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True Confessions of Nude Photography
A Step-By-Step Guide To Recruiting Beautiful Models, Lighting, Photographing Nudes, Post-Processing Images, and Maybe Even Getting Paid to Do It Second Edition
A. K. Nicholas
True Confessions of Nude Photography A Step-by-Step Guide To Recruiting Beautiful Models, Lighting, Photographing Nudes, Post-Processing Images, and Maybe Even Getting Paid to Do It Second Edition
Developmental Editors: Jillian Schoff and George Nicola, Ph.D. Proofreader: JoSelle Vanderhooft Consulting Psychologist: Tia Sukin, Ph.D. Interns: Benjamin Jackson, Kera Linn All images by the author unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 2012 by A. K. Nicholas All rights reserved. Double Ink International www. nudephotoguides.com Ebook edition Special thanks to the models who appear in this guide: Narza C, Nikki Dubose, Tawny C, Sarah Hyder, Tess Irah, Mallory Stiles, Ann Stokes, Lauren M, Kaitlyn P, Michelle W, Sara Right, Bonnie Rose, Meg S, Lauren K, Christi K, Gracie Jiles, Lexi Wilson, Elizabeth Winters No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, information storage and retrieval systems—without written permission of the publisher. Unauthorized duplication or distribution is prohibited. If you downloaded this document, you may not physically or electronically copy or redistribute it other than for personal use. Limit of liability/disclaimer of warranty: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. The techniques and equipment described in this book include inherent dangers. Failure to take adequate precautions can cause injury or death. Attempt the techiniques herein at your own risk. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom.
..............2 Camera Equipment ............................................................6 Out of the Studio ....................25 Talking to the Model ...4 Build Your First Nude Portfolio............................................................................27 The First Nudes of a Session ......85 Multiple Models ........................................116 Index ........17 The Portfolio Review ..111 Microstock ...........................................................................................27 Success with First-Time Models ..................................................................................................................................Contents Introduction Getting Started in Nude Photography ...106 Isolating .........................................5 Beyond the Shooting Area .....................94 Emphasis ....................................63 150 Nude Poses .........................................................................................................................................40 Quality of Light .........................26 How to Give Verbal Direction ..92 Balance and Unity ....................21 Negotiating Compensation ........98 Focus and Depth of Field .................102 Zone System ..........31 Understanding Model Releases ...............117 Appendix A: Suggested Topics of Study .......................18 Offer the Job and Set Up the Shoot ...............................................................................................................38 Getting the Light Right ...............................................................................34 Marketing Your Work Art Galleries ..............20 Setting Expectations .......................................................................4 Posing Curves and Lines .................87 Studio or Shooting Environment Setting Up Your Studio ............40 Direction (Angle) of Light ............30 Final Poses .......7 Composition The Power of Lines .......................................................................23 Post-Processing Images Organizing Your Work ..................102 Contrast ..................................................................97 Visual Pathway .................................................17 Interviews ................................................................................28 Shoot a Variety of Looks ...................................................................................................................................................6 The Borrowed Studio .....................................................................111 Conclusion Readers’ Links .....43 A Word about Exposure ..........................................................................31 Closing the Shoot ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................63 Head to Toe ...................................................................................................................7 Outdoors ....96 The Golden Mean ............................................120 Lighting Four Light Kits for Every Budget ...............................................................................................99 Finding and Recruiting Models Putting Your Portfolio Online ......................................110 Self Publishing ............9 Where and How to Find Models ....66 Posing with Furniture .......................................................................................................................................................................................118 Appendix C: Model’s Survival Kit ..................................32 After the Shoot ...................................................106 Retouching Flaws ...118 Appendix B: Sample Nude Model Release ...................................................43 Lighting Examples ....................76 Posing with Props ...72 Floor Poses ............11 Advertising for Models ................66 Standing ............................................................................................................11 Social Networking............................................................12 Get a Stranger to Model for You ..........113 Reference Glossary .........................94 The Rule of Thirds ......................................................................109 Online Prints ...............................................................................................................................................................................................14 Vetting Models .................18 Attitude and Work Ethic ..2 Achieve Sharp Images...............................................98 Perspective and Camera Angle ........101 Skin Tone ..........110 Make and Sell 3D Reference Photos .....................................45 ............................................................114 Bibliography ................................................26 Starting the Shoot ..............................................................107 Photographing Nudes Getting the Model Ready ...................................................104 Cropping .............................................................................................................................
. Four lights....... All I had to bring was a camera.. 29 Photo 16................................................... 96 Photo 50....................... Contrasting color..... Models at their initial interviews and their first sessions.......................... 45 Photo 34................................. Although we met other people on this narrow spit of beach...................................................... ..................... ............ Lines of the figure relate to the boundaries of the image... The cropped image..... 92 Photo 46.... 41 Photo 25................................ This abandoned trolley car provided captivating textures in a secluded locale.... especially for first-timers.............. A large umbrella box (86 inches)............... 98 Photo 52... .... Background lights only.............................. 32 Photo 19.................... 56 Photo 40.......................................................... Side shots make good warm-ups................................ 44 Photo 31........ .... Sarah had many references.................................... In this example......................................................... 106 Photo 58.................................. Nature offers an almost limitless supply of scenery................................. ................................................. ................................. ............... Low-key lighting......... Shot in a borrowed studio........... Blue rectangle......... ........................................................................ .............................................. 30 Photo 17........................................... tonality................. Light with a beauty dish and grid.... ................ 99 Photo 54..................................... Nude in a river........... ... Overcast day with fill light...... 34 Photo 20.... A gallery opening..... Light with bounce umbrella................................ Light with 7-inch........ 8 Photo 8. 5 Photo 4............................. and texture) all emphasize the figure...................... .................... 91 Photo 45................ Visual pathway.................... ............................... 99 Photo 53............ . Confined location...... 40 Photo 22............................... Not foreshortened..................... A shot list helps you show the model your agenda for the shoot.......... 41 Photo 23.... 106 Photo 57.... ........ Silhouette.... interlocking lines..................................... ................................. Using one light................. Main lights only........... A set of 3d reference photos.... Signing a model release..... This dilapidated building on an abandoned military base provided ample opportunity for compositional experimentation.......... Lines at work in a composition.................................. 28 Photo 14........... 7 Photo 6....................... Making a reference exposure at the start of the shoot....................................... 110 Photo 61...... an out-offocus background........... 45 Photo 33... silver reflector....................................... Body paint helps define this look..................... Mallory............ Image by Eugene Durieu.................. 41 Photo 24... such as the model above............................................................... 1951 Jaguar XK..... 3 Photo 2................................ ....... A seasoned model............. A print sold at a gallery.............. an off-center subject........................................ ....................................................... 62 Photo 43.... 109 Photo 60.......... 6 Photo 5. ......... ...... Rule of thirds.... lights behind the model help separate and define the figure..... .............. Golden mean and Fibonacci spiral. 112 .................. 94 Photo 48........ ............... Bare tube light....................... ............ Cropping the image................. Light sculpting...................... 35 Photo 21.............. ..... 42 Photo 28............ A small umbrella (20 inches).............. Light modified with a 17”x54” softbox........... 4 Photo 3... One light................iv List of Photographs (Does not include posing guide) Photo 1............. .. You can shoot in an ordinary room.............................. Available light....................................... ................. 60 Photo 42...................... 54 Photo 39.. Choose portfolio images that may attract models........................... 42 Photo 29.......... Light with shoot-through umbrella........................ it is less intimidating..... 14 Photo 11......... For this shoot with a classic Jaguar...... ......... 1855............. 52 Photo 38............. 62 Photo 44......... The undress from underneath technique...... 111 Photo 62....... An image that has sold as microstock......... ......... and gesture.................... 30 Photo 18................ 9 Photo 10........ ........................ 41 Photo 26.............. Using the zone system....... 8 Photo 7............................. 43 Photo 30.. I had the model show up at the stylist’s location with a clean face and washed hair...... 28 Photo 15.................................................................... 42 Photo 27............ .... Isolation on white. An image sold online as a poster......... a model I met when she was my waitress.. A color-corrected version of the previous image............................. In addition to lighting the front of the model...... 109 Photo 59.................. ....... two thousand miles from home....................................... Foreshortened............. and three types of contrast (color....................................................... ........ A background reflecting on the subject.. ............ 100 Photo 55. .. demonstrated by a first-time model who started off timid..... 21 Photo 12................. A back shot is a good warm-up........................ 93 Photo 47......... 44 Photo 32.... Photograph the model’s identification......................... there was limited access and we saw them coming from miles away........ 103 Photo 56.... 95 Photo 49............... 58 Photo 41............................ 97 Photo 51.................................................... 1 Photo: Dreamstime.................... (Lighting info on page 46).................................... ..... .................................... I wanted a retro-style look... 46 Photo 35....... 8 Photo 9..... 50 Photo 37......................... 26 Photo 13.. 48 Photo 36........................
