- Nude Male Photography: The Basics
- Nude Male Photography Tip: Finding Models
- Nude Male Photography Tip: Models Don't Have to Be Totally Nude
- Nude Male Photography Tip: Use Props
- Nude Male Photography Tip: Use Dynamic Posing
- Nude Male Photography Tip: Try Different Types of Lighting
Photo by vuk8691 via iStock
Though photographing the male form isn't all that dissimilar from photographing the female form, there are some male-specific tips to consider when creating nude male photography.
Nude male photos are much more than simply a naked man posing for the camera.
Instead, with the tips outlined below (and these 10 nude photography tips), you'll learn how to create nude male fine art photography - images that celebrate the human body in a way that's tasteful, beautiful, and respectful.
It's important to note that for illustrative purposes, we've used images of men that are covered up. This is a family-friendly site, and though the models are clothed, the photos still illustrate the critical points we're making for improving the results you get in your nude male photo shoot.
Table of Contents
Nude Male Photography: The Basics
Photo by oleg66 via iStock
Before we get to the tips specific for naked male photography, let's quickly review some basic tips for working with nude models.
First and foremost, you must have a completed and signed model release form. Under no circumstances should you work with a model without having this documentation!
Not only is it unprofessional, but it could land you in very hot water down the road should a model sue you for using their likeness without permission.
Photo by Robert Daly via iStock
Secondly, when working with nude male models, never, ever touch them unless you have express permission from them.
Just like when working with a nude female model, a nude male model is in a vulnerable position, and it's your job to make them feel comfortable and safe.
If you feel as though you need to direct the model (say, to have the model in the photo above dip his left shoulder), do so by verbalizing what you'd like them to do or simply demonstrate the pose for him. If you must touch the model, they must give you permission to do so first.
Photo by Goldmund via iStock
Third, make the environment as comfortable as possible for the model.
We'll get into shoot locations for nude male photography a little later, but for our purposes at this point, just know that the more comfortable you make him, the more likely you'll be able to get the best results from the model.
This can be something as simple as warming up the temperature in the studio, providing a bathrobe to wear between shots, and having water and snacks on hand in case the model needs them.
This is all just common sense practice, but these tasks can easily get lost in the excitement of preparing for the shoot.
Nude Male Photography Tip: Finding Models
Photo by Full rights with model releases via iStock
Not everyone in the world enjoys having their photo taken even with their clothes on, so you might imagine how difficult it can be to find people that are willing to have their photo taken in the buff.
Finding models for nude photo shoots is not something you should try on places like Craigslist. That just opens up a big can of worms that you don't want to deal with.
Instead, it's best to use a modeling agency to find male models that are comfortable posing in the nude. When working with an agency, the more specific you can be about the needs of your photo shoot, the better.
Photo by m-imagephotography via iStock
By that, I mean you should be able to clearly explain to the agency the types of photos you have in mind, the purpose of the photos, the body parts you'd like to focus on, and the physical characteristics you need the model to have. The more information the agency has, the more likely they'll be to help you.
Quick Tip: If there's not a modeling agency in your area, try consulting with local artists, other photographers, art professors at the local college, and so forth. Though you might not have a finger to the pulse of the local modeling community, others in the arts world might. Additionally, it is imperative that you have references who can vouch for your professionalism as a photographer. Models want to know that you're not just some guy in his basement with a camera, so provide them with at least three former clients that can speak to your abilities behind the lens.
Nude Male Photography Tip: Models Don't Have to Be Totally Nude
Photo by gece33 via iStock
You have the ability to highlight the male form without the model being completely nude.
The image above is a perfect example of this...
The model's chest and abs are on full display, giving this shot a masculine vibe. Yet, the fact that the model is wearing a leather jacket and jeans makes the shot that much more masculine.
Photo by Milkos via iStock
Additionally, as is the case when photographing a female model, having clothing on can actually make the shot more sensual - it helps direct the viewer's attention to the parts of the body you want them to view while also creating some playful mystery as to what the rest of the model's physique might look like.
