Of the hundreds of models I have profiled and interviewed over the years, only a small number articulate being completely comfortable naked in front of the camera. Some are natural exhibitionist, many have been nude modeling for years for for photographers, painters and groups of students or artists. Many are naturalists, often with a strong sense of self without the hang ups society inflicts on so many of us. Most models who take it all off for art, or cash, came to that decision with a lot of questions, trepidation and more than a few nerves. Families and partners have to be considered as well as future possible job prospects.
One of the main reasons in fact that models have gotten in touch with me about removing an image has not been out any sort of embarrassment, but because of an upcoming job or pressure from a significant other. These questions and concerns are of course smart. It is one thing to be comfortable posing naked for an artist. It is another to then see their naked images catapulted all over the Internet and jettisoned into the hands of commentators who tear apart everything about them starting usually of course, with the size of their package. You can often see the nerves, the tenseness, on the faces of models not completely comfortable with their decision. Sometimes this can work to give an image an edge, a vulnerability which enhances the viewers enjoyment. More often than not however these nerves, if not handled skillfully but a professional artist, can suck any erotic enjoyment from the viewing audience.
For me however, FH is as much about story as it is about image. I am just as, or maybe even more so, curious about how an image came to life and what factors played into the models decision to pose, and the artist's decision to take and then release, a particular image. When I came upon the Model Mayhem portfolio for Martin J Barker Designs, there was an explicit feeling of ease that beautifully permeated from so many of Martin's images. I have no idea if the models Martin shot were totally comfortable being naked in front of his lens, but through pose, lighting and design, there was an organic, natural feeling. It was if we dropped in and silently observed each of them, relaxing and taking it easy, as they soak up the sun on beautifully quiet Sunday morning.
'I spend a long time supporting my models to feel relaxed. I may pose a model then spend several minutes getting them to relax from their head to their toes by having them feel as if their body is melting into the floor/chair/table.'
Martin says he works in a relaxed and comfy studio in both Loughborough & Northampton and believe strongly, that a comfy, relaxed model makes for excellent pictures. Martin also usually works in shorts, maybe a small thing, but he says can often help the balance between someone fully dressed shooting someone completely naked. Martin says having a model feel relaxed and trusting in the process is important whether working with a new model, one eager to please and take direction as well as with a more experienced model. Sometimes the experienced models have been shot naked by many photographers and depending on whether these experiences have been positive, can play a role in how much they put into the shoots. Some, may have shot very erotic, adult images and are looking to tone it down a bit to enter the world of more mainstream modeling. For them, the relaxation process may require them pulling it in a bit and not putting as much out front as they may have in the past.