Meet the Woman Taking Some of the Sexiest Photos on the Internet

Admit it: she's got your dream job.
Avatar:
Ali Drucker
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
36582
Admit it: she's got your dream job.

Alissa Brunelli always knew she wanted to be a photographer. But not all little girls who spent their childhood dressing up their neighbors and snapping their pictures grow to become prolific nude photographers.

Brunelli's work can be seen largely in Tattoo Magazine and on the popular SuicideGirls.com, a website that shows off alternative, pin-up style models. She has a unique ability to make you feel as though you've stumbled upon a private, erotic moment that the model secretly wanted to share with you anyway.

But taking pictures of beautiful naked women isn't all  fun and games and nipples — it's an incredibly involved process that sometimes leaves you covered in bodily fluids. We caught up with the photographer who's shot over 1,500 scantily-clad ladies to get the lowdown on on-set horror stories, the importance of confidence, and what it's like to know thousands of guys are probably jerking it to your art.

placeholder caption

Your photos are pretty racy. Lots of gorgeous, naked, tattooed women. What draws you to that particular subject matter?

I was working at a tattoo studio, and I like shooting girls in fashion and stuff like that in general anyway. I met a girl who was a Suicide Girl who came into the shop to get tattooed. Basically, she was like, “You should shoot me for SuicideGirls” and I was like, “Oh my God this is what I was meant to do.” And I pretty much started shooting nude, entirely, completely from that point on. It was maybe like, 2005.

What was it you liked so much about shooting nude girls?

It was a lot less intimidating than I first expected, and it’s a fun, intimate process where you get to know people. And it’s very weird and strange that you become friends with these people through shooting them naked. But literally every friend I have is a girl that I’ve shot or something like that.

What about SuicideGirls in particular makes you want to shoot for them?

It’s interesting. So basically, SuicideGirls is a really interesting website because it has the nudity and the community aspect, so it’s the perfect fit for me. It was a social thing at first that turned into a job.

If you’re ever shooting a woman and she felt uncomfortable, how would you put her at ease?

Usually I tell silly stories about other things that have happened at shoots, that maybe would be considered ‘horror stories,’ and usually I get people laughing and feeling like, “Thank God that’s not me.” And I tell the girls that everyone has flaws and stuff like that. And a good photo is all about angles and shadowing, because everyone has something worth photographing.

About those horror stories, what’s the strangest thing that has happened to you on set?

There’s so many! I’ve been approached by random strangers, since I tend to shoot outside a lot. I’ve had people block us in with their cars trying to get photographs with us, I’ve had every bodily fluid you could possibly imagine on me…

Okay... what?

I guess I’ll tell you my go-to horror story I tell girls to put them at ease. Like seven or eight years ago I was shooting a girl, and my friend was assisting me — she was also a model, and she had a new Agent Provocateur lingerie set that she let the girl we were shooting borrow. So we go and shoot, and from the moment that the girl’s underwear comes off, my friend is looking at me like something is wrong. And I’m not picking up on it, I don’t see it. We’re finishing up the shoot, the model is trying to give my friend back her underwear, and my friend is like, “No, no. Keep it. You worked hard on set, it’s special to you, blah blah blah.” And the girl is like, “No, no, I couldn’t!” and I’m like, “Are you crazy? This is $300 underwear you’re giving away right now.” And I pick it up, and walk to the car, scratch my face, do all kinds of stuff, we get to the car and my friend grabs my hand and she’s like, “Let it go! Let it go!” And the way that my friend tells the story is she says that it looked like someone poured oatmeal inside the underwear. And I had it in my hand and it was everywhere. So usually I tell that story to girls. Unless you get, like, bodily fluids on or around my face, it’s not going to be the worst thing to happen.

Wow. So you set the bar pretty low. That would probably get me to relax.

Yeah, yeah. It definitely makes whatever you’re worried about not that bad.

So that was likely one of your least favorite shoots to work on. What do you think your favorite photo shoot to date has been?

There’s so many…I really like shoots based off movies. Some of my favorite things I’ve done, I recreated the bathtub scene from The Big Lebowski with a ferret and a girl, I think that was really fun. I’ve done American Psycho. Any pop culture type of movie when I can find a girl who is willing to be a guinea pig, I’m all about. Right now I’m working on a shoot with a girl that’s about the movie Signs, we’re going to have a room full of glasses of water and she’s going to have a little foil hat. Stuff like that really makes it fun for me.

What do you think the main difference is between a man photographing a woman, and a woman photographing a woman?

There’s so many differences. I’ve heard from the girls I shoot, that there are certain things a man would see versus a woman and vice versa. The experiences that I’ve had is that maybe women are more slightly more comfortable shooting with another woman than a man. But I don’t think it’s necessarily that much difference as long as the photographer is good at making the girls feel comfortable and confident.

How would you describe your signature style as a photographer?

I guess it would be, intimate nude portraiture. There’s lots of soft focus in my work, too. I’m told a lot that my sense of humor and the funniness that I often bring to the shoots sets me apart, and making people feel comfortable. I have a good reputation for that.

That would probably make a huge difference.

It’s usually all about laughter. If I can tell a girl is really, really nervous, I will step up the comic act. And I’ve only had two or three girls, and I’ve shot over a thousand girls….like, probably 1,500 girls in my career, and I’ve had two girls, no matter what I’ve tried, who I couldn’t get to crack a smile or relax at all. But I feel like those are pretty good numbers.

I would say so.

It made me really uncomfortable for them, like, why are you paying me to torture you?

That’s a whole different kind of line of work.

Yeah, exactly! They might be a little nervous, but once they get started, before the nudity, before a boob even comes out they’re usually like, “Oh, this is fun! This is like hanging out with friends and blah blah blah. If they’re very uncomfortable, like I’ll resort to physical comedy, like tripping over things trying to make people laugh. And when it doesn’t happen it’s very awkward.

I’ve gotta know. What’s it like to take photos that you know people are probably jerking off to?

I just present the canvas, I don't tell the artist what to paint with! Oddly enough, in the ten years I've been shooting nude women, it never really occurred to me to think about the potential men (and women) who might masturbate to the images. Usually the model and I have a different intention set when it comes to creating our work. I'm also so desensitized to nudity at this point. Really when it comes down to it though, I feel that my work is a bit "tame" for masturbation material. There is so much more out there in the world of pornography with the sole goal of arousal that I wouldn’t consider all of my work to be pornographic. In fact, I would describe my work as erotic fine art instead. I'm sure it happens, but I think most of internet masturbation is going on elsewhere.

So what’s next for you?

Well, I have lots of shoots, basic stuff. I’m working on a book, which I’m really excited about. It’s a book of my stuff, I’ve been compiling work for about a year now. We’re moving slow, it’s my first book so I want it to be perfect.

If there are any women out there who are maybe nervous, but want to get nude portraits done, what advice would you give them?

Oh, I really think that’s something everyone should do. I have seen people that are very shy and insecure, blossom and find all this confidence. Just from seeing themselves more objectively from a camera’s viewpoint. You should be forced to do it, because it builds so much confidence and I’ve seen it happen to literally everybody I shoot. Especially girls that share their photos and get feedback, on Instagram or whatever. And it’s awesome to me and it makes me feel good. My advice would be to just do it do it. Find a photographer, and do it. Because it is a life changing experience.

Photographs by Alissa Brunelli, and originally appeared on SuicideGirls.com.