A guide to the Gentle Art of persuading a young woman to
remove her clothing for purposes of Photography!
"How To Make A Girl Undress!"
by Les Barry
Vol. 3, No. 6, April, 195?
In my limited experiences
as both a photographer and a roue, I have found it generally to be more
difficult to persuade an attractive young woman to remove her clothing
for purposes of art photography than for purposes of engaging
in an illicit tussle in the hay. While the degree of relative difficulty
may vary according to regional, ethnic and personal considerations, the
fact remains that a man who invites a girl to his studio is immediately
more suspect of nefarious purpose than one who proposes a post-midnight
drive in a suburban park on a moonless night; and if any statistics on
the subject exist, I'll wager my 43 mm lenscap they prove that the latter
is infinitely more successful in accomplishing his objectives than the
Why does such a situation exist? I have two
personal theories and a suggestion of a third.
(Theory A) Seduction, under ordinary circumstances,
is carried on in the dark; and women seem to feel that invisibility is
the next thing to non-existence--that if they can't see themselves doing
anything improper, it's more than likely they aren't.
(Theory B) Photography cannot be considered
a natural act. If caught in the middle of a time exposure, the nude model
can't say, even with misty-eyed regret, "After all, we're only human. We
just couldn't go on, night after night, with nothing between us but a 36-exposure
roll of Plus-X. Something had to snap."
Seldom have I seen evidence to give validity
to the possible third theory (Theory C), that a photograph remains a permanent
record of what could have been considered an act of indiscretion. In fact,
it's been just the opposite--nude photographs of themselves have paved
the way to fame for more than a few of today's popular entertainers, whose
greatest talents might otherwise have gone undiscovered. These peccadilloes,
it seems, were committed to earn a few pennies in modeling fees while staving
off abject starvation. Paradoxically enough, it was only their appearance
of well-fed well-being that made them suitable for photography of that
Anyway, what's to be done for the photographer
who can't hire a professional model? Is there a method or technique in
existence that will permit him to pursue his art? As a matter of fact,
extensive research into the various variations common in front of cameras
across the country discloses there are, in reality, four major methods,
and for purposes of discussion we can label them, Subversion,
Subversion is one of the easiest
methods to begin, but has the highest rate of failures. You start by inviting
the girl to pose for a portrait. Once you have her in front of the camera,
you suggest, while peering professionally into the viewfinder, that she
open her top button. After a few snaps of the shutter, with or without
film in the camera, you ask her to help you try for a more casual effect
by opening a few more buttons. Then, checking the viewfinder, you notice
that a bit of her brassiere is showing in the opening left by the opened
Turn away, disinterestedly, while she removes
the brassiere and replaces the blouse. When you turn back, you'll learn
whether or not you want to go on with what you have in mind. If not, take
her picture and send her packing. If you do, shoot the casual one and then
try for a more formal bare-shoulder pose. This is followed by a bare back,
from which point you're on your own.
Flattery, as a method, depends
on a previous friendship with the prospective model. It involves, over
a period of several meetings, admiring her in a succession of outfits;
i.e., bathing suit, sweater, evening gown, negligee, house dress, or (if
it comes to that) a potato sack. But you remember to point out that the
outfit, whatever it happens to be, does not really do her justice.
"When I photograph you," you say, "it's going
to be for yourself alone. None of there man-made fashions to detract from
your natural beauty."
This may work. On the other hand, it could
be construed to be a proposal of marriage. Therefore, extreme caution is
advised when using this method.
Jealousy, it happens, also has
its dangers. This method is put into action by showing her a stack of photographs
of other nudes--taken by you or anyone else. Don't get too close when handing
her the pictures. She might take offense and punch you right in the eye.
If she doesn't, chances are she's hooked. No woman is going to admire,
unequivocally, nude photographs of any other woman. As soon as she starts
to criticize, suggest that good models are almost impossible to find. She
might suggest, on her own, that she'd make a better model than the bunch
of slobs depicted in the pictures you've shown her. Don't hesitate. Haul
in your line, the fish has bit.
"Would you?" you ask, with a mixture of awe
and admiration in your voice.
The slightest hesitation on her part can be
construed to mean consent.
Seduction is a method you use
only as a last resort. It means what it says. You seduce her, according
to your own techniques. You carry on a love affair with her for as many
weeks or months as it takes for her to lose her inhibitions about nudity
in your presence. When the morning comes that she gets out of bed and doesn't
hustle into a convenient dressing gown (or other attire); but walks over
to the hot plate and starts making coffee while wearing nothing more that
a pair of mules and the cold light of day, she's ready for the big question.
If she still refuses to pose nude, chances
are the few lousy pictures aren't worth raising a stink about; chances
are the relationship you've been having with her is worth continuing for
its own purposes. Remember, there are a hell of a lot of other photogenic
girls, and three other methods to use on them.