The short answer to this is very little! You need a robe, a pair of slippers, and a personal towel to sit upon. Most importantly, you need your body, and your willingness. The quality of your posing will be directly proportional to your attitude and enthusiasm (not your accessories) and the artists will help you until experience hones your skill.
Many models, including those who have been working for quite a long time, bring only the essentials to a session. To whit these widely agreed-upon basics are: your (clean) body, a robe, a pair of slippers, and a personal towel to sit upon. I know very experienced models who bring only these items.
I, on the other hand, am a little OCD, lol. I have a great deal of equipment that I bring to practically every posing session. When I arrive, I have absolutely everything that it would take to present a life modeling session. I do this for two reasons. 1) I was a Boy Scout, and every ‘tenderfoot’ knows the scouting motto: “Be prepared!” I am most at ease, most efficient, and most successful when I show up (for anything) prepared.
The second reason is more complex. I was highly insecure for most of my childhood and young adult life. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, as well as mild agoraphobia. This may seem antithetical to my being a model, but just the reverse is true. Because I was insecure, my modeling infuses me with a self-confidence and self-esteem I find nowhere else in life. I hunger for it, and yet am afraid of it all at the same time.
Hence my cumbersome, two fisted approach to essential modeling equipment. It’s the strict protocol of life modeling together with my complete ‘dressing’ of the environment that give me a sense of safety while I’m performing this difficult but immensely rewarding task.
In one hand I always carry a staff/stool/pillow. Even if a venue has these items, I usually prefer to bring my own because they are higher quality and suited exactly to me. I put them together for ease in transport.
In the other hand I carry my travel bag. It’s way more ‘loaded’ and cumbersome than any woman’s purse anywhere! In it, I carry everything that is important to my craft:
- My robe and slippers
- Clean sheets and matching towels (blue, brown, red, green)
- 3-ring binder of “Joseph Collection” 4x6 photos, and Kenosha News article
- Appointment book, newspaper (or book), ‘Bose’ speaker, bottle of water
- My phone (on silent) with Pandora (music) and “Seconds Pro” (timer) apps.
- Blue painter’s tape, Luden’s cough drops, Ibuprofen, caffeine and Imodium
- Pulled muscle tape, Band-Aids, and an emergency snack
Please do not think that because I bring so much with me, that those models who bring very little along are not as good as me. Instead, their economy of equipment may indicate greater self-confidence, rather than a lack of experience. Remember, it is the ability to come out of that robe and hold perfectly still in interesting poses that mark a great model, not the accessories they bring along.
That being said, I have at times transformed a dreary dais into a clean and alluring place to pose. I have also been complemented frequently about my preparedness, and the positive effect that it has on both artists and instructors. It is my belief that the nicer and cleaner the model, pose and dais are, the more freedom the artist will have to go to the edge of their talent, and then push beyond…
For a model, the dais is a sacred place. No one is allowed to approach without asking permission. Photos and recording equipment are disallowed at most universities, and by most models. “Upon the dais” is the crucible of figure art. In my experience, the more I make it my own the better I will pose... and the freer the artists will feel to create!
… and of course the more beautiful the “Josephs” are that are created, the happier I am!