Let’s talk about the models. These lovely ladies at the Arctic Nude workshop in Iceland were true professionals, in so many ways, and I’m so grateful for them.

It’s pretty often that I have regular clients say, during their shoot, “Wow! This is a lot of work! The models make it look so easy, but it’s not!”. That about sums up my feelings towards professional art nude models. They put a lot of effort into their careers!

Corwin Prescott (the photographer who puts on this Arctic Nude workshop) warned us right away that people would think these iceberg and ice lagoon photos are photoshopped, and the models aren’t REALLY posing nude on ice. Well, no, they actually ARE freezing their bums off for the sake of art! All 5 of the models luckily had been part of this workshop previously, so they knew what to expect, when it came to posing in the ice and water. It takes a lot of “mind over matter” attitude for them to be able to pose this way, without it coming across on their faces how uncomfortable they are. The years of studying fine art posing doesn’t hurt either.

To avoid giving the models hypothermia, the photographers would all get their exposure/ camera settings ready ahead of time, adjust for certain factors like fog and mist, and get in place for the best shots. Then the models would discuss between each other the best plan of action. We, the photographers, needed to be quick with catching their poses, as to not keep them out there longer than needed. The maximum time these models really should have been in any icy environment was about 3 minutes. After that, they could risk getting frostbite on toes and fingers. They also needed to be conscious of their fingers and butts touching the ice too much, to keep the redness to a minimum where possible.

Our first setting this day in the ice was on a public, black sand beach at a very touristy area. We walked down the beach quite a bit to an area with 2 large pieces of ice, with less tourists hanging around. A bit of background of why these pieces of ice are in this location…. these icebergs are carried out to see from the lagoon, then come crashing back on to the beach with the waves. Not only is the temperature of the ice and water dangerous, but the sheer size of the icebergs was dangerous as well. These icebergs can easily move and tip over with the waves crashing into them, and crush a model. The models who were standing to the side waiting their turns, and our tour guide, were keeping a vigilant eye out to make sure no one would be seriously injured by a moving chunk of ice. These ladies put themselves in danger just so we could create gorgeous images, and I appreciate them so much.

Our second location was at an inner area of the glacier lagoon and is, without a doubt, the most awe inspiring place I had ever seen in my lifetime. I’ve never seen a place with so much geological history, beauty, and sheer size. *Please view the last image, of the landscape, full size, to see what I mean.* This glacier lake, Jökusárlón, is 7 miles wide, and the glacier itself is 3,100 square miles. The deep blue tones indicate the densest part of the ice, and the black you see on some of the ice is from past volcanic eruptions. When wading out into the water, the models had to be very careful as to not cut their feet or legs on jagged chunks of ice. This is particularly hard to do when you start losing feeling. Most of the models were ready to come back on the shore, get wrapped up in their coats, and drink some spiked hot chocolate. But our Icelandic model “Icelandic Selkie” on IG (the redhead) stayed out for at least an extra minute saying “I’m ok!! What other shots do you want?!”. Corwin and Nicole had to scream at her to stop being a hero and get out of the water. It takes a great team like that to look out for each other. It was truly an amazing group of photographers and models, and every cared a lot about the models’ safety. As we should!

I’m so grateful for being able to photograph women in this amazing location, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Thank you so much to each of the models for being such brave badasses!!

-Tamara

Models: SayHelloJess, Alice X, Nicole Vaunt, Icelandic Selkie, Lillias Right