TSJ talked to the 20-year-old, Austin-based sexytimes Tumblr model, L. Shima, about racy pics, public nakedness, and how Tumblr changed her life.
The Smoking Jacket: Tell me a bit about your website — how did you get the idea to start a Tumblr account?
L. Shima: My Tumblr page has been super helpful for my career. I noticed how much traffic Tumblr receives on a daily basis and the focus it has on pictures rather than videos. Still images, a few years ago, were starting to become old school with the advent of sites like YouTube dominating, but when Tumblr showed up, still pictures were cool again, and it was easier than ever to share. It was perfect timing for me, since my job creates so many pictures! I knew if I hustled it properly I could really get my work out there. So far it has worked!
Designing my page took some time. I researched other accounts, and looked up everything I could to figure out the science behind it all, and how I would like to display my content. The coding was tricky, but I eventually got the hang of it with some help! One more thing on this topic – although my Tumblr page will still be a big outlet for me, I am having my official website being built as we speak (or type, haha). I am very excited about that. It will have a fully stocked store with my merch, new pictures, etc!!
TSJ: How did you get into modeling?
L. Shima: I started over two years ago. This past New Years, however, my resolution was to really focus on my modeling. Up until that point, modeling was just another hobby for me. But this past April I became full-time. I had such a solid time booking events at SXSW 2012 here in Austin that I made the decision to quite my other job(s) and really do this. Through sites like Model Mayhem and Facebook I was able to contact photographers and network. I was always intrigued with photos, cameras, artistic expression, and just the thought of a photo shoot. I am that girl that photo bombs the pictures at parties and such – plus loves to play dress up and act. I am always interested in the resulting images and how others view it.
TSJ: Did it take a long time to be comfortable getting naked in front of the camera?
L. Shima: I will always remember my first nude photo shoot. I won’t lie, it was a little intimidating at first, but after five minutes I felt more than comfortable. At the same time, I began posing nude for artistic figure drawing classes. That was very encouraging, and really helped me soak in the artistic aspect of what I do. Nowadays I rarely even notice I am nude. It feels natural, although shooting with especially daring photographers that encourage public nudity… well I really have to take a big breath!
TSJ: What do you find sexy about your photos?
L. Shima: I love my curves! To be honest, I am rather proud of them. I love seeing my body create these wild shapes, that my particular figure allows. The way parts of my body compresses and stretches, especially how my breasts move with the pose – I love it, and I’ve received positive feedback from others as well. The confidence that I sometimes feel in my poses is very sexy to me. Like anyone I have my misgivings about myself, but when I really own a shot I feel like a million dollars. If the pics are also able to get the blood rushing in the viewer… awesome! Simply being in a photo studio or even in front of a plain white wall with one photographer, and then seeing the final product is always amazing. It’s like a prize in every Cracker Jack box.
TSJ: Are there any photographers, models, websites that inspire you?
L. Shima: Oh, geez, so many! I adore the work of models Hattie Watson, Alysha Nett, Echo Nittolitto, Devin Willow, and Jessa Peters. I’m very inspired by photographers William Hundley, Helmet Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Steven Klein. Tumblr really hosts some great pictures, as well as sites like Milk Made, fashion photography blogs, etc. I know I’m missing a ton, but that’s a sampling. I’ve always really respected Playboy. I know I’m young, but I’m not just saying that. I’m aware of what Hef has done for the society, and enjoy keeping up with Playboy projects.
TSJ: Is modeling a creative act for you? (It seems like it is.)
L. Shima: It totally is! When I model I feel like I am the canvas for the photographers creation. Modeling allows shapes, textures, and emotions to be captured forever in an image. I get the same creative rush as any artist when I really find that weird and unique pose that really captures the vision of the shoot. It’s hard and every shoot offers a new problem to solve creatively, but it’s such a fun medium.
TSJ: Do you do any photography yourself?
L. Shima: I actually went to college for a semester to study photography. I later realized I didn’t want to pursue it as a career. I enjoyed the shooting itself but the post processing turned me off. I do enjoy taking film-based photos. The more direct feeling of film is attractive to me.
TSJ: Tell me about the muscle leggings you’re wearing in one of your fashion shoots.
HA! I love my muscle leggings. Whenever I wear them out, I receive a steady stream of compliments. My cheesy response is saying, “Oh I just work out a lot.” Really though, the leggings are from the Australian designer “Black Milk.” As soon as I saw them, I fell in love. They are super unique and intriguing. And honestly, they make my booty look nice.