February 23, 2014

Naked in the snow

Naked in the snow

I’m always telling my friends that the naked body looks best in “natural light.” And that’s true. Artificial light casts weird shadows and turns flesh odd colours. Flash photography will make skin look really white. That’s great if you’re trying for a zombie, walking-dead look, but most people prefer photos that don’t make them look like corpses. The best naked photos are taken outside. Really.

When I arrived with my friends at the cabin in the mountains last weekend, the first thing I asked was: “Who is going to pose for my blog?” They all turned to look out the window at the pine trees covered with snow, the deck piled with snow, and the frozen lake. Dancing Woman was the first to speak up. “It might be a little cold,” she said. I took that as a yes.

What we should have done was take the photo on the first day we arrived, when temperatures were warm enough that I could actually take my mittens off for a moment to take a photo. Sadly, we didn’t take advantage of the balmy temperatures that hovered somewhere around freezing. By the time we woke up on Saturday, the cheerful guy on the local radio station was announcing a wind chill advisory: “Temperatures are dangerously low.” It’s true that wind off the lake was chilly. When I went for my morning walk, I took my hands out of my mittens a couple of times to take photos, and even though I was fast, my fingers felt painful when I got back to the house and thawed them out.

“Don’t worry,” I told Dancing Woman. “We’ll take the photo close to the house, so you can dash back in.” I didn’t mention that my plan was to take the photo from inside the warm house, fully dressed. One of my rules for Project Naked is that if a subject asks me to strip for the photo, just so that the photographer is as vulnerable as the person posing, I will. On this frigid day, I decided not to mention the rule.

We thought it best to wait until Makes Bread and her twelve-year-old son had left for a walk. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from raising a houseful of boys, it’s that twelve-year-old boys don’t want to see their mother’s middle-aged friends naked.

Despite the icy wind that whipped across the lake, Dancing Woman was surprisingly cheerful about stripping off her clothes: the outer layers, the long underwear, the multiple pairs of socks. Too lazy to shovel off the deck, I found a frozen welcome mat for her to stand on. “It might be a little cold,” I said apologetically.

What amazes me is that Dancing Woman didn’t scream at all as she stepped, naked, out into the frigid winter wind. She moved gracefully, lifting her arms above her head, her hair whipped around by the wind. When I called out, finally, that I was done, she didn’t race inside, but just wrapped her arms against her chest, looked out across the lake, and then down at the mounds of snow that balanced on the deck railing like stone cairns. And so I took one more shot, which is the one she liked the best.

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

19 comments:

Kathy said...

Brrr!! Shes brave!!! And beautiful.

Sandy said...

Another lovely shot. She's beautiful! And I love the drifts of now.

Sandy said...

I meant drifts of snow.

jo(e) said...

Sandy: I liked the phrase "drifts of now." It was a pretty cool typo.

L said...

yeah, that's definitely a cool typo. :) And your friend was amazingly brave, I would totally have screamed the whole time, I hate being cold. YIKES!

Now... wasn't she mad when she found out about the rule? If I were to pose for you I would definitely follow that rule!

In any case, I'm sure that a boy might not have liked to see his mom's friend in the nude, but I do show the naked photos from your blog to my boys if they are around and happen to see one of the posts (and I think I've actually gone to the gallery and showed them more).

I really value being comfortable with nudity and with one's body -- they see me without clothes on a regular basis (I'm sure that will change a bit when they are old enough to want to hide their own bodies from me).

jo(e) said...

L: You mean the rule about me being willing to strip naked as the photographer? Eh, she didn't care about that. She's a friend: she's seen me naked. And she was really only out in the cold for a few minutes.

a/k/a Nadine said...

I just love this project. Is it weird that I get excited when I see a new post in the series pop up in my feed?

Anonymous said...

Lovely !!

Zhoen said...

And she looks like a statue on a cold day, frozen but impervious, vulnerable but eternal.

robin andrea said...

A beautiful photo. I think Dancing Woman must have summoned up her deep inner warmth that sustained her in the moment.

Tonya said...

I love the long lines of her body, just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have an endless supply of beautiful friends.

T.

Friko said...

I think I would have declined your invitation.

What is it that makes people want to strip naked and strip themselves naked? I am new to your project and a little surprised at the success you have. (I looked at your piece on the history of the project.) Using words to strip naked I am surprised at my surprise, but with words there is always the unspoken, not mentioned history. I notice you mainly hide the faces, is that an indication of something?

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I would not mind posing in the snow, I just mind exposing my old, large body.

She is beautiful!

jo(e) said...

Friko: I hide the faces to protect the anonymity of the people who pose for me. Many of them wouldn't mind being recognized, but not showing the faces has been a tradition on my blog, so I continue that.

Most people are pretty willing to strip naked to be part of the project. They always have veto power over the photo, of course. I think for many women, it is empowering to see themselves naked. And the discussions that we have -- often not part of the blog post -- can be pretty intense.

Amanda said...

Yes, I may just adopt the "drifts of now."

I so love coming here, no matter what you are writing, there is a softness to it, maybe familiarity is a better word. Cozy and trustworthy. No sure if that makes any sense.

jo(e) said...

Amanda: Aw, thanks.

L said...

yeah, I meant that rule just so that you could "share" some of the coldness -- but then again you'd be cold only when the door was opened for her to pass, so, sure, of course she didn't care. :)

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

One of my rules for Project Naked is that if a subject asks me to strip for the photo, just so that the photographer is as vulnerable as the person posing, I will.

I'll have to keep that in mind. :-)

Does that apply even at the camp dock, where your father might interrupt the photo shoot?