Last year I had dinner with a friend and renowned photographer. His work has long been an inspiration to me, and I even have several of his pieces displayed in my home. Over dinner, he shared a memorable story about a photoshoot he did with two models/actresses.
The models, during the shoot, proposed to switch things up and do some artistic nudes for the project. To my friend’s surprise, they began undressing before he could even process the situation. He had never photographed nude models before and felt intimidated, so he excused himself for a quick break and turned to Google for guidance, typing in “How to Shoot Nude Models”. Despite his lack of experience, he excelled and produced a stunning piece of art that now hangs in my home as a gift from him.
This story got me thinking about my own journey in shooting nude photography. My first attempt was with a digital camera and my first wife as the model. We were novice and the results were less than satisfactory. Many years later, I encountered another surprise during a Christmas boudoir shoot when the model suddenly stripped without warning.
Shooting nudes can be a challenge, and that’s why I’d like to share some tips for aspiring photographers who want to take on the task.
- Communication is Key
The first and most important tip for shooting nude photography is to have an open and honest conversation with your model before the shoot. Discuss their comfort level, limits, and expectations to ensure that you are both on the same page. This not only helps to create a positive and safe environment for the shoot, but it also establishes trust and respect between you and your model. Further during the shoot check in with your model often. Ask them if they are ok with direction of the shoot, poses, etc. and above all make sure that your model feels safe enough to express discomfort, or ask for a change in direction. If a model “suffers in silence” you have failed as a photographer by not creating a safe place for the model to express themselves.
- Respect your Model
Nude photography is not just about capturing images of a naked body, it’s about capturing the beauty, grace, and dignity of the human form. Therefore, it’s important to always treat your model with respect and professionalism. This means avoiding inappropriate comments or gestures, and ensuring that the model’s privacy and dignity are protected both during and after the shoot. I will NEVER do a boudoir or nude shoot alone, and neither should the model. I always encourage a model to bring a friend with them to the shoot for safety, and I also let them know that I will have a female friend joining us for the shoot as well. Safety should be your #1 priority for both yourself and model.
- Lighting Matters
Lighting is an essential element in any type of photography, and it’s even more important in nude photography. Experiment with different lighting setups to find the right balance between light and shadow that flatters your model’s body and captures the mood and emotion you’re trying to convey. Good lighting can make all the difference in creating beautiful and tasteful images.
- Get Creative with Posing
When it comes to posing, the possibilities are endless. Work with your model to find poses that are comfortable and flattering, and that convey the mood and emotion you’re trying to capture. Keep in mind that the model’s safety should always come first, so avoid any positions that could put them in an uncomfortable or painful position. Encourage your model to express themselves through their pose and don’t be afraid to try new and creative things.
- Mindful Post-Processing
When editing your photos, it’s important to be mindful of the model’s privacy and dignity. Avoid excessive retouching or manipulation that could change the natural look and form of their body. Instead, focus on enhancing the lighting, contrast, and color to bring out the beauty of the images you’ve captured. Remember, your goal is to create beautiful and tasteful images that both you and your model can be proud of.
Shooting nude photography requires a lot of respect, communication, and professionalism. By following these tips, you can create a positive and safe environment for your model, capture beautiful and tasteful photographs, and grow as a photographer in the process. So, go ahead and try shooting nudes, you might just surprise yourself with the results!