- Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 July 2020 01:19
Photo by PeopleImages via iStock
Nude imagery is not everyone’s cup of tea - that goes for models in front of the camera and photographers behind it.
Though it makes some people uncomfortable, it’s a genre that’s been explored for millennia in one art form or another, and if done right, you can produce some truly incredible images.
With these tips, you’ll learn how to approach a nude photo shoot the right way so that your model is as comfortable as possible, and so you get the best photographs you can. And if you're photographing male models specifically, be sure to consult our nude photography tips! As a photographer, it never hurts to be too prepared, right?
Editor’s Note: Please be aware that there are images of unclothed and clothed models in this article. Continue reading at your own discretion.
Photography Tip #1: Turn Up the Heat
photo by inarik via iStock
Let’s kick this off with a very practical tip…
If the model hasn’t got any clothes on, they’re likely to get cold, fast.
Photo by efenzi via iStock
Help them out by turning up the heat in the room well before the shoot is scheduled to begin. It doesn’t need to be a sauna by any means, but crank it up to the mid to high 70s to ensure the model is as comfortable as possible.
photo by ChristopherBernard via iStock
Remember - the more comfortable the model is, the more relaxed they will be and the better the images you will take. They'll have a better time in front of the lens, too! It's your job as the photographer to make that happen.
Check out more nude photography in the PhotographyTalk member gallery. The nude photographs in the gallery have been shared by members of our community.
Photography Tip #2: Keep It Relaxed
photo by MilosStankovic via iStock
The chances are that if you’re photographing a nude model that the model is at least somewhat comfortable being nude in front of a stranger.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone that wants a nude photoshoot is an expert at nude modeling.
photo by ozgurdonmaz via iStock
Do your best to make the situation as relaxed as possible. In addition to keeping the model warm, simply engaging in light conversation can do wonders for relaxing both of you. This, in turn, will help you create better nude photographs.
Talk about pets, kids, occupations, TV shows you like - you name it. Small talk can work wonders for getting you through the awkwardness of the initial “okay, get naked” stage and carry you both through to the end of the shoot.
Photo by oleg66 via iStock
Quick Tip: Always, always have model release forms when you take on this type of photography. This is a means to protect you and the model both. Even if you know the model well and have an established relationship, you must have a model release form on file. Learn more about model releases and view a sample release form.
Photography Tip #3: Keep It Simple
Photo by 101dalmatians via iStock
Unless you’re doing something like fine art nude photography or nude couple photography, it’s typically best to keep the posing as simple as possible. Simplicity is often the key with nude photographs.
Again, most of the models you’ll work with will be normal, everyday people doing something special for a loved one. They have enough on their minds being nude in front of the camera, so having them do complex poses usually doesn’t work that well.
Photo by baytunc via iStock
Instead, have the model lay down, sit, or even stand in ways that are comfortable and relaxing.
Photo by visual7 via iStock
Rather than having the female or male model constantly move around, try moving yourself around the model to capture different angles of each pose. This will help with the relaxation element discussed above, and will also minimize how many times the model has to get up and move around over the course of the shoot. It will also save you time in the long-run by not having to reposition the model over and over again.
For additional details on how to get started, check out the video above by DigitalRev TV. They offer some excellent tips for budding artists.
Photography Tip #4: Focus on the Details
photo by Goja1 via iStock
Along the lines of keeping it simple, one thing you can do to help relax your model is focus on the smaller details of their body.
Cleavage, a well-placed hand on the stomach, and the curvature of the back are all prime candidates for detail-rich, yet still captivating subjects for a nude photoshoot.
photo by PeopleImages via iStock
In fact, if you study classical nude photography, it’s not at all about the nakedness of the model, but the beauty, shape, and form of their body. You can celebrate those shapes and forms by composing these types of detailed photos.
Quick Tip: When taking part in nude photography, it’s helpful to approach composing your photographs almost like you would with a landscape. Take the time to examine how the light falls across the model’s body and zero in on highlighting how the light accentuates the body’s curves, as was done in the image just above. The result will be more beautiful portraits.
Photography Tip #5: It Doesn’t Have to Be Totally Nude
photo by richjem via iStock
A misnomer about nude photography, and particularly nude art photography, is that it involves a full-frontal view of the human body at all times.
Instead, a lot of female nude photography and nude male photography involve the model covering themselves up at various points in various manners. In other words, not all photos in this genre are considered erotic nude photography. This is nothing new!
photo by Fitzer via iStock
For example, a female model can use her arms to mask her torso. A male model can use his hands to hide his groin. You can use sheets or props to hide some skin while revealing other as well. In either case, the result can be quite beautiful examples of nude photography.
Often, viewers find these types of images even more appealing because of the mystery that comes with having certain areas of the body covered up. It can make the photo a better representation of art, too. There is beauty in what's hidden!
Photography Tip #6: You Still Need a Shot List
photo by miljko via iStock
Just like any type of photo shoot, you need to prepare for nude photography beforehand by sitting down with the female or male model (or models if you’re doing nude couple photography) and discussing the types of photos that need to be taken. This is true whether you'll be in a studio, outdoors, or somewhere in between.
After all, your idea of the photos that should or shouldn’t be taken might vary greatly from what the model wants, so discussing thoughts on the direction of the shoot before the shoot begins is always a good idea. Get other tips for planning a portrait photo shoot.
Quick Tip: If possible, have the client look at nude boudoir photography, black and white nude photography, fine art nude photography, and artistic nude photography in your studio to get a better idea of what they might want for their photos. Additionally, discuss different poses, lighting, and props that you might want to use, that way you have all the items you need ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have your nude subject awkwardly waiting while you search for something you need! Besides, this exercise could lead to new ideas for your photos.
Photography Tip #7: Add Props
photo by swetta via iStock
Props are one of the best things you can give a model to help them relax.
Not only that, but a well-placed prop can add color, texture, and visual interest to the shot. What’s more, if it’s something the subject can hold, you have a ready-made solution for keeping awkward hands at bay.
When using props, be careful not to go overboard. Again, simplicity is the key here, so add a curtain in the background for some flowing movement, have the model pose on a piece of furniture with an interesting form, or give the model something to hold. The human body should be the focus...not the props.
If you search "portrait props" online, you'll find a million options you might be able to use.