............................................................................................23 Figure 3: A tattoo to be covered...............................................................................................................93 Figure 17: Golden mean and Fibonacci spiral.......... .................. ..............39 Figure 26: Using a Levels Adjustment Layer to detect off-white Figure 8: Light Kit #3 .......... .....26 Figure 4: Dermablend appears lighter straight out of the tube than it will when dry. If you cannot match by mixing Dermablend.................................................... ..............11 Figure 2: TFP and paid shoots......... Sculpt with Light ................................................................... 105 Figure 24: Levels Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks in Photoshop............... ................................................................. 103 Figure 20: Parametric Tone Curve in Adobe Camera RAW........ 107 Figure 7: Light Kit #2 .................................................. 47 Lighting Diagram 2............... .....5 Figure 2: Small classified ads are cost-effective recruiting tools.......................................40 Figure 10: Histogram..............................45 Lighting Diagram 1.... ...................................... 104 Figure 21: Adjustment Brush in Adobe Camera RAW................ .......93 Figure 16: Lines form repeated triangle shapes............................................................ 104 Figure 22: HSL/Grayscale adjustment in Adobe Camera RAW..... 51 Lighting Diagram 4.......................... ...................................... 57 Lighting Diagram 7................ ............................... 49 Lighting Diagram 3.... you can use the Shadows/Highlight adjustment in Photoshop to adjust them...........43 Figure 11: Example of studio wall colors................ ............................................................................... Overcast Day with Fill Light ......................................................................................................................... ......... Silhouette ....... 59 Lighting Diagram 8.................................... 105 Figure 25: Isolating with the pen tool.............................. ........ 61 Figure 12: Static pose....................................v Figures and Lighting Diagrams Figure 1: Mark the model zone with tape on the floor.................... ................. 108 ......63 Figure 13: Weight shift........... ...26 Figure 5: This attempt is too dark................. . 55 Lighting Diagram 6.............................. ... 53 Lighting Diagram 5........................................... Using One Light ..................................... consider using a top coat of skin powder...................................63 Figure 14: Leading lines converge on the figure............ Low-Key Light .. Confined Location ...... .......... Isolation on White .................................................... 104 Figure 23: If your files are not RAW format......... ............................101 areas.................................. ................... .....39 Figure 9: Light Kit #4 ...............................26 Figure 6: Light Kit #1 ........... ....97 Figure 18: File organization.................................................. used to selectively lighten and darken areas of an image...........93 Figure 15: Horizontal and vertical lines relate to the picture frame.........38 Figure 19: The Zones.................. ............... Available Light .........................
Proper technique is an important fundamental. produced not long after the refinement of photographic technique with nude daguerreotypes becoming prominent in the 1800s. though nude photography entails more than knowledge of equipment. will you gain photographic skill. I will also share what I know about lighting and posing. I hope it speeds you on your quest to capture the beauty of the body. and that you already understand the basic operation of the camera. including postprocessing suggestions and marketing ideas (if you are inclined to attempt a commercial venture with nude photography). Although it covers the basics of nude photography. Most guides on photographic technique assume you have already found a willing model. I began Photo 1. It is only by practicing that you will learn. I will share insights gained through working with hundreds of models in the decades since then. I have learned something from each model. This guide contains the kind of knowledge I wish I had when I started shooting. These pages are drawn from my twenty years of experiences with nude photography. I will give you the system that I have developed for finding and recruiting models. Image by Eugene Durieu. it is assumed that you have a digital camera that is more advanced than a point-and-shoot. it has persevered as a subject for various artistic undertakings. Do not expect to improve your photography by the simple act of reading this or any book. I hope to help you avoid making missteps that many photographers commonly repeat. my stint as a photography instructor. Only until you attempt and reattempt what is in this book. increasing your technical skills and giving you a well-rounded comprehension of the interpersonal side of the art as well. . what to say to them in the studio. The Words written in red can be found in the glossary. Although nudity has been both in and out of vogue in various periods and cultures. 1855. low-budget lighting to a full studio system. This book is aimed at novice to intermediate photographers. I assume that you are having trouble—or at least are not finding models that you feel take your work to the next level. and as a freelance artist to round out the instruction. some enlightening. and work with them long term.1 Introduction female body is a marvel of natural beauty and has inspired artists for thousands of years prior to the invention of photography. The earliest nude photos were. Starting with those first shoots. ask them about nude shoots. My system shows you how to initially connect with models. Each lighting setup includes a diagram ranging from basic. I also assume that you do not automatically know how to go about asking models about nude shoots or what to say to them once you have them in the studio. Finally. You will learn from my successes. To benefit from this guide you need no prior experience with nude models. Each model who has stepped in front of my camera came to me through one of the techniques that I share in this book. working with nudes during my four years earning an art degree. and I will share the lessons I have learned from my mistakes. The advice people most often ask me for is how to find quality nude models. including over a hundred fifty examples of my favorite nude poses. you will find some tips on what to do with your images after you shoot them. and others humbling. predictably. There is a huge interpersonal element—much more so than in any other kind of people photography. I also draw on my career as a professional photographer.
