Last Sunday I spent the day with my friends Jonathan and Gabrielle in their lovely home in inner Melbourne. Jonathan is an artist whose work I really admire – he does water colour paintings. He works from reference photos mostly so his place has a studio setup that he can bring out for shoots. His work is very sensual and most of his work is of nudes.
Some of you may know that I have done some life modeling in the past, this is how Jonathan and I started out as friends; I posed for him a few times and we’ve been hanging out ever since. After I decided to start my artistic journey I have been spending a lot of time with him learning about his process, about sketching and about watercolour and about photography (and about keeping motivation for the craft in the face of ‘real life’).
Jonathan has a basic point and shoot camera which he uses to take reference photos so I decided to take my camera over to their place to do some shots with my camera. Partly for fun, partly for practice of my part, and partly so Jonathan could use the camera. Some of the shots were of me for Jonathan’s work, some were of he and Gabrielle for their portfolios – they both do life modeling as well – and some were just for fun.
They wanted some shots of their standard life modeling poses as well as some reproductions of classic works; we did the Birth of Venus*, Oedipus and the Sphinx, Achilles and Briseis, Herakles and Omphale as well as a number of very classical poses with various combinations of the three of us.
I would really love to post some of the shots here but I haven’t been able to get a reply from WordPress about whether photographic nudity is allowed, so I’m playing it safe and not posting any.**
Throughout the day Jonathan gave me some lighting and composition advice, but I found the most value in his tips on how to get the model to feel comfortable, relaxed, how to give the model direction without confusing them, how to place them without stressing them out or making it sound like they’re doing something weird/wrong. As a model I know that the most natural looking shot can be really awkward to pose for and it is important that if the shot doesn’t come out the way you see it in your head that you don’t let the model know. I also know from a couple of experiences with professional photographers that if you feel good and relaxed the shots come out much better; in my experience this is (almost) entirely down to how the photographer responds to and directs you.
By the end of the day we had to stop taking photo’s because my media card was full! I have a decent sized card but with the size of the images we had only managed to get 804 shots. I’ve downloaded a program called GIMP, which is a freeware program that has the same function as Photoshop, but I haven’t had much time to work out how to use it yet.
I think I will also try to do some sketches or paintings from some of these photos; I’ll keep you all posted about that. So now I have a whole bunch of raw material for art all I have to do I refine them into something I would want other people to see.
* Both Jonathan and Gabrielle have gorgeous, exceedingly long hair.
** If I hear that artful nudes are ok, I will put them up in a follow-up post.