You were another late bloomer to the modeling world, tell us a little about your beginning and the different type of photography that you were drawn to.
C: “I started in 2006 after being placed on disability from my regular daytime job. A local designer, Carlous Palmer saw me standing in front of my son’s school, and asked me if I would like to participate in a fashion show he was holding at a local club. As it turned out, we had met 10 years prior when I modeled in a hair show that he was the stylist for. After his fashion show, he asked me to participate in a TFP photo shoot that featured his designs. When I went to pick up my photos, the photographer told me about several networking sites such as Model Mayhem, One Model Place, and a few others. He recommended that I post the photos from the shoot to promote myself. And the rest is history.”
Knowing you are religious, how does that dove-tail with the nude photography. Were there any barriers you personally had to face and how did the nude work begin.
C: “I wouldn’t say that I was a religious person. I believe that there is a creator, or higher power that lives in us all, but I wouldn’t call that religious. With that being said, the only thing that really inhibited me in the beginning was my own fear due to the lack of knowledge about what art nude modeling was, me being married at the time, and the hang ups I had about my body. The first time I did any type of nude work was an implied nude, or topless shoot covered in jewelry. The first time I did an art nude shoot was with the late photographer Jerry Harke for his book called “Nu Art en Noir et Blanc”, a 408 page book of art nudes in black and white. That made 2 firsts for me , as it was the first time my work was published.”
How did/do you handle requests for more explicit poses. Have those requests ease off after all the years you have been in the business?
C: “I simply say, No. I’ve been blessed not to have had many of those encounters or requests. Most photographers view my work and through emails or phone calls, they get an idea where my head is when it comes to that sort of thing.”
Personally I think you have a lovely face and figure yet you are underutilized, what do you figure the reason is?
C: “My lack of financial resources to travel, my age, and the fact that not too many photographers are interested in shooting African American art nude models. While at a weekend workshop/retreat of models and photographers, I had a conversation with a photographer who actually told me that “There’s no money in African American art nude work. With that being the mindset, not many photographers know how to, nor are they willing to learn how to light darker skinned models.” You can imagine the look on my face; however, that statement did shed some light on why I was not hired hardly at all during that event.”
Now this may be too personal and feel free not to answer, you have health issues that have plagued you for some time, how has that affected the modeling?
C: “It has caused me to pace myself more. I no longer pose for art classes because holding poses for a considerable amount of time was becoming painful. On a good day, I would only be able to hold an interesting pose for maybe 10 minutes, which was not fair to the students.”
I have a close family member who has lupus and she suffers from a light sensitivity and breaks out in a rash if she is in the sun, how does your lupus manifest itself?
C: It varies. It can range anywhere from persistent headaches to joint pain and swelling to Fibromyalgia attacks. The cold weather makes things worse.”
As I said in the beginning, I think that you are a stunning model and if you were closer I’d love to have you as one of my muses. Do you have that kind of relationship with any photographers?
C: ” I used to in the beginning, but that has since changed as most of them have stopped shooting or have moved on to other genres that I won’t do like explicit material.”
In the grander scheme you are a young woman, where do you see yourself in the next five years.
C: ” In the next 5 years, I will be 50. With my condition, I have learned to take things one day at a time. Hopefully, by then, things would have picked up a bit. I would just be satisfied with be alive and physically capable of taking care of myself.”
Liv Sage is a wonderfully talented young artist and model who has seen a phenomenal reception in the photo world in the past year and a half. Freckled and red haired, belie the old soul that resides in this diminutive intelligent woman. Working in close relationship with several photographers she has build a very impressive body of work as well as a even closer bonds.
“Sometimes I wish there were more things I cared about, and that I cared a bit less about the things I do care about. Being spread like thin elastic over many things, and having them push and pull against me would be preferable to pooling in one place like water to be tossed about by that one thing I care about.”
Would you give us a quick peek at your background, education, how you looked at life as a child and as a young woman.
Liv: “A quick peek would be…I am relatively well-educated. I consider my background to have been a good one, and I love my family but do not discuss them publicly.
How I look at life has varied throughout different parts and pieces of it. This is dependent on age, location, and all sorts of circumstances, so it would be a bit difficult to say I have a specific outlook on life as this is so context dependent. I’m curious and observant. This is an easy thing to say, so I’ll define my outlook in those two words for now.”
Studying your Tumblr site, I notice you have made inroads into the photography community in record time. What do you feel is the draw besides your youth and that perfection of youth.
Liv: “Well, I don’t know whether ‘perfection’ is actually a characteristic I possess, in fact I’d claim exactly otherwise. But, in terms of making inroads, I try to exercise good judgment about what sort of work I do, who I work with – especially on a consistent basis – and how I conduct myself professionally.
But, I think it’s necessary to note that I’m not as young as I appear. I’m closer to 30 than to 20 at this point, which I don’t consider a bad thing. Arguably, this has also been an asset to me in choosing good work and exercising good judgment. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible to do so at a young age, but I would say, for myself, my judgment and sense of self worth has become better as I’ve gotten older.
I’ve been told that the draw to working with me is my taste – i.e. who I’ve chosen to work with, what type of work I prioritize, and my artistic tastes.
And then, of course, there are people who hire me for my hair color alone. Which is completely fine, and I understand why that would be a draw as well.”
I am duty bound to ask about your body hair; as a young man I had a girlfriend who also decided to forgo the razor and the effects were fascinating to watch. How do people react to you?
Liv: “You are duty bound to ask? Who is the one holding you accountable for the asking?
I’ll end my sarcasm there and just say, people are almost always fascinated by it, not always in an appreciative way, but fascinated nonetheless. It doesn’t bother me either way and a criticism of something like that won’t sway my opinion on it one way or the other.
So, I mostly tend to ignore the reactions altogether unless there’s a particularly funny reaction. I think my favorites are the ones who identify me by my pubic hair alone, as if it’s more than a physical attribute but rather an indication of who I am as a person. This is a funny concept to me, and I don’t know how they came up with such an odd idea.”
One can’t help but notice you get a lot of comments about pubic hair, but not many after you asked for all comments to be made in the form of a limerick. What do you think that says about the commenters?
Liv: “Actually, I did still get many comments after I demanded limericks. But, I demanded limericks in an attempt to get the comments to stop. So, when I started to get limericks, because apparently no one took the hint, I simply ignored them.
Not as interesting as you likely thought. Though, some of the limericks were sort of clever – which was also a demand. You had to write a good limerick. Though, no one wrote one clever enough for me to post, so I did not.
In terms of what any of this says about a commenter…Well, I wouldn’t want to hazard a real guess. Perhaps they are curious? They realized I have a box on my blog that says they can ask me anything and so they did? I don’t really think it says much of anything about the commenter other than they saw they could ask whatever they’d like and so they did. Now, why they would ask about pubic hair over all else? I’m assuming because it’s one of the first things they noticed. If I had very large breasts, I think they’d ask about that. If I had long black hair, I think they’d ask about that. If my body was completely covered in freckles, I think I’d get questions about that.
I don’t think there’s some over-arching characteristic of the people who ask these questions though.”
Also you are very generous in having your pubis photograph, in my own work I pay special at
tention to the ladies who give me great latitude to work with all parts of their body. How much would you say that has open doors for you and how much trust does it take you?
Liv: “Well, I’m really not. After all, the pubis is a bone that forms the pelvis inside the body. So, I’ve never had that photographed with anything other than an x-ray machine.
But, I know what you mean – I’m very generous in having my pubic region photographed. Much of this is because I have pubic hair. I will allow this area to be photographed in certain ways. Though, I do still have restrictions, which is worth noting. I don’t allow spread shots. If my inner labia, clitoris, or vagina accidentally show in a photo, I do not want the photo shown. I will never willingly show those areas in a photo.
So, I will allow my pubic hair to be photographed and to be very visible. But
, I still have my restrictions. It is not a free for all in the least.
In terms of how much trust it takes, I’m very comfortable with my body. I think that has
opened more doors for me than the mere fact that I’ll allow my pubic hair to be in a photo. If I allowed it in the photo but looked uncomfortable, that would not be a good photograph. If I did not allow it but looked comfortable, that would be a better photograph than the former. Of course, if you are a bit more free with your body and restrictions while also being comfortable, it’s a lot easier to get a good photo.
But, I don’t let someone photograph all areas, still. I take my own comfort into consideration depending on context.”
As your modeling career has unfolded you are working with some very good photographers. One can’t help but notice your skill has improved as well as the emotion that comes out in the darker work. Comment
Liv: “I am working with very good photographers, yes. And I would consider some of these photographers to be friends. I tend to do my best work with the people I am actually friends with, and expressing emotion, from that standpoint, becomes quite a bit easier.
And, over time, it would be expected that skill has improved. I try to always eat well, get enough physical activity, understand my own body, etc. And, I’ve become more comfortable over time – with my body and with the nature of this line of work – so that has helped immensely.”
And how much is it affecting your art? How do you feel the photography has helped you to be a better artist. I see a growth in your modeling surely you’ve noticed a growth in your art as well.
Liv: “I’ve become a better artist in terms of collaboration on artistic projects. Most of my previous artistic experience was done alone, so collaboration is new to me. I’ve begun to prefer this – or to at least appreciate feedback more than I did before.
In terms of whether it has helped me to be a better artist, I don’t know. I’d let someone else be the judge of that.
Though, I think modeling for artists has helped me to become a bit more inventive more quickly, and I’m less inhibited about expressing emotion than I used to be. I’d generally consider both of those to be beneficial in terms of my own art.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years photographically?