take heart. • I will share real-world. I have assumed you are working digitally. a 16-bit. The number of colors is measured in bitdepth and the fineness of tones in f-stops of dynamic range. Cameras with high megapixel counts on small sensors (creating high pixel density) often suffer from a variety of performance issues. but a size of 24x36 mm (sometimes called a full-frame sensor) is preferred. This book is about nude photography. there is no need to rush out and start buying equipment. I am not going to tell you to forget everything you know about non-nude photography. proven ways to find and recruit models. Do not be fooled by high megapixel claims. I have assembled a few general photography tips that are relevant to figure work. trial and error may be your best friend. If you recognize that nude photography is a discipline in itself. Shoot as often as you can and let your mistakes be steppingstones to greater knowledge. Instead. Just know that you are eventually going to want to upgrade if you take your craft seriously. At a minimum. but it is possible to achieve good results without spending a fortune. Technological advances have helped drive down the cost of higher bit-depth sensors. • I will include tips on post-processing your images in Photoshop. In both cases. Your camera will need the ability to operate in manual mode (set aperture and shutter speed) and to store images in RAW format. However. after all. For . but the price fell once it was no longer cutting edge. Some novices approach it as full-length portrait photography minus the clothes. Camera Equipment There are many reasons to take camera equipment seriously. • Nude Photography is more than photographic technique. For example. A little built-in or pop-up flash is another indicator of an entry-level camera. If you do not have a good camera setup now. you will be two steps ahead of most beginners. In short. Cameras with sensors larger than 24x36mm are called medium format cameras. because that knowledge is going to help you. • You will receive advice on how to go about asking models to pose nude.2 True Confessions of Nude Photography Getting Started in Nude Photography To me. Some newer cameras achieve superior quality with lower megapixel sensors than their predecessors. My suggestion is that you neither forget nor rely entirely upon your general photographic experience. but the real strength lies in knowing the differences. but this is shortsighted. if you cannot remove the lens. larger numbers are better. A sufficiently sized image sensor is a requirement. When you are getting started. nude photography is a celebration of beauty and spirit. 12-stop dynamic range sensor was prohibitively expensive at one time. Better sensors also capture more colors and tones. sensor size is a better determinant of resolving power. Getting to the next level is likely easier than you think. There are similarities between genres. you will need a camera with interchangeable lenses. I do not want to fill these pages with general camera information. The lighting and posing concepts for nude photography are different from those of portraiture and fashion. • Lighting setups illustrate exactly where to put each light. pass on the camera. • I have included hundreds of nude poses. If the process of learning all the technical aspects intimidates you. for your convenience. Look for a minimum sensor size of 15x22 mm. remain open to learning new things. Almost anyone can learn to operate photographic equipment and learn lighting with just a few pointers and a lot of practice. also called a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex). In this guide.
It is important to bear in mind that while undesirable distortion and chromatic aberration are reduced by better lens designs. you should get enough camera memory to capture a couple of hundred images in RAW mode. Slight distortions are lens characteristics. generally the more compromised image quality is. it would make no difference how good the model. Camera body 6. just like with your camera. but do not choose an unknown brand. Pose/composition 4.nudephotoguides. A reputable seller will have evaluated and fairly appraised the lens for you. they are never completely eliminated. new or used. take a long-term view. Selecting the right model 2. If you are fanatical about lens quality. but at least you have the potential for some great shots. A well-written review will include high-resolution samples from various cameras. Do not make a decision based solely on maximum sharpness.com/resources. lens. Having one great lens is worth more than having several mediocre ones. For sites that feature reviews see www. you can have this at low or zero cost. lighting. Stick to reputable retailers who guarantee satisfaction. I recommend you set aside time for further reading of some of the many informative articles and books dedicated to the topic of equipment. and lighting equipment. Luckily. A poorly chosen lens can become the weak link in your photographic process. Choice of lighting 3. including equipment and technique (see page 37). Elements for Success (In Order of Importance) 1. There is nothing wrong with using just one great lens for almost all your work. you do not need to spend exorbitant amounts. you will end up with mediocre results no matter which one you choose to use. Later in the book is a deeper discussion of lighting. When it comes to wireless triggers. However. research the levels of chromatic aberration. Additionally. especially among lower and moderately priced equipment. but not least importantly. With a handful of mediocre lenses. Quality lens 5. Find the best you can afford for now (both lens and model).Introduction 3 convenience. do research. know that the greater the zoom range. not defects. just as there is no such thing as a perfect model. image sensor. and there should be so few specs that you can count them at a glance. Your patience will pay off in the long run. distortion. stick with top tier sellers. it is time to shop for the best price. You can learn about the sharpness of each f-stop not only the in center but also near the edges. you will need good lighting. You can purchase just one studio light or you can use natural light. Any lens. If you so desire. Background/props . you will probably want to upgrade as you start to shoot more. you may be limited in what you can shoot. and vignetting throughout the aperture range (and zoom range if so equipped). When it comes to the camera. There is no such thing as a perfect lens. consider the reputation of the brand for durability. or your Photoshop skills are. will have some dust inside the elements. look for reviews that contain detailed test data. Also. Finally. The rule of thumb is that the dust should be barely perceptible. free of charge. Once you decide which lens to buy. Take your time. Buy a wireless trigger that has an advertised range of at least twice what you will require. If you choose one high-quality lens. Always factor in the cost of replacement tubes when buying lights that are out of warranty. When purchasing used lighting. If you are looking at online auctions. Photo: Dreamstime The above information should give you an idea of what type of equipment you need to launch a serious pursuit of making nude images. If every image must first pass through a poor lens. and have a plan.
Flash duration is measured in terms of t0. or omit the information altogether.1. I recommend a t0. If you are accustomed to camera-mounted flashes. Build Your First Nude Portfolio You need sample shots in order to book nude models. you may think that all flash lighting will freeze motion.5 and t0. The model moves.4 True Confessions of Nude Photography Achieve Sharp Images Nude photos. Periodically review your portfolio and relentlessly eliminate weak or old photos. On my website (www. I do not recommend this for beginners. Eventually. If you are working with a wireless transmitter. since neither of you will have much experience.1. do not indicate which measurement of duration they are using. This could mean shooting with daylight or powerful studio strobes. So how do you get your first nudes? This may seem like a catch-22. Building credibility is an essential step to recruiting models. You are never done building your portfolio. A large quantity of light allows you to use a smaller aperture. Once you have created your first portfolio. but you can get there. and I have had my fair share of models posing unclad for the first time.5. dancing. a flash may have a t0.1 of 1/300 of a second. The number you want to pay attention to is t0. Unfortunately. For example. Choose portfolio images that may attract models. All these factors can lead to motion blur. As if that was not complicated enough. respectively. If glamour is not your style. can present a challenge to getting crisp shots. you will have no trouble finding your first nude model. once you begin to use more powerful units. look at the shutter speed and aperture settings that are recorded in the EXIF data. recent work. I have rarely met an attractive woman who would not pose in lingerie. you will quickly meet a model who is only too eager to pose for the exact style of photography you envision. and assume that this is the t0. take a variety of shots at varying settings. The advertised action-freezing duration is usually at the unit’s lowest power setting. In the studio. . you should use a tripod (also see “Available Light” on page 46). This is not fast enough to freeze quick action such as a model leaping into the air. However. Your portfolio should contain only consistently strong.1 of no longer than 1/500 of a second if you are planning to photograph a moving model. you will find that the flash duration can be as slow as 1/100 of a second. but it is not as difficult as it may appear. the pose is fleeting. To avoid camera shake indoors or out. In daylight. You may have to add progressively unclothed shots to your portfolio until you have a portfolio of nudes. there are some more twists. or flinging her hair. Photo 2. which could be lower than that of your camera. If the manufacturer does not specify that the stated duration is t0. being the time required for the strobe to emit 50% and 90% of its light. yielding a sharper result from your lens. like fashion. Then you can move on to models who do implied nudes (nude from behind. especially if you work repeatedly with the same model or hire a model who has a lot of experience with figure work. The first ingredient to sharp photos is to have plenty of light.com/resources). There is a first time for everything. for example) or topless shots. With any luck at all. complete with everything you need to impress prospective models. More on keeping your portfolio fresh can be found in the final pages of the book (see page 113). Sometimes you can most easily accomplish this by shooting repeatedly with the same model. Each flash’s duration is affected by its power settings. choose a more artistic mode of half-attired subject.nudephotoguides. and nothing builds credibility better than an astounding portfolio. you can look for a duration of 1/1500 of a second.5 of 1/1000 of a second and a t0. more illumination translates into faster shutter speeds for stopping motion. After you determine the sharpest frames. Shoot clothed models until your work is good enough to convince someone to do glamorous bikini or lingerie shots. you will be limited to the sync speed of the transmitter. many manufacturers only state t0. Recognize what works and stick with it or update it. stopping motion depends on flash duration. I include some specific equipment recommendations.1. know this: you are not done. Finding your first nude model may be intimidating. To find the sweet spot of your lens. and you may frequently change camera position.5. such as sheer drapery.
