Caught Naked Taking Photos at Uni
That time at uni when the photography technician walked in on one of my nude photoshoots… and other nude photography encounters.
Here’s an amusing little story that popped back into my head recently. The short version of which is: I was caught naked up a ladder adjusting my camera, while my friend and model was equally naked posing on the floor below.
This was back in my uni days. The first ever nude photo shoot I did photographing someone other than myself, ended up also being a half self-portrait series, as I needed a couple of bodies to pull off what I wanted, and so far had only persuaded one of my friends to model for me.
The series, called Two Bodies, was a somewhat abstract concept in which I arranged our two bodies in tesselating, reflective, or otherwise interactive arrangements. In doing so I began to explore something I continue to find interesting, which is how human bodies are at once all very similar, but all also very much different. In this case, the obvious contrast was the different genders of the two subjects, which plays stronger or barely at all, across the different images in the series.
In order to capture these shots, we were both arranged on a black backdrop on the studio floor, and I had the camera up quite high on a studio-stand, which is a really solid alternative to a tripod, that is much easier to set up pointing directly down.
I was using a remote of some sort, but just like any regular self-portraiture with a digital camera, it did mean I had to get up every few shots and go to the camera to check we’d got the poses as planned, and everything was coming out ok. Which with the camera really quite high meant I’d set up a step ladder to climb up each time to examine the screen, and make any adjustments to the shots, from above.
Naturally, it was exactly while I was up that ladder, balanced a little precariously over the camera and my friend below, that one of our technicians decided to burst into the studio to attend to something or other. Which was quite a shock to him, to come into not just a nude shoot (which probably wasn’t such an odd occurrence on a photography course), but the photographer themself also naked and atop a ladder. Needless to say, it was quite a surprise to my friend and I too!
Me, a nudist and nude photographer; my friend, a willing nude model quite happy to shoot with my naked self; and the technician, used to students doing all sorts of wacky stuff; no one really much cared after the initial surprise. But it certainly did teach me one useful thing for my many nude shoots to follow: Lock the studio door! It also made for a little in-joke between myself and the technician for the duration of the course!
I actually recruited another of our technicians to stand guard for another nude shoot later. I don’t recall the exact brief, but it was basically to create a self-portrait, and naturally, I opted to go nude, because that how I feel my most self. Perhaps not so naturally, I decided to do so in one of our course’s computer rooms, as a play on finding a human location where a natural human really doesn’t seem to quite fit. At least per current societal expectations (maybe one day we’ll live in a clothing-optional utopia?). This is another area I continue to find rather interesting, non-human human-made spaces.
This all went off without a hitch, but the photos themselves led to another little moment. Everyone on my course had to present our self-portraits on a big screen during a seminar: I presented my own as a quadtych (four images in one), which I hadn’t scaled down at all, so was a huge file. The computer evidently wasn’t quite up to that task so took an eternity loading up the image, simply displaying on the screen the file name “computer room nudes”. It was a tense few moments while everyone in the room braced themselves to see me naked!
Suffice to say, I quickly established myself as the nude person on the course! So I think everyone was quite used to my work often featuring nudity, be it my own or others, as we went through more crits over the years.
If you know my work before, you’ll know I often shoot on location, most often in natural places. But as my computer room series began to explore, I’m very interested in man-made places as well, which often seem incongruously unfriendly to the natural human form.
Perhaps the boldest of these shoots was also pretty spur of the moment. This was, so far, my only other multi-model shoot, and again I ended up being the second model!
I’d met up in London with an internet friend, fellow nudity enthusiast, and among other things professional model, Serenity Hart. After attending a nude swim together we set out to find somewhere to create something, wanting to make the most of our time together and mutual creative urges and pro-nudity feelings. I’m not form London, and Serenity isn’t even from the UK, so we had no idea where to start! We had a good old wonder looking for potential locations.
We happened across an interesting and out of the way staircase which we almost shot on, but a security guard sighted us and chased us off before we even got going. Then we found our way into a sort of garage complex. It was a quiet area, but the interior area was open to the street at either end, through grated gates, so pretty visible if anyone came past, and of course cars were coming and going now and then.
Both being practiced nude shooters at this point, we took that all in our stride and managed to create a short series together, before we decided we were pushing our luck and called it a day.
Despite being a significantly more public location than most of my shoots, we didn’t end up with a walk-in incident like that earlier studio shoot. Other shoots have all gone just as smoothly. My location shoots normally benefit from knowing the place I was shooting (and the likelihood of people coming and going) — In most of the more natural setting I’ve shot in, other people are few and far between, just the odd dog walker, which are easy enough to avoid if you’re paying attention to your surroundings.
So those are a few tales of nude photography. Wouldn’t it be nice if one didn’t have to worry about being “caught” in what is our most natural state. Until that nude-friendly utopia arrives, I’ll just have to play my little part in trying to normalise nudity through my art.
PS. yeah I know the title is sooo clickbaity. I couldn’t resist!