Working with Nude Models

Leaf, bottom, buttocks, color image, Michael Vasquez Art.

I have been blessed to have found models who trust my motives, and my photographic eye, who are willing to let me capture elements of them for my art. Sum of parts lead invariable to the whole being, those parts that are the valued by artists, and pornographer alike though for different reasons. I am drawn the pubic regions since I was a young boy for it’s mysteries. Now as a seasoned man I am still draw to this area. One young woman I knew and photographed allow me to capture her for a show I was entering. I wanted her pureness of my capture to show what photographers and pornographers alike were interested in.

Female model, torso, pubic, belly botton, B & W image. Michael VAsquez Art

I’ve been asked more than a few time if I worry about working with nude models alone. To tell the truth I have never given it much consideration because of the way I work my craft. I offer references, give the model a straight forward idea my style of work, now I give the access to my website so they can see what I shoot, and them what to expect. I am very welcoming to significant others to check me, and the studio out so that everyone is comfortable. I make it clear before any shoot happens that I expect to work with my model’s undivided attention.

Colorful image, female pubis and legs, vibrant colors, Michael Vasquez Art.

For my part I am very respectful of the models rights, and my responsibility. When I work with a nude model I realize that their personal space is much more important for them. To date I have never had a model who even thought I have done anything in the least bit inappropriate. Once I had a younger model who I plan to work with at a friend’s farm. On the way over I told her that I wasn’t sure who else would be there, I assured her that she was not going to put on any shows for anyone. That if worst came to worst we’d have the nice meal I had brought, and just call it a day. At the risk of being called paternalistic, I wanted her to feel at ease. That’s is the problem though, the same preparations I use to make my models comfortable, are the same tactics predators use to lull their victims into a false sense of security.

Female model torso, legs split, acorn over vigina, Michael Vasquez Art.

Then there is the matter of the release, I want my model or subject to see everything I have captured before they sign. I want for them to be comfortable with what we’ve gotten, after all we work in a collaborative manner. Many times I work without a release at all, preferring to be able to get in touch with the person, tell them what and were I want to use our image(s). Since I use real film this can get quite expensive, a few times the model decides to not sign. Those few times the whole shoot has been an expensive waste of resources. I can only use the images for display only, no sales are permitted, really that is fair. Now not everyone works as I do, my models work with the anticipation of sales to follow. My work is sold in galleries, or used in books, my website, or I donate it to various organizations that foster a positive sex culture.

Female, model, buttocks, Moon, night, B & W image, Michael Vasquez Art.

Again not everyone works this way, but I feel very strongly about my images, and the way I work. I work very hard at my craft, I get some beautiful images in the pointillist manner. I am proud of my work, the people who chose to work with me…, how could I not take the steps necessary to make it a beautiful experience for all.

Esperanza

Black & white image, glass block wall, topless,black panties, blond leaning against wall.

Esperanza came into my photographic life when she was 22 years of age. She was a little firecracker of a young woman just entering her prime. So full of herself, willing to play, had that confidence only youth can bring. After that first shoot she came back to my apartment to have a bite to eat, and to talk more. She was the wife of a friend of a friend of mine, trying to find what she wanted out of life. Later as we did more shoots we went out for lunch after. She’d take my arm going into which ever restaurant we had decided to go to. All male eyes, and not a few female eyes were riveted on her, I felt so special to be the man who had her on his arm.

Color image, cute blond, winter wear, standing in front of a silo, last of winter greenery.

She was among the first women to tell me that shooting gave her all the benefits of an affair without all the compilations. She’d try different personalities to see what they looked like to others. It was fascinating to watch her as she changed from one personality to another. Like most of my models, she came without eating anything so she’d keep that slim profile. But when that alarm sounded, we had to get her fed ASP.

Black & White image, topless, long haired blond, in front of bedroom window, staring out window, wearing a white sarong.

Even after I moved to New York City, I’d let her know when I was coming into town, we’d setup a shoot. I’d try new lighting setups I’d seen in my work with other photographers on commercial shoots. Because she loved to play, we’d try different things…, but she was hesitant to shoot completely nude. I did get a few shots of her in the all together, but her heart wasn’t into it. To this day I don’t understand her reasoning as she always had a terrific figure made for photography. But I accepted her wishes, warned her when she was showing more than she want seen.