As shown above, well-placed clothing can also provide the model with some anonymity - the hood casts a shadow over his face, leaving us to wonder what he might look like.
Often, in nude male photos, people tend to think of images that are risque. But as you can see here, not only do the models not have to be nude for a great shot to be had, but having clothing on can actually make the image even more visually appealing.
Nude Male Photography Tip: Use Props
Photo by KazanovskyAndrey via iStock
One of the most basic - yet most helpful - portrait photography tips is to incorporate props into the shot.
This does a couple of things for the image.
First, props add color, texture, shapes, and other means of visual interest to the photo. For example, in the image above, the light not only boosts contrast in the scene, which helps accentuate the model's physique, but the shape of the light also adds visual interest.
What's more, the light gives the model something with which to interact. Being active in this manner rather than simply lying there or standing in front of the camera often results in a more interesting and dynamic shot.
Photo by pkline via iStock
Second, props can be used to tell us more about the person in the image.
In nude male photography, it's still important to convey who the model is - it's not just a photo of his body.
As you can see above, the addition of the boxing gloves helps make the narrative of the photo more clear. This man's muscular build is in part due to his love of boxing.
Quick Tip: Props can help the model relax in front of the camera. Playing a role, or in the case above, highlighting a personal quality, trait, or interest, can go a long way in helping a nude male model release some tension and stress and enable him to pose more effectively or the camera.
Nude Male Photography Tip: Use Dynamic Posing
Photo by Juanmonino via iStock
As mentioned above, one of the benefits of including props in a nude male photo shoot is that it gives the model something with which to interact, which often results in a more dynamic shot.
Taking that a step further, by using dynamic posing as shown above, you can create a far more interesting pose that engages the viewer's eye.
Notice how this shot accomplishes two things: First, the extended arms help lengthen the model's body, giving our eyes more territory, so to speak, to inspect.
Secondly, this is a much more unusual pose than you'd normally see. That uniqueness is an advantage when creating nude male photography - you want to add poses that are novel in some way, that way the collection of images you create retains the attention of viewers and isn't just a collection of typical nude male poses.
Photo by volkankovancisoy via iStock
Another element of dynamic posing is highlighting the musculature of the model.
Granted, not all nude male models have defined muscles, and that's okay. But if they do, putting them in a pose that helps you highlight their muscles can result in a beautiful shot.
As shown above, this dynamic pose helps put the model's shoulder and arm muscles on full display. Note how this image also hits on other themes we've discussed - there's anonymity since the model's face is hidden and he's also not completely nude. Combining these tips in this way is an ideal method for creating the best-looking nude male photography.
Quick Tip: Be careful when using dynamic posing that is isn't too dynamic. That is, you don't want the model to be moving around, per se. Instead, focus on poses like those above, in which the model is bending, stretching, and extending their body.
Nude Male Photography Tip: Try Different Types of Lighting
Photo by Victority via iStock
If it's dramatic nude male photos you're after, try using a single-light setup for the shot.
As you can see above, having one light helps create beautiful contrast that showcases the model's body.
The dynamic range of this shot is fantastic, with bright highlights and deep shadows that turn it into a fine art example of nude male photography.
Using a single-light setup is easy too - just place the light to the left or right of the model, have him turn slightly toward it so the sidelighting falls across his body, and you'll get the same kinds of highlights and shadows you see above.
Photo by Jun via iStock
But it's important to experiment with other lighting, too, like the high-key lighting shown above.
In this case, the abundance of light washes out the background and brightens the overall image for a completely different vibe than the previous photo.
Yet, though the lighting situation is completely different, we still get a result in which the model's form is highlighted. Notice how the more subtle shadows on his body nonetheless help define his musculature, similar to what we saw in the previous image.
In the end, nude male photography isn't that much different from normal portraits.
You need to be supportive, communicative, and sensitive to the model's needs. You need to explore different poses, introduce props, and create different lighting schemes to vary the results that you get as well.
If you can follow these simple tips, you'll be in a position to create images that are much more than just nude men photos. Instead, they'll be beautiful and tasteful representations of the male form.