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The shot: Dance naked

Before we get started I should warn you that some of the images accompanying this article are borderline NSFW (Not Safe for Work) so if you’re at work or around children you may wish to come back later.

The original concept for this photo shoot was to capture movement. My inspiration was a song by John Mellencamp titled “Dance Naked.” A line in the chorus is “Spin round and round and round” and that’s what I wanted to capture. However, things didn’t work out as I envisioned and the resulting images are a spin-off of the original idea. Pun intended.

While the images do show blurred movement as I intended, I was unable to achieve the amount of spinning motion that I wanted because the turntable I used to spin the model isn’t really designed to spin people. I used one of those trays meant to go in your pantry to hold canned goods so you can reach the items in the back by spinning it. Although the model, Alexandra Tuchola, is petite at a little over 100 pounds, the turntable just wasn’t made for that much weight. It works great with a bottle of bourbon though!

So, we had to improvise and enlist some help from photographer Andy. (He was there because I was using his studio – thanks, Andy! He had to get down on the floor and manually spin Alex by her ankles, as you can see in this image:

It would have been great if Alex could have put one foot on the turntable and used the other foot to get herself spinning, but that wasn’t going to happen. Even with Andy spinning her we were not able to get much speed. There was no coasting and the motion was rather jerky. And as for dancing, poor Alex had a hard time just balancing much less trying to dance while being spun by the ankles. All I could really capture was partial turns, so I wasn’t all that pleased with the images we got. It just wasn’t what I had seen in my mind’s eye.

Here’s one of the images that almost shows what I was going for:


Photographer: Dean Johnson; Model: Alexandra Tuchola

So, what to do with a set of images that didn’t come out as planned? I thought about it for a few days and it occurred to me that ACDSee (a program I use for browsing and managing photos) has some filters that I had only played around with. I remembered one of the filters mirrored a portion of an image along a vertical or horizontal plane. I gave that a try and really liked what I saw, so I played around with it and saved a few of them.  The images still aren’t what I set out to do, but I think they turned out great anyway.

Below are a few photos and links to before and after examples.

Before: http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/34543225 (NSFW)

After:


Photographer: Dean Johnson; Model: Alexandra Tuchola

Before: http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/34543223 (NSFW)

After: http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/27815897 (NSFW)

Before: http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/34543222 (NSFW)

After:


Photographer: Dean Johnson; Model: Alexandra Tuchola

If you’re anything like me and not all that creative, you’ll find that sometimes your concepts just don’t work out as planned, but don’t let that stop you from at least trying to be creative. You never know—you may come up a new technique you’ve never done before. Fearlessly trying new things is a big part of being creative. You may not be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but maybe there’s something else you could make out of a sow’s ear!

I still want to try my original concept again (anyone know a naked ballerina?) but until then, I’m pleased with what Alex, Andy and I were able to create.

Go forth and create – and dance naked!

Dean Johnson

Dean Johnson is a Minneapolis based photographer that shoots a number of genres commercially and art nudes for personal projects. His work has been published in many print and online magazines, including Maxim, Blender, MotorXracing and Playboy's CyberClub. He also has many years of teaching experience, offering photography workshops and private training.

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