When he led me to the woods and told me to sit on a fallen tree trunk, soft with lichen, moss, and decay, I obeyed him. When he reached behind my neck and took the pins out of my hair, I simply looked straight ahead, not speaking, barely breathing. When he asked me to remove my dress, loosen my corset, and slip off my stockings and shoes my heart gave a lurch and I gave him an alarmed look.
“You needn’t take off your chemise. I don’t expect you to be fully nude today.” He had moved his attention away from me and back to his large camera and the wooden box he had laid in the grass beside the stand his camera sat on. It was filled with amber bottles of various sizes: some small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and others as tall as a soda bottle. He was more like a man of science than the other artists I had modeled for and shared a bed with. The other men were always full of romance and color; he was meticulous and purposeful.
Turning my back to him, I walked around the fallen tree trunk and hid behind an oak tree to take off my dress and loosen my corset. Though he had seen me without my clothes several times but that day I felt a creeping shyness. He didn’t seem to be the man whose beard tickled the skin on my thighs, making me laugh and sometimes cry out. When I emerged in only my pale ivory cotton chemise as he had ordered, he was still pottering with the bottles, plates, and camera.
Resuming my position on the mossy log, I looked at the sky rather than at him, studying the clouds and running my fingers through my hair, which usually was only loose on the days that I washed it. I grew so transfixed that when he touched my bare shoulder with his cold hand, pulling me out of my sleep-like stupor, I jumped. When I opened my eyes he had turned and walked back to the camera. He placed a square of black wool over it and closed his box full of amber bottles with a click before walking back over to where I still sat on the log.
“I’m finished. Thank you very much.” And then he leaned forward, putting both hands on my shoulders, and kissed me deeply.
Okay, so my new obsession is Pre Raphaelite photography. I’m sure any Pre Raphaelite photography experts are reeling at my loosey goosey ineptitudes with the historical and technical aspects of my story – but really? I just wanted to spill out a little short bit of narrative told from one of the models’ perspective. They were just lovely, with their hair down and corsets untied. I love that a whole movement of artists took to nature in a time when clothing and custom was still terribly restrictive (especially for women). Just beautiful. You can learn more here.