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Nude photography is not like landscape photography that everybody wants to do. Especially for the women behind the lens and the photographers behind it. Or even nude men photography.
Although it makes some people uneasy, it is a style that has been practiced in one art form or another for decades, and if done correctly, you can create some really amazing pictures.
You’ll learn how to handle a nude photoshoot in the right way with these nude modeling strategies so that your model is as comfortable as possible and you get the best shots you can. And if you’re directly photographing male models, check out our male nude photography guides! We’ll keep this PG-13.
1. Warm up the studio
Let’s start off this with a very realistic and obvious one … If the model doesn’t have any clothing on, they’ll probably get cold, fast.
Aid them out by heating up the room well before beginning the shoot. To ensure that the model is as comfortable as possible, it does not need to be a sauna by any stretch, just ramp it up to the mid to high 70s, or even better, ask the model what temperature range they prefer to work at. So the more confident the model is, the happier, relaxed they will be and better photos.
2. Make them feel relaxed
If you’re photographing a nude model, the chances are that the model is a little comfortable being nude in front of a stranger. But that doesn’t mean anyone who wants a nude photoshoot is a nude modeling expert.
Make the situation as relaxed as possible with your best efforts. Beyond heating up the room, getting a light conversation can do wonders to calm both of you.
Have a conversation about dogs, families, jobs, television shows, creating small talk will work wonders to get you through the awkwardness of the initial “okay, get naked” stage and get you both to the end of the film.
If you take naked photos, you always have model release forms. This is a way to protect both you and the model. Even if you are well acquainted with them and have an established relationship, a model release form must be on hand.
3. Keep it Simple
It is usually best to keep posing as simple as possible unless you do something like fine art nude photography or nude couple photography.
Again, most of the models with which you are going to work with are going to be average, everyday people doing something special for a loved one. It’s enough worrying to be naked in front of the camera, and making them do complicated poses doesn’t usually work that well.
What you can do instead, is have the model lay down, sit down, or even stand in relaxed and comfortable ways.
Instead of constantly moving the model around, try to move around the model to catch different angles of each pose. This will help with the dimension of relaxation discussed above and also reduce how many times the model has to get up and move around during the shooting.
Check out the video above by DigitalRev TV for additional details on how to get started in nude photography,
4. Focus on the Details
One thing you can do to help relax your model is to concentrate on the smaller details of their body.
Cleavage, a well-placed hand on the chest, and back curvature are all top candidates for detail-rich and captivating nude photography subjects.
If you study classical nude photography, it’s not about the model’s nakedness at all, but about their body’s form and design.
Pro Tip: It is beneficial to approach arranging your images much like you would with a landscape while photographing a nude model. Examine how the light falls across the body of the model and how the light accentuates the curves of the body, as was done in the picture just above.
5. It doesn’t have to be totally nude
One myth about nude photography, is that it always involves full-frontal nudity.
Instead, try having the models cover themselves in different ways at different angles. In other words, not all photos are considered erotic nude photography in this genre.
A female model, for example, may use her arms to mask her torso. The male model can hide his groin,using his hands. You can also use sheets or props to hide some skin while disclosing others.
Often, viewers find these kinds of images even more attractive due to the mystery that comes with covering up certain areas of the body.
6. A shot list to know what you’re looking for before you start shooting
Much like any kind of photo shoot, you need to train yourself for nude photography by sitting down with the model (or models if you’re doing nude pair photography) and reviewing the types of images that need to be taken.
After all, your idea of the pictures that should or should not be taken that vary greatly from what the model wants, so it’s always a good idea to share thoughts about the direction of the shoot before the shoot begins.
Pro Tip: If possible, see nude boudoir photography, black and white nude photography, fine art nude photography, and artistic nude photography to get a better understanding of what they might want for their photographs. Additionally, discuss various poses, lighting, and props that you may want to use, so you’ve got all the items you need in advance. The last thing you want is to wait nervously for your nude model to find something you need!
