There has always been a strong interest in full nude photography, but there are a few key points to bear in mind if you want the photo shoot to be successful.
1. With the nude, then the lighting is everything, be it: a spot light, back light or soft light etc. Good lighting will produce an atmospheric image, where the contours and the shape of the body can be the emphasis of the image.
2. Choose your model carefully as ‘one model does not fit all’. For me, once I find a model I want to photograph I tailor the nude shoot to suit her look and personality.
3. Don’t forget to have her sign a model release form if you are intending to exhibit or publish the nude images.
4. The photo shoot starts with the preparation. Have your ideas, poses and lighting worked out in advance. And arrive at the studio before the model, so you can sort out your proposed lighting set up. I tend to arrange the lighting and the exposure testing, by the time this is ready; usually the female model is ready.
5. Two ways to create a relaxed atmosphere are; have some background music on (if you know what the model likes to listen to, try and play that) and by making sure the studio is warm enough for her to pose nude.
6. Take time to talk to your model and be interested in the conversation. Ask her questions about herself. All this will help to a make her feel comfortable, confident and relaxed. And it it’s the first time you have worked with her, don’t forget her name and say it often
7. Your mood on the day of your photo shoot will have a huge impact on the people around you. If you want the female nude model to look and feel relaxed then it’s important you should look and feel relaxed too. If you are a little technically inexperienced, then try not to show it by hiding behind your camera.
8. Once you’re happy with the exposure settings, don’t gimp the camera. Just shoot until you think the idea has run its course, before trying another setup. By all means, check once in while, but don’t keep interrupting the shoots momentum and harmony.
9. During the shot, be yourself and talk normally to the model, don’t use crass lines like “make love to the camera”.
10. Always remember where the main light is and work to it. If you’re doing several light set-ups, don’t keep switching the main side or you may forget which is which.
11. If you do change the lighting, background or props, make sure the model has put her robe on and is relaxing off the set.
12. You must explain the poses in a simple way. If it’s a pose that requires some movement, get her to practice it before you shoot it. This will help to develop a rapport between the two of you. The easiest way to direct the model is with instructions, for example, “Face me, put your feet together, and turn your body a little to the left, towards the main light, lean backwards …”.
If you have trouble saying how you want the pose, then just show her what you need. I prefer a combination of these ideas, as it can make the shoot more energetic and less serious.
13. Always give positive feedback to your model, when the pose is right. And if the pose doesn’t work, it’s usually because the photographer asked for the wrong pose. So work out what you need, and the model may even suggest a better pose. Talking to your model continually through the shoot will keep her relaxed.
14. Keep technical chatter to a minimum; she wants to feel that you have the shoot under control. Although be open to spontaneity either from a model’s suggestion or the moment.
15. The eyes are important and no matter how successful the pose and the lighting is if you require eye contact from the model, and she has already zoned out, then the final image will lack emotional punch. To avoid this, either:
try engaging her in conversation about something she interested in
ask her to look away, then back to the camera after each frame
make small changes to the pose between shots.
16. Shooting off the plan, and capturing those moments that occur between the set poses when your model has relaxed her ‘posed’ face, can sometimes bring great rewards. These images will be different in feel to the planned shoot, but can bring surprising results.