• My new photobook ALT Color Nudes is now available on Kickstarter until Dec 12.

The not-so Genetic Lottery

I used to subscribe to the genetic lottery theory of modeling: If you have the luck to be born with certain proportions and bone structure, it’s easy to become a model. But lately I’ve had some experiences that challenge that assumption. I posted a casting call for a Bahamas photo shoot. Not just any Bahamas photo shoot, but on an exclusive island away from the crowds and cruise ships. Unspoiled beaches and a private plane flight to a mansion, all that jazz. The response has been overwhelming. My inbox is flooded with requests. I’ve even had some applications from several Playboy Playmates who are interested in this all expense paid working vacation in paradise. Naturally, I’m going to have to turn most of them down. But the reasons I am turning most away is what surprises me. I’ve even had to turn away some of the published Playboy models. Most of the applicants were born with the genetics to model.

Here are my top physical basis for turning applicants away:

  1. Breast implants. Not what I’m looking for in these images.
  2. Excessive body mods (mainly tattoos across the breasts)
  3. Proportions (genetics)

If  many of the applicants had not undergone the surgeons knife or tattoo needle, I would have chosen them.

Obviously tons of people do want to work with these models, so they won’t starve. I’m glad there is plenty of modeling work to go around. But its changed my outlook on the path to becoming a model.

Here are the top personality reasons I’ve turned applicants away:

  1. Refusing to read even two sentences. Demonstrated by repeatedly asking questions that were not only answered in casting call but also the email to which they are replying, usually “when is the shoot?”
  2. Slow response, lack of business etiquette. This is definitely a small minority, but it makes me wonder.

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Above: A great model with a wonderful personality.

 

Ten Ideas That Pay Off for New Models

I’ve talked to a lot of models and worked with hundreds. Many ask me what they can do to improve the number of shoots they do. Here is a summary of ten at the top.

  1. Hit the gym. The good news is that much of your competition spends less than two hours a week at the gym. Your goal is to beat these girls, not tie them. The models who succeed spend an average of four to six hours a week with vigorous exercise. Walking to class or work is a good start, next hit the hard workouts.
  2. Cut out the sugar. Next time you down a Chocolate Frappuccino, just remember you’re consuming an extra 500 calories. One a week and you’ll gain 50 pounds in a year.
  3. Look for work. The work isn’t going to come to you. Scour the casting calls for work that you can do.
  4. Build your portfolio. Shoot as much as you can until you have a great looking portfolio
  5. Show what you look like. Does your portfolio show everything but you? Bulky jackets, seated poses, hidden face? A simple shot that shows what your body looks like (doesn’t have to be nude) goes a very long way.
  6. Be prompt. Replying within two business days is considered professional. If you’re going to be away, let people know with an autoresponder or note on your web site.
  7. Be honest and upfront. Mention any scars, tattoos, or other information that is relevant.
  8. Only apply to castings where you are qualified. Read the whole casting and make sure it is a good fit. This will save you a lot of time.
  9. Ask for referrals. After a successful shoot ask for a referral to other opportunities.
  10. Be honest with yourself. Do you have the drive to be a model? Are you ready to workout almost every day? Can you give up most of the fatty and sugary foods? Modeling can be fun and rewarding, with some hard work and lucky genetics you can go to unimaginable heights.
Amber, nude model Charleston SC gymnastic floor pose

Hard work in the gym pays off

Square Nudes: Breaking Tradition | Art Photo Book

Square Nudes Art Photo Book Back Cover

Proposed Back Cover

I am assembling a photo book of 100+ fine art nude and implied nude images of a variety of women.

An artistic celebration of the beauty of the female form, these square images offer a unique challenge for photographer and models alike. Primed with a few unpublished photos that didn’t fit in a traditional rectangle, I look forward to composing more images with equal proportions of height and width.

