God Bless Amateurs!

Photographers work with models bringing a variety of skills, body types, body abnormalities (more about this below), enthusiasm, and expectations. Some of my favorites have been amateurs, like Samantha shown in Crescent above. Samantha was a dance student who came to me in response to a classified ad. She’d never posed nude before; in fact had never worked before a camera in any guise. So both of us were unsure as that first session began.

Amateurs often come to me a bit nervous. I mean, after all, you would be too if appearing nude before a strange man who was about to photograph you, repeatedly and in all your naked bodily glory! It was thus with Samantha, but, like all other amateurs I’ve worked with, she settled down within fifteen minutes and the session became dynamic, challenging, wonderful and just plain fun. In fact, Samantha so easily got into the “scene” that this extraordinary photo was literally the ninth taken during that first session. Of course, her dance talents are wonderfully evident here — not every model, even professionals, can create such a fluid, artistic pose. Hundreds of Samantha’s photos now appear on my sites.

Of the over forty models with whom I’ve worked, at least twenty-two have been amateurs who had never previously modeled, and in many cases never modeled except for their work with me. Some like Samantha above and Bridget in yesterday’s post returned for repeat sessions, each building on the strengths and experience of the previous, yielding one superb photo after another.

Of course, amateurs also sometimes bring surprises. I always ask about tattoos and piercings when we have coffee beforehand, but sometimes the size (and location!) give me pause when first seen, and sometimes photography must be adjusted. Rachel, one recent model, had a beautiful vine tattoo that entwined from above her left breast, down her left flank, and onto her hip. Rather than photographing her only from the right side — thus avoiding the tattoo — I spent virtually the entire session incorporating the tattoo in our work. The results were super!

If a model comes with nipples (or another intimate body part) pierced, she brings her own built-in fetishism!

Occasionally I will work with an amateur model sight-unseen. This is always risky, since even if they have photos to send I’m unable to judge their aptitude and body-type if I’ve not met them in person. So I’ve had a few who were chunky and even overweight. (Sometimes, even the professional models whose portfolios show them as svelte and fit arrive with some extra pounds — in one recent instance with many extra pounds!) These always change the dynamic, but they also provide a considerable challenge — I’ve never declined to photograph someone once she arrives in my studio — every body can be the subject of an artistic photograph. Unfortunately, the Playboyization of glamour and nude photography has meant that the vast majority of nudes one sees on the web are thin women, well-formed, and attached to beautiful faces.

More on this and other subjects in posts to come ….

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