I have just finished watching Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, Lars von Trier’s movie which IMDB describes as “A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.” To illustrate the emerging sexuality of Jo, the main character, the writer and director von Trier has her recount two experiences from her pre-teens.
In one, she described the feeling she had when climbing ropes in a gym “with the rope between my legs, the sensation, we called it”. In the other, she described “playing frogs”, sliding clothed on her front over the tiles of a soaking wet bathroom floor with legs splayed.
Given his notoriety, I half expected von Trier to come up with something more sensationalist than this. After all I have grown up to be in many ways the complete opposite of a nymphomaniac but I share very similar childhood experiences with Jo, the ropes in the gym, (I assume we have all been there?) and I played frogs once, but perhaps more daringly, in the pouring rain in my back garden. The things we do when growing up. I just did not expect two of my experiences to be echoed in a Lars von Trier film.
“On the tiles (1997)”
The image is not me ‘playing frogs’ although it does have erotic undertones, which were not intended when I captured it on grainy underexposed film in Kentish Town in 1997. It’s completely unretouched, part of a series of images I chose to call ‘dirty film’. That title, some would suggest, does have something in common with Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, but that does von Trier a dis-service because his films are rather deeper than that.
Two days ago I visited sunny Whitstable, taking a few photos around town as an adjunct to my shoot with Sharon Smithers, the second in my Life, at Home project.. Sharon has been a life model for over 15 years now and it was instinctive for me to contact her about participating. It was a little annoying that both of the film cameras, 35mm and medium format, that I started with misbehaved. But never fear, I had a backup for each; I was never a boy scout but I fortunately was prepared!
Anyway, much more about Sharon will appear in due course over at the blog site when I have processed the images I capture on film.
In the meantime, here are some photos that I really do like that I took on my digital camera.. My thanks to Sharon for being such a relaxed and talented model. The final image pictures Sharon with her collection of Run for Life medals. If you would like to work with her, she can be contacted though her Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/sharon.smithers.3
I have this thing about people who take things at face value, politicians thrive at exploiting them, as do the tabloids. They are often intolerant of people who are different and ideas or art they perceive as a threat to them and their insular lives.
I have always admired artists who have the confidence to confront such people, to know they are going to draw simple judgement. They exploit them too – Madonna thumbs a lift naked by the highway for the benefit of her photographer is rather different to Tracy Emin dealing with her demons by spreading her legs in her self portrait sketches. But both are examples of creators with the self confidence to know that they are going to win over people, quite accepting that they will disgust many judgmental people.
People are not born with an aversion to creativity. Their views are the product of their childhood and the cause goes back generations. Slowly, as they discover that it is in fact they who are different, perhaps through their shocked reaction to people, art or events that other people not only accept, but appear to enjoy, some change. And their children, learning more from exposure to the world through their friends and the internet, change too.
There is only one person in this image. It is a construction from a previous shoot assembled in 2007. I should consider setting up shoots specifically to construct such images but this arose very much after the event, a benefit of a mischievous mind and interval shooting with a digital camera.
This image is in no small part exists because of people who once were judgmental of me. There – see how I turned out – you were right! (Not!)
Most of the people who created the person in me that makes these images are half a lifetime or more away now. They will probably never see my photos, and if they do it will all probably go way over their heads. So again they will actually be wrong.
My partner for over 26 years, my wife for almost 25, Mrs H. stands by me in this image from 1995 with a perfect expression to match mine, indifferent to the absence of clothing from the waste down, looking at the camera with confidence and at ease.
We did not discuss how we were going to pose, perhaps that helped. We just stood there and the self timer whirred and the shutter clicked, capturing the moment with no-fuss frankness.
At the time I worked in the City of London. My expanding portfolio of nude photography was still private although the internet was soon going to provide an anonymous way of sharing the art with others. In contrast to my own passion for photography of the nude, Shirley was then, and still is, ambivalent to nudity and the idea of being a model. It was something she was content to go along with but was not going out of her way to do. I eventually got the message!
I respect her for trusting me in the first place and for allowing me to share what we created together in the same way she respects my enthusiasm to work with those who are enthusiastic about collaborating with me.
I affectionately called this photo ‘cool couple’. And cool with each other.
My blog for my Life, at Home project has kicked off at lifemodelathome.wordpress.com/ and the project has kicked off too after my shoot with Natansky. There are no photos on that blog yet as it will only contain images captured on film. But I did take quite a lot of shots on digital too, sort of out-takes I guess, but what I was often doing was making sure that things worked on digital before turning to film. These are my favourites of those:
My thanks to Natansky’s husband Matt for being there!
A few weeks ago I first raised this project idea; now it is time to put some extra meat on the bones….
