My Experience at a Spencer Tunick Photo Shoot in Rockland County, NY
Guest blog by: Bill Nesc
On Sunday, May 24, 2015, I headed down to Rockland County, New York, for a photo shoot with the legendary Spencer Tunick. I left Juniper Woods the evening before and slept for a few hours at a Thruway rest stop. I set my alarm for 3:30am so I could get up and get to the project location at 4:30am. Let’s see, here I was getting up at 3:30am on a Sunday to do a project for which I was not getting paid. I am either a dedicated nudist, crazy, or both.
I arrived at the location of the shoot in time for the 4:30am registration period. The shoot was taking place at the Garner Arts Center in northern Rockland County. It’s an old factory that was turned into an art gallery and colony, including the home of Spencer Tunick’s studio. This was the first Spencer Tunick shoot I’d done in about 10 years. For whatever reason, he hardly has any shoots in the greater NY metro area these days, even though he lives there.
I registered and then waited for further instruction while many people sat on the floor sipping coffee, trying to stay awake. One thing I noticed is that there were a lot more women than men. The ratio of men to women I would estimate to be at least 60/40 in favor of women. How many nude events can say that?
In all, I would say there were at least 125 participants. The age range seemed to be mostly from 25 to 40. There were few seniors and no kids, even though Tunick allowed kids under 18 to participate with their parents in this one. At the last shoot I went to 10 years ago, infants and toddlers up to preschool age were able to participate.
Nobody seemed nervous. In fact, they appeared to be seasoned veterans of his shoots. I only recognized one person this time, so I’m not sure how many nudists / naturists there were.
After registration, everyone was given a piece of fabric that was perhaps best described as wedding dress material. It was white and translucent. I wondered what we were going to do with it.
A while later, Spencer Tunick came in and gave instructions to the group. We were to wear this material over our head and hide our feet. We all then got undressed and went to the first of three location shots. The first two were in different outdoor parts of the factory.
The early morning air had a bit of a nip to it. The only thing that we had to cover ourselves with was the wedding dress material, though I personally didn’t find it that cold. During the shoot, we put this material over our head while Tunick took several shots and positioned us differently. I thought he was trying to get us to appear as ghosts or spirits with the naked human form underneath.
Turns out this shoot was indeed part of a series called “Spirits” that Tunick is currently working on. He’s used this same material in many previous shoots, such as in Mexico and the UK.
After the two factory locations, we were directed to go to this little forested area by a creek near the factory. Since we didn’t wear any shoes, we walked through tar and stones, woodchips, dirt, and some areas where we needed to watch out for bits of glass. After the 3rd shoot in the forested area, we were done. I left there at 7:00am.
If you get a chance to do a Spencer Tunick shoot, I suggest you do it. It’s a very unique experience to do a project with this well-known international artist.