Color image, black panties, tight shot of black panties.

I feel that it is important to work with the models limits, not to cop those shots the model is unaware of. In return she has the confidence in our works to give me carte blanche in using the images we have shot. I also feel that its the right way to go, to have that trust that you honor in all my dealing with my models.

Young Model’s

Color, nude, naked, arroyo , dry creek bed, dark haired beauty.

The problem is that young women are not prepared to understand or handle a situation like this, an older man with power and influence was carrying on, saying this is the way its done in the business. To me its not surprising because the higher functions of the brain aren’t developed until later stages of development. That is the concern I have about expecting young models to think through all the ramification of posing nude. I also have problem with thinking these “kids” as full grown women. That they should be treated with all respects as fully grown people at any age is a given, early twenty are still kids. I don’t want to take advantage of them at that age, I run the risk of being seen as paternalistic, yes I will shoot young women, but my preference is 24 at least. Yes I do get a release, but to think that gives me the right to ruin someone life because they agreed doesn’t mean I can use the images indiscriminately. Maybe because of my younger man’s experiences, kids don’t make the smart moves at that point. That’s why I still ask the women who are in contact with me if I can use their images for whatever I am trying. Having developed my own brain has given me an appreciation of the not yet developed brains. I know a lot of photographers who say “well I have a release!” To my way of thinking, yeah you do, but you should ask first…, maybe she has a reasons (like kids) not to want to be exposed like that, or to use identifying information with an image.

Young model nude, naked, white shirt, red haired, boots.

I had a model who was 24 at the time, but a young very naive 24 yeas old, She came from a farming background, wanting to make up for lost time. I could see that she was testing herself, testing her limits. We’d been shooting nudes, she was tired of that, too vanilla.., so I said, partly in jest why not masturbate for the camera. NO she said, but I could see she was thinking about it, was she brave enough. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions, I knew she was ripe for someone to take advantage of her. I also knew the way I worked, knew that I would be willing to protect her and her images. She said yeah but I have to get comfortable. So I got some really lovely stuff mainly because she didn’t know any better than to fake it, so when she left she was happy as a clam. Only after she had second thoughts, asked her friends, they told her she was nuts, that her job was in jeopardy. I told her not to worry, I wasn’t going to do anything without asking first. I kept my word, but still doing that was her concern, what did I think of her really.., she wasn’t that kind of girl. Finally a few summers ago we had the chance to really talk. That I had thought of all the ramifications before we actually shot, that I was willing to protect her, while someone else might not. Told her that I didn’t think that she was that kind of girl either, that I respected her, that I was still protecting her and her images. She was so relived that I didn’t think poorly of her. We went though the images again, told her how proud of was of the both of us, that she needed an outlet at the time that wouldn’t harm her. So all is good between us at long last. Spideer blouse, young model, class of champagne, toast blond, black and white, see through blouse.

Not everyone works the way I do, with my past mistakes of my own, made when my brain wasn’t fully developed, I have learned a hard lesson. I think of a shoot a little like the Stockholm syndrome, a model gets so comfortable with a photographer, that she wants to please him or her. Then has second thought, but its too late by that point; any damage has been done if she has signed that release. I don’t want to be that photographer…, ever! I want to do the right thing by my models then and now. I think that’s the reason I haven’t had problems. I do the right thing, even if it cost me money. I have found that the rewards far outweigh any monetary harm.

Young model, red panties and red shirt ,smoking, look down, color ima

Youngest Model to Date

Easily my youngest model, and most at risk. Just turned eighteen (18) with a toughness beyond her meager year. Already getting involved in the sex business, her portfolio was full of images that featured very intimate images. We made arrangement to meet, look over my work to see if she was interested in working with me. I told her point blank that her portfolio was showing too much of her, that no one was looking at her face. She very frostily informed me that she already had a manager. She agreed however to pose for me.

Youngest model, topless, young, work for trust, tough, street kid.

