The word naturism may conjure up images of middle-aged, overweight Europeans, but it's a stereotype that English photographer Laura Pannack is keen to dispel. Her Young British Naturists series, of which two images can be seen above, is a product of a year of browsing online naturist blogs and websites and tracking down and photographing some of their users. "I brought these strangers together and organised trips for them at naturist clubs around the UK," explains Pannack, "but I didn't want the nakedness to become the main focus. It's more about the social and leisure side of naturism."
But who are these naturists and what attracts them to it? "They're all under 30, from all over the UK, from every background imaginable and each had a different reason for doing it," she says.
Thus the image here of the seven naturists sitting down to eat makes for fascinating viewing. Nakedness in social situations is typically fraught with discomfort. Yet the men and women shot in this chalet – at the Manchester Sun and Air Society – suffer no such inhibitions. "They don't possess the usual indicators that clothes give you about background," explains Pannack , "so they must discover one another through interaction and it brings them together."
So will Pannack now be divesting herself of her attire, like the others? "While I was shooting these subjects I was naked, too, to ensure the people around me felt comfortable," she says. But while Pannack developed an understanding of naturism, she also came to her own conclusions. "I'm quite a solitary person, I like hiding from the world, head down, sunglasses on, hoodie up; staying anonymous." So while nudity can be liberating, for Pannack, wearing clothes can be, too.
Laura Pannack: Young British Naturists runs from 3 May to 29 June at 1 Gallery, London N1, one-and-a-half.comReuse content