it is important that the model be excited about doing the shoot. I mark this area by placing arrows made of red tape on the floor to show the model exactly where she should position herself. muslin. are interesting backdrops for nude photos. Older brick or rock walls. Your studio should be more than just a shooting area with your backdrop and equipment. It is important to set the right tone so that when the model enters she is able to focus her energy on modeling. However. I will also discuss how backgrounds and sets interact with the lighting and affect composition (see page 45). I have used foam board attached to a wall to create a temporary set. It should be warm enough for your model to be comfortable when she is undressed. paint. In several places within this guide. or a wall. Be creative about what you consider a studio. . you should have suitable backgrounds. temperature controlled. organized. A narrower room will not accommodate a wide background. if you are just starting out and do not have many examples. Photo 3. even dilapidated ones.). If you have a strong portfolio. etc. if you are too cold in a short-sleeved shirt. Regardless of the location. some models may be hesitant to come to your home. with eleven-foot ceilings. When considering what kind of studio to have. You do not need to have a studio at all. Your shooting environment does not need to be a traditional studio. Alternatively. If shooting on location.5 Studio or Shooting Environment need enough room to shoot and a suitable background. or even a full set out of a great many materials. You can also mark a rectangular zone by placing tape at the corners. such as seamless paper. Your choice of studio and how you outfit it will help define your photographic style. and strategies to maximize your results no matter what type of environment you shoot in. I use a backdrop that is two-and-a-half times as tall as the model. and arrows at the edges of the set show the model how far back to stand. then covered the foam board with various materials (fabric. you can shoot entirely on location. As a rule. but not so warm that moderate activity results in the model perspiring. well-equipped. a large. You could convert almost any large room into a studio. you may want to use portable lighting You equipment and a photographic battery pack. Figure 1: Mark the model zone with tape on the floor. uncluttered. professional-looking studio can give her this impression. the temperature is far too low. either outdoors or indoors. You need to be far enough back to avoid lens distortion. as well as other professionals. consider the cost associated with owning or renting a studio. or whether to have a studio at all. is the minimum space for shooting full-length nudes. most models will be receptive to shooting in a home studio. See “How Your Studio Affects Your Lighting” on page 45. work out of their homes. You want the model to be motivated by the knowledge that she is joining you in a worthwhile photo shoot. and a lower ceiling limits your options to position the lights. you can rent studio space by the day or even train under a mentor who has a workspace. As a rule. A model will usually have her own preference of temperature based on where she is from. fifteen by twenty feet. It should be pleasant and inviting to the model. and large enough to move around in comfortably. Your studio should be well-lit. In addition to the way you describe your work and present your portfolio. If I want the model in one spot. If you wish. an arrow at the front of the set indicates the middle of the background. You can shoot in an ordinary room. such as size and color. Setting Up Your Studio The area in which a model can stand to achieve optimal lighting and compositional effect is what I term the model zone. Unless you are lucky enough to have the perfect landscape as a backdrop. Many photographers. You can make your own backgrounds. Outdoor lighting and special considerations for the model are discussed in the next few pages. or at least a very long extension cord. I will touch upon additional aspects of the studio. Typically.
Your studio décor should be tamer than your portfolio. Shot in a borrowed studio. or you can provide separate areas for each. Although it was located in a great part of town for finding models. Although I had many productive shoots there. so it is not the best for a brand new model. The goal of going on location is quality. or depicting models who are exceedingly more beautiful than the majority of the rest of your models.) Out of the Studio The studio is a convenient. Beyond the Shooting Area Decorating your studio with your photos can make you appear more established. Behind or beside your desk is a more traditional place to put trophies. swabs. A few ideas include original artwork. Everyone feeds off the energy of working outside the studio. two thousand elusive pairing of miles from home. If you are using a stylist. I am sure the lack of aesthetics diminished the comfort level of many of my early models. too daring. In the year right after college. interesting objects. and warehouses. in case they forget to bring them along. (Also see “Appendix C: Model’s Survival Kit” on page 120 for more ideas. feel free to display those. especially with a familiar model. Although you will eventually see the model without garments. Stock it with a few items your models may need. they probably would have been better if the models’ first impressions were of an inviting workplace. Route any cords along walls whenever possible to keep them out of pedestrian areas. using the scenery of nature. or running up and down stairs of an indoor location and juggling equipment and models between each setup. If you have awards or diplomas. background and existing light. If the floor is slick. The legs of light stands and cords near the shooting area can be obstacles for anyone unfamiliar with your studio. Make sure to choose décor images that are not intimidating. I have photographed at private homes. and even some of your photo props. It is another thing entirely to give the impression that this is the décor you leave out for all visitors to your studio. Add some decorations other than your own photography so that your studio will not look like an homage to your ego. complete with appropriate décor. You can breathe fresh life into your shots by getting out of the studio and finding a location. It is great to be proud of your work. not quantity. automotive shops. All I had to bring was a camera. waterfalls. it becomes routine and the shots start lacking variety. Professional backgrounds and light modifiers should be flame resistant. wellequipped restroom for your models to use. such as concrete or wood. be prepared and prepare your model for a lower percentage of good shots from a location session compared with the studio due to the challenges of working in unfamiliar surroundings with limited equipment. chasing the Photo 4. it is a nice touch to offer a private area for them to change into a dressing robe before and between sessions. my makeshift studio looked exactly that: it was a partially finished basement in a commercial area. Indoor location shoots are the most enjoyable for me. plants. after a while. the work you produce can be astounding in ways you might not be able to create in any studio. Mark any hazardous areas with brightly colored tape or special reflective appliqués. flushable wipes. The restroom or changing area should also provide a place to do makeup and hair. tape down the background paper every three feet with two inches of low-tack painter’s tape. . For information on setting up the lighting. But. Orange or yellow electrical tape will suffice. such as using the space to arrange my equipment. or borrowing another’s studio. she may wish to do last-minute touch-ups in private. If you are working inside a building—and let us hope it is a beautifully designed one—you have the architecture and interior design at your disposal to create your compositions. Photographing on location provides intriguing challenges but can invigorate both you and the model. However. It is not as controlled of an environment. Although most models do not desire a separate changing area. Your model will also appreciate a full-length mirror and sufficient lighting. It is one thing to show a shot list including revealing poses to a model to agree on what you will shoot. make sure to accommodate the stylist's needs. Be sure to situate any heat sources away from combustibles like draped fabrics. Seamless background paper needs a hard surface.6 True Confessions of Nude Photography Make sure you secure your equipment so it is safe. Once you have experimented with various props and rearranged the lights into every conceivable combination. In addition to a shooting area. predictable environment. because they combine creative challenges of a non-studio setting with the control of being indoors. see “Lighting” on page 37. Cotton pads. Changing and styling can take place in the restroom. but you should also consider limiting it to just two or three prized examples. a washcloth. My favorite scenario for a fruitful location shoot is to select a good candidate from models I have already worked with. art studios. be sure you have a clean. mountains. the inside was geared only towards practical matters. beaches. but do not place them front and center. Among the demands is a level of physical exertion—such as trekking up and down mountain paths. and a hand towel are all appropriate. inspiration can wane. When on location.
