tagRomanceMy Ten Best Studies

My Ten Best Studies



By CC AVONS (1971)

















15) LEGS



I do not wish this title to sound arrogant, so I will hasten to clarify its meaning -- the photos included in this book are not necessarily the best photographs I have ever taken, nor do they show the best models that I have photographed. They are technically among the most interesting, and provide me opportunity to discuss the technical aspects of my profession. How else, for example, could I adequately explain the difficulties of photographing dark skinned models without showing Saskia (Plate 3), or demonstrate methods of capturing blonde hair without the models in plates 1, 6, and 8?

I must emphasise that this is not an instruction manual on the Art of Photography, but an examination of a small portion of my own work, which I hope will be informative and entertaining as possible.


This book is divided into distinct chapters, but there is no directed order in which they should be read. As with any technical manual, I advise that you read the sections that are of interest to you. I must advise you also that you should look elsewhere if you are looking for sordid and frivolous material. Titillation has been scrupulously avoided throughout the text, and my typist, Miss Tite, has been strictly purging my text of any material that she deems unnecessary or unsuitable for delicate eyes. Of course, the topic will never be suitable for family reading, but she and I will endeavour to protect it from any accusations of gratuity. I had drafted a fascinating chapter regarding the language of the studio, but it quite upset Miss Tite's delicate sensibilities, so the offending manuscript has not been included.

Aside from my name, and that of the aforementioned Miss Tite, all other names have been altered. This does not demonstrate resistance of behalf of the models to reveal their names, but it allows them anonymity when it is required, and in some cases it has been impossible to find the models: I have permission to use the photographs, but not their stories. I also wish to avoid advertising my models to my competitors, A wise prospector does not announce the place in which he finds his gold, but zealously pans until he has acquired all of the gold. If I were to reveal the true identity of Miss Kimberly Sterne, every photographer from here to Brighton would no-doubt be paging through telephone directories and combing the country until they located her. The poor girl would be unable to bathe without some keen cameraman positioning screens and lights around her bathtub and pointing a camera lens at her buttocks, or some other gorgeous part of her unclothed young form.

My other motive for changing the models' names is for clarity. Of the ten models featured, four shared the same name. I was unaware of this coincidence until I had finalized my photo selection, but it leads me to believe that there is a certain English girls' name which endows its bearer with beauty, grace, intelligence and patience. So to avoid confusion, I have changed this name. I will not reveal this name, but will say that Shakespeare shared my adoration of it.


However skillful a Renaissance still-life painter was, he could not make rotten fruit look attractive. He could accurately depict the decay, but no prince would hang rotten apples on the wall of his palace. The same is true of the modern photographer, but our brush-wielding Italian is at a distinct advantage. If he wishes to paint an apple but has only a rotten one, he can choose to paint red where he sees brown, firmness where he sees softness, freshness where he sees decay. In the studio, the photographer has no such luxury. He must choose his model with great care, for no amount of lighting or retouching can correct a figure who cannot model. I once knew a pair of identical twins (Plate 4) whose bodies were indistinguishable, but one had the demeanor of a model and the other did not. She seemed awkward and forced, while her sister was lithe, supple and confident.

It would be unfair to say that a single blemish will make a body unsuitable. My studio is very near the Milwood Theatre, and I was once (early in my career) fortunate enough to be introduced to Miss Alana Mullins, one of their most accomplished young actresses. I had seen her on the stage, but it was only in the bright light of the studio that I became fully aware of her proportional perfection: she was pretty, as most actresses are, and her figure was flawless. The light seemed to play on her form as if she was commanding it. Her hair seemed controlled by clouds of unseen sylphs, whose fairy hands arranged each strand. What is more, she had the ability to convincingly portray a character on stage, and she has since become, I hasten to add, one of Britain's most successful and revered stage actresses.

