It is easy to take better nude photographs. Anyone, even the best at something can always get better at it. All you have to do is acquire more knowledge, practice, and maybe have a bit of inspiration.
Part 1 Pre-Shoot Communication For models (and photographers)
Working with experienced and inexperienced models is fun but there are a lot of pitfalls. Here’s how to avoid them. The key to a successful shoot is communication. So what do we photographers say? What do models want to know?
The word photography means painting, drawing or writing with light. It is impossible to make a photograph without light. The quality of your nude photography lighting depends on three things, the direction, intensity and quality of the light falling on and then reflected by your subject.
The Scrap Yard Nudes calendar was conceived by the sales director of a metal recycling group. The company wanted to produce a glamour calendar that was more interesting than the average cheesecake versions available off the shelf. Commissioning original photography would allow the company’s products, several thousand tons of recycled metal, to feature in the pictures alongside local, East Anglian, models.
Daylight or Artificial Light
Nature has given us a large, bright light source complete with some very handy diffusers (clouds) which is wonderful for lighting nude photographs. Unfortunately we have no control over when these diffusers appear and, although the sun is always shinning it reaches us with varying intensity.
What lens have you got on that?
I hate talking about gear when I am using it. As a long suffering wedding photographer I used to dread the approach of the serious looking old gentleman, scuffed brown leather cased, 50’s vintage, camera round his neck. Usually he had just been fiddling with for at least ten minutes to take one photograph of his rather overweight, and definitely bored, wife in her best hat. I knew the inevitable question was coming.
‘What sort of lens have you got on that?’
‘That’ was usually a 6×4.5 Bronica film camera. We used to use medium format cameras because no one believed you were a pro with a 35mm SLR
My reply was often a completely genuine, ‘I don’t know.’
I could see him debating as to whether to rush off and exclaim to the bride that she had booked a complete idiot to take her wedding pictures, or whether to tell me not to be such a sarcastic bugger.
Nude Photography with one light (and one model)
Keep it simple stupid is often pretty good advice. These photographs were taken in my studio with one light and one model. OK sometimes I used a reflector to lighten the shadows because the cameras dynamic range doesn’t match the human eye. What’s dynamic range? Free downloadable PDF on Exposure.
If you go down to the woods today.
Photographing location nudes is always challenging (and fun) but does need a certain amount of planning. Ideally you will be working with a model that you are familiar with and in a location that you have visited regularly. That way you’ll be prepared for the idiosyncrasies of both. Some models that I work with are downright blasé about public nudity and would happily walk naked through the centre of town. I am continually looking over my shoulder for the blue flashing lights. Others can be embarrassed by a bloke and his dog appearing when they are fully dressed, but both need to feel relaxed.
Location Nudes – Deserted Buildings
The walls seem to hold echoes of the past. It is easy to visualise the ghosts of previous occupants wandering through their empty rooms. Maybe it takes a creative leap to see them as attractive naked women but when photographing location nudes you can capture whatever you want. This is about interpreting an idea to create an interesting image
A Quick Guide to Shooting Studio Nudes
Producing studio nudes gives you a choice. Use a plain background, strip away the real world, and produce an image that depicts the human body only. Alternatively add props or build a setting to create an illusion. These tactics along with extensive make up are used to produce glamour images but can also be used to produce pictures that depict the models personality.