and photographs by Hudson Manilla.


It is futile to search for perfection in a person for you will never find it; the secret is to search for beauty, for everyone is beautiful in their own way. Just remember though, it may take a while for you to first see, and then appreciate it.

Although I’m extremely grateful to Fabiano for the opportunity to heighten the profile of my work, I’m always wary of attempting to analyse it, particularly so from an intellectual perspective. You see, from the first images I made as a child, photography has never followed a particularly defined analytical thought process; it has simply been an intuitive desire, indeed a love, to express my creativity and capture real emotions and beauty in all its shapes and forms. I have always felt that when I begin to think about it in too much depth, it somehow distances me from it in a negative way; if I intellectualise about it, I lose precious time actually doing it, and doing it is what I love.

Hudson Manilla
The Dazzling Phantom Of Dark Misfortune – Part Two
© Hudson Manilla

Since the release of my first book ‘ONE’, I have been contacted on a regular basis for further information on the project. Being a naturally reclusive person, I’m normally averse to interviews and the media in general, but as there has been such genuine interest in both the style and narrative contained in my work, I felt it appropriate that I should give some insight into the story behind ‘ONE’, and share my approach to how I shot for it.

Hudson Manilla
Medicine For A Common Complaint
© Hudson Manilla

Three years ago I was commissioned to shoot a CD cover for an LA based celebrity rock band. The brief from the rock band was to shoot two “rock chix” [sic] looking pretty sassy; if you will a modern uptake on the Roxy Music ‘Country Life’ album cover. I started doing test shoots with numerous girls both in the UK and USA. Through a friend of a friend, an editor from a UK magazine saw some of the images and remarked that they were a refreshing, and interesting deviation from typical work of that genre; she explained… “When I look at them I feel like I’ve found a secret hoard of photographs capturing intimate moments between you and your lovers.” Her interpretation intrigued me and motivated me to shoot more work in a similar vein. It has eventually led to the release of my first book titled ‘ONE’.

Hudson Manilla
Looking For Love In A Looking Glass World
© Hudson Manilla

The production of ‘ONE’ was initially an organic process. As I travelled between the UK and USA shooting other projects a particular girl would naturally catch my attention, beyond her exterior appearance there would be an ‘inner beauty’ about her that appealed to me as a subject for the book. This could be attributed to any number of elements including her sensuality, creativity, honesty, good manners, or intellect. I could easily have hired a dozen glamour models from an agency and shot the book over a week or two, but that was not what I was aiming for, I wanted genuine subjects.

Hudson Manilla
Fruit Salad Sundae
© Hudson Manilla

The perfect subject for me interprets the mood I’m trying to achieve and projects a strong sensuality. As a lover of beauty, I’m particularly interested in sensuality, the complicity between a woman and a man. I like to capture genuine intimacy mainly shown through a woman’s gaze. A good subject is able to seduce with her femininity and sensuality using a combination of her eyes, fingers, mouth, and her hands. Her body, and the level of nudity captured in the image is in most occasions, secondary to me.

Hudson Manilla
Only Darkness Shares Our Joys – Part One
© Hudson Manilla

The book project developed in a more structured fashion when I started to receive positive feedback on my work from respected industry professionals. Amongst them, Dian Hanson an editor at Taschen remarked that it was “lovely work”. It also came to the attention of Maxim Jakubowski, the editor of ‘The Mammoth Book of New Erotic Photography’, a stunning collection of images representing the work of over 70 of the most outstanding photographers in the world, all renowned for their exceptional nude and erotic work. It is due for release November 2010, and fortunately, I am one of the photographers featured.

Hudson Manilla
Midnight At The Bordello Scarletto
© Hudson Manilla

People who collect my work often remark that although the image holds an interesting or powerful narrative for them, that aesthetically it is usually very clean and simple in its execution. I’d say not so much simplistic, as understated; I like the viewer to think for themselves, to elicit their own unique response to the subject. Beyond the title of the image, no amount of accompanying flowery verbiage will in any way relate the narrative structure withheld in the images I create. I’ve always felt visual communication has its own language and that the image will speak for itself.

I would call the way I create my imagery as ‘constructive photography’ in that I don’t just take a photograph, I make it. That is not to say there are no organic elements to it, but they are intuitively directed and controlled, however gently, by what emotions I’m feeling and trying to convey at that particular moment.

Hudson Manilla
Trick House
© Hudson Manilla

On a personal level I much prefer intrigue, intimacy, and privacy. When a door is opened into any secret world, however briefly, it makes the experience all the more alluring. I like the powerful sensuality my subjects portray, but also the vulnerability. Some of my subjects have had negative emotional issues and experiences in the past and I feel privileged that they feel comfortable enough to share such personal information with me whilst shooting. As I am mindful of the fact that they are revealing themselves not only in a physical sense, but also emotionally, the trust built up between myself and my subjects is sacrosanct. This is why I try to capture our moments together with great integrity; perhaps it is this element more than any other that defines my work.

Hudson Manilla
Years And Years Of Love All Turned To Paper
© Hudson Manilla

Fortunately, the reaction from my subjects post shoot is always extremely positive. Many comment that they have never felt more beautiful and I find this extremely rewarding. For some, it is as though the experience has been cathartic, and that they have been emancipated from the mundane day to day human condition through their experience. As human beings I feel we all deserve to find happiness. From the moment we leave the womb the world we live in bombards us with negativity, war, suffering and misery on a daily basis. As a compassionate human being I try to help as much as possible, but I know there is only so much I can do to help alleviate this condition. If an artistic image I make can take people away from this, even for the most fleeting of moments, then I will feel I have made a contribution in a positive way, however modest.

Hudson Manilla
Love Spreads
© Hudson Manilla

Ultimately, my primary motive is to craft an artistic image that satisfies me creatively, the definition of that image as sensual or erotic is the viewer’s responsibility. Sexual attraction and response is probably one of the most powerful emotions we experience in life and I find it challenging to relate that in an artistic way, so from my position, I’d say the line between erotica and art interests me much more than the line between pornography and erotica.

Hudson Manilla
Heavenly Homes Are Hard To Find
© Hudson Manilla

From an artistic perspective, I have always tried to use my own eye and follow my own path. In recent reviews my work has very kindly been likened to Newton, Sieff, Carlos Clarke and Bourdin. Whilst I’m extremely humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as such icons, I’ve always done my own thing rather than be a derivative of others. Without sounding disrespectful or selfish, I shoot primarily for me. As long as I’m happy creatively with the imagery I make, then the rest can take care of itself.


Please visit Hudson Manilla for more nude and erotic photography.

Hudson Manilla
The Rodeo Queen Rides Again
© Hudson Manilla


  1. david pollock

    said, December 5, 2010 @ 7:29 am :

    You expect to take this seriously. Try making something that might bring someone or yourself to a critical realization that we are submerged in a world
    of images consumed daily. How about placing erotica in a social context.Why feed me /us what we already know.Stimulus/response-cheap thrill.I love looking at naked females provocatively posed – so what. Dont try and convince me it has something to with art . This pictures are all the well worn images that represent various cultural fetishes .I recommend reading John Berger ‘Ways of Seeing’ to get some perspective on the male gaze in the history of art and its acceleration through the agency of photography.

  2. Astrid Mc Clymont

    said, December 6, 2010 @ 6:52 pm :

    You expect me to take this comment seriously? Try writing something that might bring yourself to a critical realization that we are submerged in a world of pretentious “art fag” know it alls daily.

    David I’m happy you enjoy looking at naked females that are provocatively posed. I must state that an image that is of a sexual nature without any artistic merit is pornography. So unless you are portraying that the work of Hudson Manilla is the usual baps and flaps smut of a publication then it surely must be art.

    I love looking at pictures of random boulders and ploughed fields (or fertile geometry as you so quaintly put it) but don’t try and convince me it’s art. These pictures are well worn images of utter nonsense that place the audience into a boredom induced coma of little meaning.

    I recommend reading Jay Stevenson’s The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Punctuation and Grammar or Micahel Powell’s 100 Pretentious Proverbs to get some perspective on the English speaker’s gaze in the history of the written language.

  3. Richard Dale Fleming

    said, December 6, 2010 @ 8:26 pm :

    Hmmm. That’s an interesting form of English grammar you use up there in Vancouver Island Davey Boy. With due respect, I’m in agreement with Miss McLymont that it could do with a bit of polishing up. ;-)

    When I read your vitriol on Manilla’s (in my opinion, exemplary) work, I wasn’t quite sure whether to be embarrassed for you or pity you. It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that Manilla’s not trying to convince anyone of anything old boy. Like Marc Riboud, he just enjoys taking photographs. I always think that when someone goes out of their way to be quite so disparaging to another artist, that it says much, much more about their own frailties. If you don’t like Manilla’s work, then feel free to move on. Having viewed your own (cough) art via your website, well… I could go on for hours, and hours and hours about it… but unlike you, I feel no sense of pleasure in publicly denegrating someone elses work. Having seen it, I would suggest to you though, that people in glass houses really shouldn’t throw stones. I also doubt that there is a shred of sincerity in your condescending remark that Manilla should read ‘Ways of Seeing’. Much as I expect the grammar in Berger’s book to be consumately better than your own, Manilla is probably too busy enjoying taking photographs to have time to read it anyway.

    Tell you what old boy – I’d advise that you not take other peoples art too seriously in future and that you’d best keep your negativity to yourself. It may just save you from publicly embarrassing yourself any further.

  4. Fabiano Busdraghi

    said, December 7, 2010 @ 12:39 am :

    I like when CO readers post comments, but please avoid to transform the debate in a personal attach. It’s an interesting discussion, I hope it will not became a flame.

    Please remember that CO is a site dedicated not only to art, but to photography, in all its forms.

  5. Hudson Manilla

    said, December 7, 2010 @ 3:11 pm :

    Thanks for your comments, it’s good to evoke a response from people one way or the other. Dignified and healthy debate is a good thing.

    @Mr Pollock – Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion of course. As we all know, taste is subjective, and one person’s opinion of what consitutes as art is not that of another, and one person’s thoughts are not that of another. The crux is, I simply enjoy making photographs. If people like them then great…if they don’t, then fine. With perspective, at the end of the day, they’re only photographs. ;-)

    @Fabiano – For the record, I am not greatly offended by Mr Pollocks attack. He has every right to express his opinion. I believe that individuals have inherent, inviolable rights to express their opinion in a dignified manner. Dignity is a precondition of freedom.

    Being objective though, I can understand why his comment has been interpreted as undignified or condescending and angered other readers. With respect, It is somewhat lacking in what I would consider to be the requisite level of gravitas for the excellent platform that CO provides. To give him the benefit of the doubt – perhaps he had a bad day at the office and I ended up being the lightning rod?

    Let me sum up by saying; life’s hard enough in the current world climate, so let’s get back to being creative and drop the negativity. ;-)



  6. SBrown

    said, December 12, 2010 @ 7:01 pm :

    I’m pretty much in agreement here with Hudson Manilla et al – I’m hopefully not going to add long academic and philosphical words here to fuel any argument either way …and I am well aware of the passage and the chapter you refer to in Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ : “ act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at..” yada yada yada …and no doubt you will have read Monsieur Barthes too wonderingingsecretly if his own mother (God rest her soul) was quietly and wryly smiling in the ether as her son ‘gazed’ woefully at her portrait when he found it….I do get rather bored hearing all the deep philosophical wordage spouted out regarding photography – some makes sense……some bores me….and some just becomes yet more banal text about art…… but you know David….at least for many of us Mr Manilla creates images and honestly offers his own views, philosophy and personal thoughts without malice…..sometimes I just feel that if we all had a chill pill once and a while, we’d be living in a better and happier place…..arguing and deeply philosphising about art, photography and imagery will never change…’s going to happen….but I can at least find some sense of relaxation when I gaze at Sig. Busdraghi’s icebergs as much as I do when I gaze at Mr. Manilla’s photography of the female. I wish we could all just chill out a bit more and enjoy looking at breasts, t*ts and b*ms without being made to feel *guilty* about it. I think what Berger was saying too was, that he like generations before, him enjoyed the t*ts and a**es too, so don’t feel ashamed about it. Maybe for those that wear Granny’s knickers and at the same rub themselves all over with peanut butter there’s cause for concern. Let’s enjoy the photography :-)

  7. theAngusT

    said, December 15, 2010 @ 3:57 pm :

    “Chapeau!” I certainly raise my hat to You Hudson. What a great selection of images you have shown here on CO. I am drawn by the intimacy of the moment between you; at instant the image is captured, and your subject – the eyes in all the shots almost defy you to look away from them, almost dare you to drink in he rest of the image.
    A truly excellent set of pictures of real women. I for one am now a fan, your link to the Hudson Manilla site takes you to a trove of beautiful images. Thanks.
    Its a pity Mr Pollock doesn’t see it that way – but ho-hum. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is it not? Perhaps his blinkers had slipped that day or his glasses were very dark! There is certainly beauty to be seen in these images where indeed the eyes are the windows to the soul.
    I hope you continue to be blessed with wonderful “subjects” that you can “share” such wonderful intimacy with.
    Thanks again.

  8. Jackie Graham

    said, December 22, 2010 @ 10:46 pm :

    For what it’s worth from a womans perspective, I think Mr Manilla’s work is beautiful. In my opinion there is a great balance between eroticism, intimacy, and exceptionally crafted photography. I’m tired of playboy type glamour photography that’s sooo last century in style. I’m also weary of GQ magazine style banal celebrity “boudoir” shoots…they are so fake! Times have moved on, this is 2010 and as an intellectual woman, I want to see genuinely creative, erotic imagery that’s shot beautifully. Mr Manilla’s photography ticks the box for me – there is genuine emotion captured in his gorgeous imagery – As a woman, I know when it’s real.

    Keep it coming. (No pun intended) ;-)

  9. AA Fullagar

    said, December 25, 2010 @ 1:13 pm :

    I have to agree with S Brown and J Graham and dwell on the positive; I enjoyed reading about Manilla’s uncontrived, simple love of photography – isn’t that what it’s all about? I have to say though, I enjoyed looking at the images even more. This is beautiful work, with such an incredible connection between subject and photographer. His work seems familiar but at the same time it also has its own interesting signature. I can understand the comparisons to the icons; I see the power of Helmut Newton, but minus the (somewhat contrived) libertine fantasies. There is the intimacy and sensuality of Jean Loup Sieff at his best. There is the raw sexiness of Carlos Clarke but shot in a more contemporary context. There is also a sense of the wry humour and strong fashion sensibility of Bourdin. For me all the greatest photography is simple – it should connect on an emotional level. Manilla’s work hits a home run here, but does so in such an understated manner, that to the untrained eye it could be easily overlooked. I’ll be amazed if Manilla’s work isn’t being published by the likes of Taschen or teNeues in the next 6 months.

  10. Pascal G

    said, December 31, 2010 @ 8:37 pm :

    @fotogirl – Interesting points you make – I agree, any publication is dependent on the strength of its content. Playboy was huge in the past, but it’s been on a downward spiral for quite some time. In my opinion sadly, they haven’t moved on and their shoots still look as though they’ve been shot in the 1980′s – let’s be honest, how many more fake blondes can people look at! I’ve read that Hefner always prided himself that Playboy was aimed more at the more intellectual reader…well, as an intellectual living in 2010, Manilla’s imagery is the type of erotica I want to be viewing. For me, the powerful difference with Manilla’s imagery, is that it’s incredibly stylish; it’s closer to the likes of a Jean Paul Gaultier or Chanel advert than Playboy or Penthouse. Having checked out his website I know that some of his imagery contains a frank eroticism, but It’s shot so gracefully and with such integrity that it doesn’t offend. I don’t think ‘Hustler’ when I view it, I think ‘Gustav Klimt’. So is it Art? For me, definitely. For you? that’s your call. ;-)

  11. La legittimità delle pratiche fotografiche e “One” di Hudson Manilla

    said, January 30, 2011 @ 3:54 pm :

    [...] Un paio di settimane fa Hudson Manilla mi ha gentilmente spedito una copia del suo nuovo libro elettronico. Oltre a scriverne una breve recensione, colgo l’occasione per discutere un po’ della controversia che nacque sulle pagine di Camera Obscura quando Hudson Manilla inviò il suo saggio Feeling The Moment. [...]

  12. chado bokusta

    said, January 30, 2012 @ 3:26 pm :

    i learned in art, its cool to have rythm and movement. women and the way you photograph them, seem to have a natural way here. i like when women have large breasts. Why do they appear so soft? It seems best this way.

  13. Mark

    said, February 12, 2012 @ 7:29 pm :

    Is Hudson Manilla alive? On his website it says RIP?

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