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Nadia Bedzhanova on Dazed
Photography Nadia Bedzhanova

A crash course in intimacy for the digital generation

This photographer captures the spirit of New York’s contemporary youth with a series of personal portraits and nudes

New York-based director Nadia Bedzhanova is great at capturing the spirit of contemporary youth – their looks, faces, struggles, obsessions and, in her latest series, their idea of intimacy. Bedzhanova got into photography in high school, long before starting her film career, and has been keeping a visual diary since 2012. The most important thing for her has always been the fragile connection with her subjects. “This series is a documentation of past and present intimate moments I live through, traveling around the world,” she explains. “I fall in love with my subjects and through the lens I try to build this insecure connection with the delicate intimacy of a particular moment. No matter if it's a girl or a boy, I find a piece of myself in every character.” Establishing trust is a significant part of the process, she adds, “I'm very insecure myself. If my subjects feel the same way in front of my camera, sometimes I take my clothes off myself so we are even. I take pictures of people I like, and they can probably feel it – it builds trust and attraction, not necessarily physical, but in a more universal human way.”

Her series is not so much about nudity as it is about revealing something much more hidden. It's not a coincidence that most of her subjects are shot in bed – the most intimate space of all, it's about borders of self and capturing things only the closest people usually see. It is a crash course in intimacy for a digital generation who are very used to sharing but still keep their secrets. “Everything is exposed nowadays. The shorter your shorts, the more followers you have, the hairier your armpits are, the more ‘feminist’ and ‘deep’ you are considered,” says Bedzhanova. “In the post-porn era nothing can surprise anymore, we see so many naked women, men and transgender people, celebrities, friends and random people everywhere; so images of nudity for us are like pictures of cats or food. Intimacy, though, is different – you see a person's inner self, and they don't even have to be naked. Sometimes it turns you on even more.”

See more of Bedzhanova’s work here