It took a few years and a few tries before Madison and I were able to find a date that would work for both of our busy schedules, but one day the calendars aligned! We shot in a dry riverbed full of volcanic rocks and an abandoned farmhouse and got some nice contrasty shots. Madison has a look that reminds me of classic 1930s Hollywood.
One thing about smoky skies in the Boise summer is that it makes great natural lighting! Jordan and I visited what turned out to be a busy local park along the river in the late afternoon. She has a great freedom and confidence that is endearing. This city park nude shoot was really fun. When Jordan got in the river, we met a nice pregnant lady who enjoyed watching our shoot. She was soaking her feet in the cool water and shared with us that nudity was so much more common and accepted where she grew up in northern Europe. She was glad we were out there taking advantage of a great afternoon.
Joy had always wanted a hotel boudoir shoot in a boutique suite, and as she had a connection who could provide it, she asked if I would help bring her dream to reality. Here’s the result of a fun shoot working with confined spaces, playing with light and dark.
MODEL / Hannah PHOTOGRAPHY / JASON LEE INTERVIEW – CHAPTER I
“It’s just like the most powerful thing to do.” – Hannah
Hannah is a treasure. We have worked together on several occasions and on the drive out to our most recent shoot, I got to ask her a few questions and she agreed to allow me to record our conversation and share it. She wanted to share with me about how the experience of shooting nude with Genesis Modeling and Photography has helped her overcome personal battles following sexual abuse. It was a long conversation and so we’ll break it up into a few chapters. We talk about some heavy topics, so if that triggers you, be forewarned.
Here are some excerpts from our interview:
Jason: Can you describe how shooting nude helped you after being assaulted? You called it something like “taking back who you are?“
Hannah: I think after [the assault] happens you kind of lose a sense of yourself, and you just kind of think like, okay, well if that’s all I’m really going to be used for, then maybe that’s all I’m only meant for…. It sounds kind of pitiful I guess, but at the same time, it’s like I went through something and came out basically feeling broken.
And so to be able to gain that confidence and vulnerability back in a good way, it’s just, it’s such a relief-feeling to know that you can still love yourself after that happened to you. That it was not your fault. And I think a lot of people that are victims of those things blame themselves, or they’re like, well, what if I just didn’t go to that party? Or what if I just didn’t have that drink? You know what I mean? And it’s being comfortable again with your body. Like literally, I could just never look at myself naked. It took so long for me to be to do that.
J: Why do you think that was?
H: I felt like it was my fault and I was stressing: how did I let that happen to me? And then I had to realize like a lot of things are out of my control and that I didn’t choose to have that happen. I needed to let it “break you or make you.” I told myself that it’s fine to have the grieving process, but you have to get on your feet sooner or later.
One of my friends is a rape victim as well. And it’s just crazy to think like how often it happens. And then when it happens to you, you reach out to other people and you find out that’s happening a lot more. It changes your perspective, I guess a little bit. So you don’t feel so alone.
J: So by sharing your story, embracing community, it gives you power over…
H: Yeah. It’s basically like, OK, you took that part away from me, but you’re not going to take away the rest. Like you’re not going to take me away from myself. Yeah, for a moment, you tore my identity apart, but now that I found out who I am, again, it’s like, you can’t touch me anymore.
If I can embrace nudity in a non-sexual way, then it’s like, what else is there to see? I think it’s very empowering for us to embrace being comfortable naked.
I think a lot of people are very immature and I admit that I also struggled with insecurity for sure, especially after what happened. I thought no one would ever look at me the same way if I told them what had happened. But being able to look at yourself in a better way – being able to see yourself naked pushes you to realize that it doesn’t really matter how the other people think. It’s how you feel about yourself.
J: Do you think that rape is more about the physical or about the emotional?
H: I think it’s definitely both. Personally, I feel like every rapist, even if they don’t want to extend it, they definitely feel remorse for what they did. Although there are some people that don’t feel that emotion like that, but I think the majority of people do understand that their actions cause pain. My rapist – He tried reaching out afterwards, like after a month and apologizing, but honestly, I just didn’t really want to hear it. I appreciate him understanding that what he did was wrong, but I don’t want any communication of that because it was his choice to do it.
I think people that feel the need to do that didn’t get the love that they needed growing up and they searched for it in the wrong way. They don’t get it from the ways that they’re searching either, because they go out and hurt someone and take away their happiness.
J: How do you think that society contributes to the environment of allowing or promoting rape?