You will be doing the studio owner a favor if anything requires maintenance or repair and you notify them of this upon your arrival. Preview the location at the same time of day that you plan to shoot. Stand at the turn so you can see approaching people long before they can see your model. Just make sure the places you go are open to the public so you are not trespassing. For example. These can be found in camping or boating supply stores. an abandoned military base (photo 7). there was limited access and we saw them coming from miles away. Without control of the angle of light or diffusion. Outdoor locations offer inspiring though ever-changing backgrounds. your model can be arrested for being nude. Have an assistant to hold the reflector. a deserted section of beach (photo 5). and a remote waterfall (photo 8). it becomes a completely different game. I do not want to draw attention to the fact that I am doing a photo shoot or draw a crowd. online photos may help you learn the specifics of the scenery. you will be photographing a squinting model with harsh shadows. On a beach location. Leave the studio the way you found it. of course) or a secluded spot will help you avoid strangers in the background or bothering anyone with your presence. I use a tabletop one or a Outdoors Outdoor shoots are fraught with the unexpected. can give you some clues for finding more out-of-the-way locations once you have settled on a general area. Practice shooting outdoors to get used to the constantly changing light intensity and harshness that can come and go on a cloudy day. A single lens and a folding reflector are usually sufficient for me. I like to send an additional “thank you” once I return home. You might also want to take advantage of a large or well-equipped studio close to you when yours is not adequate for a particular shoot you have in mind. so it is best that you save these for a model who you have already worked with. of pointing out every deficiency in the studio. a shady area with a reflector is another way to make do. If you are forced to shoot in the middle of the day. Keep your gear to a minimum. it is better to shoot late in the afternoon or wake up before sunrise. Although you might get the fast shutter speeds and small apertures you want in bright sun. On this page and the next are some examples of outdoor locations: abandoned trolley cars (photo 6). Check local ordinances to make sure public nudity is permitted. Although you can cope by putting the light to the model’s back and using fill flash. You can make the model more relaxed by doing one or even a few shoots with her first. If I bring a tripod. whether it is a certain lighting effect or the beauty of nature’s grandeur. If the shoot is to be far from your home but close to the model. Although we met other people on this narrow spit of beach. especially if they go beyond the basics. Nothing I carry sports a brand name because I do not want to attract potential thieves. The mid-day sun is not desirable photographically or in terms of personal comfort. A model who does not know you might be skeptical about hopping in a car and letting you drive her to a desolate location. Beware. A polarizing filter does not weigh much and can add density if the sun is too bright. In some locales. a path with a tight turn followed by a dead end. Explain to her what kind of location you have in mind and why it is important to you photographically. If possible. plentiful and free online. fickle weather and changing light can spoil some of your shots. If it is a wellknown place. It sounds like the beginning of a B horror movie. Areas that are accessible at low tide may not be accessible to you at high tide. however. You can also raise her comfort level by letting her participate in the selection of the location. My camera case is padded well enough that if it were to get bumped. Private property (with permission. acquaint yourself on a preliminary visit. A new photographer can perform studio shoots this way. You can do this an hour before she arrives or a week in advance of the shoot. Get to know as much as possible about a location before the day of the shoot. the day of the week and other events can determine how many onlookers are nearby. Make sure to thank whomever you borrow or rent the studio from. No matter how much you prepare. my equipment would be safe. or bring clamps and lightweight stands. If you are unfamiliar with studio lighting. The time of day is as important as the weather. plan to shoot by checking the tide tables. Sometimes you can find a location that has a single path of approach. and all you have to provide is your camera. I always have at least one waterproof bag for my camera. make sure you visit at the same tide stage as you Photo 5. Finding a secluded location does not necessarily mean trekking for miles. (Lighting info on page 46). even if you have to do a clothed shoot in a more public place as a warm-up. typically in the form of a useful gift or note with a photo from the session. take some photos of your target location before you arrive with the model. and do not be silent if anything looks out of place so you will not be blamed for something that was broken before you arrived. I also have a nondescript backpack that I carry my gear in. I have visited cities with corporate buildings next to landscaped areas that have water features and other amenities and are deserted after quitting time. . In addition.Studio or Shooting Environment 7 The Borrowed Studio You may want to rent or borrow a studio in order to access models who live far from you. If the studio owner provides a model or equipment. Satellite photos or maps. she may be able to send you some photos.
I only use it when I know how far I will have to carry it. background is far in the distance.8 True Confessions of Nude Photography homemade spike tripod that can be attached to a fence post or something similar. If she does not have a lot of endurance. confines of the studio. and atmosphere— all come together to form uniquely magical imagery. You do not want to end up with insect bites or worse for lack of the right clothing or other precautions. even the clouds. You can impose on the model to carry something light. there is fill light reflecting off sources such as the sky You can use daylight as it is (available light). Photo 8. take captivating textures in a secluded locale. Although shooting outdoors has its share of annoyances and requires significantly more work per shot. . research the proper way to do it. Outdoor shoots can benefit from a portable studio strobe. You will need a pure sine wave inverter or other power solution that is specifically designed for the sensitive electronics found in studio lights. lighting. and color. composition. main light. You do not want her to be burned by the time you start shooting. which operates on a special battery pack. The sky provides an everbackgrounds. If you are heading into the wilderness. Heavy sunscreen that changes the way her skin looks does not work. On a cloudy day. Although the sun provides your depth with the out of focus background. advantage of the compositional choices the outdoors have to offer versus the enough privacy to avoid interruption. Photo 6. but make sure she is up to hiking. or add fill light and ground. You can position your model where the shooting nudes outdoors offers spontaneous options for poses. light outdoors bounces off with an off-camera flash or reflector. robbing you of precious shooting time. Too much gear will only get in your way and dominate your agenda. it would be a shame to have to trek back early when one of you gets hungry or dehydrated. light. nity for compositional experimentation. mood. as do bodies of water. it is worth it for the opportune moments when everything— model. This is rarely true. Nature offers an almost limitless supply of scenery. especially on an incline. you could end up photographing a drenched and wilting model. many people assume there is a single source long lens and small aperture can enhance the dramatic effect of of light. This dilapidated building on an abandoned military base provided ample opportuOnce you are on location. Just as in your studio. This abandoned trolley car provided Photo 7. Despite the challenges. Make sure your model has adequate sun protection in the form of a hat and cover-up. the fill light is happen anywhere you can combine suitable lighting with more pronounced. Using a With natural light. changing backdrop for images. This equipment can get heavy after a short distance. Bring water and a small snack for both you and your model. and the sun is more diffused—this lowers the contrast ratio on the model. Outdoor shoots can many surfaces.