Funds raised will be put towards studio time, stylists, makeup artists, props, paying models, and other expenses towards finishing the images and producing books for the backers.

The photo book will be available as a limited number of hardcover editions for backers.

Book Specifications

Square Nudes is a pictorial  art photo book. It will be published in 2015. The book will be self-published and available online as print on demand.

Two sizes will be produced:

  • Softcover and hardcover 8.5×8.5 inches (22×22 cm).
  • Special, limited edition oversized hardcover 12×12 inches (30x30cm) signed by the photographer.

Proposed Front Cover

Backing This Project

This project is live on Kickstarter.

 

Nude with Spheres

Nude with Spheres

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Nude with guitar

Nude with guitar

Help me get the word out with the links below.

Twitter

 

Nudes with Props

There are many advantages to using a prop in a nude composition. Many purist eschew props, but painters, photographers, and sculptors have been combining objects with the human form for a long time.

For the less experienced model, a prop provides a point of mental focus. For the experienced model, it affords an additional opportunity to enhance the composition. A prop can be placed strategically for more modest images. Choose props that are proportional to your composition. You don’t want small objects to get lost or look out of scale.

When working with a prop, take a careful look at it before shooting. Make sure it is clean (or if you want a dirty prop, make sure the dirt looks the way you want).

Shiny surfaces like a guitar or vase require special consideration. In addition to needing to be cleaned, examine the first few shots to see what is reflected in the prop. Every time the angle of the shiny surface changes, inspect the image. You can create some interesting effects with a reflective surface.

Survey Surprise: Nude Art Photo Books on Kickstarter

I have recently fashioned my second Kickstarter campaign for a nude art photo book. Before I launched this fundraising effort, I asked for some opinions on the various rewards. Most of the people who responded had already purchased a book of figure models and many of those had supported my first effort on Kickstarter.

Some of the results surprised me and because of this I have made some changes to my new campaign. For example, 63% of people said it was important to have an autographed book. I don’t mind autographing books, but there is a cost in having to ship the books after I sign them. I don’t get shipping discounts like the print house does. But not everyone is willing to pay the extra for this. Because so many people valued an autograph, I decided to randomly autograph 10% of the printed books for people who were not paying for an autographed copy. So, if you select an autographed copy, there is a 100% chance of getting your book signed; but even if you don’t you still have a 10% chance. Of course if you definitely don’t want your book signed, you can let me know.

Another surprise was how few people were interested in having their name printed as a supporter. Because of this, I’m not emphasizing that as a reward. Furthermore, anyone who was interested in being acknowledged also wanted an autograph.

I was also concerned with cost versus quality and size. Most people who wanted a printed book wanted to go big or not at all. I was a little hesitant to offer more expensive books, but I am hoping that people appreciate paying a little more for something special. I’m going to offer a maximum of 25 oversized books. All the hardbacks will be printed on a heavier paper stock.

Find the new campaign here

Square Nudes is my second Kickstarter effort

Square Nudes is my second Kickstarter effort

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Muted Tone Figure Study with Chair

Muted Tone Figure Study of model Ann, posing with a Chair.

Muted Tone Figure Study of woman posing with a Chair.  Lit with two softboxes, a background light, and a hair light. Post processing includes two color-lookup layers with the image/inverted image as layer masks.  This square composition is intended for inclusion in an upcoming book of square nudes. Details at aknicholas.com

Muted Tone Figure with Chair

Lit with two softboxes, a background light, and a hair light. Black and white conversion on import. Post processing includes two color-lookup layers with the image/inverted image as layer masks. A gradient mask was also applied in Photoshop.

This square composition is intended for inclusion in an upcoming book of square nudes. Details on the new book here.

Nude Photo Theme: Abandoned Places

 

A. K. Nicholas enjoys exploring and finding unique places to shoot. These pictures were taken in abandoned places around South Carolina and North Carolina. Which place do you think is the best for a nude photoshoot? Tell us on Twitter.