10 Things You Might Not Know About Nude Models
1. Yes, it is possible to make a living doing this
But it takes a lot of hard work and a good reputation. For every hour spent in front of the lens or canvas, roughly 9 million are spent networking, updating portfolios, organizing work, advertising, applying to castings, travelling to and from locations, packing/unpacking for jobs (because even nude models are often expected to bring props/accessories/ clothing) and attacking what I like to affectionately refer to as ‘the email mountain’. (We are grateful for the email mountain—it keeps us in business. We just wish we could hire some hobbit minions to live underneath it and help us out every now and then so that we don’t accidentally offend the creative types who grow more and more anxious by our lack of reply because we are busy modelling by day, sleeping by night or, you know, doing other important stuff.)
2. We don’t assume you’re a pervert
When you hire us for your artwork, personal projects or even just to test your ability to turn a lump of wax into a decent human-shaped figure. (But we do seek standard references before meeting new clients if we take our personal safety seriously.) Nudity is perfectly normal, but I have modelled for the occasional ‘newbie’ whose hands have visibly shaken at the experience, who’ve wanted very much to mention their wives and happy marriages within the first two or three sentences (perhaps in the opening email) to assure me of their lack of intention, and who announce that they will be leaving the room every time I change pose. It’s sweet, but largely unnecessary.
3. We don’t want you to touch us, especially when we’re nude
We are not made of fire (you don’t need to bounce away from us as though we might burn you), but if you think it’s appropriate to move our limbs for us instead of at least attempting to first describe a pose you are trying to capture, or push/poke us into position without asking permission first (not while you brush our hair away from our faces) we may find you rude at best and threatening at worst. Any contact should be careful and brief; this isn’t because we’re precious (seriously, nude models are not divas!) but because we value respect. It’s best to steer clear of any physical contact unless specifically agreed upon by the model.
Model: Ella Rose Muse; Photographer: Rayment Kirby
4. We really do care about your results
Chances are, if we weren’t in some way artistically inclined or interested in modelling as a creative ‘vocation,’ we wouldn’t be in this job at all; we’d be doing something else completely. When hiring us, you are under no obligation to show us the final images, and we know that, but we really hope that you might anyway – it makes the whole thing more satisfying for us. This isn’t vanity; it’s fun to see the fruits of our labors, and we like to celebrate successes with you.
5. We are full of doubts
About whether we’re not slightly mad for being involved in this quest for producing interesting, beautiful and engaging imagery. We know this isn’t a normal job. We secretly quite enjoy the surprise on people’s faces when we tell them what we do for a living, but we also know it doesn’t quite sound like a ‘real’ grown-up job. We can’t pretend we have an office or a company car. We’re proud anyway.
Model: Ella Rose Muse; Photographer: Faye Yerbury
6. We consider ourselves lucky
We get to experience things that other people might never even think of doing, in places we might otherwise never think of visiting. There is something very special about posing in a field of tall sunflowers in Germany, tiptoeing around beautiful old, derelict baths in Manchester, and lying on your back on amazing, cracked earth as a Californian storm builds over the desert. When we’re old and wrinkly, we’ll look back at these varied and surreal experiences with such excitement that we did them, that we didn’t say no, that we didn’t take the conventional path through life.
7. We really don’t mind at all if you forget to take your lens cap off your camera
We know there’s a lot to think about at once when photographing a subject, especially if you’re not that experienced (and sometimes even if you are). We don’t think you’re an idiot, even when you put your camera down and then can’t remember where you left it afterwards (my most amusing memory of this particular mishap to date involves a camera being discovered in a draining board next to a kitchen sink).
8. We like it when you talk to us but don’t over-direct us
Sometimes we’re booked specifically for our own style of posing, and essentially ‘lead’ a shoot. (It’s surprisingly common that a photographer will set up the lights and then basically say “go!,” offering no input from then on.) That’s OK; we can work with that. But it’s nice when you balance that out by telling us what you want, what you don’t want, what you like and don’t like. Don’t be silent; it can make even the best models nervous (“Does he hate what I’m doing? Is she still there?”). Instead, offer some encouragement or at least evidence that you are alive and haven’t accidentally morphed into a human/camera hybrid.
Unless we are new, we probably already know how to pose for flattering angles and interesting imagery. It’s nice when we’re allowed to get into the ‘flow’ of things. It can sometimes work against your own interests to interfere too much, unless we are doing something wrong (in which case, please do intervene). I was once directed into each and every pose after each individual camera click by a beginner photographer who, after tiring himself out towards the end, suggested I do my own thing for the last 15 minutes and marveled at how much more productive we were.
9. We don’t like being compared to other models
It’s not healthy, helpful or clever. Being told that a previous model you’ve worked with was x, y and z is all well and good, but can be deflating if you’re implying that you don’t think we’ll be as good. Appreciate what’s in front of you. After all, you hired us. We can offer something different!
Model: Ella Rose Muse; Photographer: Karen Jones
10. Don’t assume your model is stupid
Personally, I have a degree in philosophy; utterly impractical, of course, but at the very least I came away from university with the ability to win every single argument I am ever involved with for the rest of my life, using the much underrated tool of logic. Most models I know are quite prolific and multi-talented (check out this list of MM models in college, with undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees). You’ve got to be on the ball to make a career like this work. We’re probably not complete airheads. But you knew that.