H: I think it should be harder [on rapists]. So I think there’s the legal part where a lot of people that rape don’t get in trouble. It’s very rare for a rapist to go to jail, or anyway for a long time, or a real reprimand or consequence for their actions — whether it’s a female or male, you know, it can come from both ways. So I think that because of the way you view community and sex and stuff like that, like if you go onto like porn sites, a lot of it — it’s very rough — like not what real sex is. And I think people that don’t experience healthy ways of experiencing sexuality and nudity and being subjected to nudity very often have a difficult time distinguishing what’s right and wrong when it comes to sex. I think society play a huge part in that though. Especially now, if you go on social media, it’s all about girls’ bodies. Like it’s never about like personality or who they are, which might sound cheesy. But like, I feel like nowadays people shop for girls — or men as well — like it’s very subjective.
And I think society needs to do a better job at allowing helpful nudity. So I feel like if we subject everyone to more nudity, I don’t think [sexualizing] nudity would be a huge thing anymore. Like rape would still happen obviously, but I don’t think it would be as severe as it is now.
J: That brings up an interesting question to me: Does sharing nude photographs on social media help people see more normalcy of nudity to you? Or does it add into that shopping culture?
H: I think it definitely depends on how the nudity is being portrayed because you can take two different types of nude photos. You can make sexual nudes, or you can take artistic nudes. Like a girl eating a banana while wearing lingerie is likely insinuating something there. But like, for example, your photo of me, nude near a waterfall, definitely not sexual, it’s just nude.
You know what I mean? Like there’s a difference between sex and nude. And I think we have a hard time distinguishing that in society. And as soon as they see a naked person, they’re like, Oh my gosh, sex, that’s the first thing we are taught to think about. But instead, why, like, why do we think that way? Why can’t we think of it as just like an art form? And I mean, that’s what it is. We’re all born naked.
J: How did seeing yourself in the photos adjust your outlook?
H: I think a lot of what follows after sexual assault, is a lot of shame. And guilt. And I just wonder, like, why me? To get over that, you just really have to be vulnerable again with yourself. Like I literally never thought I’d be able to look at myself naked again, after the whole thing happened. And then like doing that shoot, I was like, why am I so scared? Like, I’m not going to die if I’m naked. Like nothing bad’s gonna happen!
J: What do you think the mental switch was?
H: I think I just stopped. Like I just stopped allowing my past to determine who I am as a person and as my future. I just allowed myself to embrace who I was and it just felt so good to just be who I was again. And being naked at our shoot was kind of like a turning point for me. I don’t know if it’s the vulnerability aspect or like having the ability to be in a safe place and feel that emotion as well and not be scared. It’s just a really great feeling.
J: Any closing thoughts?
H: I want more people to shoot nude! I don’t know why people don’t just go for it when considering a nude shoot. You know? Honestly, like it’s scary at first, and then when you do it, it’s just like the most powerful thing to do. And it’s just, why was I scared in the first place? It’s like not even worth being afraid about. It’s like everything worked out great. And you learn to love yourself again. 100%.
PART 1: Some of the most beautiful places in the world are right here in Idaho. Shh! Don’t tell! Joy and I hit the road for these shots near the Sawtooth Mountains. Here was Joy’s reaction to the photos:
“I just looked at them and omg 🥺 they are beautiful! I love then so much and they made me smile so much!!!”
PART 1: The backdrop: A fascinatingly unique water-and-wind-carved canyon that can only be accessed in the wintertime. Even though it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit, Hannah braved the weather, climbing rocks and bracing through the cold as we worked quickly through the area. Here are her thoughts, after seeing the results:
“Sooo those pictures turned out absolutely amazing!!! I think a couple of my favorites would be of me on that rock that I was terrified of climbing! They look so good. Thank you for giving me the confidence to do it! I can’t get over how amazing they are! I love how the shapes just flow so well and there are a couple of other ones where I blend in with the rocks and it’s beautiful. I love sharing this art with people and creating it with people like you. I honestly never thought of nudism the way I do now and I’m so happy to be apart of the movement!”
On a cold, windy morning, Janna and I drove out through the fog to North America’s largest sand dune. The wind was biting and made your eyes water. Working through the emotions brought by the environment, Janna brought this truly heart-touching performance to this portion of our shoot. Janna’s response to our shoot? “They turned out AMAZING!”