She came out of the bathroom in the cuties little bathrobe, smoking a mile a minute, her foot beating out a quick tattoo. Let out a burst of blue smoke and read me the rule for working with her. When on for at least five minutes, “any questions” she asked, taking in another lung-full of smoke. “ Yeah do you get naked?”, sure said she throwing of her bathrobe, giving me the feast your eyes on this look . While she preened for my benefit, “naw” I said, “lets get you in a dress!” She burst out laughing like the girl she still was, having been caught. In taking her down that peg, we became friends…, I showed her I could play as well.

Young, model, transpant dress, home stuido, sitting stool

We began in that dress as promised, soon she was nude, and man she could pose.., interesting stuff with very good moves. I asked her permission to shoot more anatomical shots, she agreed, but she didn’t want me to show them, they were for my own benefit. I had an idea, just in the formative stages of what I might like to do with them. She probably thought I was going to use them for my own enjoyment if you get my drift.

Young model, topless window in background, smiling.

Many years after, after I had a stroke, many long years recovery I finally had worked out that vision of what I wanted to do with the more intimate images I had captured. I worked over those images getting them just right. Then I sent them to her for her approval, want her to know that I wanted to donate our work to some groups who work for a positive sex culture, asked her if she agreed. To my great relief she agreed to let me use them. Working in a collaborative fashion is not for everyone, but I feel great that it works for me and my models.

Young, model, topless recline posel Black and White image.

Danish Summer: Girl ll

Danish Model, Black & White image, three quarters limage with a cute wrap around her bust, wearing jean.

This girl was harsh, harsh, and harsh in her look, patterned herself off the Germanic look. In reality she was a sweet girl hopping to make it in the big city. I tried my best to get her to relax her look, this was the best I could manage. The owner of the studio, Jim said it was the best look he had seen in her book, which was quite a complement coming from him, he had a great eye.

Color image of Danish model, in a Black PJ top, stern look

She had come over just in time for the madhouse of getting Jim ready for a shoot of his own. I sat her down in the alcove to the studio with a glass of champagne so she could relax while I made sure he had everything he would need. When I could finally turn my attention to her, I called her into the change room for makeup and to change. Then we set about the business we were there for, I made her change clothes fairly often to work off any nerves. And I tried to work on her look.

Danish model, color image three quarters, red top and jeans..

I also got her topless even though she said I don’t have anything to show, and I left it at that. I never force a model to try something she is not comfortable with. Their discomfort shows up in the eyes first, just like too much to drink. My job is to read how the model feels, and to react accordingly. An unhappy model doesn’t look good, there is something off about the photos. Now on the other hand a playful model will look so good in the photos, but when she has to explain to an unhappy significant other…, well things can change.

Danish model, color image, topless with jean shorts.

Anyway the model was very happy with the way she came across in my photos. And there was no significant other in the City to worry about. The only problem with that the afternoon that she came to look over her work Jim had locked his keys in the office. I didn’t get the chance to have a relaxing time with her, maybe buy her dinner, I had to make a mad dash to Grand Central to give Jim his keys back so he could go home.

A second shoot was in order, but in a boom or bust economy we never had the chance. We had a good time working that night, both of us got something out of out shoot as it should be.

Danish Summer: Girl l

Danish, model, Blonde, Topless, NYC Models, Danish Model,

One wonderful summer in NYC we had a Danish Summer. Many of the young women who were trying to break in as models dropped by on a “Go See” were of the Danish persuasion. The first of the ladies who pose for me, who’s name I can’t remember was a swimsuit model. We set a date for the weekend so as not to interfere with business. I arrived early to set the lights, and the reflectors I used. The model also arrived early and asked if we had an ironing board. I got her setup and continued with my own preparations.

Blond Danish model, wearing suit, Black Bra

We started the shoot with her in a yellow smart suit, then rapidly got down to business. She wore a black sports-coat with a lacy black bra…, then just the bra. I shot a Polaroid, and was waiting for it to develop. She on the other hand was ironing something wearing the lacy panties alone. I had the cured Polaroid in my hand, watching her iron…, studying how her body moved and looked. I told myself that they were only breasts, I had seen lots of breast in the course of shooting. Yes but these were lovely breasts in the prime of her life. She looked up catching me studying her, I smiled…, clutching the Polaroid to my chest and said I think you are going to love this.