But this is by the by. She was undressing, proudly claiming that an actress did not need to cower behind a peacock-screen to disrobe. Her breasts were as perfectly pleasing as the bulges in her dress suggested, and the gentle curve of her belly was simply exquisite. She was talking confidently until the time came for her to remove her knickers. They were expensive looking, well-fitted, possibly French, but she paused and stood awkwardly still.

"I can't," she said.

I fetched her a large glass of brandy from the cupboard, and she sat on the armchair, toying with a curl of her hair which had fallen lose about her ears. When she saw my concern, she told me, in strictest confidence, that I may not like her buttocks, due to a childhood injury. After much coaxing, she removed her unders, and I saw the scarlet welt across her buttocks. She had, she said, been hit with a cane at some point in her schooling, and the mark had failed to fade. By some cruel fluke of biology, she would be forever scared with her punishment for arriving late to a scripture lesson. I was angry, both for the personal affliction, and that anyone could damage such a perfect photographic subject. This was, I thought, the blemish on the apple, and it was my duty to paint over it, or at least conceal it. I was considering the best pose for Miss Mullins when she looked at me seriously.

"It means I've never been fucked," she said, unsteadily. Now fully undressed she looked shaky and vulnerable and wonderful. "When a man gets near I can't bear to show him, so I've never got far enough to have sex... and I doubt that a virgin makes a good model. Not if I can't be confident when I've never been fucked, when I'm like this. You don't mind, do you?".

I am ashamed to say that I did not mind. I lifted her in my arms, carried her to the altar, and I deflowered her. She moaned and screamed and purred as only an actress can, in fits of pain and pleasure. (Miss Tite says I should stop, and return to the point).

Once we had finished, she wiped herself down and was ready to welcome me in the professional capacity. She was still wet, sweaty and her face shows a euphoric glow (Plate 8). You will note that her smile seems entirely natural, her closed eyes suggest a natural serenity, and her half-closed legs are provocative without being overtly sexual. The shadows on her body were formed by a 1000W bulb, positioned on the left, at around 25 degrees from the horizontal, ensuring that the shadow of the left nipple is clearly visible on the right breast. I notice now a slight smear of white liquid on Miss Mullins's inner thigh, for which I fear I must take full responsibility. The buttocks, with their red mark, are kept entirely out of shot.

This example proves, I think, the imperfections can sometimes be hidden on the body of a truly skilled model, but in many cases it is simply impossible. One must select one's models carefully. According to my notebook I have seen 1568 girls over the past twenty years. 978 blondes, 57 redheads, 533 brunettes. If any man in this city wishes to buy underwear for his wife, I will probably have a record of her vital dimensions, along with assorted other notes, and occasionally a photograph. I know, for example, that the wife of the vicar once had a 38 inch chest, a twenty-two inch waist, firm buttocks, type 4 breasts, type 2 nipples, and 'all the coyness and reserve of a sex-starved rabbit'. She had not modeled for me, as she seemed utterly incapable of holding a pose, and has now lost her useful good looks.

Of all the models I have used, dancers are the most easy to work with. Their bodies are toned and strong, and firm, and beautiful. With some notable exceptions actresses are very difficult as they struggle to maintain a pose, or portray a character without speaking or moving. There is true skill in posing, and it must not be overlooked.

Society girls have exquisite bodies, but seem almost too confident, too haughty for a natural pose. Shop girls are (surprisingly) very good, accustomed as they are to looking pretty and following instructions. Waitresses too, have beautifully toned arms, and the ability to stand still for long periods of time while I adjust cameras and lighting. Prostitutes are unpredictable, and are not generally suited to my style of art. They are physical and sensual beings, instead of unerringly physically beautiful ones. Most men, I have heard, prefer brothels where the lights are turned out, and it becomes a sensual jungle of physical pleasure, rather than a visual experience. I will write more about Kitty and Maria later, but Miss Tite is looking sternly at me, so I must return to my theme.

