October 13, 2013

Naked under the arches

The conference last week was held on a Catholic campus that’s big into football, crucifixes, and shamrocks. So naturally, when it came time to choosing a lucky volunteer for the naked photo, I thought of Artist Friend. I mean, he actually watches football. I’d even found the perfect spot: the sidewalk in front of Touchdown Jesus.

“I’m tempted,” he said. Then he began hemming and hawing. “Can I just take off my shirt? You could take the photo from the waist up.”

I sighed. Partial nudity is not in the spirit of Project Naked. Too often in advertisements, the human body is reduced to a single body part. That drives me crazy. So I always try to include the whole body in my photographs.

A beautiful woman named Fire came to Artist Friend’s rescue. “I’ll do it,” she said. “I like the idea of an outdoor shot. But I don’t want Jesus in it.”

“I’ve heard that there’s a lake nearby,” I said to her. We figured out that if we woke up early on Sunday, we could walk to the lake 7 am, take the shot, and still be back for breakfast by 8 am. Sure, it would mean rising early after a late Saturday night, but a lovely naked photo in the morning sunlight would be worth it.

By the time 7 am Sunday morning arrived, I was seriously sleep-deprived, thanks to friends who like to stay out late talking. But I woke up promptly, dressed quickly, grabbed my camera, and went down the hall to Fire’s room. She’d already showered. And her bag for the airport was packed. There was just one problem.

It was still dark. We hadn’t taken into account how far we’d traveled to this conference, right to the western edge of the time zone. I felt a little panicky. This was the last morning of the conference, and everyone was leaving. The lobby was filled with people rolling suitcases along the tiled floors. I didn’t have a back-up plan.

As we left the building, prospects didn’t look good. It was raining. And dark. The nice man in the uniform at the front door handed us umbrellas and said cheerily, “Have a good time!”

Fire whispered to me. “I wonder what he thinks we’re doing.”
I shrugged. “I think there’s some kind of early morning church service.”

Ignoring the rain, we started briskly off in the direction of the lake. But I have no sense of direction and soon we were lost. Fire, dressed in jeans and a sweater, was shivering already, and she hadn’t even taken off her clothes. Clearly, we should have thought this through.

Wandering around the dark campus in search of a lake didn’t seem like such a great idea. I abandoned the idea and gestured to a building with lovely arches, lit by a bunch of spotlights. It might have been a dorm, or a library, or a chapel. All the campus buildings, with their vaguely gothic architecture, looked alike to me.

“We can use that light,” I said. “It’ll just be a silhouette, but I bet the arches will make a great background. Just take off your clothes and climb up on that ledge.”

“Here?” she asked. We were on the main part of the campus, on a well-used walkway. “I’m kind of worried they might arrest me.”

“Don’t worry,” I reassured her. “If anyone comes near, I’ll hold up my umbrella.”

Surprisingly, she seemed to have confidence in my ability to fight off the campus police with an umbrella. Stepping onto the porch, she began stripping off her clothes. “Do I need to take off my Tevas?” she called.

“Yes, of course!” I said. “No sandals!” It’s true that sandals would kind of fit the theme of the campus — I think Touchdown Jesus was wearing them — but I do think full nudity is important for this project.

Fire climbed up onto the ledge, balanced precariously, her naked body silhouetted against the glaring lights. It occurred to me that the bright lights were a beacon that would pull people toward us. We needed to be fast.

 “Put your hands up over your head!” I yelled.
 “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my balance!” she yelled back.

She steadied herself on the stone wall, and I snapped quickly. Within minutes, we were back on the sidewalk, moving along with our umbrellas while the sky around us turned from black to dark blue.

Naked under the arches

You can read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos. 


Hannah said...

A funny story, and a beautiful shot. Her body is lovely.

Anonymous said...

What a great setting! And another beautiful model.


a/k/a Nadine said...

At first glance she could be a statue. Although I suppose in real life the moving, yelling, and laughing may have quickly dispelled that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Jo(e), I love the image and the story. You are right about Tevas not fitting within the spirit of your project naked. I have to admit that I look forward to your posts regardless of whether or not they are part of the Naked Photo project.

- Skyclad

jo(e) said...

Thanks, Skyclad!

susan said...

what an awesome addition to the series! And yet another beautiful story and beautiful friendship.

Tom said...

I know that campus! I think you were probably pretty close to the lake. But still -- that made for a cool shot and cool story.

Zhoen said...

Searcher entering the Strange Country.

Artist Friend said...

Nice shot!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Where do you find all these beautiful women? I'm really stunned by how readily they take their clothes off and pose.


patrick said...

One of your best... I'm amazed at how unplanned this was, as well as how little time it took to accomplish.

Practically Kin said...

what's up with these guys who don't want to be naked??

This is a beautiful shot!

Alice Kildaire said...

Striking. My money is on you and the umbrella!

Magpie said...

lovely. your stories are so good too, that the pictures are almost beside the point. not that i don't love the pictures - but the stories are wonderful.

Jeff said...

I agree with a/k/a Nadine; I thought this was a statue at first and then the subtle light revealed the glory & harmony of the human figure.

--> Partial nudity is not in the spirit of Project Naked. Too often in advertisements, the human body is reduced to a single body part. That drives me crazy. So I always try to include the whole body in my photographs.

Agree. Go all in with the body or don't do it. While I do enjoy figure photography and abstracts of the human figure and body parts I also feel by focusing too much on body parts we can lose the soul of the human.