I met Peter Hunter at one of our regular portrait group sessions late last year at The Melbourne Camera Club. Peter was attending as one of three models that night and we were both in between shoots when we engaged in small talk. I soon found out that in his spare time, Peter is a Life Model. Curious as to what a Life Model is, as opposed to a regular model, Peter explained to me that he actually poses nude for artists. As this is something I could probably never do, I was interested to know more and Peter was quite happy to share his experiences.
Like all models and photographers, he needed to update his portfolio and I offered my services since I wanted to build my own photography portfolio as well. So in December last year we booked the studio for a photoshoot and produced a number of different photographs.
As a photographer I not only want to show my subjects in images, I also want to share their story. Peter gracefully agreed to a quick Q&A and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Peter, what exactly is a Life model?
A: It’s essentially someone who poses for various artists, you have people who draw, painters, sculptors and you normally pose in the nude.
Q: And what kind of artists are they?
A: The majority are women and most of them are retired because the sessions take place during the day. There are also some night sessions so you end up with a cross section of artists. Some are students, but there’s also some accomplished artists.
Q: How did you get involved in life modelling?
A: A friend of mine who is an artist suggested that I would make a good model. I did some research and found the Life Models Society which is essentially a union for models. I went along to a workshop and things developed from there.
Q: How long have you been modelling now?
A: I started in January last year, so it’s almost a year now.
Q: Are you the only model or are there multiple models at a session?
A: Generally there’s one model at a time but the Life Model Society runs an event called Extravaganza two or three times a year where artists are given the chance to draw multiple models in evolving poses.
Q: Do you get paid for this?
A: Yes we do, the rate is currently $35 an hour and a posing session is two hours. So it’s quite good, I make $70 to just sit there and do pretty much nothing.
Q: Peter, how comfortable, or uncomfortable was it for you the first time?
A: I’ve always been okay with it. At the initial workshop there were about thirty potential models and the first thing we were asked to do was to strip down. So as long as you know what to expect, it’s okay.
Q: How often do you work?
A: I’ve had about twenty bookings last year, so it’s roughly once every two weeks. It comes and goes, once I had four bookings in a week. It’s about contacting people and getting enough clients.
Q: Can you describe for me a typical session?
A: The rules are that you can sit only twenty minutes at a time, then you take a five minute break. The poses are varied and there are short poses and long poses.
Q: So Peter, have you seen some nice drawings or paintings of yourself?
A: Yes I have. In fact you can see some of the artists’ work on my website.
Q: Peter, in preparation for this interview, I was talking to my wife about all the questions I could ask you and one came up that could be a bit delicate but she said “I would be interested to know” so I will ask you anyway. Has it ever happened to you to be aroused during a posing session?
A: Yes it does happen, or at least half of it… (laughs). On one occasion it was a girl conducting the session and she told us that it happens to both sexes.
Q: And how does the artist respond to that?
A: Oh, they don’t care, when it comes to genitals some of them draw something out of their imagination that has no resemblance to what’s actually there.
Q: Has all your family at large seen the drawings and paintings?
A: My wife has, my son is not really interested and probably a bit embarrassed I guess.
Q: Are you looking for more work in life modelling?
A: Yes I am, I’m always on the lookout for more artists who need models to pose for them.
Q: Peter, you look very fit to me, what do you do in terms of exercise to keep fit?
A: I swim three times a week, on weekends I do a three hour bike ride, I do Pilates one night a week and when I remember I have some dumbbells at home and do some workout. I have always been an active man and I had a heart scare a couple of years ago. So I always make sure that I exercise to keep fit.
Q: What tip or recommendation would you give to someone wanting to be a life model?
A: Make sure you’re comfortable getting naked in front of others… and some imagination to come up with different poses. I draw some inspiration from the different exercises I do in Pilates, so you need motivation and a certain amount of strength. Flexibility also helps, when you look at some of the younger women models, some dance or are gymnasts so that’s an advantage.
Q: Peter do you have another job besides life modelling?
A: Yes, I am a computer programmer and I work for a company that sells software to newspapers and I’ve been in that business for thirty years or more. I only work two or three days now.
Q: Finally, do any of your mates give you some slack about your modelling?
A: Well, I haven’t told any of them…
Q: Peter you do realise that if you want to promote your business you need to get on the rooftop and scream it out loud?
A: Yes, I am working on that.
You can find more of Peter’s work on Instagram
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