The Perception of Ease and How it Affects Us: What You Need to Know About the World of Freelance Modeling

As a model, my job is to make difficult and uncomfortable poses look easy. Sometimes I’m put in uncomfortable clothing or end up with moss glued to my face - that stuff itches! Other times I work in extreme environments, whether that means baking in Death Valley at noon or having my nude body sandblasted on a cold and windy beach. I regularly get to drape myself across sharp rocks, immerse myself in nearly freezing water, or use props – chairs, ladders, and cubes – in ways they were never intended to be used. Because I’m me, I often end up climbing rocks, trees, sheer cliff sides, and whatever manmade monuments look climbable.  But with art nude images it’s not enough to simply scale something and assume that makes a good image – I have to consider my location in my environment and adapt to it, molding my body to its surroundings or contrasting them appropriately. Most people enjoy the play of bark or rock versus soft flesh, and the curves and angles of my body complement the curves and angles of nature in a way that I remain constantly aware of. The way I’ve been able to integrate my passion for climbing into my passion for modeling and the artistic nude genre is my pride and joy.

Recently I’ve started getting images back from photographers that, while stunning, tend to frustrate me. Not because either party involved failed somehow, but because I made my situation look too easy. I have images of myself wedged halfway up a cliff face that I went to great difficulty scaling, and I look so relaxed that the casual observer might think I was laying on the ground with the photographer shooting from above me. In reality, those were some of the most difficult poses I’ve ever attempted. I was at constant risk of falling, I had to rest in between each pose, and in some shots the only thing keeping me attached to the cliff face was a combination of a trepidous foothold and strongly clenched butt cheeks grasping the rock behind me. The day after this shoot I found that I had strained my calf muscle so much that I could barely walk. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Do the images show how difficult it was? Not at all.

Luckily, in my experience, many of my fans have picked up on the effort I expend in such photos and appreciate it. One commenter even went so far as chastising the photographer for ‘forcing me’ into the pose in this photo:

(Disclaimer: Please do not chastise photographers for my choices. I retain and exercise autonomy and don’t undertake poses I consider dangerous beyond reason, and I chose and instigated the pose in question.)

Why does all this matter though? Why do I care that people realize the work I put in when the mark of doing it right is to look effortless? And why am I telling you about it? Here’s the deal: as I mulled over the topic this past week I started to realize that I’m not really upset about making my poses look too easy – that’s my job! But they do happen to be a
huge metaphor for my career in general. As a freelance model I don’t have an agency working behind the scenes on marketing and booking. I run all my own social media, curate my multiple portfolios, and am my own PR, booking agent, manager, and customer support. If my business needs something done I do it; spare time is a limited and precious resource that I have to guard lest it slip away. It’s entirely possible that I could delegate certain tasks – hire someone to run my social media, or perhaps take charge of marketing. But I’ve chosen not to for multiple reasons, and that option just isn’t practical for most of us.

And it is us: every freelance model you know of is running their own small business just like me. This is not a ‘job’ – in the eyes of the IRS we qualify as independent contractors, and we are taxed as such. We have no healthcare coverage, no dental plan, no sick leave, no vacation time. We’ve chosen to abandon societal norms in nearly every way possible and follow our callings as artists, but that doesn’t mean our careers are limited to the creation of art. We face the same struggles and joys as any other entrepreneur,
and the same limits. Our time only stretches so far, and there’s always something more we could be doing.

We have gone out on the limb that is starting our own business, and we’ve clung to it until we’ve learned to make it look easy. Often wind comes along and jostles us a bit, but most of the time we’re able to stick through and make it work. Sometimes we fall, and are left bruised on the ground to climb back up or find another path. Sometimes we decide it’s in our best interests to climb down and move on to a different adventure. Sometimes we move on only to find ourselves back at the foot of that tree (or a different one) sometime
later, wanting to climb again. As for me, I plan to enjoy the heights forever, though I might visit the trees less often as I age.

Just remember that however graceful we look, however appealing our lifestyles might seem, and as much as we genuinely love our vocation, we’re still out on a limb. We’re taking great risks to bring our art to the world and our services to photographers, and we’re often stretched pretty tight. Please keep that in mind, and perhaps make a point of letting your favorite freelance model/s know how much you appreciate everything they do
the next time you visit their page.



About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre.  Through her business Empowered Muses she also helps freelance nude models who are tired of getting all the wrong gigs gain the confidence they need to attract plenty of great clients, and she is fiercely dedicated to helping her clients and the models who follow her create safe, fun, and profitable modeling careers creating art they love. To see more of Eleanor’s work you can visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

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