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Top 10 Nude Photography Tips and Tricks

Nude Photography

Nude imagery is not everyone’s cup of tea - that goes for models in front of the camera and photographers behind it. 

Though it makes some people uncomfortable, it’s a genre that’s been explored for millennia in one art form or another, and if done right, you can produce some truly incredible images.

With these tips, you’ll learn how to approach a nude photoshoot the right way so that your model is as comfortable as possible, and so you get the best photographs you can. And if you're photographing male models specifically, be sure to consult our nude photography tips! As a photographer, it never hurts to be too prepared, right?

Nude Photography Tip #1: Try Black and White

Like I mentioned earlier, nude photography is more about the shape and form of the body and its interaction with light than it is about the fact that the model is nude. In this way, it is a pursuit of creating fine art. This is true whether you're working with women or men.

When you consider things like shapes, forms, and textures, your mind should immediately go to black and white images, as those elements are perfect for a photo without colour.

just like stripping down and being nude simplifies how a body is presented, removing colour from an image simplifies the photo.

The trick, of course, is to focus your attention on those elements that make black and white photos stand out. Find ways to increase contrast. Experiment with different lighting setups and type of lighting, for that matter (which you can learn how to do in the video above by Michael's Photo Tips). See what other artists have done. Doing so will help you create nude compositions that have a classic, artistic look. These kinds of nudes will impress the model and viewers alike as well.

Nude Photography Tip #2: Never Touch the Model

This should go without saying, but let's say it anyway: don't touch the model.

This is good advice for any kind of portraiture, but especially nude portraiture of women or men.

It's easy to get lost in the moment and simply reach out to position the model's leg, arm, or hand. Doing so is a violation of their space unless you've asked them and they've given you the go-ahead to touch them.

Instead of feeling like you need to help the model pose by physically moving them, communicate with them what you want them to do. It's a much more respectful and safer approach!

Nude Photography Tip #3: Get Outside

Not all nude imagery should take place in the dark recesses of your studio.

Instead, find a location outdoors where you can capture some au naturel photographs amongst the beauty of the world around us. It can really increase the value of your photographs as fine art!

Obviously, nude outdoor photography requires a whole other set of precautions, like ensuring it's a private location where passersby won't get an eyeful of your models.

But, as you can see above, in the right setting, this type of nude photography can be quite breathtaking! Nudes like this have wonderful depth, visual interest, and appeal.

Quick Tip: Find outdoor locations with lots of texture, like a forest where the bark of the trees and the shape of the leaves provide an interesting contrast with the smooth skin of the model. Likewise, avoid shooting at midday so the photograph isn't overrun with harsh shadows. Find a shady spot, wait for some cloud cover, or shoot at golden hour to get the best results.

Nude Photography Tip #4: Don't Be a Copycat

As with any kind of photograph, it's important for you to find inspiration in what others have done before you.

But taking inspiration from someone is a totally different animal than simply copying what they do.

Below, I've listed some nude photography recommended reading to help get your creative ideas flowing for shots of women and men. Discover what prominent nude photographers have done, identify what you like and don't like about their examples of nudes, learn a few more tips and tricks, and utilize that knowledge to create nude images of your own.

Often, finding your unique creative voice is the hardest part of being a photographer. The same applies to fine art nude photography, too. But developing your personal style is also supremely satisfying because you create art unlike anyone else has created before. How cool is that?!

Nude Photography Tip #5: Omit the Model’s Face

If you’ve seen much boudoir photography or artistic nude photography, you know that often the model’s face doesn’t appear in the shot.

Instead, as mentioned earlier, nude imagery often concentrates on the form of the human body.

Don’t be afraid to capture photographs of the model from behind or the side, or to crop images in the post to omit the model’s face. Faceless portraits can often be equally, if not more powerful, than those that show the model’s face! Nudes like this have a mystery about them that can be very compelling. Do a search online for these kinds of shots and you'll see!

Nude Photography Tip #6: Use a Longer Lens

Using a longer focal length lens accomplishes a couple of things. 

First, longer focal lengths mean you have to be further away from the model, and they will likely appreciate that extra bit of personal space during their session. See nude photography - main page here.

Second, longer focal lengths compress the scene, which is often quite flattering for portraits. So, instead of using a 35mm or 50mm prime, give an 85mm or 135mm lens a shot. It could help you create something that looks more like fine art.

Quick Tip: Another lens option to consider for nude photography is a 70-200mm zoom. Though prime lenses reign supreme for portraiture, a 70-200mm zoom gives you excellent focal length variability while offering sharp results throughout. Do a search online of your model of camera to see what types of lenses you might be able to buy.

Photography Tip #7: Add Props 

Props are one of the best things you can give a model to help them relax.

Not only that, but a well-placed prop can add colour, texture, and visual interest to the shot. What’s more, if it’s something the subject can hold, you have a ready-made solution for keeping awkward hands at bay.