Danish summer, blonde model topless hugging self.

Together we studied the image by the open window, her bent at the waist with those beautiful breast bathed in a soft light. Across the street, from the other building where anyone could see her didn’t matter. She did love the look of the image I had captured and we worked on trying different ideas we had. After the shoot a quick kiss on both cheeks as is the European custom, and she left. A few days later she dropped by again to see the film I had gotten developed. The only criticism she had was she was on her period, her eyes were too puffy and that ruined the shoot for her. I knew her eyes wouldn’t matter in the long run, it was the look and the feel of the images that make those images sing.

Danish summer, blonde model, topless, scarf and painted stripes on face

I have recounted this story many times since to many women. Only after I mention being on her period do they see the puffy eyes.

Near color of a model in black tights, sitting on a cube,

 

Another young woman I shot with is this young lady, she did swimsuit modeling. She was a little older than the other girls, she knew the score. We had a lovely time shooting, and some days she would bring her own makeup person. We were shooting some lingerie, I started laughing, she asked me what so funny…, I replied that she was the only woman I knew who had stayed in their lingerie for that long! Her makeup artist even smiled as he was touching up her breast to minimize the tan lines. Her little breast was shining like a beacon in my light.

She had a problem with where she worked that she wanted help with. So I met her for lunch, a 50 dollar lunch I might add, I had to use the last of my traveler check to cover that lunch. The swimsuit owner and maker told her that he would use her more if she got breasts implant. I felt that she might be hurting herself if she got them because back then a report had come out on the safety of implants. Beside I said her body was balanced as it were, I told her that nothing was missing from her body.

It’s hard to remember, but we shot together for maybe about 3 times before she disappeared. The most productive shoot was the last one did, she really put herself into those shots. I even got permission from the owner of the studio to use his background. He had this beautiful background made that was to be his centerpiece. He did a lot of his creative work on that background, I loved the look of it. Photographers are a creative breed of the most anal of people, they guard their secrets well. Well this was the height of my lighting skills. You have to practice to keep your skills up to snuff, in New York City I practice my skills regularly. When I moved back home though that skills got me a lot of jobs working with local photographers who wanted to up grade there own skills. But with any skill you have to keep working with it, use it or lose it as the saying goes.

Female model, nude, tasteful, sitting on a mulin fabric against a cloud patteren backdrop.

 

I lost the practice, and my touch from disuse after my stroke.

 

Rest with Peace at Last

Young red haired model, white top, against a old wooden barn.

It was with great sadness and shock I learned of the passing of one of my model. I will always remember her as a very talented, and bright person, I thought she had a great future. When I met her I really had to sell myself as a photographer for her. Over coffee I showed her my book, told her in general term what I wanted to shoot with her. I was amazed what a difficult sell she was, though I knew she was worth any trouble.

We agreed to shoot at a friend’s farm, the old milk barn. On the drive over I told her that I didn’t know if anyone would be there visiting. I told her that we might just end up having dinner that I cooked because I did not want to put on a show for anybody’s benefit. We took our time to warm up, for her to be comfortable with what I was shooting. Went the sun was the right position for the light that I wanted we started at the barn. I got her in the transparent dress that I had just bought for this shoot. At one point I had moved in for a tight shot, asked her to lean back against the barn. She just let herself drop back against those rough boards. Without thinking I reached to grab her, she was so tall I grabbed her lower back and buttocks. She shot me a dirty look for having touched her without asking, I told her quickly “it’s the dress…, I’m saving the dress! We both started laughing over that, and all was forgiven.

 

Black and white image, wooden fence , young model, leather belt, boots, wooden fence, other worldly, looking into camera.

 

Then over a vegetarian dinner I had made just for her we met the boy’s that lived there. They were on their best behavior, and drunk on moonshine. It was so funny to watching them both so impaired, yet so formal with her. But Taz the dog just wanted a taste of what I was serving.

About a month later we had a second shoot out there in the family graveyard with the lovely old wooden fence. The setting really appealed to her, we worked really hard to get the shots I wanted. We worked with a man’s shirt for the most part, I got her down to boots and a belt at one point. Dressed or not she carried herself very well, and with a fluid motion. Not shy in the least she carried herself with a grace and pose that belied her few years.

