Life, at Home: Sharon digital out-takes

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

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Being somebody else

Now back to the routine (2007)

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.

Cool couple

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Kentish Town, London, 1995

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.

Life, at Home: Natansky digital out-takes

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:

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Natasha

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

My thanks to Natansky’s husband Matt for being there!

Natansky’s links:

Blog: http://www.natansky.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natansky.natansky

Life, at Home: a deeper perspective

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!

Mike Mike

Model

Electa

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.

In Toronto

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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.

The shoot

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.

Boundaries

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.

Nude self portrait - with Mrs H.
Self – with Mrs H.

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…

  1. For how long have you worked as a life model? To what extent (if any) do you do it to earn money?
  2. Have you previously undertaken photographic modelling and if so, as an experience, how does it compare to life modelling?
  3. Are you a naturist and if so what does that mean?
  4. Is life modelling a pleasing, even sensual, experience? Or is it just another job?
  5. Do you consider yourself an artist?
  6. Away from modelling, do you participate in public or artistic events that involve nudity??
  7. How do you look after your body and is this any different because of your life modelling?
  8. Is life modelling an activity known to friends, family and acquaintances? If there are exceptions, why should that be the case?
  9. 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?
  10. 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.

Project #2: “North Circular Wall”

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…..
 

Project #1: Life, at Home

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.

MikeMike 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.

Don’t scratch that!

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.

Nude self portrait captured on Ilford FP4 film.

Captured on Ilford FP4 film. Pentax ME with 50mm f1.4 lens.

The Sapling

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.
Naked self portrait in forest clearing with fragile sapling

Hiding in plain sight (or, lying low, naked on the internet)

One of the main concerns of any model who I work with, nude or otherwise, is what I, as a photographer, intend to do with the images. For a professional model who wants their exposure maximised the concern would usually be that I make the images as public as possible, preferably with a credit for the model’s name and a link to their website. But I tend not to work with professionals, the models who work with me are doing so for a variety of reasons and without payment either way, it is entirely correct that they should be concerned about what is done with the images.

If a model is paying me to produce images for them then I will simply follow instructions – if they want the images just for their personal use then as a professional I will charge accordingly. In other circumstances, for example as a result of a direct collaboration, then I will be rewarded by producing more art to add to my portfolio, to show the world, something which is very important to me – or crucial to the issue being addressed here, the very small part of the world that gets to see my images!

I need to highlight that from the model’s perspective, I write from experience. There are hundreds of nude images of me on the internet and I know from the statistics that they have been viewed over a period of 17 years hundreds of thousands of times by tens of thousands of people. Until 10 years ago I worked in a day job where being discovered would not have gone down at all well. I had children going through school who could have been teased mercilessly had such photos been found. But other than for the people who I told, everyone else was blissfully ignorant – that is until I chose earlier this year to put some images of me in the World Naked Bike Ride in Brighton in front of 80% of my followers on Facebook. Because I have a really rare name I now search on my name on Google and Google Images and see what comes up……

Oops! There is nakedness coming up under my name and in the image search and some of it is me. Indeed, three images of me in the first 10 rows! Fortunately I am not that easily recognisable. It’s perhaps not brilliant for attracting new clients but, since I’m not really chasing clients any more, I’m not losing too much sleep. This sort of accident is however easily prevented – just keep images away from your name, see step 1. below!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  As a model, you are simply going to finish up getting a better quality of image if you entrust your work to a photographer who shows his/her work to the public. Why? Because that person wants to do what all good artists want to do and that is show off their best work to a whole bunch of people who will be interested in it.  It however clearly helps if at the same time the photographer is prepared to clearly understand the model’s concerns.

Although this article is directed at what the photographer does with the images, the model may well want to put images online too and the comments below are hopefully useful in that regard.

So, let’s assume that your real name is Jane Goodchild. Here are 7 steps to keeping your naked self out of the sight of eyes that should not see you.

1. Use a pseudonym

This is an obvious place to start since by far the most likely way somebody is going to find your nude self is if they search on your name, maybe alongside the word ‘nude’ or ‘model’. Stick with Jane if you wish and if you really want a low profile call yourself something really common – Jane Smith would be boring but effective. If on the other hand you do want to get attention as a model then go with with a memorable but unusual name that is more exotic.

Do not undermine this by telling people while in a drunken haze that your nude photos are online and your pseudonym is……

Do make sure that photographers you work with understand how to refer to you online!

2. Only work with people you trust

You probably do not want to work with a photographer that sends images to porn sites and the like. But as much of an issue is ‘does this photographer know what he is doing?’. I am not talking about with a camera, I am talking about with your images. This one is down to your judgement but by looking at a photographer’s online portfolio and discovering all the places online that images get posted and you can make your own educated assessment of what the outcome is likely to be.

3. Understand where images are being posted 

It’s best to use my own example here. Under the name ‘allablur’ I have posted images publicly to flickr for 7 years. 99% of the hundreds of thousands of image views I mentioned are on flickr. I understand it back to front. I know how certain images that I really do not want to be seen can be shared with a smaller group of trusted followers. I know how most people on flickr are interested in art and photography and the people who I want this to remain confidential from are unlikely to be there. (Yes, the gossips – they tend to love facebook!)

Flickr is an example of a site where nude images are not by default public. They are visible only to those who have opted in to see ‘restricted’ content, and to opt in you have to be a member. So even if your Aunt Emma is a keen photographer and a Flickr member then there is no way she will see your images unless she has opted in. Even if she has opted in, the chance of being spotted in the melee are still slim and very probably she is going to be appreciative rather than critical because she has opted in to see that content.

On a site like this, if you want to be secure then you can always put in a pre-emptive block on certain people you know or others whose behaviour is undesirable.

I also post images to my portfolio site www.allablur.co.uk and my blog on tumblr blog.allablur.co.uk. Here they are entirely public but I know that there is a tiny audience; the chances of anyone I do not want finding my images actually seeing them is minuscule.

I also post images to my own public facing image library which is published in my real name. It’s all very straight laced but if anybody digs they will find some of my environmental nude images as well as me totally out there starkers on the Brighton naked bike ride. But again, unless I tell people, they just don’t go looking. And I have taken the step of removing my full name from those particular pages.

I even post some images to facebook. I use ‘lists’ and secret groups to restrict these images to a really small audience. Never mind somebody who should not see the images viewing them, no image has fallen foul of the notorious facebook censorship because I am careful of who goes in the lists.

Stipulate where images should or should not go. See point 7.

4. Only tell people you trust

If people do not know about you being naked on the internet then they are most unlikely to go looking for you. In my experience most people choose not to look anyway.

In the slim chance of an image of you appearing in front of their eyes on a screen then if they do not expect to see you nude because they have no knowledge of your activities then they may just see another face in the crowd rather than seeing you.

5. Avoid getting featured in local galleries or press

Perhaps the biggest danger is that which does not lie on the internet. If you get photographed by a famous photographer, or a famous local photographer then you may get noticed.

Avoid fame. Avoid celebrity.  Do not go near any reality TV show – especially Big Brother!

6. A watermark is your friend

Photographs on the internet get stolen. Put simply, a watermark on an image is a major disincentive to theft and makes it less likely to be used by anyone without authority. So if a photographer adds a watermark to an image then it is less likely to be stolen and abused.

Of course the photographer should give the model clean versions of the images but as a model you may choose to post the watermarked version online.

7. Get it in writing

Model releases are really useful documents. If nothing else, as a photographer I can go back and remind myself of a model’s pseudonym, how images can be used and when and how credit should be given.

As a model you may be confronted by a photographer’s own model release. Do not be afraid to hand write any stipulations that you may have on the document. Do not waste everyone’s time by coming up with surprises at the end of a shoot – voice any restrictions in advance. Have one amended copy for yourself, signed by the photographer, making sure the same amendments are on the photographer’s version.

8. Chill

In all this I admit that it helps that I have a good understanding of statistics and chance. If you feel nervous, work with someone who you trust and knows what they are doing,

Accept that the only way to be 100% safe is to avoid having your photo taken in the first place. Most of the horror stories that you hear about are nothing to do with responsible photographers but are down to a jealous ex….