When using props, be careful not to go overboard. Again, simplicity is the key here, so add a curtain in the background for some flowing movement, have the model pose on a piece of furniture with an interesting form, or give the model something to hold. The human body should be the focus...not the props.

If you search "portrait props" online, you'll find a million options you might be able to use.

Photography Tip #6: You Still Need a Shot List

Just like any type of photoshoot, you need to prepare for nude photography beforehand by sitting down with the female or male model (or models if you’re doing nude couple photography) and discussing the types of photos that need to be taken. This is true whether you'll be in a studio, outdoors, or somewhere in between.

After all, your idea of the photos that should or shouldn’t be taken might vary greatly from what the model wants, so discussing thoughts on the direction of the shoot before the shoot begins is always a good idea. Get other tips for planning a portrait photoshoot. 

Quick Tip: If possible, have the client look at nude boudoir photography, black and white nude photography, fine art nude photography, and artistic nude photography in your studio to get a better idea of what they might want for their photos. Additionally, discuss different poses, lighting, and props that you might want to use, that way you have all the items you need ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have your nude subject awkwardly waiting while you search for something you need! Besides, this exercise could lead to new ideas for your photos.

Photography Tip #5: It Doesn’t Have to Be Totally Nude 

A misnomer about nude photography, and particularly nude art photography, is that it involves a full-frontal view of the human body at all times.

Instead, a lot of female nude photography and nude male photography involves the model covering themselves up at various points in various manners. In other words, not all photos in this genre are considered erotic nude photography. This is nothing new!

For example, a female model can use her arms to mask her torso. A male model can use his hands to hide his groin. You can use sheets or props to hide some skin while revealing others as well. In either case, the result can be quite beautiful examples of nude photography.

Often, viewers find these types of images even more appealing because of the mystery that comes with having certain areas of the body covered up. It can make the photo a better representation of art, too. There is beauty in what's hidden!

Photography Tip #4: Focus on the Details

Along the lines of keeping it simple, one thing you can do to help relax your model is focused on the smaller details of their body.

Cleavage, a well-placed hand on the stomach, and the curvature of the back are all prime candidates for detail-rich, yet still captivating subjects for a nude photoshoot.

In fact, if you study classical nude photography, it’s not at all about the nakedness of the model, but the beauty, shape, and form of their body. You can celebrate those shapes and forms by composing these types of detailed photos.

Quick Tip: When taking part in nude photography, it’s helpful to approach composing your photographs almost like you would with a landscape. Take the time to examine how the light falls across the model’s body and zero in on highlighting how the light accentuates the body’s curves, as was done in the image just above. The result will be more beautiful portraits.

Photography Tip #3: Keep It Simple

Unless you’re doing something like fine art nude photography or nude couple photography, it’s typically best to keep the posing as simple as possible. Simplicity is often the key with nude photographs.

Again, most of the models you’ll work with will be normal, everyday people doing something special for a loved one. They have enough on their minds being nude in front of the camera, so having them do complex poses usually doesn’t work that well. 

Instead, have the model lay down, sit, or even stand in ways that are comfortable and relaxing.

Rather than having the female or male model constantly move around, try moving around the model to capture different angles of each pose. This will help with the relaxation element discussed above, and will also minimize how many times the model has to get up and move around over the course of the shoot. It will also save you time in the long-run by not having to reposition the model over and over again.

Photography Tip #2: Keep It Relaxed

The chances are that if you’re photographing a nude model that the model is at least somewhat comfortable being nude in front of a stranger.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone that wants a nude photo shoot is an expert at nude modelling.

Do your best to make the situation as relaxed as possible. In addition to keeping the model warm, simply engaging in light conversation can do wonders for relaxing both of you. This, in turn, will help you create better nude photographs.

Talk about pets, kids, occupations, TV shows you like - you name it. Small talk can work wonders for getting you through the awkwardness of the initial “okay, get naked” stage and carry you both through to the end of the shoot.

Quick Tip: Always, always have model release forms when you take on this type of photography. This is a means to protect you and the model both. Even if you know the model well and have an established relationship, you must have a model release form on file. Learn more about model releases and view a sample release form.

Photography Tip #1: Turn Up the Heat

Let’s kick this off with a very practical tip…

If the model hasn’t got any clothes on, they’re likely to get cold, fast. 

Help them out by turning up the heat in the room well before the shoot is scheduled to begin. It doesn’t need to be a sauna by any means, but crank it up to the mid to high 70s to ensure the model is as comfortable as possible.

Remember - the more comfortable the model is, the more relaxed they will be and the better the images you will take. They'll have a better time in front of the lens, too! It's your job as the photographer to make that happen.

Check out more nude photography in the PhotographyTalk member gallery. The nude photographs in the gallery have been shared by members of our community.

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