Going for an early morning swim isn’t usually this popular, especially when the invitation states the dress code is strictly nude.
But for these 1,000 Israelis it wasn’t the choppy water which drew them to the coast, but the chance to take part in artist Spencer Tunick’s first mass nude shoot in the Dead Sea.
The group, from 18 to 77-years-old, were specially selected by the artist but the location was kept strictly under wraps to stop any religious officials from disturbing the shoot.
The group were gathered on the beach from 1am but told not to dip their toes until the sun rose, to get the perfect shot.
When the sun finally came up, Tunick instructed a 1,000 Israelis to enter the salty water, as he photographed them floating in the Dead Sea.
A second photograph was taken as participants were told to stand along the edge of one lagoon, while the third and final photo displayed the group covered in mud.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing as curious spectators, who were able to discover the secret location, started to disrupt the photo shoot by flying over the swimmers.
It was feared religious officials could try to protest over the nude shoot but the artist had no interruptions apart from peeping members of the public.
For Tunick, a Jewish American who has arranged naked human bodies over prominent landscapes, a nude shoot is an indicator of a host country’s openness.
Journalists from all over the world were stationed a considerable distance away from the naked group of Israelis as the photo shoot began.
Tunick said he believes Israel is the only country in the Middle East with the religious freedom for one of his trademark mass shoots of nude volunteers.
The famous visual artist claimed his is not a pioneer, but only following the footsteps of superb Israeli artists.
Tunick insisted that the Dead Sea shoot was not about challenging the region’s delicate religious sensitivities or the turmoil and conflict associated with the Middle East.
He said his aim is to deliver an environmental message highlighting the plight of the world’s lowest and saltiest body of water, which is rapidly drying up.
‘Hopefully my work with this will be associated with the human-made natural disaster at hand, and not with war,’ he said.
Tunick’s has shot nude installations in Australia, the U.S., Brazil, France, England, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Austria.
The artist has been documenting the nude figure in public through photography and video since 1992.
His largest work to date involved 18,000 people posing in Mexico City in 2007.
He has said the title of the work refers to the sameness of individuals, regardless of their sexual preferences.
Mr Tunick maintains his work is not about exhibitionism or eroticism but instead he reveals the vulnerability of life in a rough city landscape.
However sometimes authorities have disagreed, particularly in the U.S., where Tunick has been arrested seven times.