Some readers have suggested that finding models should be easy for me. Actually, it's almost impossible. The pay is negligible, the hours are long, and my demands are several. And that's even before we get to the knotty question of nudity, which, in the resultant work, is sometimes translated into graphic depictions of sexual acts. Not exactly the stuff of art school life classes.In the past, I've tried to work with friends. A good idea in theory but in practice, the discomfort they feel as I subject them – almost without being aware of it – to what I've described before as a rigorously forensic study not only of their bodies but also their psyches can be discomforting.
Part of the problem is, when I'm working, I'm ruthless, selfish and probably exploitative (although I do try to maintain a semblance of empathy and care). In these respects, I'm rather like the predatory Diane Arbus, as she was described by Australian über-feminist and author, Germaine Greer, who regretted her decision to pose for the late photographer in a room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, in 1971:"... she asked me to lie on the bed, flat on my back on the shabby counterpane. "I did as I was told. Clutching the camera she climbed on to the bed and straddled me, moving up until she was kneeling with a knee on both sides of my chest. She held the Rolleiflex at waist height with the lens right in my face. She bent her head to look through the viewfinder on top of the camera, and waited. In her viewfinder I must have looked like a guppy or like one of the unfortunate babies into whose faces Arbus used to poke her lens so that their snotty tear-stained features filled her picture frame. I knew that at that distance anybody's face would have more pores than features. I was wearing no make-up and hadn't even had time to wash my face or comb my hair. "Pinned on the bed by her small body with the big camera in my face, I felt my claustrophobia kick in; my heart-rate accelerated and I began to wheeze. I understood that as soon as I exhibited any signs of distress, she would have her picture. She would have got behind the public persona of Life cover-girl Germaine Greer, the 'sexy feminist that men like'. "I concentrated on breathing deeply and slowly, and keeping my face blank. If it was humanly possible I would stop my very pupils from dilating. Immobilised between her knees I denied her, for hour after hour. Arbus waited me out. Nothing would happen for minutes on end, until I sighed, or frowned, and then the flash would pop. After an eternity she climbed off me, put the camera back in her bag and buggered off." – from Wrestling With Diane Arbus by Germaine Greer, published in The Guardian newspaper, 8th October, 2005.If that doesn't put someone off, then yes, they're probably an ideal subject. If they're between 19 and 35 years of age, female, reasonably fit, uninhibited, creative and/or smart, they should email me a photo and tell me about themselves. But they can't say they haven't been warned. (Oh, a couple of plusses: I serve wonderful lunches and the view from my studio is amazing.)