Keep Calm and Bring Bug Spray: Dealing With Nature When You’d Rather Not

I was at an outdoor shoot recently with a dear model friend who self admittedly hates being in nature and didn’t know what crawdads were when I found some in the stream we were posing in. When I followed up with her about it she replied “I like nature, I just don’t like touching it”. Though I don’t know the statistics, I feel confident saying that my friend cannot be the only person in the photography industry who feels that way.

Unfortunately for those who do feel this way it’s quite hard to avoid booking outdoor work regardless of what genre you’re involved in, and even if you’re shooting in a crowded public park you might end up in an unexpected close encounter with nature. As such I’ve compiled a small list of tips that I think might help those who must begrudgingly deal with it for photographic purposes.

Be Prepared

Research is a crucial step, especially if you aren’t familiar with an area. If you don’t know what poison oak looks like how do you plan to avoid it? It’s a good idea to at least do a quick search for plants and animals to avoid in a given area, as well as possible natural hazards such as wind and rip tides, and learn how to avoid them or handle the situation should they pop up. (If wind doesn’t seem like a natural hazard to you, consider how it might feel to be nude on a beach while freezing cold wind blasts sharp, stinging sand against your sensitive bits and reassess.)

I recommend bringing food, water, sunscreen, bug spray, and toilet paper to every outdoor shoot, regardless of your role in it. Bugs are fickle, and as appealing as the model looks they might go after the makeup artist instead. In addition, sunscreen is essential if you’re outdoors for a long time, especially if you’re naked. I don’t know how you can get a sunburn while literally freezing in a snow bank, but learn from my mistakes and put on the sunblock. Optional supplies include blankets and chemical hand warmers if it might be cold, and a towel if water may be involved.

Lastly, don’t forget to tell someone where you’re headed, and consider grabbing a map if you’re at a park that offers them. No one wants to get lost a mile from the main road.

Dealing With Animals

Most animals are more afraid of you than you are of them, though this unfortunately doesn’t apply to insects. This means that they typically only attack in a few specific scenarios, such as feeling threatened,  being aggravated, or if they perceive you as a threat to their young. (I once was picking my way through some ferns to pose in the middle of them when a turkey launched herself towards my face and then ran off faking a limp. Lo and behold, I was two feet away from a nest full of eggs.)

Most people seem to worry about snakes more than anything else, which is where research again comes into play. It’s certainly helpful to know that in California only six species of snake are venomous, all six of which are rattlesnakes. Information like that can save you a lot of panic if you get bit by a nonvenomous snake. (Please still make a trip to your doctor - you won’t die from venom, but you can get an infection at the puncture site.)

But honestly, wouldn’t you rather just not get bit in the first place? The key to that, with snakes and most other animals, is to remain calm but alert if you encounter one and slowly move away. In the case of crawdads, as at the shoot that inspired this post, or similar creatures such as crabs, it’s actually best to make a sudden movement and startle them off. If you’re in the water with them and not moving much they’re apt to think you’re food, but they’re too small to do much damage and tend towards flight over fight anyway.

As for insects - burning them with fire typically ruins a location, so I recommend lots of bug spray, preferably the body friendly kind. This doesn’t just apply to areas where mosquitoes and gnats may be present - if you’re going to be walking through tall grass (cue mandatory Pokemon joke) you need to make sure to use bug spray that is effective against ticks, especially on your lower body.


This last aspect is important on any shoot, but especially so when extra factors such as outdoor work are added in. Outdoor shooting carries a unique array of risks and it’s essential that team members know that their comfort is important and their input is respected. I highly recommend having another location as a backup, preferably an indoor location, in case the weather changes or the planned location has since been overgrown with poison oak. 

How do you prepare for outdoor shoots? Tell us in the comments!

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. To see more of Eleanor’s work you can visit her website.

Contact Eleanor

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. To see more of Eleanor’s work you can visit her website.

Contact Eleanor


Writing a first blog post is more than a bit intimidating. Whether you chose to view my portfolio first or to begin with a peek into the workings of my mind, my devout hope is that those of you who visit my little corner of the internet – photographers, fans, and models alike – might leave inspired, and perhaps with a better understanding of how I tick. Topics explored here will range from photoshoot experiences, tips for beginning models, updates on my personal life, and musings on the process and politics of my career. 

For those unfamiliar with me, I have been pursuing this career for the better part of five years. While I started out with no intention of ever posing nude, the genre called to me with a fury and has been my pride and passion ever since. Nothing else in my life has offered such an abundance of community, growth, and healing. I am a better person for my art, and I continually use it as a form of expression, a spiritual journey, and a catalyst for growth. For what good is art if it has no effect on the artist? How am I to move you without first being moved myself?

When you immerse yourself in my art, in my photographic and written portfolios both, you begin to know me as intimately as any lover.  Look and see how I connect with the camera. Pay attention to the strength of my body. Let yourself connect with my eyes, a connection and expression as genuine digitally as it could ever be in person. Explore the idea that each image is a unique moment in time in which I was fully alive, and let it become an impetus to become fully alive yourself.

I create for myself, yes, and for the collaborators whose visions I embody, but my creations are just as much for you. So please, peruse. Explore my many websites and social media accounts, and partake in all I have to offer. Let me move you as my art as moved me, inspire you as it has inspired me, and heal you as it has healed me. 

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. To see more of Eleanor’s work you can visit her website.

Contact Eleanor

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