We sat down with photographer Russell James to chat about his new book, Angels ($199, pre-order here), which features 35 of the most beautiful women in the world—naked. Scroll down to read the Q&A and check out the exclusive images we got our hands on!
What was it like the first time you shot a nude photograph?
"I was far more nervous than she was, I can tell you that much. I love shape and form, and I was shooting a fashionable portrait and something was really screwing up the photo. I realised it was all the damn clothes. They were messing with the shape, so I asked if she would mind if we did the rest of the shots nude."
What’s the most exciting part about putting together a book like this?
"This particular subject, nudes, is one that I’ve become the most renowned and recognised for. I realised it was a book that I absolutely wanted to do, but I also knew the only way it would get done was if people trusted me enough to let me publish this type of nude portraiture. So, this book comes with a lot of trust, and that’s what’s cool and interesting about it for me."
Favourite photographers? "Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Guy Bourdin are a group of photographers that I look at and revere how disciplined they were with a camera."
Major influences? "The thing that’s influenced me the most are the landscapes and lighting I saw in northwest Australia when I was a kid. It affects everything about my photography, from the way I light to the way I address things."
You’ve shot for Victoria’s Secret for the last 15 years. What’s that been like? "It’s been an enormous amount of fun. There’s a kind of family spirit that’s come out of it. I’ve shot for them for a long time and throughout that time, on a personal level, I’ve been through ups and downs, and they’ve always stayed through like a family and supported me."
That’s a pretty attractive family you’ve got there. "All the kids in my family are pretty gorgeous."