There is something intrinsically surreal about masked nudes. Everything is displayed but we are deprived of the one thing that enables us to identify an individual human.
My photographs are published on book covers, calendars and in magazines. There’s a lot to think about when shooting commercial nudes. Here is a small portfolio of my most popular glamour nudes and a few tips.
Personal space nudes is a collection of nude portraits of women depicted in their environment. They are surrounded by treasured possessions and sometimes the detritus of real life. Stripping away clothing means the viewer only has the surroundings from which to glean information about the subject.
Corel Photo Painter 5 Essentials
Using Corel Photo Painter 5 to photo paint nudes
Still playing with Painter Essentials 5 and getting a little nearer the results I want. I’m using the auto painter in oil painting and pastel modes and them tweaking the results with various brushes set to clone from the original.
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.
It is a common misconception that better technique will help you take better photographs of nudes. I recently took part in a critique where a photographer put up a technically perfect but aesthetically boring picture of a nude. He commented that he had no concept or message when taking the picture but would like to do more ‘artistic’ work. I suggested that if he worked on having the former then the latter might naturally flow.
I always try and get my students to have a concept or reason for taking a picture. This doesn’t have to be a highly intellectual artistic message which will emphasise the need for world peace. It can be as simple as documenting a walk or taking a portrait that tells the viewer something about that person. Think about a simple holiday snap. The reason for taking it may simply to provide a record of the place you visited, which is perfectly valid but, as soon as we add the idea of showing that it was really pretty, or a complete dump, what a good time we had, the people we met or even how much we drank the dynamics of our picture taking change. We are trying to produce a picture in response to our feelings about a place and convey an idea. As soon as you as a photographer start to work towards a specific theme or concept the creation process becomes much more interesting and creative.
These pictures are created with the help of many talented women. The finished images are a result of a collaboration between the photographer and subject rather than an imposition of a style on them. Some of the subjects are models but here you are projecting elements of their character and personality; they are part of the creative process and not merely a blank canvas on which to project my viewpoint.
Some appear in naked portraits; the art historian *Kenneth Clark defines a naked human body as exposed and vulnerable as opposed to nude which carries no uncomfortable overtone. In one sense the women in these photographs are nude as they project an image of balance and confidence. In another they are naked but they are not vulnerable or embarrassed*, they are confident in their nakedness.
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.