How to get a woman to disrobe

You need `Suspicious Minds' and a good hotel, says photographer John Stoddart; It's no use hoping the top will fall off halfway through a roll of film; you've got to talk about it, and then it's up to the woman Illustration by Joe Magee

"People think I swan in with a little camera in my trouser pocket and have some magic formula, but there is nothing nudge-nudge, wink-wink about it. I'm approached by individuals, their agents or the art director of a magazine for that type of picture and I just fill the brief. A week before the shoot, we sit down and chat about what they are looking for. The actress or model deals with the stylist so they know what they are going to wear - or not wear. With most publications, there is a limit to the provocativeness of the pose or the level of nakedness. It's no use hoping the top will fall off halfway through a roll of film; you've got to talk about it, and then it's up to the woman. You may consider someone gorgeous, but if she thinks she's got a big backside, there's no way you'll take a picture of her. If a woman is happy with herself, then she won't bat an eyelid at taking her kit off. The strange thing is that some throw a wobbly months later. I have naked pictures of Liz Hurley which her agent was terrified of. When she was on the verge of her Estee Lauder deal and covering her arse, I gave Liz my word I wouldn't print them. The News of the World offered me pounds 20,000 - but I had to turn it down! During a session, I always have good sounds on - people love taking their clothes off to Elvis doing "Suspicious Minds!" A gorgeous environment helps - we're usually in a fabulous hotel. I drink a helluva a lot of whisky - it's sexy to have whisky in a room and it calms my nerves. The people I photograph might have a glass of champagne but that's it - I can look all sweaty and blotchy, but they can't!".

John Stoddart's book, `It's Nothing Personal', is published by Arrunden Publishing, paperback price, pounds 23 plus P&P. Stockists: 01484 602961

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