To summarise, I would like to shoot life models at their homes. The emphasis for the project is on the nude & the resulting images will be black and white shot on film in a personal style bearing the imprint of the model’s personality. You can hopefully see this style in some of my existing work.
To illustrate the type of image we might capture, I’m including here some of my images, most of which have not been published previously. There is a life model in another’s home, an artist at home with his life artworks, some self portraiture at home and a naturist at home. None of them are of a life model at home!
Being a life model, especially if modelling for a group or class, can be quite an impersonal activity. For the artists there is often little or nothing that is known about the background or personality of the individual model in front of them, and the poses are often intentionally contrived. In what I will be asking for I am conscious that the project will take many life models out of their comfort zone, indeed some may never have been photographed nude and perhaps few in images that I hope will create an emotional connection with the viewer. But an important part will be the relaxed image too – this is not all about intensity, but about wider humanity and all kinds of emotions.
These are portraits, not figure studies. The face is all important but not all images need slavishly feature the face.
I talk about my self portraiture throughout this site. I would like photographs of any participating life models to say something personal too, albeit enabled by the presence of me as a photographer.
Having said this, I don’t want this project to be only about body issues but if life modelling does help then I would like this to be apparent, hence the Q&A below. I do want to include those who use life modelling to celebrate their bodies and even those who simply don’t give a damn about nudity, art, whatever; it’s just a source of income!
Do not shoot with me if you are nervous about the images appearing on the internet. However, I intend to to follow the principles I apply to myself to do the utmost to preserve anonymity whenever desired while giving the images from the shoot maximum exposure. You will be able to review images prior to any being published and, within reasonable bounds, individual images which you do not like will not be published at all. Having said this, you should not pose for, or ask me to shoot, any genre of image that you would not wish to see published.
At your home, and that would include your garden if you wish.
During the shoot I may on occasions use a digital camera too. This gets the model used to the dynamics of the shoot and gives me instant feedback on the lighting conditions, helping me use film to its best advantage.
Because this is about the model’s personality in their personal space, I am relatively open minded about what I shoot but I do have limits. It is important that photographer and model are comfortable so I ask that you express yourself within your own limits and do not let what I have shot with others influence you.
Friends, family and chaperones…
Models will be very welcome to have other people about during the shoot, even included in some of the images, especially if they are part of ‘home’. In fact I’d prefer it – a distraction from the all enveloping presence of the photographer and lens can yield some great natural images.
Only the model who is the main subject need be nude. The fundamental of this project is that that subject must be a genuine life model willing to be photographed nude at their own home.
Who will I work with?
If the models in these images seem young and/or skinny then that is because I have not previously sought to shoot with life models, who I know will occupy a full spectrum of body types and ages. This project is a challenge to me to do something different – in working with film and with life models I hope its a challenge that will stretch me to produce some diverse and interesting images.
I want to achieve a balance of the sexes and ages. I live in Brighton. In shooting with film I’ll be incurring extra time and expense – but in this regard location will be a bigger issue. I will of necessity have to start this project in the South East. As I become more certain of how the project is developing I may be able to deal with other areas or a sudden opportunity may arise to shoot further afield. So wherever you are, do not be afraid to register your interest.
What’s in it for the model?
Participating models will get to review proofs and receive high resolution retouched digital files of their 10 favourite images together with similar files of any other images that I chose to publish. They will have the right to print and sell prints of these images. They will also have the right to use images in online portfolios or on social networks giving appropriate credit to the photographer.
If there is a book then it will be made available to you at cost.
What’s will I do with the images?
There will be a blog article illustrated with several images from the shoot and dealing with the Q&A. I may well publish these or other images on social networks such as flickr and tumblr. Images may finish up getting shared from these sources to Facebook and I will follow instructions on whether or not they should be tagged. I will credit you in whatever way you prefer wherever images are used.
Ultimately there may be an exhibition or a book. I will have the right to print and sell the book and prints of these images but overall, I foresee that the project is likely to cost me rather than make me money.
And finally, the Q &A …
Ahead of the shoot I will ask for 10 questions to be answered. I’d like you to answer them all as honestly as possible. When images from the shoot are published in a blog post and/or in a book, the answers to the questions will be published too.
When making initial contact you might only want to deal with 1., 9. and 10. But don’t feel you have to hold back…
For how long have you worked as a life model? To what extent (if any) do you do it to earn money?
Have you previously undertaken photographic modelling and if so, as an experience, how does it compare to life modelling?
Are you a naturist and if so what does that mean?
Is life modelling a pleasing, even sensual, experience? Or is it just another job?
Do you consider yourself an artist?