My most illustrious client was a duchess (Plate 5). I met her when commissioned to photograph her estate and property. Her home, Tottram House is an ancestral mansion on the outskirts of the city, a place where peacocks strut the lawns and parlour-maids strut the corridors. I arrived there on a bright spring morning, and was welcomed by a busty servant girl, who took my coat, and led me, almost sulkily, to the Duchess's study. Here, the Duchess presented me with a map of the property, and marked upon it the features that she required to be photographed. I showed her a portfolio of my architectural work, but I had neglected to remove an explicit nude life-study of Kimberly Sterne.

"Is this your wife?" the Duchess demanded.

"No ma'am', I replied, and explained my profession -- how architectural photography was my first love, but the skills easily transferred to other areas.

"You'd better go and photograph the fishponds." She said, and waved me away dismissively. The servant girl led me to the garden. She was pretty, short, well-formed, but mainly hidden beneath a shapeless blue dress. She was quiet and sullen, but seemed to work with an admirable efficiently. She led me to the orangery, and left me to my work.

She returned an hour later, and informed me that the Duchess wished to speak to me, and I should return immediately to the house. At this time I was convinced that I would lose the commission, and that a morally outraged Duchess would set her dogs on me, or report me for possessing such indecent material. I followed the maid again into the study, and stood in front of the desk. I am not a tall man, but I seemed to tower over the servant. I was beginning to wonder what she looked like under the dress.

"Mr Avons," said the voice of the Duchess, "sit down, we should talk."

Her proposition was simple. Her husband had been away in India for three years, and she wished for him to return. The way to lure him back, she reasoned, was to remind him of the physical delights which she could offer him. She expected the utmost confidentiality, and total discretion, but I was to photograph her.

She was, I guessed, nearly forty, but had a body of which a much younger woman would have been proud. Her face was young and soft, almost naively childlike, and her body was broad, but not fat. She was nearly as tall as me, and had large, majestic breasts, which seemed to have retained much of their younger shape. Her hair was very dark brown, nearly black, and was pulled back into a tight bob. She would not be easy to photograph, but would potentially make a very good subject.

"Shall we get started," she said, unclasping her belt and lowering her skirt to her thighs.

"I've got the wrong camera," I told her. While you may be as beautiful and majestic as this building, I can't use the same lenses for both."

She looked momentarily shocked.

"I'd be delighted to fit you in tomorrow evening," I told her, "If you could come to my studio, I'll have the right cameras, lights, everything you could need ma'am."

"Thank you," she said "four o'clock sharp. I am going to the theatre tomorrow evening, so can be no later."

The sullen servant girl smiled at me. I was becoming even more curious as to what delights were concealed beneath the blue dress. Like a fisherman tasting a storm in the air, I sensed that there was something deeply pleasing about her, despite her awful costume and servile profession.

"Four o'clock tomorrow" I said.

"Dorothy," said the Duchess, "show Mr Avons out". The petite servant led me to the door, and returned my coat. It was only much later that I discovered that my instinct had been right. Sometimes the most perfect models come from the most unexpected places.


The photographer's studio must be his office, his showroom and his workshop, and should be an open space, unbound by close walls or fixed furnishings. My studio was also my home, with small rooms on the rear wall furnished as a darkroom, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. During modeling, these doors were always kept firmly shut. It is important that the studio must allow the model to feel entirely at ease. Lucinda Lane (who has refused permission for her photograph to be included in this publication) was once terrified by a skull which I had carelessly left on a lighting stand. She later swore that she had heard it speak, but all that I remembered was hearing her scream, watching her bouncy naked body leaping from the bathtub, still covered in bubbles, and rushing barefoot onto the street. We had started the shoot very early in the morning, so she found herself surrounded by a crowd of office-suited businessmen, struggling to protect her modesty while their thin trousers bulged, and the soapsuds disappeared. She later claimed that I had taken her dignity, but I assured her that she had no dignity to start with (and I had the photos to prove it). Lucinda and I often argued, but she had beautiful legs.

