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  1. #1

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    "Fine art nude photography" and advices on topic

    Hi,

    Seing this thread: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum54/, and visiting recommended sites, and thinking of previouis experience when searched for same issue sites, I've noticed next: On lots of "fine art nude" sites you can find advices how to work with models, and almost all of those sites tells that having portfolio and web site with different models and same models from different sessions, and especially if those models looks great on photographs helps a lot to find next models for session. But what those advices not telling is how to have photographs from first time session to show to potential future models. That is, no advices how to find model for first time fine art nude photography session. And for everything there is first time, isn't it?

    What I want to say, it seems like every of those helpfull people which so kindly gives advices how to find next model, have some deep dark secret how they find theire model for first time nude session, and that advice can't be given, because that is secret... Like first time nude session must allways be on such dark and shamefull way that it can't be said...

    That reminds me of next: You know when you see new business man from Eastern Europe, now very rich ad succesfull, you can ask them almost everything, and they will gladly answer. Only one question you can not ask them, or you can lose you life if you ask that question. And question is: How you earned your first million..."

  2. #2
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Valid point (and interesting analogy).

    A great way to start building a portfolio is to enroll in a few workshops. Someone else will have recruited the models and arranged for locations, and the experience of working in a group helps generate ideas that translate into images.

  3. #3
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    I would second Mono's advice. Sign up for a workshop or two where there will be models already arranged. It is a good way to build a basic portfolio, and to see how to work with a nude model. You'll get inspiration from seeing what other photographers do as well.

  4. #4
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Beware of the Eastern European businessman whose body is covered with prison tattoos. The source of their "first $million" should be obvious.

    Finding one's "first nude" is easy. There are only two basic choices:

    1. hire a professional, or

    2. sweet-talk an amateur who looks promising.

    Either way, not having an existing (which comes first, the chicken or the egg) portfolio of work, one needs to convince the model of one's honesty, character and sincerity. Even with a portfolio, the comfort level of the model is essential.

    Where to actually locate such a model depends a lot on geography and culture, along with the personality type of the photographer. Here in the U.S., for example, colleges and art schools may be a good place to start. The model first needs to be comfortable with her own body, and second, comfortable with the photographer. Female college students, in general, and those who have modeled for art classes, in particular, are more likely to fit into that category. Random women at the shopping mall are less likely to be so inclined. And, contrary to typical assumptions, cabaret dancers are probably the least likely to be willing to model nude.

    My preference has been to hire professional (or, quasi-professional) models who already have experience, a reputation for reliability, and "have a clue" about modeling. I've found that approach to be less expensive overall, and far more productive in terms of quality work.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  5. #5
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Ralph - I agree with most of what you said. The downside of many "professional models" is that if you book them through an agency, they're usually one of two types - runway models who think in terms of fashion poses only, or "boudoir" models with surgically enhanced body parts who only know how to do erotic modelling. This is not to say you can't find someone who will fit what you are looking to do through an agency, but it is less likely. I would definitely give the local universities and art schools a try.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Oh, and another thing - definitely don't try to get strippers (I think that's what Ralph meant when he said "cabaret dancers") as models. They may be comfortable being naked in front of strangers and/or a camera, but they're about the least reliable models you'll ever find - they'll really irritate you if you go out and buy a whole bunch of film expecting them to show, and then they don't, and you hear from them a week later with some lame excuse as to why they didn't show or didn't call.

  7. #7

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    Finding models is the question I'm most often asked in workshops and when I show work. And there are many different answers.

    Finding the first model is usually different. The above mentioned idea of a workshop is a good one. Most good workshops will have a number of models to shoot. That builds up your portfolio quickly as long as they don't all look as though they were shot in the same place.

    I believe, the best place to look for your first model is at home and/or you're circle of friends. My first model was my girlfriend at that time. There most likely is nobody who trusts you more on the planet. Trust between the photographer and model is very important to the work, even more so in the beginning when you're not sure what you want to do.

    Also if you have taken life-drawing classes in school, they have models but they also have classmates who are comfortable with figure work and they know you.
    George Losse
    www.georgelosse.com

  8. #8

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    I forgot to tell, I am not asking for advice how to find first time nude model, I was simply wrote my thinking about advices issue...

    Regards.

  9. #9
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
    . . . if you book them through an agency, they're usually one of two types - runway models who think in terms of fashion poses only, or "boudoir" models with surgically enhanced body parts who only know how to do erotic modelling. . . .
    I wouldn't book through a conventional agency, either. Most "real" agencies (commercial, editorial, fashion) don't want their models to do nudes (unless you're Partick Demarchellier [sp?]), even though some do. I also agree that "buodoir" or "glamour" models typically aren't well-suited for artistic nudes. Dancers (of the non-erotic kind) often do make excellent figure models, however, as they've studied how to move and be graceful.

    And, I agree with Haris' originally-intended point - much of the "advice" given in the published books on the topic skip over this area. There may be an element of selfishness involved, along with the fact that what works in one area might get you slapped or arrested somewhere else, and publishers don't want that liability.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  10. #10
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Ralph has a good point - my experience is that models who have had formal training in ballet are far more graceful that those who have not.

    But this is why starting in a workshop setting is so helpful. Someone with experience in recruiting models takes care of that detail, and you get the experience of photographing them and learning what you expect from your models. Then, when the time comes when you want to do it yourself, you have a better idea what to look for.

    There are a couple of other reasons why workshops are a good idea for someone who is not experienced. I find that I work in bursts - I get an idea, and with the help of the model we work it for a while. But then I need to step back and reflect on what we have just done while the next idea forms. In a workshop, you tend to work in a tag team with the model - one person working with the model at a time for a few minutes, and then trading off with another person. By contrast, if I am working alone, there will either be periods of inactivity or else the sessions will be shortened considerably. But the bottom line is that they are much less productive for me.

    Another consideration is cost. The going rate for figure models is US$15-20 per hour. Spreading this cost over several people in a workshop results in a lower cost per person.

    Incidentally, every model that I have photographed (nude) has been a quasi-amateur. That is, they are people who enjoy modeling (and interacting with artists - they view the process of modeling as collaborating with the artists in making art) and who do it as a sideline. Many are artists, and in some of the workshop settings, have also been photographers. None have been represented by agencies. While most have been "young" and "physically attractive", that is not the case for all of them - and frankly, that's not the point. In fact, some of the models have been anything but attractive, but that didn't keep them from being good models.

    If a workshop is not possible, something you might try is working with a friend in a less than fully nude situation. The whole point (for me, at least) in photographing the human figure is capturing the way that light interacts with skin, and the way that this interaction can be manipulated by distortions in the skin. You can learn a lot by photographing a model's arm and shoulder. The rest of the model's body can be clothed, but if that arm and shoulder are exposed, and if you study the planes, intersections, and surfaces that are presented as the model moves his arm and shoulder through various positions, you should see things that are visually exciting and potential for good pictures.

    After working the arm/shoulder, try the leg - the knee, lower leg and ankles, perhaps in combination with hands. Again, the rest of the model can be clothed - because the only parts that you will photograph are the knee, lower leg, angles, and hands.

    Here's an example: http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...00&ppuser=2527
    Incidentally, this person is not a professional, but rather volunteered to model to support a workshop program.

    And don't forget that if all else fails, you can always photograph yourself. Study the work of Jan Saudek - he was his own model in many of his nude studies.

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