“Playboy style nudity.”
I hate to fire the blog up again for a post that is born of a bad experience, so I’ll post something from Wondertographer Corwin Prescott next, hopefully today.
We in the industry have these terms we throw around rather loosely. Erotic, Playboy style, Penthouse style, Hustler Style, Porn, Spread, Implied, Full Nude, Adult, Maxim Style, Porn – I’ve heard it all. People have asked me to shoot “Erotic” and their intentions range from sensual yet fully clothed to macros of me fucking myself with a giant glass dildo. I’m not going to define these terms, frankly I don’t care. This blog is, in fact, about their lack of precise definition and the confusion and gray area this deficit creates.
Since I define my limits as “Playboy style nudity” I’m going to concentrate on this term and relay an anecdote from a recent experience shooting in Lebanon, PA.
Mr. Photographer stated in our preshoot commuincations that he wanted to shoot Playboy style nudity, similar to what could be found in the newsstand special. The newsstand special is slightly more explicit than the main edition, but I agreed, a decision I will not make again! Since I wasn’t particularly motivated to travel to Lebanon, PA, he booked me for two days. A few hours in to the first day of shooting it became apparent we had different ideas about the terms of our agreement. While my poses covered the range displayed in the Newsstand special, he seemed to want me to spend about 70-80% of the time in more explicit poses. The conflict finally came to a head at lunch on the first day, when apparently feeling cheated he approached me with several of the magazines. This didn’t go well, since he tried to use a set from a shoot I produced to make his case. I explained that when shooting for Playboy, they spend as little time as possible getting the ‘it’ shots and then they move on vs having the girl on set with her legs spread for hours on end. I told him I felt he was walking a fine line, and then leaving me spluttering he then stated, “yeah, thats exactly where I want to be, pushing the line.” WOW! This statement gets to the crux of my post.
We had a disagreement about posing that fell way within the gray area. Never have I felt a need to discuss time allotted to explicit poses with photographers, but I guess I have to negotiate this now (how do you even do that? “Ok, only 20 frames in this pose, no more!” WTF???) or further limit my willingness to pose at all. Even then, disagreements are bound to arise, expectations will be mismatched etc. This has happened before, and I think most people react with compassion, which is the only way gray areas can be successfully handled. Met with a wall of temper tantrum and rude remarks, I became adversarial instead of collaborative, fiercely defending the line he was trying to cross. If he had been willing to give an inch, the rest of the shoot would have gone well. Instead I was angry and defensive, in addition to feeling only as valuable as pictures of my labia. He wasn’t shooting me for content or anything – is his only joy in shooting when my legs are open? I don’t get it but not the point of this post.
End result? We both had a miserable time working with each other. He probably feels cheated and I think he’s a douche with more than a touch of autism or something going on.
Lesson for Photographers and Models: Clothed to nude, realize we don’t have precise definitions to go on. Move gently, find your rhythm, keep communication flowing, and if anyone gets truly uncomfortable, renegotiate. If something you want is strange and you know it, try to specify beforehand.