What's it like to bare all for art? Lo-Arna Okan (clothed at the time) tells Time Out's Darryn King
First published on 11 Oct 2011. Updated on 7 Feb 2013.
Lo-Arna, how did you get into modeling in the first place?
It was quite spur-of-the-moment actually. At a friend's suggestion while I was in Paris, I decided at about 2am to make a profile on Model Mayhem and just see what happened. Within 24 hours I had offers to do shoots, and from there it gradually evolved into an outlet for my creativity. Model Mayhem was the starting point but in this industry the opportunities come from nurturing one's reputation and forming connections, so that's what I did. It was a way for me to keep traveling and along the road collaborate with some incredible photographers and artists on various projects. From Fashion Week in New York to gallery installations in Berlin.
How did you feel at your first nude shoot?
Well I'm a trained ballet dancer, so I’ve had a heightened awareness of my body from a very young age. When I work with a dance partner the mutual goal is to create a certain aesthetic, regardless of how uncomfortable or potentially 'awkward' the position may be! From that perspective, it actually felt very natural.
Undoubtedly, dancers make the best models because of the awareness they have of their bodies.
Yes, that’s been a real asset for me. Though, when I first started I'd overdo things as I was used to projecting to the back of an auditorium. I'd over-dramatise my face or do extreme movements, and they are beautiful, but they don’t necessarily transfer to the camera – so I had to learn those subtle nuances.
What do you think about when you’re modeling?
I wouldn't call it thinking as such. I'm aware of things like where the light is and the angle of the camera but if I think too much it becomes 'posed' and the moment loses its spontaneity. My best work comes when I've the clear intention of what I'm expressing in my mind and then I just simply move.
What has the difference been for you, between nude modeling in Europe and in Australia?
In Paris, and Europe in general, there’s a liberated acceptance of the human body. The nudity is an ingredient, not the result; emphasis is on exploring the intricacies of the physical nature. The Australian market, from what I've seen so far, is highly sexualised – more geared to the FHM market.
You know, Lo-Arna, you may have thought about the art of nude photography more than most other models.
Well I've always been a curious soul and my interest is in expression. I’d never aspired to become a model so it’s been an exploration as I go along. Coming to it from the movement perspective, I love being a part of the process; from the birth of the concept to the post production. Whether it be with one photographer or a room full to the brim with creative contributors, everything melts in the mutual fevour for the image. For me the joy lies in this moment.