Shaving vs. Insecurities: Posing Nude

Besides trolling Craigslist for interesting gigs, I’m always on the lookout for other avant projects. I recently responded to two posts on list-serves seeking nude models. Here is the correspondence between me and the first photographer:

A friend posted to the list that you were looking for nude models. Totally interested. Have posed for many including Beth B (up close vaginas for a gallery show and book). I’m 51, so hopefully I’m alone in the “older” category! You can see pix of me on Facebook under EditrixAbby or on my web site
Let me know!

“Hi Abby…I took a look at your site and I think you would be a great model for me…I am looking to do full body/face nudes, the whole being body and soul….the thing is…I need you to grow out your pubic hair long…and then shave the inside while leaving an outer rim…for the shoot, I am looking to bring out emotion, so it would be important that you can convey your emotions, get in touch with them, for the camera, without shyness or hesitation…does this interest you? I am looking to capture something different than the typical, yet I am still looking to capture sexuality, just from a new perspective…if you are interested, will do the hair cut, and feel happy to have the pictures go out into the world…I think meeting in person to discuss the project would be the next step…I am going away for the weekend, but next week would be great if you have the time. I live in Astoria but easily can meet in Manhattan or Brooklyn…I want to see if we vibe, I think that it the main thing for me, is synergy, because it is this synergy which makes good photographs for me, I want to steer clear of using a model/body as object, I am looking for subjects….just let me know if you want to meet up….thanks!

Um, I’m not quite clear exactly what sort of pubic haircut you’re looking for. I’ve never shaved and can’t imagine shaving “the inside” for anything. Soooo, if that’s a requisite, I’ll have to bow out. Not sure how the pubic coif relates to my being, body or soul. But you’re the artist!

“I understand, it’s a difficult request. It’s just an all shaved look, but with an outer rim of hair, hard to explain in words…it’s a vision I had, and I am looking to make happen for this project, not much logic to it. No worries though, and thanks for responding in the first place, much appreciated.

I would be interested in seeing her work. Perhaps she should have requested “shaved vulvas” rather than nude models! I completely respect an artist’s vision but can’t quite grasp why she wanted whole bodies, with such an emphasis on emotions, yet she was so intent on, well, shaved vulvas. And I’m not a shy one. As I told her in my original email to her, I have posed nude, including for Beth B, who shot my twat from, like, inches away. Beth’s project was focused, literally, on nothing but snatch. The resulting prints were created using dodge-and-burn (old school!) to really isolate the genitals — not even including any thigh — and they were displayed in a gallery show with an accompanying book. It was kinda fun for my friends and I to try and guess whose pussy was whose. (Looks like Beth is still adding to this “body” of work. Watch this YouTube video of a similar show in January 2010.)

The second photographer I responded to had a much clearer vision of what she was looking for, having already begun her project. She gave a concise “pitch” and provided links to her work. Here was her original post:

“What is your Insecurity? Be Raw… imagine your biggest insecurity written to contour your naked body…

Calling all people interested in posing for photographer NINA MENDEZ MARTI ( and her personal project RAW.

For the lovers of artistic photography, The RAW Exhibition is in February 2011. Presenting the complete collection of 50 photographs in Galeria Yemaya San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The project is in its last months of production and we are asking you help complete the work.
We are looking for specific people such as: people older than 60 years of age, adolesecentes with permission from their parents, people with tattoos or scars, different races and even families, brothers/sisters, couples, and friends that are willing to pose together.”

Our correspondence was also much clearer, mostly a yes, a yay, and then scheduling. Though our days got hectic and things were pushed back a bit, she arrived, quickly ascertained where to pose me, shot the pictures and was outta there!

Mind you, the concept was very appealing to me. I’ve been feeling insecure about aging, hence the perhaps desperate desire to be photographed…nude. Why not capture my fading glory? Or at least my fading tan… Heh. Anyway, the shoot was not only quick but comfortable. I felt totally confident that this woman, as an artist, was interested in truly capturing peoples’ souls, as well as their insecurities. I wanted “getting old” on one arm and “alone” on the other because those are really three fears: that of getting old, that of being alone and lastly of getting old alone. So not only was she a self-assured artist, hers was the perfect project for me.

I can’t say I love the resulting photo; I think I look, well, kinda old and tired. I always prefer myself smiling in photos. But the shot does capture my sense of insecurity.

Photo by Nina Mendez Marti

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