Life drawing couple expanding into photo work

Ruth and Richard, having been life models for many years, have been captured by a range of different artists. Now they are moving into the photographic modelling space as well as life modelling. Hear about their journey into photo modelling.

The first question is, why and how did you get into life modelling?

We were approached by a friend who was a model – we’d done none at the time. She knew of a group who wanted to draw a “real” couple together – not just two random life models – in order to get the unconscious connection in touch, gaze and body language between us. We were comfortable enough with the idea but the results were astounding. We hadn’t been ready for the variety of styles and treatments artists in the group created from the same pose – it was a wow moment and we were hooked .. this was 2008

Ruth and Richard’s very first life drawing session ever!

We have been complimented since on how still we are in poses – the truth is no-one told us at that very first sitting there was any alternative to “playing statues” so we kind of assumed that was the only option. We’ve probably relaxed a bit since but the stillness is still a factor in our practice

A typical pose

So you have been life models since 2008. Why the change to photo modelling?

I wouldn’t call it a change, more an additional strand to our practice. We were very hesitant to get involved with photography as we both hate the clichéd glamour images which both fuel sexism and also (arguably worse) create the sort of body insecurities which make both women and men hate themselves and try to meet impossible ideals. So we just turned down all the offers. But as we got older we started to notice how we became invisible in photography .. there seems to be a total absence of models, especially women, between their mid-forties and then maybe early seventies when they reappear as “wrinklies” and interesting oddities. Women in their fifties and sixties might as well not exist apart from SAGA catalogues.

So we began to build relationships with photographers we found whose work we respected, and who seemed respectful of their models. Our first pro shoot was in 2019. Then Covid intervened and our next session was 2021. That was with @pree__views who had done a lot of work shooting in life drawing groups so he seemed to “get it” with what we are about. So we accepted his kind invitation to shoot together. The session we did with him ( and the lovely @blackcatphotographyuk who assisted in the session and shot some brilliant BTS gave us the confidence to do more and publishing the results and the studio pics led to more offers. So it’s a virtuous circle. Also, a lot of artists then use the pics from our photo sessions as references to draw from, so the creative energy is shared further

But we still do far more life modelling – and we have a lot to learn about working with the camera

Their first pro photoshoot with pree__views

How does modelling for artists differ from photographers?

Looooooong poses. 60 minutes isn’t exceptional .. even “short” poses are 3 minutes or more, which limits how dynamic we can be. We can’t get used to a complete shoot taking half an hour or so! The lovely dynamic photography we’ve done with @mrsabigailelizabeth, for example, would be impossible to hold for more than a minute or so (if that)

Our most recent shoot with @jacktranterphotography

The flip side is we need to learn to project expression in photography. Fourteen years of looking blank or anonymous for 15-20 minutes at a time means it’s hard to emote on cue .. one photographer we worked with recently says our expressions can be “ferocious” … not something we intend, more a factor of habit . Life models are by and large pretty anonymous. By definition photo models are themselves. We were worried about how literal the camera can be, but we’ve both been pleasantly surprised how good we can look in a pro shot as opposed to our ham fisted attempts at self shooting.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me Ruth and Richard you have been an absolute pleasure to speak to. I wish you both the best with your journey expanding into photographic shoots.

Their life drawing work is featured at @richard_ruth_artand has attracted 12k followers in three years

Ruth and Richard now feature their photographic work on a separate profile on Instagram – it’s a private page to reduce the issues that can arise with figure photography, and it’s at @richard_ruth_photos.

They welcome approaches from creative people in any medium who share their ideals .. and who “get it” about avoiding glamour clichés, sexism and ageism.

More Photo/Life models stories – [Click Here]

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