I will explain each of the recruiting steps in chronological order. including the right attitude. is daunting to some photographers who have yet to do it. Assemble an impressive portfolio in advance of introducing yourself to prospective models. it is easier for a competent Recruiting Eight Elements Your Site Should Include 1. 7. Do not get ahead of yourself in this process. and pare down to only the better ones. 5.9 Finding and Recruiting Models photographer to create a great photograph simply by choosing the right model and taking some care in the execution of the work. you will bridge the gap between these two positions and eventually cross it. 2. Between eight and twenty photos is ideal. To seasoned photographers. nude or otherwise. I like to think about it like this: the photographer does 50 percent of the work. I know I have recruited correctly. 3. Recruiting the right models can mean the difference between astounding results and mediocre ones. With practice. Whether you do it yourself or entrust someone else.yoursitename.com) and not something that is tacked onto some other company’s website address. is everything that takes place prior to the shoot that will bring a model into your studio well-prepared to perform. Nude images . it seems quite simple to find attractive and enthusiastic models. Include only recent work. 4. A skilled photographer maximizes his subject’s beauty with lighting. 6. do not rush into acquainting the model with your work until you have completed the first step. Get an email address based on the domain name. make sure you get your own domain name (that is. She knows exactly what to expect out of the entire session with me. However. In this section. It is certainly ill-advised to propose a booking before you and the model know enough about each other to make an informed arrangement. When you are making introductions. She has with her everything she needs to be at her best. A highly talented photographer may be able to eke out better results from an average model than an average photographer could. I want to see her whole face smile as if she were greeting a longtime friend. Recruiting is more than just finding a willing model and agreeing on a time to shoot. The process of finding a willing model. Models at their initial interviews and their first sessions. Organize. but the model provides 90 percent of the beauty. Putting Your Portfolio Online Having a website for your photography is essential for building credibility. An optimal selection contains an assortment of images that represents the styles you expect to shoot with future models. Portfolio (Samples of Your Images) Description of How the Photos Are Used What Kind of Model You Are Looking For A Mention of Compensation An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Section Your Location A Method for Models to Contact You Links to Your Other Sites or Blog Portfolio (Samples of Your Images) Your portfolio contains samples of your work with the express goal of attracting models. choice of pose. This is a maxim I will expand upon later. There are also a few out-of-the-box products if you want a trouble-free solution but are on a budget. 8. Photo 9. When an enthusiastic model bounds into the studio ready to work. and camera angle. sort through your images. www. If you are familiar with website-building tools and web hosting then you have a technical advantage. When a model first steps into my studio. Hosting packages that include a domain name and e-mail are very affordable and one of the most cost-effective first steps in distinguishing yourself as a serious photographer. Have a few projects in mind so you can explain what themes you are contemplating.
Do not err on the side of being too conservative. By participating on the site over a long period of time. as that will likely vary from shoot to shoot and from model to model. . see www. The job application on my site is somewhat more sophisticated. Make your location prominent and repeat it.. and you may be willing to hire her. you could include implied nudes. If the applicant enters data that satisfies the minimum height. Models will apply for a gig when they see a good fit. Large modeling employment websites are effective recruiting tools. You do not want images that are too similar or to omit any genre. Almost all these sites allow the models and photographers to specify if they are interested in nude photography. This will keep you on track. set up an account with the same pertinent information and sample images you cultivated for your website. but novice models will still want to earn near your top rate. A Method for Models to Contact You If you do not include an application form or contact information. Compensating models is discussed in more detail later (see “Negotiating Compensation” on page 23). I post mine quite clearly. random comments are often ignored. It is amazing how many photographers omit their city name from their website. Links to Your Other Sites or Blog You can strengthen your online presence by having an account on a photo-sharing site and a profile on a model-centric network. she is presented with a second form asking for additional information. The contrary is true. a less-experienced model may approach you. use an online reply form. For example. and body painting. Are you seeking male. For most. Posting a lengthy explanation of rates has its benefits. just a summary. It is unimpressive if it looks like you shot your entire portfolio with a lone model in a single afternoon. dress size. Once you have selected one or two worthwhile model networking sites. and subtlety. The first step collects some basic information and compares it to my criteria. she is likely to expect to earn your standard rate. The last thing you want is to surprise the model at shoot time by expecting her to do something more revealing than the examples in your portfolio. female. On my model-recruiting site. information for those who have booked a shoot. or both? If you do not specify. This is also a good exercise for you to create meaningful answers to these questions instead of coming up with a response spontaneously. If the FAQ grows to an unwieldy size. If the applicant doesn’t meet the criteria. or perhaps you have the experience to train newcomers. Some photographers post a flat pay rate on their site. Posting a range of rates can mitigate the problem a bit. many sites have methods to comment on images and send messages. nevertheless. especially on your contact form. invest some time visiting the networking site’s forums and commenting on photos that you like. she receives a politely worded message informing her of this. You might think that by generalizing. either. More discussion of this topic can be found in the section on writing effective advertisements (see “Advertising for Models” on page 11). be a little tricky. while others produce images that are more daring. The model receives an e-mail asking her to reply with photos or a link to her images. For a list of sites that help to match photographers with models. An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Section An FAQ section is a way to organize information that could otherwise clutter your main page. photographers. and do not post your e-mail anywhere on the site. For example. It can. Include links to publications or other websites where your photography can be found. You can discover which websites have models in your area by using their built-in search features. I have links to my portfolios on stock photography websites. but also serves to clutter your site. After creating an account. organize it based on audience. however. glamour nudes. Models will not know exactly what to expect until they see your work.nudephotoguides. and answers for models who have already shot with me. Some photographers produce rather modest nudes. outdoor nudes. Explain requirements and preferred traits. If you are too vague. and I get an alert e-mail whenever one is submitted. To reduce the chance of spam coming into your e-mail. Cull through your e-mail archive for questions that have come up. There is no reason to discourage potential models by showing them images that go beyond what you normally shoot. A Mention of Compensation You also need to mention compensation. my books. Plan your portfolio with a list of genres before you start choosing the images. creativity.com/resources. You will want to adjust your FAQ over time. In addition to forums. a simple online contact form will suffice—something that will collect basic information and forward it to you. There are several popular websites for models. you will not garner the attention of your target audience. I have an FAQ divided into answers for new models. Make comments when you can do so in a meaningful way. and my blog to illustrate how I may use some of the best images. I employ a two-step process. albeit for a rate commensurate with her skill. Do you have a minimum height? Do you prefer plus-sized or petite models? Perhaps you only want to work with experienced models. Your Location Do not forget to mention where you are located. All applications are stored in a database. your website will be virtually useless. include a balanced number of examples of each genre of posing that you expect from your models. you will receive inquiries from both. casting agents. do not put it in your portfolio. What Kind of Model You Are Looking For Your site needs to say what kind of model you are searching for. Do not offer criticism unless the poster has invited it and if doing so is within your area of skill. I use an online application form that collects the information I require.10 True Confessions of Nude Photography differ in style. Include a variety of models and settings. you become part of the community. For this reason. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. you will get more applications. Description of How the Photos Are Used Construct a description of how you will use the photos. You may prefer to mention just that you pay market rates for your models and not post a specific dollar figure. If you have a daring image that goes beyond what you are recruiting to shoot. along with a notice that I do not pay to fly models to me. etc. built using custom software code. Do not list every detail. and others who work with freelance models.
