The shoot wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I guess that’s to be expected. I’ve been feeling ambivalent about it, even though I’ve been home for a while and have written up the events. It took a few conversations with other people before I really understood how I felt and why.
It was… OK.
There were good things. We shared ideas. I wore some nice outfits. I liked the bit of shibari that we tried. I enjoyed the way I got wet just from having the cuffs locked together. I had an adventure and pushed a limit.
There were things that were less than good. Nothing bad exactly.
I had a mild blood sugar crash on day 2 when we went out shopping, and then again in the evening of day 3 after we finished shooting for the day. I rarely feel hungry when I need to eat so I’m prone to blood sugar crashes, yet I rarely have them when I’m at home because my regular routine keeps me running well. I’m more likely to have a crash when I’m travelling because I’m off my routine. My sleep schedule was all over the place and there wasn’t much for food in the house.
There was also a technical glitch, discovered (or at least reported) after I’d already returned home. Lucas likes a certain amount of grain in his photos but had forgotten that his camera was very grainy all on its own, so all of the photos from the first day of shooting were really grainy. He adjusted the settings on the second day and we had better light, so those images are crisper.
My ambivalence about the trip came from my mood. My mood was a response to the theme of the weekend, which in retrospect was mild discomfort.
There was the physical. Lucas’s condo has heating problems so it’s always on the cool side. If you’re sitting around watching TV it’s no big deal — just put on a sweater or cuddle under a blanket. But if you’re, at best, scantily clad for a few hours, you’ve got a problem. He had a space heater going at all times but I wasn’t warm enough unless it was blowing straight at me and mostly it wasn’t.
There was the aesthetic. The condo has good bones but isn’t especially inviting. The living room, where we did most of the photos, was lined with Ikea shelves of paperbacks, movies, games and figurines, and at the center of it all was the home-theater-sized TV. He had been planning to clean the place before I arrived but had been putting it off, and then he was unexpectedly busy for the two weeks prior to my arrival. None of this mattered to me as a houseguest visiting a friend, but they did make it difficult for me as a model to actively enjoy being in the space.
There was the emotional. We’re both introverts; I need a certain amount of alone time and I’m sure he does too. I figured that he’d feel like his space was being invaded, so I was my usual quiet self and tried to keep my presence small while permitting myself to help a bit with dishes. I think he still found me “too much” for him to be comfortable though.
On top of it all was my biggest concern: how would I react emotionally to stepping out of my comfort zone and doing nude photos with a photographer? Many years ago I tried doing a shoot with a photographer, including some semi-nude shots. The experience was excruciatingly uncomfortable and I hated all the resultant photos. But now I feel more comfortable with my body than ever before, and I’ve taken and posted lots of photos myself. I was concerned that this shoot could trigger an old shame response, though fortunately that wasn’t the case. I was fine. But I could have been better.
Lucas was my second boyfriend, and I wondered what it would be like to be naked in front of him again after so long. I’m in good shape and my weight has always been stable. Would he notice that my breasts are almost as perky as they were when I was 17? Would he observe that my muscle tone is as good as it was then, or perhaps even better? If he noted anything of the sort, he certainly didn’t share it with me. In fact, with one exception he gave no indication during the shoot that he found my body even to be attractive, and we never actually spoke about that relationship. He was absolutely businesslike at all times.
But this wasn’t exactly business, and he didn’t hire me to model for him. We’re friends but it didn’t feel very friendly. I felt no warmth or emotional connection during the shoot. In fact, I perceived what I would now describe as emotional distance.
In an email before the shoot I shared that I would need praise, and he said he would provide it. But he gave me positive feedback only once or twice during the shoot, which went for hours over two days. It felt lonely. I was left seriously wondering whether he thought things had gone well or poorly, and after we wrapped up I asked him point-blank. He told me he thought it had gone well, but I thought I sensed a lack of conviction.
I’d consider doing another shoot with him but if I do, I want to enjoy it, so some things would have to be done differently. Having figured out what was bothering me, at least I’m now in a position to express specific needs and wants. But it may be that we’re not sufficiently compatible for this sort of partnership to work all that well.