Posted at 19:26 on 17 May 2011 by Pandora Blake
Last week I had my first art nude shoot in a couple of years; certainly the first since I put on weight and went up a size or two. However, I wasn't nervous about my shape. The photographer in question was one I'd worked with before, and he booked the shoot because he specifically wanted to shoot some figure work at my current size, so I knew he'd be expecting more curves than last time.
I was actually more worried about having lost my touch and confidence when it came to posing. I know what I'm doing with spanking stills, but figure posing is a whole different ballgame. Luckily, the photographer was keen to direct me closely, which made my job a lot easier. (In fact I got told off for trying to direct! Oops ... I guess working for my own productions has got me into certain habits.)
It was tremendous fun. I remembered why I used to love shooting art nude so much - and my taste for it has been thoroughly rekindled.
The fun started the night I arrived, when I was let loose in a room full of beautiful vintage clothes and encouraged to try things on. This was in the name of planning outfits for the next day, but it felt deliciously self-indulgent. Skimpy silk underthings, sheer wraps, antique lace, layered Victoriana, split bloomers, high collars, embroidered sleeves ... and sleek designer negligée; diaphanous nightgowns; a short, perfectly pleated skirt in pure black silk. It was a banquet for the senses. I felt like a harem girl, a princess, an excited child with a dressing up box. And all overseen by pensive judgement from my hosts, picking out the garments which flattered my figure and rejecting those that didn't. It was the first proper trying-on session I've had since my curves got bigger, and there was something very therapeutic about spending time with my current shape, getting to know it, learning what suits it and what doesn't.
The sense of indulgence carried over into the shoot itself. I had to concentrate a lot on remembering how to use my body, but it was definitely made easier by feeling sexy and elegant posing in all these gorgeous outfits. Holding poses in beautiful morning sunlight; bending over an aged leather vaulting horse; pretending to be a statue. His wife put me over her knee, and I, in turn, threatened her exquisitely petite derrière with a cane (although I didn't get to use it).
But the best part of all was when, in the afternoon, we dodged the May showers to go and shoot on location, in some decaying ruins rich with peeling paint textures, overgrown ivy, enormous doors hanging off their iron hinges, missing floors and dusty shafts of sunlight, birds nests in the rafters.
J had brought a large format camera with him, a beautiful long-legged creature with a wooden case, bellows, black cape and accompanying archaic-looking gadgets. First there was the process of setting up the camera, choosing the position and lens with meticulous care, adjusting the focus and doing a dozen other complex things to get it all ready. Then, there was modelling for the shots themselves; such a different pace to the world of digital, choosing the softest, most relaxed-looking poses that you can hold for long minutes, re-learning when to put energy in and when to hold it back. There was something meditative about the prolonged stillness, and the deliberate, careful precision involved in capturing the image, which was deeply soothing.
Of course, the 10 x 8" negatives he was shooting onto with the large format have yet to be developed, but I'm pleased with how the other shots I've seen turned out. I've definitely rediscovered my love for figure work. Timely, too; the baby DSLR I've bought for Tom to learn on was posted today, and modelling for him is something I've wanted to do for years. I'm looking forward to being able to shoot nude images at home (although knowing Tom's perfectionism, I'm well aware it might take years before he starts taking pictures he's happy with). But of course the occasional adventure is important too - for the excitement of new experiences, the spark of new ideas and inspirations to bring home with you.
Photos © copyright J&L 2011.