Retrospiration – Katrina Lithgow

Posted in caught by juliobesq on June 16, 2011

Sarah with her daughters Lily and Izzy, London, 2002 by Katrina Lithgow

For some time now I have been wanting to post a few portraits by fellow photographers and have dilly dallied under the apprehension of finding a suitable title to encompass them with. Retrospiration – a portmanteau of “retrospective” and “inspiration”. Not ideal perhaps, but better to utter a duff word than forsake a beautiful image because of it.

When I embarked upon the Coupled series I wanted to present the naked person in a context outside the usual paradigms of art nudes. We are not short of nude pictures but most, that aren’t in some way defined as erotica, fall between idealised and candid. There is little I have seen where the body, it’s skin, it’s presence is presented as formal portraiture: with no intention of sexual pleasure (even mental). Where the beauty is in the being, that life is wonderful, that without relationships we are undefined.

A couple of Coupled portraits in (no really, it’s true and not just for pun’s sake) I saw Katrina Lithgow’s photographs. Her series features female family members naked together, perhaps the intimacy partly invoked by no males being present. Both formal in being sat in front of photographer and intimate in the sense that you become the camera, in the room with them.

They are the most beautiful photographs of naked people I have seen.

They capture many of the considerations I have thought about and whilst veering from the paths that I’ve been exploring share mutual ground. I can hardly continue shooting without acknowledging these artists who have trodden similar paths. They may not be inspiration in the true sense but once seen it will be hard for their work not to tread on my toes a little as I proceed.

I have heard that much of her work has been lost and she now has an alternative career. Only one of these images shows when her name and photography are Googled; a shame. Hopefully this post can rectify the situation a little.

“Sarah with her daughters Lily and Izzy, London, 2002”  Katrina Lithgow

A small sample of further portraits in the series can be seen at

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