- How do you want the shoot to unfold?
- What is your creative vision for the shoot?
- What would you be happy having done at the end of the day?
- What images are must-haves in the time you've got?
- Real. Sexy. Photography.: The Art and Business of Boudoir
- Nudes on Location: Posing and Lighting for Photographers
- The Beginner's Guide to Photographing Nudes
- Ruth Bernhard: The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes
- The Nude: Conceptual Approaches to Fine Art Photography
Nude photography isn’t exactly something that you just jump right into…
Since it can be a sensitive undertaking, it’s important that photographers take the time to learn how to properly plan and execute a photo session.
From building rapport with the model to exploring different angles of view to encouraging the model to tap into their own creativity, there are a lot of things to be done to make the session a success. With the 11 tips in this guide, you’ll find that success!
Editor’s Note: Please be aware that there are images of unclothed and clothed models in this article. Continue reading at your own discretion.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #1: Build Rapport With Your Model
As a photographer and an artist, you need to have a game plan - and that plan should involve getting to know the model before the shoot.
Not everyone is comfortable taking off their clothes and posing for the camera, so taking a few minutes to build a professional relationship with the model will go a long way in making the shoot more comfortable for you both.
Whether you're working with a female or male model, they need to know your creative vision for the shoot. If you leave your model in the dark about the types of shots you want to get, then you will likely leave them feeling and looking lost. This is not how you get the best nude photography results!
Go into each nude photography session by pulling your model aside and running through the purpose of the shoot for a few moments. Give them some broad expectations so that they feel comfortable working with you and know how to approach the shoot in much the same way as you do. This will keep the mood light during the shoot.
Quick Tip: Make sure to ask straightaway what types of images the model is and is not comfortable with. No matter what you’d like to accomplish with the time you have during the shoot, the model’s comfort level is more important. A healthy working relationship for starts with you! They need to quickly get used to you and the way you work.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #2: Previsualization is Key
Previsualization is multi-faceted.
Firstly, your photoshoot is not going to go well if you don’t begin with a shot list. You need to pre-visualize the entire shoot to create your shot list, asking yourself the following:
Secondly, you need to allow your model to previsualize their movements.
A good way to do this is to find example poses similar to the ones you want to capture. As you’re discussing what you’d like to accomplish and what they’re comfortable doing, have a look at the sample poses together so they knows what you’ve envisioned for the shoot. Doing so also allows them an opportunity to offer some creative input. This will improve the beauty of the results you get.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #3: Keep it Professional
This should go without saying, but then another story breaks in the news about a photographer or another artist accused of unprofessionalism...
Don’t touch your model during photo shoots unless you have explicit permission to do so.
A good example of this is to ask, “May I lay your hair over your shoulder, or would you like to do it?”
Phrasing questions in this way allows your model the autonomy to fix the problem themselves so that you don’t need to make them uncomfortable by touching them when they don’t want to be touched.
If you simply asked, “May I lay your hair over your shoulder?” And your model isn’t very outspoken, or they want to please you, they may feel like they need to say yes due to the power you have over them, even if they aren’t comfortable with it.
Quick Tip: Always give the subject the time to fix a problem with a shot before you do and never approach them without explicit consent. This is one of the most important rules to live by in this guide.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #4: Allow Your Model to Move Naturally
Yes, it’s hard to get used to working with people sometimes because they can’t remain entirely still while you work around them and get the same shot from 20 different angles.
But, this isn’t realistic.
Don’t make the subject hold a pose for longer than two or three images from different angles. Otherwise, these shots will end up looking either stoic or static. This is not how to capture beauty in nude photos!
Instead, make sure your model knows that they can always move from a pose if the pose starts to feel uncomfortable. Then, work around them. You'll get better nudes of the human body doing it this way!
Nude Photography Guide Tip #5: Channel Your Model’s Creativity
Sometimes, photographers forget that models are an equal part of the creative process when it comes to photo shoots. This faulty line of thinking oftentimes is doubled when the photo shoot is of an erotic nature.
One small way to include your models in the creative process is by simply remembering to show them sample shots, particularly examples of naked images you feel are especially great. Show them your work. Showing them work from other photographers is fine too.
This will do two things. First, it can boost their confidence in your work and your ability to make them look great in your photos. Second, it may lead them to realize something they could be doing to improve the shot that much more. You never know when a spark of inspiration will strike, and this will free you and the subject up for creating art that is something of beauty.
Quick Tip: Another way to include your model’s creativity is by asking ahead of the shoot if there are any particular nudes they would really love to get. You can include your model in the previsualization process by simply asking them about any must-have shots they want to add to your shot list. By working together, you can create photos that are fine art.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #6: Try Anonymity Through a Silhouette
Depending upon the type of boudoir or nude photos you are doing, your model may not feel comfortable with their identity being known in the light of day.
If this is the case, you can provide anonymity to them by replicating shots like the one above in which their form is black and unidentifiable. It can free them up to be more relaxed. Shooting their silhouette is both sexy and photographically appealing. Shots like this elevate a nude photo shoot to a fine art nude example.
Nude silhouettes also allow you to cover genitalia, which gives your photo an aura of mystery, while still keeping some of those PG-13 elements.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #7: Be Picky About Your Location
This one also follows the same line of thought as being sure to include your model in the entire creative process.
If your model is going to be nude, are they okay being nude in public? More to the point, are you in a part of the world where public nudity is illegal? Even if yu're creating fine art, the law could prevent you from outdoor photoshoots.
You want a location with good natural lighting that gives you nice blacks in the shadows and whites in the highlights. But you also want somewhere your model will feel most comfortable because their comfort level is what will allow you to get the best shots and create gorgeous art.
Quick Tip: This type of imagery already requires a certain level of exhibitionism; don’t push the model to their limits or you might lose them altogether. Get their input and be respectful of their wishes at all times. You both want to look back on the experience and marvel at what you created...not have regrets!
Nude Photography Guide Tip #8: Rent a Studio, Not a Hotel
Not every photographer agrees on this front, but for our purposes, studios seem to work best for this niche.
If you haven’t worked with a specific model before, rent a studio. Do not rent a hotel room.
While some hotel room shoots can be beautiful, there’s just something about meeting in a hotel that could make your model think twice about their safety. This will not help them relax in front of the camera, to be sure! Sham photographers work out of hotel rooms because it allows them the privacy to be creepy, and you certainly don’t want to fall into that category!
By contrast, renting a studio, if you don’t already have one, gives you a much more professional and legitimate space in which to work, and that will likely go a long way in making the model feel much more comfortable working with you.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #9: Try Different Angles
A lot of nude shots are the same thing replicated over and over again.
Break this boring trend by finding specific parts of your model’s body you want to capture. If you want to highlight a female model’s breasts, make sure you are keeping this in mind when you’re trying to figure out which angle from which to photograph her.
Make sure you have a chair and a ladder, as well as a few pillows laying around your studio so you are comfortable getting as high or as low as you need too. Then make yourself use each position throughout the shoot. This will help you get a nice variety of photos.
Quick Tip: It’s hard to continually reimagine the angles from which you shoot, so ensuring you use all of the tools you’ve provided yourself will help you to keep the magic alive and create images that are unique, more visually appealing, and great examples of art. Maintaining a focus on fine details like this will get you better results, particularly if your aim is to create fine art.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #10: Don’t Forget About Diagonal Composition
Positioning your female or male model at a diagonal adds depth and drama to your photos.
But, your model’s positioning is not the only way to create a diagonal composition within your photos.
For example, you can incorporate props that lead the viewer’s eyes in a diagonal direction. Likewise, using diagonal light to highlight parts of your model’s body give the shot that drama and depth you want.
Nude Photography Guide Tip #11: Don’t Take Any Rules too Seriously
Except the rule about professionalism, that one must always be taken seriously.
But, If there’s something a little out of the box that you want to see and your model wants to do, then go for it!
These types of shots, the ones where you throw conventional wisdom aside, will often be your best work.
This tip goes hand in hand with encouraging your model to be creative and move around. Just roll with it, see what they do, and keep your finger on the shutter button to capture the magic.
It’s easy to tell if a female or male model didn’t have fun during a session because it’s written all over their face. Don’t be the photographer that makes it an uncomfortable experience by not being prepared or by being unprofessional!
Use these tips to improve the quality of your imagery, and you’ll find that not only are your images better, but that the model has a better experience as well.
Nude Photography Recommended Reading