This post is about Nude Photography and discusses a subject that some people may find offensive. We’ve only included one very tame image, and the post is written (in my opinion) very tastefully by a woman (one of our forum members who wishes to remain anonymous) who shares her experience and some lessons learned while photographing a friend.
We invite you to skip this post if you believe it will offend you. This is a topic that many of our readers are interested in, so we believe it is relevant, but we recognize that it is not for everyone.
9 Nude Photography Tips
Let me start by saying that I never thought I’d do any naked photography – not because I’m against it as a form of art, but because it never seriously crossed my mind as something I’d do, and partly because I never thought I’d find anyone willing to pose for me.
However, a long-time friend recently asked if I’d be interested in taking some nude photos of her for her husband.
I thought she was joking at first, but she was dead serious. They’ve been married for ten years, and she wanted to give them some tasteful shots – nothing too risque or explicit – to commemorate their anniversary. She wanted someone she could rely on and who she thought could hit a decent shot.
I eventually agreed after attempting to persuade her that I wasn’t a good enough photographer for the job. We agreed on a time for the shoot to take place at my house, and I set up a simple makeshift home studio. The following are some of the lessons I learned from the experience.
Before you start shooting, know what you’re looking for
What happened was that when my friend arrived for the shoot and we started taking photos, we quickly realized that we didn’t have a lot of ideas for posing for these types of shots. My first shots were terrible, and we quickly realized that we (or I) were unprepared. We decided to take a break, and I pulled out a few of my photography magazines and books, knowing that there would be examples of poses that we could try.
We started with a shot of her standing with her back to the camera, with the focus on her back and lit from the side to accentuate her curves. We came across this ‘classic’ nude shot in a few different books and thought it’d be a good place to start. Knowing what we wanted to achieve with this shot was extremely beneficial. Taking naked shots isn’t as simple as picking up a camera and taking your clothes off – you need to know what shot you’re going for.
Try Black and White
We started shooting in color at the beginning of our shoot. The outcomes were quite shocking to my model. She is a stunning woman, but even the most flawless of us have blemishes or blotches on our skin that can be distracting in photos. I had planned to shoot in color and then convert the images to black and white, but after seeing her reaction to the shots I’d taken, I decided to shoot in black and white.
As a result, I noticed that the look and feel of the shots had completely changed. They became less concerned with the body in the shots and more concerned with the shapes, light, and shadows, among other things.
Warm up the Room
Okay, so here’s a useful and perhaps obvious tip. Check that the heating is turned on! I didn’t notice the coolness of the room (I was dressed, after all, and perhaps had a bit of adrenaline at the prospect of messing up the shoot), but my friend did. When you’re shivering, it’s difficult to pose and appear relaxed!
Use Longer Focal Lengths
This will most likely differ from person to person, but we discovered that things worked best when I shot at longer focal lengths. Perhaps it was partly because I wasn’t up close and personal as I took my shots, giving my subject some breathing room – but the shots when I used a longer lens were better than those when I shot with a short one. I started with a 50mm lens but ended up using a Canon 85mm prime lens borrowed from a friend for the majority of the shoot and was very pleased with the results.
I also had a 70-200mm lens, which came in handy near the end of the shoot when we did some close-up shots of different parts of her body – almost abstract-type shots.
Another thing we discovered as we went along was that shots with my friend’s face turned away from the camera were somehow more photogenic than those with her face turned toward the camera. It wasn’t that she wasn’t attractive or that she was uncomfortable with the situation – but something about seeing her face in the images proved to be a little distracting. The absence of her face, on the other hand, added a layer of mystery to the shots. I’m not sure how else to put it, but the images became a little less confronting.
Keep the mood relaxed and fun
I had the advantage of knowing my subject and being a woman myself, which put her at ease more than if I were a man – but even with those two advantages, it was a nerve-racking experience for both of us. Being naked in front of another person, and being that other person, can be quite confronting – but it can also be quite amusing if you allow it to be. We took the ‘funny’ approach and spent a lot of time giggling like schoolgirls, which I believe helped us get past the awkward stage.
I also had a couple of sheets and blankets on hand in case my friend needed to cover up and stay warm between shots. We also used them to keep her covered when we took some of the later close-up shots where they couldn’t be seen.
My Home Studio
We used a couple of effective setups. One had black material behind the model and a couple of spotlights on either side of her. We did this with the first shot I mentioned above, and it gave the impression that she was standing in front of a dark background. The other shot was of her sitting on a chair that had been draped with a white sheet. This was lit by natural light from a beautiful window in my house.
My main piece of advice is to keep your setup as simple as possible. You don’t want your subject standing around while you adjust the settings and get everything set up – you want him or her to be relaxed and unfazed by the experience.
I wish I could show you some of the shots we took (but my friend would be horrified because they were just for her husband and her and not for the masses here at DPS), but the best shots were very simple shots.
I’m not sure if this helps, but I discovered that when I stopped thinking of my friend as a person who wanted a portrait and started looking for shapes and considering how the light fell on her body (almost like a landscape), I got the best results. As a result, I had her stand, sit, and lay in positions that were comfortable for her, and I found myself moving around her more than she moved around me.
Another thing we learned during the morning shoot was that sometimes less skin is more. We tried a few shots in which my subject covered herself up in a variety of ways, including using her hands and arms to cover her torso and even wearing an unbuttoned shirt at one point.
As it turned out, some of these were favorites of her husband.
Overall, the experience of photographing a naked person was a great learning opportunity. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again (although my friend wants to do it again for their 20th anniversary), but it was an experience that taught me a lot.
Note: If you want to make some adjustments to the photo just let me know. I can do it for you at a very low cost. You can hire me to edit your photo.
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