At the centre of my figure work for over 25 years are the models I work with. Without them, I could not create the work that expresses my vision. The vast majority of people who pose are not professional models, but rather individuals who enjoy my work, and model out of an interest in the results, and in return for fine art prints.
“If I have chosen the female form in particular, it is because beauty has been debased and exploited in our sensual twentieth century. To raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the image of woman, has been my mission - the reason for my work which you see here.” Ruth Bernhard 1905-2006
Where do you make your images?
I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and for the most part photograph within an a couple of hours of that city. I work both indoors and out, depending on the model’s interests and the time of year. From time to time, models have asked about coming to work with me for extended periods, and I am more then willing to help work out arrangements for such a project, depending on the details.
How much does a session cost?
There is on charge to work with me. Nothing. I am not a commercial photographer, and therefore do not charge for photo sessions. All image-making costs are assumed by me. I cannot help with long distance transportation, but local transportation expenses will be covered.
What do you look for in model?
I am seeking people who are interested in being part of my work, either on their own (as a solo model), with friends or as a couple. A comfort with nudity, and their own bodies is crucial to being comfortable with the process. Models should be in good physical shape, as sessions often involve extensive hiking, and physical exertion. All sessions are Nude but previous experience with figure modeling isn’t necessary. Obviously, the most important element in a model is an appreciation of my creative aesthetic.
Physical scars are not an issue and small, discrete tattoos and body piercing can be worked around.
How long does a session take and what is involved?
Sessions can last from an hour to a full day. A first session usually begins with a series of portraits, to help establish a connection between myself and the model(s). From there, the session goes where it will, depending on the setting, the model(s), and the position of the stars.
For a model’s first session, I always work with an assistant present, for both my and the models comfort and security. Models are welcome to bring a friend along for company; the way I photograph is slow at times, so having someone to chat with occasionally isn’t a bad idea. Often the best work is a result of multiple sessions, though this would depend upon the model’s time and degree of interest.
What does a model receive from a photo session?
For each session, I provide the model’s selection of original, signed prints (TFP). A model receives one or more finished original print (one 16x20, two 11x14 or three 8x10 prints) and six 5"x7” proof prints of their choice. The images do not have to be from the specific photo session, or even of the model (i.e. a model can select ANY images from my work as compensation for their modeling). The model also receives an disk with phone, web and screen resolution digital files of the images on it.
I retain copyright over the images made, but always provide models with permission for non-commercial uses, such as on personal web pages etc..
What happens if you make an image that the model doesn’t like?
Once a session is complete, and the images processed an ready to review, I show the model all the photographs I’ve finished. If there are any images that the model objects to in which they are clearly identifiable, the image may be destroyed upon request. After this review has taken place, and any objectionable work destroyed, the model signs a full release form,and can move onto selecting the images they wish to receive as prints.
Since I started working with the Nude in 1989, I have only had four models request images to be destroyed, which I take as a compliment.
What happens if a partner/spouse were to objects to the work?
This is something the model should work out before the session. If the model is pleased with the work, then I am happy, and have done my job right; It is important to realize that once a session is over, and a release is signed for the work (see below), the images may be used as intended, regardless of the objection of a partner or spouse. This should be considered carefully before a model decides to model for the first time.
How will the photographs be used?
The photographs that result from my session with models are part of my continuing exploration of the human form, and will be used within that context. The images could be used in the internet, as part of gallery exhibitions, and in print publications (books and magazines) on and about my artwork. The images are not created for commercial advertising purposes (other then self-promotion), and without the models permissions, would never be used for anything other then the above (for more info, see below).
Do models have to sign releases?
Before any session, a model must sign a pre-session release which acknowledges that the session will involve Nude modeling, and gives me permission to photos that do not contain the model’s face. .
Once the session is over and the model has reviewed and approved of the final images, I ask the model to sign a full model release. Only those images covered by a partial or full release will be available for selection by the model as prints. Any photograph which contains the model’s face and which is objectionable to the model can be destroyed upon request after the review of the prints.
The BBC published an interesting article about modeling nude (for drawing and painting) which you can read here. Also, you might want to read my page about Working with the Nude, as it presents some of the issues discussed here, from the photographer’s perspective.