Away from modelling, do you participate in public or artistic events that involve nudity??
How do you look after your body and is this any different because of your life modelling?
Is life modelling an activity known to friends, family and acquaintances? If there are exceptions, why should that be the case?
Where are you located? What name do you use as a model? Please share any model portfolio links with me. Can I share them with others?
I am somebody who has used naturism and my camera on myself to help control what is perhaps a mild form of body dysmorphia. Do you have any ‘body issues’ that life modelling has helped you deal with? Equally, let me know here if, for example, you simply celebrate your body or don’t give a damn!
Please use the contact page on this site, facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ScottHAllablur) or email to scott ‘at’ allablur.co.uk to get in touch.
This is the other project that I have recently conceived and it will be an exercise for my street / urban photography…
“North Circular Wall”
The economy of London, the prices of sandwiches, transport, beer and homes is now inextricably linked to the presence there of the financial sector and related service sector industries. Not to mention the wider establishment, press and other media.
Over the last 30 years, from the time I first moved there from the South Wales valleys, Londoners have found themselves living together in an exclusive enclave that just gets wealthier and wealthier. But if things continue in this way, and the wealth differential between London and the rest of the country escalates such that enough people outside London smell a rat, how will London react to keep out the pesky northerners and the like?
The North Circular Wall is a fiction that in a literal sense will probably never happen. But it already exists in the sense that many of those inside the wall want to keep others out. Except those with money of course. This desire for exclusivity is mainly at a sub-concious level right now, Boris would never admit to it, but it is the way things are developing.
I’m not sure how exactly the project will evolve around the photographs I will take (or have previously taken in London) but once I was part of things and now, just over three year after I left, I feel quite removed from it all. I could even say excluded.
So I intend to visit places where I have lived and look at on what terms it would be possible to move back now. And places where I worked to see how they have evolved, who went bust and who is still there. I may even revisit one or two places where I bought a beer. And the North Circular Road…..
I’ve never previously set myself photography projects in the art sense. This nude self portraiture project “all a blur” took perhaps 15 years before I even realised that it was a project! It will now continue towards its 30th year. The environmental nudes “elemental” project also evolved, becoming a well defined diversion from the self portraiture involving other people but rooted in my passion for the nude.
So for me to determine that I am going to carry through two new defined projects over the next year or two is indeed unusual. I’ll probably write about why another time but for the moment it’s important to get these projects defined so that then they will happen.
The second project will lean towards my street photography but this one is about my interest in the more personal nude.
Mike is an artist who I have photographed at home with his work
I have found myself building up a group of life model contacts, not by design but by accident, and would like to shoot life models at home, nude & also clothed should they wish. This will be done predominately on black and white film in a personal style bearing the imprint of the model’s personality. You can hopefully see this style in some of my existing work.
Being a life model is quite an impersonal activity. For life artists there is often little or nothing that can be known about the personality of the individual model in front of them and the poses are often intentionally contrived. In what I will be asking for I am concious that the project will take many life models out of their comfort zone, indeed some may never have been photographed nude and perhaps few in images that I hope will create an emotional connection with the viewer.
These are portraits, not figure studies. The face is all important. Reflecting my use of the word ‘personal’ I intend to to follow the principles I apply to myself to preserve anonymity when naked where desired.
I still have to work out the detail of how it might work, but models will be very welcome to have other people about during the shoot, even in some of the images. The fundamental is that the subject must be a genuine life model willing to be photographed nude at their own home.
I have been using film a lot recently for street photography, have posted some results but have lots more images to come. Yesterday I had three shots left on a roll (you will have to wait a few hours to see Croydon!) and for the first time in perhaps 12 years decided to use them on myself. With just three shots, no review, no concept (other than to quickly use up the roll) and zero preparation, the result was never going to be high art.
Now my memory goes back 27 years because that impromptu way of finishing a roll was perhaps how the first nude self portraits were captured. Then I did not develop the film myself. This time I did, but rather stupidly used a squeegee on the film. The softness is due to my use of a scratch removal filter. Lesson learned.
The title is a mixed reference – the thought went through my mind of not showing the image because of the alleged lack of ‘high art’. But (at a risk of boring those who have read this before), the art is in the long term project! It’s nice to return to film.
Captured on Ilford FP4 film. Pentax ME with 50mm f1.4 lens.
A cleared area in a Forest in Limousin, France, replanted in 2013 with tiny saplings midst the previous destruction. This follows a theme you may come across in other images of mine, the nakedness and vulnerability emphasise how hopeless those of us that seek to protect our environment can feel. I feel that the relative fragility of the model (it is myself) for once works to add strength to the image.