Tess had never modeled before let alone a paid modeling job nude. She wasn’t just doing nude art modeling to get paid and wasn’t seem concerned about posing nude. Nonetheless, we began the photo shoot with some clothed shots. I then had her pose in a loose sweater. The session with the sweater served two purposes. First, it allowed her to be nude in front of a camera for the first time with a “security blanket,” a familiar article of clothing. Second, it allowed the elastic lines and other clothing marks on her body to fade before we commenced with the main part of the shoot.
Tess has done multiple shoots with me and has in many ways been an ideal model. Art modeling often involves posing nude for money. It’s only fair that the models are paid. Modeling for a professional artist pays better than modeling for a group of students at an art college. The most prominent asset Tess brought wasn’t physical: she tries very hard. She came to me with no experience and no ego. She takes directions very well and has distinguished herself by following exercise and diet recommendations. This model always has a cheerful, can-do attitude, and this has been one of the keys to her success. I’m happy that I was able to meet her at the beginning of her modeling career and help her build her portfolio.
In retrospect, Tess needed no security blanket or coddling to feel comfortable at her first paid modeling job in the nude. Although most models won’t require a clothed warm up, it helps set the tone and pace of the first shoot. I want every model to know that I’m thinking about her comfort.
We tried some poses on her toes, asking her to elongate the leg closest to the camera by lifting her foot as if wearing high heels. I didn’t want the tops of her toes turned towards the ground, for compositional reasons. This is why I didn’t specify to stretch her foot out as long as possible.
After these stretched out poses, I let her perform some less strenuous, seated poses. The platform I used was a simple bar stool covered with black fabric. The fabric was tucked in at the bottom to conceal the legs and avoid having the edge of the fabric showing. I asked her if she had any favorite props, and she responded with some black shoes. I didn’t immediately like the shoes for this pose, but I shot about twenty frames with the shoes on over a two-minute period. I then asked her to go back to barefoot. My reasons for shooting the shoes, even though I didn’t like them at first, included my curiosity as to whether I could make them look good with the pose, and not wanting to discourage Tess. I told her we’d return to the shoes later in the shoot. We performed some poses with her legs draped off the edge of the stool and some with them either under her or compressed against her body.
I asked Tess to lay on her side and try poses with one hand grabbing the foot on the elevated side of her body. I asked her to raise this hand and foot as high as possible. She tried a number of poses and came up with some creative compositions without any further coaching. With some models, I’ll need to get them to pace themselves if their cadence is too fast for me to capture each good pose. Tess held each pose long enough that I could.