Nude photography tips that will save your behind
Nude photography is one of the most beautiful and expressive forms of visual media — when done tastefully. My journey with shooting nudes began over three years ago. I started small with a friend who wanted to gift her boyfriend with a scandy calendar. We rented out a hotel room for four hours and went to town.
From there, I’ve mostly photographed friends who have wanted boudoir/nude photos for their social media platforms, model portfolio’s or for personal use, and it has become my favourite medium of photography. I’m constantly approached about how to successfully take nude photographs so here’s a little guide for both models and photographers who want to explore doing so.
TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
When photographing someone in the nude or semi-nude, it’s important to keep in mind that people look at themselves differently than how you look at them. Have a conversation beforehand and try to understand what they’re most confident or proud of when it comes to their body. Use that to your advantage and let it guide your protrayal of them.
On the same note, know what you want to shoot before it happens.
Let your model know what your goals are so that you’re on the same page and the result is something you’re both proud of.
If using a public space, always have a piece of clothing that is easy to take on and off. If people see you, it might be awkward if your model is standing there, ass out. Don’t be like me the time that I chose a family-friendly park to photograph a fully nude series — results were lit, though.
Use a long focal length. Not only will this give the model some personal space, but you can capture some great close-ups with an 85 mm or 70-200 mm lens, for example.
Lighting is everything. Since the nature of nude photography with both men and women is to portray a sensual mood, the lighting should reflect that.
Not only is it easier to shoot with natural lighting but you can also manipulate the lighting in your shot with your camera settings. Shooting in manual on a DSLR will help you learn how to properly navigate a camera and you can adjust your shutter speed and aperture to achieve your lighting goals.
Regardless of familiarity or comfort, if you need to make an adjustment with poses or positions, or even moving a strand of hair, give the model direction to do it and avoid physically touching them. Some people don’t like being touched, even if you’re taking nude photographs of them.
Don’t over direct.
Let it happen naturally. The best photos happen by accident so don’t force a pose or concept if it’s not organic.
TIPS FOR MODELS
Work with somebody you can trust. Whether you’ve never taken your clothes off in front of somebody else, or you feel self-conscious, the photographer is not just there to photograph you; they should make you feel empowered, beautiful and comfortable.
Also, the last thing you want is to be faced with your nude self the next time you scroll through your Instagram feed without giving consent.
It’s best to start with a friend or an already established photographer who uses consent and privacy agreement forms. These should be signed prior to the nip slips.
Get undressed quickly and slip into a robe. Walk around naked, even. It gives time for the skin to soften up and lose any indentations caused by belts, bras, tight clothing, etc.
Don’t be afraid to say no. You can say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable and stop the shoot at any time — it’s your body, after all. A good photographer will remain professional and will never ask you to do something you’re not cool with.
Don’t be hard on yourself. We’re students and more importantly, human beings. Many of us have experienced the “Freshman 15” and there’s no shame in that. It’s natural — and beautiful — to bear stretch marks, cellulite and/or stomach rolls. Own your shape and the journey your body has gone through. Embrace it.
Be yourself. Don’t hesitate to bring in props or explore abstract ideas.
The whole point of a photoshoot is to have fun, try something new and create something that hasn’t been produced before.