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A 30+ year pro photographer. Co-founded Love Photography in 1970. My wife Anne and I live in Berea, Oh. We have 4 grown children and 13 grandchildren. Life is Good!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brook Lynne





Art modeling & my battle with body image

I’m intimidated approaching these words, this correlation, this issue. But I strongly feel its something I should address. After almost 7 years of freelance art modeling, I feel like I have learned a thing or two about this job. I’ve also learned a shit ton about myself and I’ve learned what it takes to be a good art model.
Its not the numbers on a scale, or a body type, or shape. Nor does it matter if you have blonde hair, blue hair or no hair. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white or purple. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, it doesn’t matter if you’re tall. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blank canvas or are heavily tattooed. 
What matters most in being a good art model? Confidence.
And what kills confidence? Self-consciousness.
And what do you think is the number one thing that the women in this business are self-conscious about? Body image.
When I started modeling it was extremely liberating. I was 21, in a funk, and was looking for something. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I figured it out very soon after my first shoot. Artistic expression. I was raised in a politically liberal but morally conservative environment. I was raised to believe that my naked body was only to be seen by doctors and boyfriends, and that dressing risqué was a big no-no. So being nude in front of my first photographer was extremely scary for me. I can’t tell you how much time I spent in front of the mirror naked the day before my first shoot, worrying and pruning. “Am I too short? Am I too fat? Do I have too much bush? What will he think of me? Why did he even ask me to model for him?”
After having a fun and successful first shoot, and when I saw that I could use my body to create evocative art photos, and that this genre was studied by copious artists throughout history, something clicked. I knew I wanted to pursue this. So I went full steam ahead, and its been my full-time job since 2008.
Like any pursued passion, it has its ups and downs. I’ve been all around the world because of opportunities to model. I’ve also been stuck on the couch for days on end because I had crippling negative thoughts about my body. Due to the nature of freelance modeling, you have to be self-promoting yourself all the time to get your name and image out there so you can have more opportunities to shoot and make money to pay the bills. But you’re also on the same social media that all your model peers are on. We are exposed to constant inundation oflovely images of very pretty ladies with photographers that we also want to work with. How can you not compare and judge yourself against those other women? 
But what’s worse than judging and comparing yourself to others, is judging and comparing yourself to previous images of yourself. Time changes everything. You will look different than you did last year. Your metabolism will be slower. Hair grows in new places. Things will starthurting. You don’t bounce back as fast. Every year goes by a little faster. Entropy speeds up. Life goes on.
image
{at my lightest}
image
{at my heaviest}
Self-acceptance is key here. Maybe its because I’ve been at this for so long, or maybe its because I’m on my way out of the modeling scene, or whatever the case may be I feel like for the last half a year or so I’ve stopped fretting so much about my weight and how I think it effects my modeling. My weight goes up and down within 15 pounds pretty consistently, and that’s okay. I’ve stopped body shaming myself.  I choose to work with people who photograph nude art, and less with people who photograph beauty and who work with agency models. I’m not an agency model, I don’t want to be, and I can’t be… so why the hell am I comparing myself to these people? I am 27 years old, why am I comparing myself to an 18 year old? Why am I concerned that 5 or 10 extra pounds is going to cause me to lose work or make me be less beautiful? Why am I afraid that if I’m not looking the best I could ever look, that that’s some sort of failure? 
But self-acceptance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve yourself. Everyone should seek more knowledge and self-awareness. Everyone should exercise and eat healthy whole foods. Its good for the mind and body. But everyone should also have their favorite comfort foods and treats, and enjoy sedentary activities with loved ones. Its also very good for the mind and body. But like you’ve heard a million times before: Everything in moderation.
I know how to pose. I know how to collaborate. I know how to take risks and not be afraid of failure. I know how to work with what I have. I have good instincts and I’ve learned to read photographers well. I am hired for my skill as well as how I look. 
I am beautiful because I am beautiful, not because of my body shape, or weight, or hair, or eyes or ass or feet. Not because of the art I’ve helped make. Not because someone has told me so. I am beautiful because I’ve accepted who I am and how I am today. It is what it is, and it is good. It’s always been good.