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Leonard Nimoy’s Secret Life As A Photographer
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Leonard Nimoy’s Secret Life As A Photographer

Picture of Margarita Akritidou
Updated: 6 December 2016
Leonard Nimoy, who passed away last month at the age of 83, garnered critical acclaim and a legion of global fans for his iconic portrayal of Star Trek’s Dr. Spock. However, for years the actor also enjoyed a successful photography career outside of Hollywood. Often provocative, his images offer a powerful and daring exploration of issues that society often shies away from, including sexuality, religion, and unconventional notions of beauty.
Leonard Nimoy Selft Portrait with Shekhina | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy Selft Portrait with Shekhina | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries

Nimoy discovered the magic of photography in his mid-teens, when he used his family’s apartment bathroom to develop images of his family and friends. After filming Star Trek and Mission Impossible, he decided to study photography at the University of California in Los Angeles, and even considered a career as a full-time photographer. However, he discovered that breaking into the medium was rather complicated as his celebrity as an actor often discouraged galleries and print editors. He pursued his passion in conceptual photography alongside his acting career, and had work exhibited at various galleries and museums and published in best-selling photo books.

Leonard Nimoy Classic Nudes & Dance series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy Classic Nudes & Dance series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Black and White series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Black and White series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries

In recent years, Nimoy was able to exclusively focus his attention on his photography and charitable work, and, together with his wife, Susan Bay, actively supported the Artist-in-Residence and Artist Fellow programs of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. By portraying subjects that often fall through the cracks and and pushed to the margins of society, Nimoy’s photography offers a commentary on the human condition and its false limitations.

His 2002 series Shekhina – named from the Judaic service – features beautiful nude and semi-nude women, some dressed in religious cloth. In these images Nimoy boldly captures the essence of God in the female body in a subtle, sensual way. Nonetheless, It is unsurprising that Shekhina sparked controversy and sharp criticism from members of the Jewish community that regarded his images as offensive.

Leonard Nimoy Shekhina series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy Shekhina series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy Shekhina series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy Shekhina series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries

Nimoy’s latest exploration of nude, unpretentious beauty,The Full Body Project, was published in 2007 and sparked a different kind of debate. In this series, Nimoy puts to the test conventional and deeply-entrenched concepts of beauty, widely perpetuated by the entertainment industry, by photographing naked full-figured women. With over-abundant joy and a wonderful sense of freedom and grace, the models display their bodies and captivate the eye with their commanding presence.The Full Body Project’s success lies in its capacity to dare the viewer to question his idea of feminine sensuality.

Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series |Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries
Leonard Nimoy The Full Body Project series | Image courtesy of R.Michelson Galleries

Leonard Nimoy’s photography is available at R. Michelson Galleries, Northampton, Massachusetts, and Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood, California.