would-be models who exist in close proximity to them. . The agency will want to become acquainted with you and your photography. Most people today will make contact through the web. Asking a model to pose can sometimes be intimidating and awkward for both you and your prospective model. Compensation is $-. corporate. What surprises a lot of photographers are the numerous willing. a simple and yet effective way to get my website and phone number out there. online and in print) 2. prudish towns. such as prudishness or just managing within a small population—but I have been able to find models in particularly small. Expect an add-on fee based on the level of distribution allowed by the model release. Whether you are employing a strategy of directly seeking out models or advertising for them to come to you. and the good news is. and to face a degree of frustration versus finding models on your own.per hour (approximately $--. When I have polled models about this. which has been quite successful. or to recruit from a population that you know will be receptive. dollar for dollar. Minimum height 5’6”. and ordering professional cards is not expensive. The same applies to online ads. If you lack polish in either of these. professionally produced display ads have yielded me about the same results (or worse) than small text-only ads. More than half of my models have responded to one of the following two kinds of advertising: 1. Stay away from cards that you print at home. your fashion sense will speak volumes about your taste and aesthetic ability. Large.per shoot). You will greatly improve your chances of professional results if you do this. Expect to pay a lot more through the agency route. Casting calls on model-centric networking sites I have created quite a few model ads. In smaller cities and towns. the consensus seems to be that the large ads look too mainstream. You will need polished samples of your work. and most agency talent does not pose nude. My ad usually says something such as.” In other words. to-the-point text ads yield the most desirable results. You do not know until you start inquiring. I do not recommend you waste your money with anything more than a simple classified ad. they just look flimsy. If you are well-attired. A refined personal appearance shows professionalism. not selling. I have approached attractive women in public. you are recruiting. Simple. Nudity similar to Playboy magazine is required. you need to be prepared to interact with potential models. Finding models can be painless if you have refined your photographic technique and are willing to compensate models fairly. For your very first shoot. I will explain that technique a bit later (see “Get a Stranger to Model for You” on page 14.) It is often easier to let models come to you. Some agencies do not deal in anything close to unclothed modeling. A professional attitude and excellent photographic technique are the keys. but the phone number adds an air of legitimacy and provides a simple.Finding and Recruiting Models 11 Where and How to Find Models Each photographer has his/her own degree of interpersonal skills. and I have a relatively simple technique to take you from introduction to shooting. flashy. In densely populated areas. too. Colleges or theater and art groups are representatives of such accepting communities. and your particular style does not matter as much as remembering to approach model candidates in a professional manner. Keep your card design simple and resist the temptation to put your photography on the card unless you are sure your work will come across strongly in such a tiny format. agencies that deal with nudes will be rare. I have also included subsections on social networking and advertising. and you can. and lack a personal atmosphere. A business card is an important tool for a professional image. Small classified ads in local newspapers work better. you can hire through a modeling agency. if you work at it. small ads are more effective than large ads. Advertising for Models This is by far the most effective way to start discovering models when you have little experience. Classified ads (paid and free. you are likely to get nowhere. ages 18 to 24 for photo modeling. Figure 2: Small classified ads are cost-effective recruiting tools. free and alternative newspapers tend to have a more receptive audience than mainstream newspapers. I have used cards that simply have a logo and website address. Experience preferred but not required. the obstacles may vary. it will be less demanding to either work with a model whom you know well or work with a seasoned nude model. “Seeking females. Depending on where you live. quick way to make contact as well. (See “Build Your First Nude Portfolio” on page 4). Remember.
Repetition and familiarity are the keys. A list also appears at www. Fashion shows are potential networking events that have also worked extremely well for me. find the latest ones. You can also get on the announcement lists to be notified of opening receptions for university art galleries. The best networking is done by concentrating on meeting people first and keeping business agenda out of the way. and you will need to immerse yourself in one or more athletic pursuits in order to make genuine connections with people.nudephotoguides. and sometimes nude modeling. lectures. and performances. They are sometimes called other names like “super shoots. there are many aspiring models in the audience at fashion shows. structured atmosphere in which to hone your skills.” These are great places for meeting people and recruiting models. Check the posted rules or ask the organizer if it is acceptable to talk to the group shoot models about employing them. However. including exhibits of my own work. People who attend these events are there to enjoy the event. Dance schools and other dance groups. do not forget to be on the lookout for potential models in the people you meet while on an outing or swapping stories with a store clerk. If they perform publicly. When meeting someone. with less shooting and more waiting than you may want. you have probably noticed that they sponsor attractions such as clinics and climbing walls that attract regular visitors. and do not make it all about business. These are suitable places to mingle and network. models. and so on are typically fit and often liberal-minded as well. and participants will be receptive to networking outside of the meet-up. so I encourage you do some research about what to expect at a particular event. It is straightforward to put yourself in other similar situations. kayak. An event that has been held regularly for several years is a good sign. You could make connections at universities by offering to photograph headshots for a reasonable fee. Nude models regularly work for reasonable wages for drawing. Unlike athletic games that last an hour or two. this avenue takes time. I do not necessarily approach the models who are performing in the shows. You can find figure-drawing groups through artists’ guilds and art centers. and the energy level and attendance are much better than at regional sporting events. Fashion shows are usually the pinnacle achievement for a model. Doing a web search for something such as “hire models” is probably the easiest way to . Most colleges have an art department and offer figure-drawing classes and other similar courses in study. Aside from being awkward. You can recruit models from these populations by networking or advertising. each group has a different dynamic. Take Your Social Networking Online There are many websites set up for social networking and many specifically for recruiting models. Make sure it is a situation that makes you feel at ease.Finding and Recruiting Models 13 high-profile events where the attraction is world-class athletes. socialize. Private figure-drawing groups also exist. modeling. These models are often receptive to modeling for photography as well. They typically provide a friendly. so being a responsible netizen is required for online networking. “Is it okay if I talk to some of the models about hiring them?” Be prepared for the occasional event organizer who is territorial. especially those who practice contemporary styles. You can get a sufficient idea about a meet-up by reviewing photographs and descriptions from previous years. Those who hike. I had multiple sources of models all around me. I have recruited models after befriending a number of university drama professors. a model. You will start to see the same group of people over and over. My research shows that most group organizers. painting. I begin by meeting anyone who seems to make interesting conversation and continue socializing from there. These groups either mandate that you to talk to new people by nature of how they operate or are specifically designed to improve public speaking and networking