The design of my studio must be attributed almost entirely to Ellen Williams. She is a friend and assistant, and has proved essential to my career. She can always be relied upon, although I know very little about her. She says that she is studying art, but spends time working at the Millwood Theatre, and is occasionally seen climbing into cars with rich men. I first met her after she overheard me telling an actress friend that I required some background scenery for a series of photographs. I returned to my studio one evening to find it entirely transformed. One wall was a forest, with green lights, painted trees and soft green backdrop. Another was a traditional Victorian stippled backdrop, complete with upright chair, a pot-plant, and a tiger-skin rug. The third wall was a ruined Greek temple, with massive plaster columns in various states of destruction, sculptures of Venus and Diana, and a plywood altar.

"For sacrificing virgins," she said, stepping from behind a pillar, "I'm safe, how about you?"

"I'm safe," I said, slightly confused and a little shocked.

"They were throwing them out at the theatre," she explained, "I heard you wanted them.

"Yes, thank you."

I think it was at that moment she moved in. She does not ever stay for long, but when she is not working or painting, she sleeps in the studio, much like a cat. If a model is here she will be unfailingly helpful, and her contacts in the theatrical and artistic communities have provided to be very helpful over the years.

The Greek temple has provided the backdrop for many hundreds of my photographs, the formality of its ruined columns standing in stark contrast to the curves of my models -- the timeless attraction of classical beauty. Many models have pushed their round breasts against the mighty columns, or reclined upon the white altar. A handful of Bacchanalian orgies have taken place outside the temple entrance.

My lights and camera equipment are stored at one end of the studio, and the furniture is rearranged as it is required. I have a cupboard containing a large number of props, including clothing, candles, mirrors, toys and theatrical props. The scenery that Ellen provides serves most purposes, and the classic black or white backdrop is often used.

Ellen is like a cat. Sometimes she's here, sometimes she isn't. She will disappear for days at a time, and I will return to find her, curled on my bed, sprawled on the tiger-skin rug, or carelessly dozing on the altar. When a model is here she is endlessly helpful, and I will recommend to you to have a female assistant whenever possible. They are so much more reliable than men, who seem to spend much of the time lusting after the models (and fucking them if they are giving the slightest opportunity). Ellen has requested that her photograph is not included in this book.

She is very good with makeup, and I will endeavour to understand her techniques for forthcoming chapters on 'legs' and 'breasts', but she is unwilling to share her methods openly. Like the canny gold prospector, she will not reveal her secrets

Aside from Ellen's leavings and comings, my studio is generally a quiet place. I will work all day, seeing perhaps eight models on an average day. My studio sits in a non-descript property on Millwood Road: it seems once to have been a warehouse of some sort, so there is plenty of space. It is not signposted from the road, but those who need to find it will always be able to. This is how a studio should be.


The most important element of photography is ensuring that the model remains comfortable throughout. Tension makes it impossible for a model to pose satisfactorily, and unsatisfactory photographs will result. You may have already heard my story about photographing a model for a soap advertisement. I had filled a bathtub with warm water and bubbles and Lucinda Lane, and she began posing. She caught sight of a skull which I had left on the lighting rig, and was so terrified that she ran into the street wearing nothing but a thin veil of bubbles. Your studio should be kept tidy.

My favourite piece of furniture is the peacock feather screen which stands by my darkroom door. The outside is woven from peacock feathers, and the inside is mirrored. Each mirror is slightly deformed along its length to emphasise or diminish the female figure. It ensures that the models feel happy with their own bodies before the photoshoot. They feel slimmer and bigger-busted than they have ever before been. The screen was a gift from Saskia (Plate 3), who told me that it would be the most useful piece of equipment I would ever own. She also gave me a device called 'The Prince', and a priceless piece of advice, which I still treasure.

White girls, she said, have freckles all over their bodies, but on every girl there is a single freckle that with stimulate. The slightest touch at that point will thrill her, to press it will inflame her passion, and to kiss it will draw her to the edge of ecstasy. Once you know where a girl's freckle is, she will fall for you entirely. Unless, that is, she discovers the secret of the freckle, and then her need for you, and all of mankind, disappears entirely.

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