June 05, 2013

Project Naked continues

Long-time readers know that I always come home from conferences with naked photos to post on my bog. It’s a tradition. 

Half the time, the naked photos aren’t even my idea. Honest. I’ll just be hanging out with colleagues, making small talk while they drink wine, and someone will bring up the topic. “Have you found your victim yet? Whose turn is it to pose naked?”

My friends like to tease me about the naked photos. Anonymous Midwestern Writer Who Was Once Almost Killed by a Pheasant, for instance, never fails to ask me about the project, even though it’s clear he has no intention of ever posing. But Project Naked is also a catalyst that leads to intimate conversations about the human body and the way we see ourselves. That’s the best part of the project: the stories that strangers share with me when they hear about the project.

It’s usually pretty easy to get a volunteer. It’s almost as if the gang of folks who have posed naked for me are a secret club: they are the cool kids and everyone wants in. By the second day of the conference, I was sneaking away from an afternoon session to meet with a friend who had agreed to pose. We walked to her hotel, which she assured me would be an upgrade from my dorm room, which featured harsh florescent lights and a narrow bed that squeaked and jounced so loudly that I felt self-conscious every time I rolled over.

The hotel room was lovely, but a bit small for taking photographs. And a big-ass television, square and black, hung in the corner like a huge spider waiting to lure unsuspecting visitors into its web. I moved away from it cautiously. I didn’t want THAT in the shot.

Fire shed her clothes and sat down on the bed. She had the easy part. I decided to climb onto a window sill to get a better angle in the tight quarters. I slung the camera around my neck, grasped the edge of the headboard, and pulled my body up onto the ledge, knocking pillows to the floor as I moved awkwardly across.

“Do you think the nightstand will hold my weight?” I called out as I tried to shift into a better position. Fire glanced over her shoulder. The nightstand was just a flimsy shelf attached to the wall.

“Um, maybe not,” she said.

I braced myself against the wall with one hand and lifted up my camera with the other. “Okay, relax. Try to look natural.”

I’m guessing that it might be difficult to feel comfortable when you’re sitting naked on the bed and a clumsy photographer might come crashing down on top of you at any moment. But Fire complied, resting her arms on her knees and gazing out the window as if I wasn’t there.

I snapped quickly, knowing that I was going to lose my balance at any second, and then I jumped down onto the bed, startling Fire out of her contemplative pose. That’s when it occurred to me that I could just take a picture from where I was, sitting on the bed.

When I sent the photos to Fire by email, after getting home from the conference, the picture she chose was the simplest one — the photo I’d snapped while sitting on the bed. Apparently, my heroic climb onto the window sill, risking life and limb for the photo shoot, wasn’t necessary at all.

Looking ahead

Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.


Sandy said...

Beautiful! She looks completely comfortable in her skin.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Wonderful! She does look relaxed and happy. :-D I'm so glad to see you continuing with the project.

Anonymous said...

Another lovely model! Yay for the naked photo tradition!


Robert G. Longpre said...

I find your Project Naked, as well as your other posts, to be very, very insightful about both your subjects and the human psyche. Thank you.

jo(e) said...

Thanks, Robert!

Amelie said...

My favorite part of this project are the stories, so I'm really looking forward to your book.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous. You certainly have beautiful friends.


Taradharma said...

a lovely portrait -- still and peaceful. Thanks for leaving a comment on my photo today!

Zhoen said...

How much younger people seem, just in their skin.

If you're ever in my part of the world, I'd happily pose for you.

Just Ann said...

Just lovely. And I like that you have all the photos in a gallery. I will pose if you ever come to Denver.

Liz said...

I do so love this project!

Jeff C. said...

The photograph shines with beautiful simplicity and your subject shines with feminine grace, warmth & beauty.

Another fine image in the series.

Tessla Rabin said...

I love that you can see the lingering imprints of oppression amidst the newfound freedom...the skin records both the freshness and joy along with the fading marks of the brassiere.