We had a falling out over some advice I gave her, she told me that she already had a father. I figured that after she had put on a few more years we’d manage to become friend’s again. But she never communicated with me again, over time I tried less and less. Then last weekend I was just curious to see what she was up to now. I expected great things from her in business and beyond. It was great sorrow I learned that she had taken her own life, then it all made a kind of sense. While very open about parts of her life she was very guarded about other parts. Those parts that caused her hurt and pain that I couldn’t comprehend.

Global Virus

Young woman, cape, vampire before a tomb.

 

In this age of global viruses I have shut down my photography for the time being. I have decided to stay at home, now going my seventh (7) week of staying in. Time to take stock of where I am, where I’ve been, and where I am going.

First of all I want to thank the women who grace my pages, without your kind indulgences for my art I would have nothing to show. Each of the women who work with me are very special to me, and my work. That I value you individually is beyond question. I strive to capture what is the essence of womanhood though you. Sometimes I fall woefully short, sometimes right on the mark.

Now to the virus…, it’s so sad. Because I am an older gentleman I have organizations that deliver to older people. One nice sunny day, while I was waiting for them to deliver, I was listening to the birds. A car drove by with the driver wearing a face mask, the people delivering my food also wore mask and gloves. The new reality of life for those of us lucky to live in the so called civilized world. I too had glove, and asked them to leave the box on the porch. We each stayed the required length apart.

Other than that I have had only visitor who rarely come into my apartment. Last weekend for a change of scenery I went with her shopping, but stayed in the car. Who would have ever thought that sitting in a parking lot could be such fun. Seeing all the mask covered people going about their chores, a few wearing stretch pants, fewer still looked good in them. My first real glace at people in over 5 weeks, and all wearing masks.

My how the times have changed!

The above image was shot in the late 60’s, she was a girl from my high school.  Married her high school sweetheart and died early in a car accident.  She was bright and very statuesque.  The first time we shot together I was so nervous I almost dropped a lens I was trying to screw into my camera.  When she noticed I tried to cover by saying I was just deciding on which lens to use.

Ruby in the Churchyard

Female model, churchyard, wooden fence, redhead, shirt.

I saw this eloquent post the other day, and I just had to share it with you. With the permission of the author, and kindred soul The Nude Blogger, find her here. She detailed how the reality of being nude is not an invitation to act badly with another person. I always treat my models with the utmost respect and dignity in any situation.

Attraction is still normal in a non-sexual nude setting. This doesn’t just switch off because we see the words ‘non-sexual’…nor should this be expected of you!
So, just like nudity, attraction, too, is human nature. Meaning, yes, it is just as natural. To deny attraction would be defying human instinct.

It all comes down to the way in which you conduct yourself, should you find yourself in this situation. Clothed or naked, consent and respect is always a MUST! Act with sensitivity and respect your fellow nudists.
What is expected is that you approach the matter with utmost respect, integrity and dignity.

Whilst attraction is human nature…there is a difference between attraction and objectification and sexualisation. You can be attracted to people without objectifying them. You can appreciate someone’s beauty without sexualising them. You can be attracted to others whether you’re clothed or naked…BUT! Being naked does not mean you have permission to be creepy, perverted or inappropriate. Nor is it an invitation for you to project your energy in a way that would make others feel uncomfortable! Social nudity is NOT a green light for unsolicited remarks and behaviour. NUDITY IS NOT CONSENT! Nudity DOES NOT mean somebody is ‘asking for it’…let’s get that f*cking straight!
Boundaries and consent are still a must.
Nudity does not, and should never, disregard or compromise this.

Just because there is nudity involved does not mean it is of an exhibitionist nature, nor does it mean that people are asking for sex, nor to be sexualised…make the distinction!

My mixed naked yoga classes are a prime example that you can practice non-sexual nudity and have it empower and liberate you…and they are a great success because there is a mutual understanding that it is not a sexually-charged event so as to create boundaries and safety.

So, it really is in the way in which you conduct yourself and approach the matter. This makes all the difference. It is not about whether or not you’re allowed to be attracted to others in a non-sexual social nude setting. As I’ve reiterated…attraction is natural, normal and even expected.