What Camera Do I Need When Shooting Creative Nudes?

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.

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One Model – One Light

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.

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The Concept – Take Better Photographs of Nudes

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.

Black & white nude. Art print from digital original.

 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.

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Nude or Naked Portraits?

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.

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But is it Fine Art Nude Photography?

Black and white nude
Alice Through The Looking Glass

It is very difficult to separate the artistic (fine art nude photography) of the nude from the erotic and the sexual.

    When is a nude an attempt to produce a meaningful picture
and when is it merely a body displayed for erotic titillation?

Even the word artistic carries certain connotations. Many of the paintings that are now considered works of art by old masters were created for his Lordship to hang in his personal salon. In a later era it conjures up an image of a 1950s bloke in a Trilby accosting a gent with the words  ‘Oy mate – want to buy some artistic postcards?’

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Photo Painting

More on Boudoir Photography

I’ve been experimenting with (Ok mucking about with) photo painting using  Corel Painter to convert a photo into a painting.

This is one of the first results. There’s a link to a YouTube video by Thomas Churchwell that shows you how at the bottom of the page.

This guy shows you how Thomas Churchwell on YouTube

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Photographing Nudes on Location – Woods

Nude woman in woodland. Dryad is a female tree spirit from Greek mythology. Art print from digital original
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If you go down to the woods today.

Shooting location photography, especially 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.

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Photographing Nudes on Location – Deserted Buildings

Nudes on Location – Deserted Buildings

A abandoned doll lies in the corner of an empty room. Pink plastic glowing against the decay of the deserted building, a reminder of lost inhabitants.

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 nudes on location you can capture whatever you want. This is about interpreting an idea to create an interesting image Continue reading

Studio Nudes

A Quick Guide to 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.

Against a Plain Background

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Slightly Strange

A collection of female nude photographs that are slightly surreal – slightly strange.

Looking through glass features collections of my nudes on different themes.

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