Carl Warner can make fantastic landscapes using just about anything: office supplies, nuts and bolts, even clothing.
He might best be known, though, for his “Foodscapes,” an idea that came to him in a food market at a time when his career as an advertising photographer was stagnating. Now the images are frequently used for advertising and commercial purposes.
Lately, Warner is in the habit of making “Bodyscapes” after finding inspiration in the scenes of naked bodies in the dusty, rocky terrain of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Zabriskie Point. “I was fascinated by the relationship between body and landscape, and I have always been looking at my own body in terms of its form as something structural and sculptural,” Warner said via email.
Compared to food, Warner said, the human body is more limited in the types of angles and shapes it can make. “It is less versatile, but it is often the case that having some restriction pushes you harder creatively, which makes it all a worthwhile challenge,” Warner said.
In the images featuring a single shot of a torso or back, only a small amount of digital manipulation—to add the sky—is required. For the shots using multiple body parts, however, the process is more complicated. Mostly it involves stitching together many photos of the same subject to create a scene.
“I know people would love these to be made with many different bodies, but doing this would mean having different skin tones, which would lose the sense of continuity within the landscape. I also like the fact that it is all made from one individual, as it offers an aspect of alternative portraiture and becomes a more intimate connection with the subject,” Warner said.
Unlike his “Foodscapes,” which require the help of a food stylist and several days to build, Warner said “Bodyscapes” require little preparation. All Warner and his assistant do ahead of time is ensure that there are no clothing marks on the body and that the skin is hydrated.
“I usually have some sketches of what I would like to achieve, but they don’t always work out as I imagine them to, and often there are shapes and forms which I see that inspire new designs of a scene as we work,” Warner said. “I can build up a foreground, midground and background quite quickly, but I like the fact that there is a certain amount of unpredictability within the image-making process.”
Warner’s subjects are friends and models. Since the series has become popular, Warner said he has frequently received unsolicited offers from people wanting to pose for him. “But I would really like to move the work forward by photographing well-known people whose bodies have carried them through their personal journeys,” he said.