I’d been wanting to photograph a model for a long time. I’d read that photographers often get together and rent out studio space to do so, but I didn’t know how to find it. I did a few google searches in 2006 and couldn’t find anything so I gave up. I’d also wanted to do nude photography since that time. I even bought a book about techniques. It all floundered for five years. Then I heard on This Week in Photo about meetup.com. There I found a group doing Boudoir Photography. I joined them. They were going to do a workshop at The Carriage House in DC. So I joined that group. And The Carriage House arranged for professional model Devonny Sandrick to be available. At $125 for time with a professional doing fine art nude and getting a liberal model release in return, it was a great deal I couldn’t pass up.
But once I’d put the deposit to reserve my space, I remembered that I’d never worked with a professional model before, much less a nude one. How would I direct her? What poses would I choose and what props could I use? I got nervous about it. So I did what I always do in such a situation, I made a list. That would keep me from blanking out and forgetting what I wanted to do. So I came up with some ideas and scoured flickr for inspiration. In the end I figured I could always use my inexperience as an excuse.
It turned out that my fears were unfounded. First of all, Devonny was a treat to work with. She put me at ease and, like any good model (I’d watched others direct models before) she brought something to the table as well. A good modeling session is a delicate dance between what the photographer thought he (or she) wants and what the model demonstrates she can do with the photographer’s idea. It also helped that we each picked a different set design for our time with Devonny, which in turn further inspired us in different ways. And, in the end, I had quite a few things on my list that I didn’t get to. Time just went by too quickly.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that Devonny in front of the lens became an abstract representation of femininity that was mine to pose and shape. In other words, I was afraid I would be distracted by the fact that there was a nude member of the opposite sex before me. But it didn’t occur even for a second. When I wasn’t photographing, I was admiring the forms and geometric shapes she was forming with her flexibility. When I was photographing, I was examining how what she was doing meshed with what I was trying to accomplish for the pose and how to best communicate the image I wanted to capture on the camera’s sensor. It probably helped that we were doing fine art nude photography – in other words using the cameras to accomplish the same goal as the Ancient Greek sculptors rather than erotic photography – which is meant to stir other types of emotions entirely.
I went into the process not knowing if I’d enjoy it. I came out definitely hungering for a chance to try it again. I look forward to the next time I get to work with a model to further explore the female form and all the beauty God has endowed upon the fairer sex.