“Sadness” by Ra Tinoko

This image was unplanned. A few years ago I started working on a very personal series called Every Body has a Story to Tell. This is still an on-going series about all bodies being the perfect vessels to carry out our missions on earth. It is a series that challenges traditional notions of beauty and revels in the various forms of the human body and you can read about it on my website.

On this day I had scheduled a shoot with this one model and when I contacted her a few days before the session to confirm; she told me her mom has passed away the week before. I asked if she wanted to cancel the session and maybe move it to another day, but she refused and told me she’d rather go ahead as planned.

I purposely do not photograph faces for the series since it is not about nude portraits. I believe that a nude body without a face can be everyone and anyone and this lets the bodies tell you a story.

Technically speaking, I try to photograph everything on film on my trusty Hasselblad 503CW. Before I start shooting film I will check lighting on a digital set up.

On this day she asked for a cup of tea and I told her to take her time, as there was no rush. When she was ready to start the session I asked her to sit down while I perfected how I wanted my lighting. As I was doing this, I could sense her sadness, it was quite palpable on set. I started taking a few shots and I could see she had closed her eyes for a few seconds so I decided to back up and photograph her with her face showing as well. I only had one chance of doing this, a split second, of capturing this moment. I let her know and showed her the images immediately and she seemed very pleased with them. She asked me to send it to her a few days afterwards.

I love this image because I feel for her and the pain she is going through. I’ve known what it feels to lose someone so close and it is never easy to just carry on with life, although you know you have to and I still admire her for that.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

I think my model is not your typical nude model and the emotion of sadness is coming through the image.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I could not do this photo once again.

Ra Tinoko shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Ra Tinoko, United Kingdom

Equipment and settings

Canon 5D

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Comments (3):

  1. Russ

    July 7, 2021 at 00:23

    Well done. And you did capture her sadness. 👍😢

  2. Oliver

    July 16, 2021 at 15:48

    This photo raises the bar on emotional sadness with the story, also feels like she is now at peace, overwhelming.

  3. William

    July 16, 2021 at 16:39

    Just awesome. so much feeling in this photo.


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