November 03, 2013

Last outdoor naked photo of the season

Naked in the barberry bushes

So yeah, the first time I meet someone’s boyfriend? I ask him to pose naked for my blog. Totally appropriate.

In my own defense, he had offered ahead of time. And it wasn’t my fault that the weather turned cold, that temperatures had slid down into the 50s. Or maybe it was the 40s. I don’t have a thermometer, but I do know that I was wearing several layers of clothing when I took the picture. Well, there’s no reason for the photographer to suffer.

I’d expressed my concerns about the weather the night before, right after I checked the forecast and saw that we might be getting snow. But Practically Kin, who like a true friend had volunteered his partner for my project, brushed my worries aside. “This guy’s got Finnish blood,” he said. Clearly, Finnish ancestry makes a person impervious to the cold. That probably explains why I was already wearing winter clothing. I’m half-Italian.

Practically Kin and Finnish Blood stopped by my house in the early morning. They arrived with a whole pan of homemade goodies – sticky buns, apple betty, some kind of apple coffeecake – pretty much any kind of tasty treat you can make with apples. Some people in upstate New York get sick of all the apple-related desserts that surface every October, but I’m not one of them. I put the teakettle on right away, so I could start eating everything.

I liked Finnish Blood right away. He’d heard about my naked blog project, since Practically Kin had posed over the summer, and we jumped right into a discussion about nudity while we drank our tea. “Little kids are comfortable running around naked,” he said. “But then at some point these cultural taboos take hold.”

I told him about an incident that happened back when my kids were little, and I had a bunch of women over for a playgroup in my backyard. It was an unexpectedly warm day in spring, and the kids, all under the age of five, began taking off their clothes to run around in the sun. We get long winters in upstate New York, so that first feeling of sun on your skin is wonderful. But one of the women made her toddler put his clothes back on, saying that it was important to teach him modesty. I remember feeling sorry for the kid as he sat down on the edge of the sandbox, properly dressed, while the other kids ran around the yard in carefree abandon.

I know that both men and women are subject to cultural taboos about the body, and the presence of a female photographer can sometimes make men feel uncomfortable. When I take pictures of naked men, I’m usually careful to do what I can to make the man feel comfortable. While he’s getting undressed, I usually busy myself adjusting my camera settings so that he won’t feel like I’m staring. I don’t really get what the big deal is, to be honest, since in my experience, men all look pretty much alike without their clothes on. (Sorry, guys, but it's true. There really isn’t much variation.)

Of course, in this case, I needn't have bothered with discretion. Finnish Blood seems to have shed any cultural taboos about his body, and he was perfectly comfortable stripping off his clothes inside my warm house and then running outside into the backyard, where I’d have natural light for the photo. I called out ideas: “Try stretching! Or dancing! Or maybe you should jump!”

The barberry bushes had turned a bright red, the last brilliant color of the season, which led to my next bright idea: “Get closer to the bushes! Stand near the – WATCH OUT, THEY HAVE THORNS!”

With the exception of the icy temperatures and prickly bushes, the photo shoot went fine. “Totally relaxing,” Finnish Blood assured me. Then we went back into the house to warm up with hot tea and apple coffee cake.

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

13 comments:

Sandy said...

Love the colorful shot!

Sarah Sometimes said...

Hmm.... I seem to remember some photos taken in the snow last year. I'm not totally confident that this was the absolute last photo of the season.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Funny; one of the first things I noticed in the photo was the barberry bushes, which are lovely at this time of year, but definitely not something you want to run into naked, or even partially clothed. They add a certain element of danger to an otherwise-pastoral shot.

jo(e) said...

Sarah: Ha! That's true. I have hardy friends.

Zhoen said...

This one is so comfortable.

Dressed Toddler's mom could be my mom. Teaching shame, more like.

I modeled for art classes in my late 20's, early 30's, and loved doing it.

Liz said...

I love this project so much.

a/k/a Nadine said...

I completely agree with Liz on this matter.

rented life said...

I'm pregnant and warm enough that I could give you a winter shot! Sadly, I'm not allowed to travel your way, it's a little too far at the moment. We had a heavy frost last night and I was still sweating.

Love the project and the variety of participants!

Val said...

Ha! As I skimmed the comments, I misread your response to Sarah as saying "That's true. I have hardly any friends." Which made this naked-photo project something I momentarily wondered if you should reconsider. :)

Beautiful photo, and beautiful autumn backyard, jo(e).

rgl said...

Hi Jo(e), I found the post to powerful, a sad image of our advanced world which has learned to ashamed of the natural body. Your naked series is a vital one our world needs. I hope that you decide to publish the photos and essays in a book which would/should become a compulsory course in all undergraduate programs.

Thank you - Robert

Magpie said...

Ahahahaha :

“Get closer to the bushes! Stand near the – WATCH OUT, THEY HAVE THORNS!”

I totally needed that laugh!

robin andrea said...

I confess to having mixed feelings about my own nakedness. I've always been comfortable going topless, but I remember when I was in my teens thinking I needed to keep my bottom covered up. I've never lost that feeling. Other people have easily stripped their clothes off around me, while I stayed in my very nice undies!

I sincerely admire your cohort of naked beauties.

Jeff said...

The line, "I do know that I was wearing several layers of clothing when I took the picture. Well, there’s no reason for the photographer to suffer."
made me laugh.

I also like the various colors of fall as it complements the natural skin tones of your friend's boyfriend.

--> since in my experience, men all look pretty much alike without their clothes on. (Sorry, guys, but it's true. There really isn’t much variation.)
I guess that's true, even if it doesn't stop male insecurity. :)