Walk a mile without shoes... or anything else

karl-14 - Kristen Lucus

Kim Weston told me that it was crucial for the photographer to model nude to truly understand what the model experiences.   A few years ago I did a few self portraits sans clothing, but didn't feel that was the same thing as posing for another photographer.  Back in May I did the full Monty.  I posed nude for another photographer.

karl-20 - Kristen Lucus
Kristen Lucas is a great photographer that I took a class with last semester.  She was creating a series capturing the temporary marks we have on our skin from the restrictive clothing and accessories we wear all day.  These included the patterns left by underwear elastic bands, socks, rings, watches, belts, bras, and other tight items.  They are all black and whites and are close ups that approach abstraction.

I wore my belt an extra notch tighter that day so both it and my undies were rubbing deep into my skin.  My ring was etching into my finger.  I wore tight socks and tied my shoes tight to get maximum effect.  I wanted to be marked up for her.  This is the exact opposite of how must nude models dress for a shoot.  They usually wear loose clothing to avoid these marks.  This part of the reason I loved this theme.  It showed the real human state we live in... we have temporary marks from our daily costumes of life.

We photographed during class lab time in the same studio I photographed Candace in during our February session.  We started off with my hands.  I removed my ring and there was a big dent.  With only a single light source, the shadows from the textures and grooves were very pronounced.

karl-4 - Kristen Lucus
After a few minutes we switched to my feet and my feet with my hands.  The socks created a harsh pattern on the tops of my feet.  I twisted and contorted to her directions and tried lining up everything for her.  It made me appreciate the moves and poses models must hold.  I enjoyed it.

Next came the waist band marks.  I pulled it down to see if there were marks and there were.  I dropped my pants and undies, pulled off my shirt and stood there as she photographed those marks by having me slowly rotate to get them full circle.

I felt comfortable even though I have never posed nude before.  I wondered why as I drove home.  First, I trust Kristen.  I support and believe in her project.  I've seen her work.  She made me comfortable.  Second, I've grown to accept my body as what it is.  It isn't beautiful, but I try not to be ashamed of it.  Third, it was very educational to learn how being on the other side of the lens felt.
karl-43 - Kristen Lucus

As you can see... or can't, my face is absent from all shots.  This is true of her whole series.  I don't know how I would feel having nude photos taken of me with my face visible.  I would like to think I would be as comfortable as I was with these photos, but I can't say for sure.

Kristen shared her photos with me and I was very impressed.  I know I have to lose weight, but her photos did not make me feel ugly and fat.  I appreciate her treatment of the model, photos, and the subject.

What pearls of wisdom can I share with other photographers from having been on both sides of the camera?  Only one, earn trust (both ways), keep it, and honor it after the shoot.  Kristen did all of these.  She gave me a print and a cd with proofs of the session.  I greatly appreciate that.
karl-29 - Kristen Lucus

I photographed Kristen a few weeks later.  She wasn't nude, but the theme and situation was much more personal.  That story and those photos will have to wait for another day.


  1. A fascinating project, all the more for the idea of restrictive clothes. I think of that all the time when tags and elastic bands wear at my skin. In a way, it just symbolizes the worldly vs. the ethereal. When we are of this world, we will be subject to its corruption. Tennessee Williams once wrote, "We are all trapped in solitary confinement within our own skin." And...as the saying goes, no one gets out [of this world] alive.

  2. I need to get started on my own self-nude project. I've ventured into it a few times and have not the best experience being my own model. I can't see the composition. Framing and focusing sucks and I simply get to frustrated. I probably just need to calm down and be more patient.

  3. Carla - I agree. We come into the world without pockets and we should leave without them too.

    Terell - I had the same problems doing self portraits. You may want to try tethering a camera to your computer and firing remotely. You can see your image appear almost instantly on the computer screen that could be facing you. I use Adobe Lightroom 3 for that.


So,what are you thinking about?