Liv: “I might have brief imaginings of what I might be or do that far ahead, but I try not to let them be more than wondering about future moments. It’s not something worth dwelling on for me as I couldn’t possibly predict anything with any certainty.
I suppose that I’ll try to make it interesting. That’s as much as I can say.”
Modeling came as an afterthought to Jean Dawson, while enjoying a busy professional life and an even more demanding personal life. She enjoys singing and acting, and Jean has also found time to teach a couple of courses at a local college. In a recent chat we discussed her interest in modeling and the successes she has enjoyed. With that success has come more varied shoots, some in very out of the way locations and with some of the most interesting photographers.
M: Photographically you came sort of late in life to modeling. How old were you when your interest began?
J.D.: The first time I was ever photographed I was 28. It was late in the game. It wasn’t anything I set out to do. It was a chance occurrence. I started out doing nude for this photographer who thought my nudes were too “white-bread” (tame) for him. But it was through him that I met Tim Summa who took an interest in me and started promoting me to other photographers. Over the years Tim has taken I don’t know how many hundreds of photographs of me.
M.: When Tim started working with you (and myself for that matter), he seemed to be bringing you along to the erotica more from just the nude photography and helped improved your skill level. Would that be a fair statement?
J.D.: Right. I didn’t have that much experience and I had to get more comfortable with working with photographers and myself, too, before I could allow myself to branch out and do other things. I didn’t know that much about photography so I tended to rely on the photographer because I thought that they knew more about it than I did. Even in posing, I’d try something that I thought would be awesome, then I’d see the photographs and think whatever you thinking.
M.: Did you know that you were interested in the erotic genre then?
J.D.: I guess I never really thought about it before. So no, I guess I didn’t know that I’d be interested in it, but then it became apparent pretty quickly. I think I always knew that I like to be naked, and that I always like having my picture taken, so that was pretty natural, I think. I like sex and I like looking at sexy pictures, and it seemed natural to start making them.
M.: How did you find a photographer to work with and begin to explore that field, or did you have a genre in mind?
J.D.: I don’t think I pursue photographers who are into that, I think that it just happens because once you do something that is somewhat erotic and then people see those pictures, and they know that you do pictures like that, you get more requests to do more erotica in the future.
M.: Photographers are a lot like sexual predators in that they use the same sort of tools to gain your confidence and trust. But the predator has a much difference agenda in mind. Has that ever worried you?
J.D. Not really, because I’m too trusting of a person. It has occurred to me to be more cautious. But I’ve never really felt worried because every person that I’ve shot with, I’ve met or talked with extensively before, so I felt that I knew them and felt okay with them ahead of time. I’ve never really felt threatened or that I would be put in danger. Everybody I’ve worked with has really been pretty nice.
M.: In your professional life you seem to have a have a lot of responsibility, and in your free time you also have a lot of responsibility. People count on you to be here to be there, to do things. Do you think that the erotica is a way to take the pressure off?
J.D.: I think so, yeah, especially the bondage or submission/domination sort of thing. I think that it is sort of the appeal not only in photography but with those kind of fetishes. You are not under any kind of pressure. You’re just doing what you are told and there is some kind of weird freedom in that. In the photography, one of the other draws to it is like this make-believe world where you are allowed to do things and be things you can’t be in real life. It’s kind of appealing to take on a new identity I don’t have to take any responsibility for. And combine that with the sexually charged nature of someone taking pictures of you naked and taking pictures of you in exposed ways is a very tense state. And yes, I can see how it’s a way to remove responsibility from yourself and do things you wouldn’t do in a more inhibited environment.
M.: Speaking as a photographer, we all have out our scratch pad poses or models or situations where we work out ideas out. How do you work out your ideas?
J.D.: I think that most of the time I’m going along with what the photographer wants to do. My job as a model is to help someone achieve this vision that they have. I think that usually the photographer has the grand vision and I am helping them to achieve that vision. I have some small input as to the pose or what I wear or stuff like that. You know I don’t want to make it sound like these guys I work with are despots. With Tim I suggested wearing those red shoes and I’m really gad I did because they pop. As for shoot I’d like to do, I would love to be photographed on a railroad trestle. Now, how I’d accomplished that would be difficult.
M.: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 or 10 years?
J.D.: I don’t know. I’m going to be pretty old for a model I mean in five years I’ll be forty. I’ve always thought of modeling as a young woman’s profession, Though if people are still interest in taking pictures of me, and want to see pictures of me, I like doing it. If you’d asked me seven years ago if I’d be doing this period I wouldn’t have thought so. I guess if people use soft focus filters or Photoshop, as far as what type of photography I’ll be doing I don’t know. I always thought I’d retire sort of, maybe not be in it as much anymore, but as long as people are still interested in taking pictures of me, yeah, I like doing it. Now as far as what type of photography I’ll be doing I don’t know. I like the variety a lot.