An Interview with Leonard Nimoy, Photographer of the Full Body Project

An Interview with Leonard Nimoy, Photographer of the Full Body Project

by Jennifer Jonassen

You may not know it but Leonard Nimoy (best known as Spock on the classic TV show Star Trek) is (among many other things) a brilliant photographer. A couple of years ago he set out on a special project, which focused exclusively on female nudes. What is so special about that you ask? Well he specifically set out to capture images of women who were larger than what we are accustomed to seeing on the pages of magazines. What resulted is the revolutionary book titled: “The Full Body Project.”   There are 50 images all in all, of brave and beautiful women who challenge the popular notion of what beauty is. It is empowering to see these magnificent creatures completely naked and dancing joyfully, with complete abandon and absolute confidence.

[Jennifer] Tell us about your experience as a photographer.

[Leonard Nimoy] I became interested in photography in my early teens. A friend showed me how to develop film and make a print. It’s been in my life ever since.

[Jennifer] How did the Full Body Projecthappen?

[Leonard Nimoy] I was showing some earlier work at a seminar, some images from my “Shekhina” book. A lady approached and asked if I would be interested in working with a different body type than the models I had worked with. She came to my studio and I photographed her. Whenever I showed her images along with the others there was a great deal of interest. I decided to pursue that area of work. She is seen in the book lying horizontal against a black background.

[Jennifer] Tell us a little about Heather McAllister and the Fat Bottom Revue.

[Leonard Nimoy] A model friend told me about Heather. I contacted her and I arranged to go to San Francisco to photograph her and some of her performers. She was a great activist and very wise, an anthropologist by training. I sent her a couple of images by Herb Ritt and Helmut Newton and we recreated them with models from Heather’s group.

[Jennifer] Where do you find your models and are you still looking?

[Leonard Nimoy] I’m finished with the Full Body Project. My work has gone off in a different direction. I believe the “Full Body Project” book says what I had to say on the subject.

[Jennifer] What has your experience been working on the Full Body Project?

[Leonard Nimoy] I’m enlightened by the research I did. Clearly there is a large industry based on telling women to buy various products in order to achieve a look considered “beautiful”. Beauty is culture driven. In our time the image presented as desirable is projected by models that weigh 25% less than the average American woman.

[Jennifer] What reactions have you gotten on this project? Has there been any negative feedback?

[Leonard Nimoy] Mostly a chorus of “Thanks.”

[Jennifer] Are there any other projects coming up?

[Leonard Nimoy] I’m preparing a show, which will be exhibited at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art next year. Tentatively titled “Secret Selves”. It is a series of portraits of people who presented a secret or fantasy self to the camera. Fascinating!!

Pictures paint a thousand words so I strongly suggest you take a look at some of the stunning images Mr. Nimoy has caught at: