In a recent post http://allablur.co.uk/a-model-for-another/ I outlined how for the first time I became a model for another person. That person was fotografm, a photographer from Berlin who mainly shoots men, most rather younger and more beautiful than myself, but also someone like me who indulges in self portraiture, nude self portraiture, which is how we became to know of each other perhaps 10 years ago through our presences on flickr.
It was back in 2009 that I became aware of a new ‘alternative photography’ Meetup Group which was going to be operating in London. I felt that I could contribute, and because it was new, it would not already be shaped by a clique and be fresh and exciting.
So here we were upstairs in a London pub, a diverse group of about 20 photographers and models and models / photographers trying to work out how we could collaborate together to produce what was a vision for all of us, eclectic alternative art.
Although it was slated as one of the main potential subject matters, it soon became clear that there was little interest in shooting the nude. Perhaps this was because so few of us knew each other and being naked in front of strangers with cameras is just a little too personal.
However what seemed to unite a large proportion of the group was an interest in fetish photography. Now, this is something I knew very little about and I confess that I was initially disappointed at this particular direction. People started chatting about ‘dungeons’ and ‘play equipment’ and I just had little to say. However it was soon clear that this was going to be a wildly interesting subject to shoot if I approached it in my role being an editorial photographer, recording what was going on rather than pretending that in any way I could set the agenda. I will note that in many ways it seemed to me to be as personal as shooting the nude for here were people willing to be shot participating in an alternative lifestyle which tends to be kept confidential.
The F club in South London was chosen as the first venue for a collaborative shoot. I googled it. The website characterised it unequivocally as a swingers club, but what was clear to me was that in this group of people there was going to be no swinging. There would certainly be acting, posing and performing.
We hired the whole place and having agreed in principle what could be done with the images we pitched up and set about being creative. Despite the numbers in the club, the images you see were mainly shot on a one-to-one basis, a few with people who I had never met before being friends of those at the first meeting. It was very dimly lit and I refused to use flash but nevertheless I got a lot of images, some noisy, some blurry, which would feature within a list of what I might call the best images that I have, capturing raw emotion.
Everybody was so gentle and respectful and open to ideas. In my case it was more about making it clear that the individuals could express themselves, which they did. Thereafter I was not afraid to shoot, sometimes in a most intimate way.
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.
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.
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.
Peter runs a naturist B&B in Brighton. We got together at his place to chat about the possibility of forthcoming collaborations in anticipation of the onset of warmer weather. Unusually for a first meeting I took my camera and we spend a half hour or so briefly touring his flat in his natural naked state and I took the opportunity to get him used to the idea of me pointing my camera at him.
I chose to fit in with the local dress code. I guess Peter is accustomed to having other people trotting around his place naked but this was all rather new for me because I have not previously shot anyone while being myself nude. I really can’t say the experience affected the shoot at all unless it was a positive one because I have to express that, considering the available time, I am very happy with these images.
A post from a shoot in March 2011 which had lost it’s connected image on flickr. I have spotted quite a few like this that will have to be fixed. Very irritating but a chance to promote forward a few images lost at the back of this blog.
This was the first of the images from my first collaboration with Ada Sancerre. For the record, it was 10 degrees C. and windspeed up to 35 kph and it had rained continuously overnight. Yes, the British spring had arrived.
Yes, we took Jess’s dogs along. In retrospect this was a mistake. When naked in a busy forest you might need to be able to reach for your clothes and get dressed quickly. As Jess discovered, not quite evident in the photos, this is not always possible if your dog has decided that it would be tidier if your dress was carried away somewhere else.
At one stage I did try a more conceptual shot using myself as a model. It didn’t really work that well….. Contrary to the perceptions that these images might give, I am wearing clothes almost all the time when shooting.
Jess’s dogs are called May and Stompy by the way. They have no problem with clothes.
Copyright Scott H. / Allablur. Reblogging is cool – please credit the source.