7. Natural light is your resource
Natural lighting is ideal for any nude photo shoot, because if you shoot during the sunset, it can give the picture a more artistic feel. Even, if you take nude photographs on a bright sunny day with reflectors, it gives good and even lighting.
You can also take pictures near the window to create various patterns on the body of your model. These may be shadows from outside blinds, curtains or trees. All you need to do is position the model nearly opposite to the source of light.
8. Use artificial lighting
If you don’t have the ability to use natural light from the sun, artificial lighting is a good alternative. Softboxes, special kits or a few light lamps can be used.
9. For confident models, try shooting in high key lighting
High-key lighting is ideal for confident models who don’t fear revealing their bodies. Use two light sources, direct on the model and illuminate the white background to get the high key lighting effect. It’s worth mentioning that you’re going to get rid of hard shadows by using this template.
10. Adding props
Props are one of the best things to help the model(s) relax.
Not only that, but a well-placed prop will add a nude portrait with color, texture, and visual interest. What’s more, you have a ready-made solution to keep shaky hands at bay if it’s something the model can hold.
Be careful not to go overboard when using props. Again, simplicity is the key here, so for some flowing movement add a curtain in the background, have the model pose on a piece of furniture with an interesting shape, or offer something to they can hold.
11. Blank or empty walls
You can achieve amazing results by having a blank wall in your apartment or studio. If your room does not have an empty wall, try moving the furniture.
Try to find some place where you can embody your photography nude ideas if you can’t rearrange your room. You can use a backdrop if you have beautiful furniture.
12. Go black and white
You can shoot in color at the beginning and show your model the results. Whether your model feels beautiful or not, even the best of us have on our skin some blemishes or blotches that can catch some eyes in shots. Film in color and convert the pictures to black and white later, and decide later to shoot in black and white and show your model for comparison to see their reaction.
These shots can become less of the body and more of the forms, color, shadows, etc.
13. Use proper lenses
Nude photography lens requirements may be different. It’s all about a model and the photographer. Nevertheless, we recommend using lenses of 35 or 55 mm. This is a popular choice among nude photographers.
These lenses are usually smaller than zoom lenses, so they are less daunting for your models. They give out good proportions and help take close-ups or shoot various body parts.
14. Go with longer focal lengths
This may vary from person to person, but when shooting with longer focal lengths, we found that things worked better. Maybe it was partially because I wasn’t very close and personal when I took my shots and this provided some personal space for my subject–but the shots when I used a longer lens were better than those when shooting with short ones. I started shooting with a 50 mm lens, but ended up using a Canon 85 mm prime lens.
I also had a 70-200 mm lens that came in handy at the end of the shooting when we took some shots that centered on getting some closer shots of parts of model body, almost abstract shots of the sort.
15. Create anonymity
Sometimes, shots that turned away the models’ face can somehow be more photogenic than those the model looked at the camera. It’s not because the model wasn’t attractive or uncomfortable with the situation, but some times the model might look a little distracted when shooting from the face point of view. On the other hand, not seeing the model face added some mystery to the shots.
16. Photography ethics is a must
You need to note some important rules. Do not touch the model unless you have previously agreed to it. Instead of touching the model, better work on your communication skills or show a photo with a similar pose to get the required pose.
By the way, showing the model’s ready-made images is very helpful, particularly if it’s an early nude model. This will make her feel more relaxed and realize what she’s got to do.
Other nude photography tips
17. Using oil can help enhance skin the shape and form)
18. Bump up your ISO in a low-light situation
19. Be confident and communicated clearly, always look into the lens when directing to see the best angle possible
20. Always involve your model, and show them the results, make them feel a part of the shoot.
21. Windows can help create hard light and a nice contrast
22. Be open to change your mind from your original ideas
23. Use negative space in your composition
24. Go outside for more options, instead of being in your studio.