We had the good fortune of connecting with Raven Lynette and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raven, how do you think about risk?
I believe taking risks is an essential part of life. Without taking them, how do we discover something new? Anything that goes against the grain of normal can be considered a risk. It’s fun and exciting to shake things up, but it’s also important to keep an element of safety in mind. For me, pursuing a career in the arts was a risk. I could have followed through with my original plan of completing the standard years of college and pursued a veterinary career which would have been much more stable. However, I just couldn’t leave the arts behind. My decision to forgo that clean cut plan and instead pursue dance and then full time modeling could definitely be considered a risk to my future financial stability. However I knew in my soul that I would not be happy letting go of one passion to pursue another. So I chose to go the creative route, while my body is able. Being a model can be risky. From financial instability, social stigmas of posing nude, physical demands of posing out in the elements, to predators taking advantage of us in our vulnerable position, modeling has a whole list of risks. However I believe any career has it’s own list, and it is up to the individual to be smart about those risks.
In my almost eleven years of modeling I have put myself in some precarious positions to “get the shot”, however I always had safety in mind. I have climbed tall trees, posed on rocky outcroppings, in freezing weather, in scalding weather, underwater, underwater tied up, and even in the open ocean surrounded by sharks. All of my most risky shoots have been my most rewarding. I love a challenge, so the physicality of underwater modeling is so satisfying. Add the element of being tied and anchored and that satisfaction doubles! I take great pride in relying on my breath control and ability to stay calm under pressure, but realize the importance of having a safety diver near by to insure I don’t actually drown.
Fulfilling a childhood dream of swimming with sharks was the highlight of my career and one that many people were against. I wanted to show the world that sharks are not mindless monsters. I also longed to bridge the gap between my passion for animals and conservation and my passion for modeling. That particular shoot took a year of planning to make sure I had the best safety team in place. I released the images with a full disclaimer to make sure my images didn’t go too far in the opposite direction and make anyone and everyone think they can just willy nilly jump in the water with sharks.
With all of these concepts I did my thorough research and had a safety crew in place. There are risks I won’t take though, and I advise any model/photographer to do the same. Posing on the edge of very high cliffs, especially if there is even a breath of wind, posing on an active railroad track, and working alone with anyone without first checking references and letting a friend know my location, are all limits I will not break.
Risk taking is valuable, exciting, and rewarding, just be smart about it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The majority of my work is in the artistic nude genre. I regularly work for many art classes throughout San Diego, and I am most frequently hired by photographers for art nudes. However, my ultimate favorite genre is underwater. I’ve always loved being in water. If I am on location at a shoot, and there is some kind of body of water nearby, you can bet I’m getting in it! Doesn’t matter what temperature. I did my first full underwater shoot with Adam Attoun in Northern California. Relaxing in the water came quite naturally to me, though it was still challenging. It takes some serious mental power to fully relax (especially your facial expressions!) with the lack of oxygen and water burning throughout your sinuses. I like to call it voluntarily drowning. Over the years of practice, it has almost become a sort of meditation. While a long breath-hold is not necessarily a requirement for underwater modeling, my goal is to get my breath-hold to three minutes, so I can film single shot underwater dance videos. My current average is about a minute thirty, which is already a specialized skill that I am quite proud to offer.
I am also a multimedia artist and create many of my own props, costumes, special effects, prosthetics, etc… I’ve recently created an entire mermaid costume, including a swimmable tail. I think versatility and the ability to provide many other creative services in addition to my posing abilities is important!
The work I am most proud of is my Conservation projects. Animals and nature still very much call to my heart, so I am currently applying a more conservation-based approach to my work. Through the artist platform Patreon, I have been able to raise money to fund projects benefitting various conservation and animal-based organizations. Last year I donated to San Diego’s own Judith A Basset Canid Education and Conservation Center and did a photoshoot with their adorable foxes. After that, I brought my lifelong dream of swimming with sharks to fruition! I collaborated with underwater cinematographer Reefhunter and Shark Addicts Diving to shoot with Silky, and Bull Sharks in the open ocean. I then put together a calendar with the final images and donated the proceeds to Shark Angels. I’m excited to be bringing all my passions together for the good of our planet. I’m not sure when my next big project will be, but I’m thinking it will involve bees!
I am now going on eleven years of modeling professionally and it took a lot of hard work, self promotion, and networking to make it the career I have today.
It has definitely not been easy, but everything has been worth it. I have dealt with various injuries (back injuries, torn ACL, broken foot) from dancing that also interfered with my ability to work as a model. Luckily I had some photographers I worked with regularly that were willing to work around my limitations. We actually created some interesting images that way!
Being a freelance artist of any type presents its challenges. It’s often feast or famine in terms of income, and the majority of my work is spent corresponding with potential clients online, booking flights, renting cars, securing lodging, etc… It definitely takes some discipline to stay on top of everything. One of the most important aspects of this behind the scenes work is vetting your clients. ALWAYS check references! Unfortunately, there are some people out there who take advantage of their position of working with women in a one on one setting. I have had a few uncomfortable situations, but thankfully nothing dangerous. Always check multiple references when working with a new person, stick to your limits, and stand up for yourself!
Another challenge is the stigma surrounding nudity (especially female nudity) in our society. Female bodies are so censored, judged, and controlled. The passing of some laws in recent years has made it even more difficult to promote my work online. Despite these challenges, I wouldn’t change what I do. I love the freedom of expression and celebration of human bodies! I think they are beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. In the freelance modeling world, there is so much diversity in body types, skin color, sexual orientation, you name it! There is literally a market for everyone. It is so beautiful. All it takes is some confidence and self-love, even if you have to fake it at first! Through this work, I have gradually learned to truly love and appreciate my body for all the cool things it can do.
While I know some of my work may be controversial, I hope out of the wide variety of genres I do there is something for everyone. If nothing else, I hope my conservation work can speak to the world and inspire change.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First stop: the beach! One of the main features that drew me to San Diego was its beautiful beaches. La Jolla cove is one of my favorite spots since it is teaming with marine life. I love sharing the beauty of the ocean with as many people as I can, and using that as an opportunity to spread awareness about the importance of marine conservation. Balboa park and Old Town San Diego are both must sees for their vibrant history. As far as eats and drinks, there are simply too many amazing places in San Diego to choose from! My current favorites though are Piatti and Raised by Wolves for their amazing food, drinks, and beautiful atmosphere.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Thank you to my fiancé, and the friends and family who support my arts and adventures! Your belief in me and my work keep me going even when I doubt myself. And thank you to all the photographers and creative team members who help me bring my visions to life!
Other: Everything else (patreon, onlyfans): https://linktr.ee/ravenlynette
Reefhunter Jeff Bennion Photography Masha Rizzi Kristy Jessica Cathartic photos Flesh and Color Kevin Roberts~ Intimate Images Studio