This was Hannah’s first shoot. We found an amazing old dairy barn to shoot in as well as some sweet meadows and waterfalls. As you probably know, I LOVE waterfalls!We even managed to find a hot spring.
Ashley is an overcomer who isn’t afraid to face her challenges, organize them and tackle each one until she is victorious. We shot in an abandoned rock quarry in January — just the place for sunny, snowy, fur-lined fun photos. And she rocked it.
An Excerpt from an article by the New Zealand Herald by Vera Alves (c) New Zealand Herald
Why are we so hung up on the unclothed human body?
Does any major trauma come from seeing a stranger’s intimate body parts? If the answer is yes, you’ve really got to start asking yourself why.
[A] woman who spotted the naked swimmers in Taupō said she was “horrified” at the sight.
We need to get horrified at horrific things – and there’s no shortage of those around. Get horrified about child cancer, sexual abuse, climate change and the threat of deadly pandemics.
Nipples and penises should be the least of your worries right now. “But won’t someone think of the children?” I hear the Karens wonder in the deepest recesses of Facebook.
Yeah, Karen, I’m thinking of the children. The children who are soon going to be adults and grow up with some really messed up views of what bodies look like, if we keep restricting them to the bodies they see on porn sites or in fashion magazines….
This repressed and archaic view of the human body as something to be hidden and ashamed of is nothing if not a form of oppression – and there are far too many people going along with it without questioning it. Ask yourself: why do you have such a big issue with seeing people naked? “It’s just not right” and “it’s not the done thing” are not good enough answers.
You’ve been predisposed to think bodies need to be hidden and nakedness is wrong – but here’s the good news: you can change that way of thinking and absolutely nothing bad at all will happen. Your children will not grow up to be depraved – if anything, they might just grow up more confident and empowered – and isn’t that a risk worth taking?
Besides, you’re getting upset at the wrong thing. The problem is not nudity. The problem is the over-sexualisation of the human body, which leads to all kinds of issues. But a non-sexualised naked body – and I think we can all agree there’s nothing “sexual” about breastfeeding a child or going for a swim on a hot summer’s day – should not be a cause for concern, yet it all gets dumped in the same “lewdness” basket.
In fact, “normalising” the regular human body can be a really good thing. If our children are to grow up with healthy views of what a normal human body is, we need to shed these archaic taboos.
If your child sees someone naked, they will have natural questions. It is part of your duty as a parent to ensure you address these properly. It gives you a golden opportunity to talk to them about things like boundaries, consent and respect for others.
The human body is not immoral – stop making it so….
I just got back from an experience like I’ve never had before: the 2018 edition of the World Naked Bike Ride.
Portland is about a 7 hour drive from Boise. A couple friends and I jumped in the car and made the drive and it was absolutely worth the time invested.
It turns out that of all of the WNBR events worldwide, Portland has the largest one! They’ve been holding the ride for more than a decade and this year’s estimate was that over 18,000 people participated.
It’s kind of remarkable if you’ve never been. We biked across the city from our host’s home to the staging area and had about an hour and a half to soak in the evening sun and listen to a great fusion jazz band (High Step Society) before the ride began.
The whole thing is voluntary and run by volunteers: no tickets, no demands, no clothes! AND there were no incidents of violence or sexual assault– just people truly being people.
It was an atmosphere of simple joy — it was quite relaxing — and I couldn’t stop feeling happy being there!
About half an hour before the ride, the crowd was starting to grow and the band was getting their groove on. I don’t it on video, but later the natural amphitheatre filled up with nude dancers having a wonderful time. You’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean, but when someone says “naked people dancing,” what do you think of? Maybe a darkly lit nightclub and a pole?
This wasn’t that. This was people having carefree fun in their skin.
I didn’t have my DSLR, but I did capture a few candids of people enjoying the pre-ride festivities, getting body-painted and managed to get just a few during the ride itself. Maybe next year a GoPro will be in order?
As I rode the 6 mile course through Portland’s beautiful neighborhoods and along a bluff overlooking the river, there were two things that really stuck out to me:
Riding a bicycle naked feels just like riding one with clothes on. Really! No, I didn’t get sore or chafed, but Yes, it was actually less sweaty and cooler because there weren’t any clothes to collect all that body heat.
Along the whole bike route, parents brought their children outside on their driveways where they cheered us on, waving and ringing bells and welcoming us to their neighborhoods. It was such an emotionally positive experience!
I would definitely do this again and I hope you’ll come with me next year! Here are a few photos: