‘Pose as a life model for photography or drawing’
copyright Andrew Stripp 2010
I will admit right away that #51 is a slight cheat as, long before I wrote the list, I’d been making plans to model for an old friend. But life modelling has long been something I wanted to try, so I think it still counts.
I should say right away that I’m a bit of a camera-phobe. I don’t particularly like having my photo taken and prefer not to look at any photos of myself. I’m not model material – in fact I don’t merit a second look in the street – and so life modelling is an odd thing to want to do. Reasons are partly vanity, partly challenge and partly safety. I think it’d be good to look back in 20 years and see what I could do and how I looked. The challenge? Well, just to see if I could go through with it. The safety? Because the point of the pictures is to look interesting rather than good, and I can handle that without my fragile self-esteem taking too huge a hit. Having to look good in pictures is just too difficult and completely unachievable for some of us.
I am lucky to have a friend who loves, and is good at, photography and who wanted to add nudes to his portfolio, so I offered to model. This particular approach had a few things going for it compared to just answering an advert.
  1. We’ve been friends for years and have zero chemistry, so it was the safest environment I could be in and not sleazy in the slightest.
  2. This also made it easier to be so vulnerable and, er, naked.
  3. I have full artistic rights, and I know that AS will not use any of the photos anywhere without checking with me first.
  4. The old friend scenario also meant that CM was comfortable with the whole thing, which was great, because if it had bothered him I wouldn’t have done it at all. Happily, he was proud of me having the nerve to do it.
We decided to do a run through shoot first, the idea being that I was a practice model; AS wants to do shoots with a range of people and in a studio, but it’s a waste of time and money going in without having an idea of what works and what doesn’t. So, Sunday morning, I head over to the makeshift studio of a flat with a bag filled with random underwear, make-up and so forth. Had a cup of tea and some cold medicine and off we go.
AS was very careful to make sure I was fine with everything we did. A lot of it was based on pictures taken by other photographers, playing with light, shadow, water and paint – the pictures I’ve seen are in different styles. Some are pretty classic and safe-for-work pictures are below. Others are, for example, more 80’s trash. Some are pretty explicit. Thoughtfully, AS did not expect me to fling my clothes off with abandon and start throwing shapes, so the clothes came off bit by bit. But what happened, and what I hadn’t expected, is that the less clothing I had on, the more comfortable I was being in front of the camera. When there was nothing to hide behind, there was nothing to worry about, and without worrying it was just fun. It was also cold (in the water), but fun all the same. Frankly, I’d jump at the chance to do it again.
So, what life lessons did I learn from this? Well, it was an odd all-or-nothing way to learn to be happy with my shape because yes, prior to the shoot I did start freaking out and doing sit-ups and so forth. I have a hunch I’d be happier in a world where I didn’t have to mash myself into ‘flattering’ clothes. I also learnt that modelling of any kind is really bloody difficult. My whole me hurt the next day. Ached like I’d run a marathon. No one ever told me about the intricate and muscle-stretching logistics of lying on the floor AND keeping the bottom of a heel-wearing foot flat to the ground at the same time. Lesson, er, 3: time goes fast when you’re posing and it’s surprisingly introspective. And the final lesson: you never can tell with people. I was concerned about telling my parents what I’d been up to, only to discover that my mum used to life-model for a sculptor. A lot of people wish they could have a go at it themselves (and I think they should). I loved it. It’s a massive boost to the ego to be the sole focus of the camera for a day and, if you’re me, to have faced up to something of a big fear in a fairly over-the-top way.
I didn’t see many of the photos on the day, mostly because I didn’t want to see a bad one and lose all the confidence that had built up. But a few have been sent to me now (and I’ll be getting the others soon), so I’m putting a few of them up here. These are safe for work; the others will be staying strictly offline, at least for the time being!
These pictures are copyright of Andrew Stripp, 2010 (http://www.andrewstripp.com/).
I love the light in this one, but…

… I love the way the wooden floor looks in colour even more.

This is probably my favourite.

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