I was talking to a friend the other night and realised that I have a fairly relaxed attitude towards nudity, well, female nudity anyway. Now, Ipernity has a pretty strict policy about this and I'm careful never to overstep the mark. I'd never post anything that might offend. If I do just let me know and I'll take it down.
Anyway, I know where my casual attitude came from. Nearly thirty years ago when I was still making my living with a camera (Head of Medical Illustration at my local hospital and also lecturing at my local college) my fiance, Margaret and I also had our little part/time business 'Tower Business Promotions'. Mostly photography of course but also graphic design, advertising concepts. That sort of thing. We'd often need models and preferred new and unknown faces. They worked harder as they were just starting out and frankly they were easier to direct as they didn't have any pre-conceived ideas about posing or what-have-you.
I honestly don't remember if it was Margaret or I who first came up with the idea of our own model agency but, it seemed like a good one. We could help the girls get started, find them work, take care of them. Plus of course, they'd work cheaper for us. In theory we'd collect 10% commission from work that we'd found for them, but in practise we couldn't be bothered. We were having fun and a couple of 'phone calls to get them a job didn't cost much.
We were careful too. We'd only take on girls who were prepared to work hard, be punctual and responsible but, most of all be nice. Everybody had to fit in to what Margaret and I saw as a sort of 'family' business.
Of course everybody needs to make money. 'Fine Art' pictures (David Hamilton , Sarah Moon) sold quite well and a 'girlie' magazine would pay around $2,000 for a nice set of pictures. We'd deduct the costs of film and so forth and split the profits 50/50 with the model, everybody was happy.
I should point out here that thirty years ago 'girlie' magazines were not the sort of thing that you might see these days on the interweb. Our photographs were tasteful and probably demure even for those days. Lots of soft focus and lace. But, if you're young and beautiful why shouldn't you be photographed? When we had the results from an afternoons work I'd always go over them with the model. If there was anything she was unhappy with I'd destroy it. I'd rather have her trust that use a cheap shot that she didn't like.
Now, here's something to think about. If you have a casual 'one night stand' with someone and it doesn't work out then that's probably the end of it. You forget it and move on. But, if you take your clothes off for photographs it's pretty permanent. There must be total trust between the model and the photographer. Not only must she know that I don't have 'wandering hands' or that I might take an inappropriate photograph but also that I'll make her look good. Her future career depends on it. Conversely I must know that I can direct her as I see fit without her being nervous of me. In many ways it's a closer relationship than being lovers.
The agency took off like a Saturn V on nitro. We made money (of course) but, the family atmosphere was the best bit. The girls would 'hang out' together, help the new girls with make-up advice, chunner on about their boyfriends (if they had any). Once a month we'd have a group night out at my local pub. Believe me there's nothing better for a blokes ego than to hit the pub with six or seven beautiful girls hanging off your arms. One Friday night we're all up dancing and some muppet asked one of the girls if she'd care to dance.
"Errr, no." she replied.....pointing. "We're with..........Him."
I felt eight feet tall and covered in hair.
But all good things come to an end. November 1986 and my fiance passed away, quite suddenly. Now nothing mattered any more. All those evenings we'd spent working when we could have just been together. I'd never come home again to a warm house, to the smell of cooking or make dinner myself and anticipate Margaret coming home. My house was cold and empty and my only greeting was a bottle of scotch.
The girls clustered around me like mother hens. Angela or her husband (she'd married just a few weeks before and I'd done her wedding pictures) would be waiting for me after my college classes and they'd sit in the pub with me. An hours bus ride afterwards for them to get home. I'd shoot an afternoons set of pictures with Maureen and then she'd stay with me until after midnight, just talking, listening to music, making sure I was alright.
And Lianne..... I'd get home from work and find her standing on my doorstep with a bag of 'goodies', waiting to make dinner for me and make sure I ate it. Or, we'd go out and eat, go to the pub, maybe just sit in and watch a film. I wasn't alone.
One Wednesday night I'd finished my college class at about ten, sat in the pub with my students for an hour. But, my house was still so cold and empty, my bed so lonely. I was hungry so I thought I'd walk up-town to the Bengal Tiger. A nice Indian restaurant only about a mile away. Maybe I'd knock on Lianne's flat, see if she'd like to join me for supper?
I knocked, she answered. In her dressing gown, obviously naked underneath it, covered in massage oil, flushed of face. Behind, her living room was lit by scented candles and romantic music drifted softly.
"What's occurring?" I asked.
"'X' is here." She was positively dancing from foot to foot and clapping her hands with excitement. She'd been trying to trap 'X' for about two months now.
"Go to it then." I said. (big grin) "Give me a ring tomorrow and let me know how it went?" I kissed her on the cheek
"I will. Hey, why did you call?"
"I was just off to the Benji.... hungry. No worries." I walked off. Shoulders back, head high, spring in my step. Until I got around the corner and out of sight. Then the pavements were still cold, swept by wind and rain.
Well, I was still hungry and my house was still empty....I went to the Benji. Just one couple in there, sat in a corner holding hands romantically as they ate their meal. Do you know how much that hurts? When you're all alone.
I picked a dark corner and the waiter brought my usual bottle of wine while I looked at the menu. Chicken looked good, mild curry, boiled rice, maybe another bottle of wine? The door opened and somebody came in. I didn't look up. Lianne dropped down into the seat opposite.
"So. What are we having?" She asked.
"What happened to 'X'?" I gave her a quizzical look.
"Oh. I fired him off." Lianne looked nonchalant and perused the menu.
We ordered a second bottle of wine and took a third back to her flat with us. Listened to music, talked a bit. About two in the morning she went to bed and I slept on the sofa. I'd get a taxi to work in the morning.
Those girls saved my life.
And the video?............Well, it was the eighties...........:)