Thursday, August 7, 2014

Models as Artists and Athletes

This morning I am reminded how taxing modeling can be on my body. I woke up feeling as though I had done a full workout with my upper back satisfyingly sore, but also with my lower back and legs stiff and screaming. I popped a pill for the pain, stretched a little and will do a bit of yoga once my breakfast digests. I know I have begun a full tour and am completely consumed with modeling once my body has hit this point, and while I have been considering my tour pace rather even, I have been busy shooting with people who inspire me to push myself to my fullest to create the best images possible. My style of art modeling is athletic in nature. I pose in such a way to evoke the impression I may be experienced in ballet; I create strong lines which show off musculature or curves; I bend over backwards or twist my limbs in every direction possible. In a flexibility contest with a yogi, I would lose, but I push myself to use every bit of strength and length of my body to create lines with my form. As a newer model, I was sculpted from the gym, but these days I keep my strength and form through walking and hiking, yoga, exercising within the homes where I stay (crunches, push ups and a few other calisthenics), schlepping overly heavy modeling bags and of course while modeling. I have considered a new gym membership, but with other ways to keep in shape and the possibility of leaving the country for a large portion of the following year, this nomad is less inclined to make a full year commitment to any gym. As I have been gaining flexibility due to my current practice, less emphasis on weight lifting and more on strengthening through yoga and calisthenics seems like the wise decision.

I have worked with a couple of photographers who have told me to, "relax but hold that pose," and I always laugh at the irony of this phrase. All of the photos below required varying amounts of strength, and while some of the poses are more relaxed looking, I was actually holding myself in a way that does not come naturally. The first example I fortunately had my facial expression hidden as I maintained the position for several angles of photos, as the photographer also needed to maneuver himself around rocks. The second photo looks relaxed, but I was precariously balanced and holding myself within rocks - the graceful expression was added for the elegance of the photo. The piano photo was not particularly athletic, but I did a series of photos on this piano, propping myself up in mysterious ways as I danced with the piano. The window photo was a pose the photographer requested - I have done this position before and my knees never thank me, but the photos do look good. And the last example exaggerates my thigh because of the distance in the foreground, but show an example of how dynamic a pose can be. Of course, some photos can be classically elegant and not require too much strength, but stretching of limbs, arching of backs and sucking in of stomaches, and pointing of toes or standing on toes keeps our bodies actively engaged. A simple back arch photo may seem easy enough, and is not difficult to do, but to even hold a back arch our muscles are engaged.

 Photographed by Andrew Kaiser
Portland, Oregon

Photographed by Depth of Life Photo

 Photographed by EDF Photography
Baltimore, MD

 Photographed by Mariah Carle
Berkeley, CA

Jim Clark
Raleigh, NC

Modeling requires immense work, but is something I happily do to create the best images possible. I decided at one point in time that I needed to focus on paid work not only because of my human time limits and need for sleep, but because I want to be able to push myself physically for all of my shoots and if doing this, I also needed a bit of down time between shoots to allow my body to rest. I find stretching and hot showers imperative to a happy body, but the time I spend not pushing my body to its limits is also helpful. Some shoots may be a relaxed pace, but other shoots are essentially a complete physical workout for the entire duration of my booking. Good massage is helpful for keeping my body from screaming at me, but unfortunately finding a good masseuse while on the road is something I have yet to have done, even if I finally located a sports masseuse in Houston who has done wonders for my body. 

Art models are artists, but also athletes, and must take care of their bodies as well as their minds and souls in order to be the best muses possible in any artistic collaboration. My pain has been dulled, and the time to stretch out my muscles before another day of shooting and too many hours cramped up in a car on the way to and from a shoot (today I have six to seven hours round trip in a car to shoot out at a beach) has come. Going from working my muscles in a shoot to sitting in a car is one of the most physically difficult logistics of this job, but in order to get to some great locations to work in, sometimes the distances are unavoidable. 

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