Nude-Form Question #1: Let's start by telling something that you'd like us to know about yourself?
AlexandraB24 Answer: am Italian born and was brought up in Italy but have lived in London since I was 19. I left Italy because I wanted to live in a big cosmopolitan city and because I was secretly wanting to ditch my studies in modern languages and take up dance instead. My father was quite conservative, it was OK to dance for fun but becoming a professional dancer was another matter altogether. Also I wanted to do modern/ contemporary which he did not even regard as proper dancing. So I travelled to London ostensibly to improve my spoken English prior to my first year university exams but with the help of a boyfriend I soon got myself a job as a waitress and began to attend dance classes at The Place which at the time was the centre for alternative culture in London. I worked hard to prepare for a scholarship audition but did not get it. I continued to train but I also reconsidered studying for a degree, waiting on tables was not exactly my life ambition. I ended up at SOAS doing a degree in Art and Archaeology with a focus on South and Southeast Asia. Later I did my postgraduate studies there as well. Throughout I kept the dance going, I could not give it up. I left SOAS eventually with a PhD and not knowing what to do. I travelled for a while, danced a bit, then I took up a university teaching position for which I could use both my knowledge of performance and the visual arts. I am still teaching but last September I decided to add another string to my bow and began a Master in Dance /Movement Psychotherapy. The best decision ever.
Q2: Tell us about how you got into modeling?
Answer: Through a convoluted route!
I did life modeling when I was a student, then stopped. I returned to it in my early forties and simultaneously signed up with an agency for commercial modeling. I then branched out into art nude. I model for fun, rather than money, though I don’t mind being paid for it.
Q3: What attracted you to the medium?
Answer: Modelling is a form of self expression and performance work. You can be as true to yourself as you wish and yet it is not you but only a part of that complex being that is yourself, which you can amplify and turn into a character. I turn up for shoots wearing no make up and casual comfy clothes and my beloved converse shoes. That’s me, now. I then put on make up and might wear something glam or play with fabrics or be nude and get into a pose. That’s also me. I feel and draw on my life experience and yet I can step out of the whole thing when the shoot is over. I love modeling because of all this.
Q4: Do you partake in any other creative endeavors?
Answer: I dance and now I practise DMP which is also creative. I am learning to be a photographer too.
Q5: What is DMP?
Answer: DMP is Dance Movement Psychotherapy.
Q6: Work long enough in this business, you're bound to experience some comedic episodes even if its only funny in hindsight. Would you be willing to share us one of yours that happened during a shoot?
Answer: I guess all the dAramas I had with a certain English photographer who is also on dA and who shall remain unnamed are kind of funny, in hindsight, though at the time they brought a great deal of pain. At least, now I think they are funny. Let’s hope he does not read this interview though.
Q7: For the sake of this question, we'll take for granted that "respecting the model as a human being" is the unspoken first piece of advice. What other advice would you give another photographer, perhaps working w/ their first nude model?
Answer: Models are not a piece of meat. Listen to them. Try to bring out their beauty and strength as women, not just their vulnerability. Respect their boundaries. Don’t turn them into playthings.
Q8: What do you like to do in the rare moments you have free time?
Answer: Sleep, and sleep, and sleep. I can’t have enough of it. And practise yoga.
Q9: What do you feel are your modeling strengths?
Answer: As a model I am versatile. In life too I am versatile, I don’t like routine and like changing. I am a very strong woman, my modeling reflects my inner strength. I am also very attuned to other people’s emotions.
Q10: Anyone willing to take a critical look at themselves will admit they have areas where they can improve. What's one of yours?
Answer: All. It is a continuous learning curve.
Q11: Any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share w/ other models pursuing their dreams?
Answer: Ask for feedback on your performance, especially if you are working with a good photographer. Make note of your shortcomings but also review your strengths. Make sure you come across as uniquely different. There will always be thousands of beautiful girls. Just be you, believe in yourself and that will take you far. Be prepared to work hard. And most importantly: if you don’t feel comfortable say no!
Q12: We each have a defining moment in our lives (sometimes more than one) where it changes us from the person we were to the person we became. It may a lot of times be only seen in hindsight. Please tell us about one of your "defining moments".
Answer: I can think of several. A defining moment in my life was the awareness that if I feel uncomfortable in any situation I can change it. Sometimes it is enough to change my own attitude towards myself. But the real defining moment was becoming aware that I had a tendency to look secretly to certain others as the arbiters of my sense of self -value. The moment I realised that I stopped doing it and I felt all the better for it.
Q13: What is the most common set of difficulties or obstacles you've experienced as a model? How are you working to overcome them or how did you overcome those trials?
Answer: It is a fact that quite a number of photographers are interested in working with models as a surrogate for sex or simply for sex. Someone recently cast for models for ‘photographic collaborative work with a narrative’. Turns out that the narrative is the model’s sexual fantasies and he wants to call late at night to discuss them over the phone! I say no to people like that. I have done erotic shoots but they were presented to me as such and I felt comfortable working with everyone involved – I am thinking of Solus-Photography and model/dancer Mike Cooney with whom I did the “Our Sacred Bodies” series.
I have no problem saying no. I don’t make a living from modeling so I am in a position to pick and choose.
Q14: What is the proudest model related moment?
Answer: I guess I should say being published in Carrie Leigh’s Nude. That certainly was an achievement. But for me the proudest moment was when after only two nude shoots I posted my pictures on deviantArt and within sixty days I got a DD!
Well, I felt really proud.
Q15: Pretend personnel & budget are not an issue. What's your dream project that you'd leap to work on?
Answer: Be someone’s muse for a year or so and travel around the world taking pictures in unusual locations.
Q16: Leaving out the specific who, ever have any shoot ideas pitched where you were like "uhm, no chance in hell is that going to happen"? If so, what was it?
Answer: No not really, apart from silly and crass sexual propositions I cannot think of anything else. Latex shoots I guess. I am allergic to latex.
Q17: Who are some visual artists who you admire, whether they be here on or elsewhere? The answer need not be limited to the photographic medium either.
Answer: This is not an easy question to answer. Right now I love Orozco. Yes, my favourite is Lee Miller. I love her work in front and behind the camera.
Q18: Pretend you're dictator-queen, what would you change about modeling, photography, &/or the industry itself?
Answer: The emphasis on youth.
Q19: Favorite cartoon character?
Answer: The Simpsons, all of them.
Q20: Who'd win in a 3-way fight: pirates, ninjas, or robots? But most importantly, how does the winner win?
Answer: Pirates. They win through cunning.
Q21: What's your favorite movie?
Answer: Belle de jour by Bunuel www.amazon.com/Belle-Jour-Fran…
Q22: What's your favorite book & why?
Answer: I cannot choose one! I have so many.
I guess its "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro www.amazon.com/Never-Movie-Tie… but only because I'm reading it right now.
Q23: Anything else that you'd like to add or ask us here at Nude-Form?
Answer: Keep up the great work!
We appreciate you allowing us to pick your brain. Keep up the great work & best of luck to you in the future.
For those that are interested (or are new & have not had an oppurtunity to read them), here is a list of our past interviews. We hope they're illuminating in some way.
Beyond that if anyone in land wishes to have something asked on a regular basis (it can be photo/art related or just irreverant), you are encouraged to the group. The same applies if you wish to be interviewed (it saves me the energy in thinking who I should pitch the offer to & whatnot). It doesn't matter if you're mainly a model or a photographer, we're interested in a variety of perspectives for this series.
Have a great day everyone & don't be shy in providing feedback. It helps let our interviewees know people read these.