I had the opportunity last year to photograph an art nude model from London by the name of Iveta Niklova. I have photographed about (by my faltering memory capabilities) 9 art nude models in the last few years, each having their own talents, quirks and personalities. Each one brings something new to a shoot and it's up to me to try to marry the abilitites of the model to the type of shots I am aiming for.
On the subject of art nude ..... It usually raises a few titters from those who haven't done any. There's sometimes the image of a page three shoot and of course the 'dirty old man' syndrome. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is usually a very relaxed session but there are protocols that should be followed.
Firstly, your model is a person and has feelings including fear. When I contact a model she doesn't know who I am so I give her references to people that we both know so as to put her at ease. If we haven't any mutual friends/coleagues then I will show her a collection of my shots so that she can guage for herself if I am serious or just 'chancing my arm'.
Models have limits. In the case of nude photography, that can be implied nude. I found this to be a bit of a misnomer but essentially it means that even though the model is actually naked, she will not be showing nipples and/or genitalia in the photo - they will be discretely hidden. Most models will specify no 'open legs' shots - this is self-explanatory. Some models will be happy to work with another nude model - male or female - but will specify that the shots must not be regarded as erotic or pornographic. You need to check first.
I discuss, usually by e-mail, what type of shots I want to do, where, and what time period I propose to shoot. Then importance of this is also to nail down what props might be used and who is bringing them. Don't expect your model to have a range of clothes, shoes, hats, sunglasses, etc., on hand unless you asked her. I also discuss rates. Some have hourly, half-day and full-day rates.
I try to get to the studio an hour beforehand to make sure the place is relatively tidy (safety) and warm and get the flash units set up, check out the radio triggers, flash meter and those hundred little things that will make you look unprepared if you're doing it whiles she's sitting there ready to go!
When she arrives I show her where the bathroom is, where she can put her case, where she can change, where the studio is, introduce her to the makeup artist (MUA) if I have one and find out if she has any questions that need to be answered.
One of the most critical moments can be the first transition from clothed to naked. I normally indicate that I am ready to start and then turn my back and fiddle with some equipment while the model removes her dressing gown. I will talk to her about what pose I want and look at her face. Yes! It sounds strange but I make a conscious effort to do that at the start. Later on you will be discussing various parts of her body that you want in the shot or hidden and at that stage the atmosphere will be far more relaxed. It also becomes a working relationship and not one of a man and a naked girl. You'll have to trust me on that one.
One major rule I have is that I ask the model's permission to touch her. It doesn't matter where. I ask. Sometimes I will ask the MUA or another girl in the studio to make adjustments but again it is always with the model's permission.
So...... back to Iveta. Iveta's unique talent is that she can give you poses so fast you need your camera on motor drive to keep up. She looks incredible and can combine body, hands, arms, legs and facial expressions to give outstanding shots. She contacted me to let me know she was coming to Ireland for a few days and was trying to set up some photoshoots and wanted to know if I was interested. I was. I set up a shoot for last Sunday (2010-09-26).
We got off to a shaky start (not her fault) and my first shot of her was taken at 12:45pm instead of the intended 11:00am. I was forced to rush somewhat since my session was scheduled to end at 3:00pm and her next shoot was at 4:00pm. Rushing is not a good idea. I tend to overlook small errors in the shots instead of eliminating some of the ideas and concentrating on the few. My style of shooting with Iveta is a little involved. She likes to move a lot! I like to set up one shot and get it absolutely right so you can see how our two different styles of working is in conflict. My compromise is to set up the lighting so as to allow her a more unrestricted posing style and I will get her to slow down for one or two of my poses. In the middle of her pose-changing I will stop her and get her to modify poses that I want to put my stamp on.
Iveta can be found on Model Mayhem and Folio 32 and her own website.
Anyway, I'm posting one of the shots from the shoot here. There will be more. For those of you who are obsessed with metadata and the like, the details are:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II. Lens Canon 50mm f1.4. 2 Bowens 250 focused on the black backdrop. 2 Bowens 500 with softboxes either side of Iveta and 1 Bowens 750 with softbox in front.
1/125sec @f11. ISO 100. Manual mode. RAW. Processed in Digital Photo Professional (Canon software). Post processing in Photoshop Elements 8.