skills. Participants tell me that some group shoots can be a bit hectic. rock climb. whether it be in a photo studio or on a stage. I have met models at art galleries. so offering a photo shoot here may not always be an easy sell. attend a trendy art show opening or other gathering where prospective models are. Art/Dance/Theater Schools and Colleges When enrolled in college. you can fortify your confidence with related activities. If you are already inclined to spend some time participating in outdoor athletics. If you frequent outdoor stores. For example. It will take time to integrate yourself and begin networking. outdoor sports often consume an entire weekend or more in a single stretch. This gives you more exposure to other people. it is just poor form to overstep your bounds. Wait until a natural segue leads you to a discussion of your photography. Meet-ups are usually organized through social networking sites designed for meet-ups of all sorts (not just photographic). charity. start by attending a recital. let model recruiting be a secondary goal. So forget the models on the runway. you can ask what they do professionally and recreationally. or volunteer for an organization that needs help. Try joining a civic group. If you are reluctant to converse with strangers. Art groups and schools are typically tightly knit.com/resources. and look in the audience for your candidates. Be careful not to put off the host. mountain bike. and sculpture classes. Have fun. I usually just let them introduce the topic of modeling. All the rules of socializing apply to networking. are also a bountiful source of models. Actresses love to be in front of an audience. I am rather passive about recruiting models at my own art shows. public speaking group. These sites have sub-communities catering to photography. so overt recruiting will detract from that. Photo Meet-Ups and Group Shoots Photo meet-ups and group shoots are events where multiple photographers and models get together to shoot. or any of the participants. However. Like any social networking. A caveat about recruiting nude models at meet-up events: make sure your actions will not run afoul of the event organizer or other participants. Taking a few classes is a great way to begin networking and broaden your skills at the same time. You can also meet potential models among the groups of people who flock to popular outdoor spots.
and provided equipment. You would be right to think of models as warm and sociable people who want to help their friends find modeling jobs. While most models are sociable and friendly. models. you just need to find them. Although a workshop is a surefire way to get your feet wet. already have some modeling experience and are yearning for more. She may engage in conversation. though you should be prepared to sometimes get the cold shoulder. Also. When contacting the model. If she is on a romantic outing. you can exchange contact information to discuss details when it is less hectic. and models may be reluctant to send other models your way if it means reducing the amount of paid work they get from you. For one thing. they will also typically provide most of the equipment you will need. They can last a few hours or a few days. I let models come to me rather than soliciting strangers. After her reaction to initial conversation. Word of Mouth through Other Models I include this word of mouth method more as a topic of discussion than a recommendation. you will be in a situation where you want to approach a potential model. If she is working.14 True Confessions of Nude Photography If the meet-up is not specifically for shooting nudes. modeling is competitive. I have found models who I have contacted and ended up shooting with. Several times. lest you overwhelm the model. approaching her might seem like an intrusion. . do not take too Photo 10. be careful about approaching a model unless you are confident that she will be receptive. so can you. Does this sound impossible? The recruiting process is usually longer than that. the models might be leery about working for workshop students versus more accomplished photographers. but word of mouth accounts for only a tiny percentage of my new models. Other Photographers While browsing other photographers’ websites. talked to her for ten minutes. a safe icebreaker is to ask her how long she has been modeling. If you are granted permission by the event organizer. include an explanation of where you saw her information. the workshop instructor could view it as poaching his or her models. When approaching a stranger. and it is only sent after I have completed a shoot. For another. Regularly. store clerk. Approach when your prospect is not too busy. If she is out with friends. Additionally. Not only do they provide more structure than a regular group shoot. An even less intrusive method is to contact the event organizer after the event and express interest in hiring one of the models. my recruiters can help me from anywhere. However. I have seen an attractive young woman. beware that other shooters may be approaching the same model. so if I can recruit a stranger to model nude. Mallory. or professional occupation. A handful of models have come to me this way. I always offer a referral fee to anyone who sends me a model. The way you introduce yourself and bring up the topic of modeling will set the tone for the rest of the interaction. If she expresses interest. you can either walk away or tell her you would be interested in hiring her individually. From time to time. reflecting the caliber of the instructor. Nude Photography Workshops Workshops are group shoots where there is an instructor and a lesson. and ultimately determine whether or not you book a shoot. that does not necessarily mean they are friends with or are skilled at recruiting the kind of people you would want to photograph. location. There are eager models out there. even those employed as a waitress. I have a relatively simple technique that has been quite successful for me. it is possible to recruit strangers. you need only bring your camera. but the preceding scenario has happened in recent memory. The price will vary. you may be surprised to find that many attractive women. your advances may be even less welcome. Thus. so be sure to look for it. At many workshops. a model I met when she was my waitress. and done a photo shoot with her the next morning. Often you will have to ask the photographer to forward your information to the model. The fee is typically equal to one hour at the model’s pay rate. Get a Stranger to Model for You More often than not. If you ignore this recruitment avenue. or she may put up a wall. you will miss the large segment of models who would never have taken the initiative to contact you. Since I send the payments electronically. and some photographers become intensely adept at it. it is higher for referrals of better models. I am a reserved person by nature. The fee is only for people who give me the name and contact information for a model prior to the photo shoot. it may not always be the best place to recruit models for an individual shoot. Do not be too aggressive. Keep it casual or about modeling and do not get personal. Sometimes photographers will list contact information for the models on their site. You can wait until a second or third conversation before you discuss a job for her. Find the Right Time to Approach Find the right time to approach your prospective model—a time of few distractions. other photographers are courteous and cooperative.
always exceptions. The biggest misstep you can make after an introduction is to immediately make a job offer. she can decline without an awkward face-to-face conversation. so she can choose her surroundings and not feel rushed. a plausible reason to speak to her. In cases where the prospect is receptive to posing in the buff. of course. you will hone your skills. steer clear. I do not carry a portfolio of my work around with me. I first look for an unobtrusive opportunity to talk to her about something other than modeling. Just trying to explain your work. she will write down her name and phone number. all in the initial encounter can be abrupt and unpolished. If you rush her. If I see a woman I want to recruit. Do not prematurely dive into a discussion about the different types of nude posing or compensation unless such a conversation unfolds naturally. You must get contact information in order to consider a prospect viable. If a prospect declines to give you her contact information. By giving her time to learn about you. You are not always going to be fortunate enough to have all these advantages at your disposal. If she is swamped with work. You may just need to walk up and talk to her. Make the Introduction The first concept to learn is that you meet the model first and save detailed discussions for later. they said they could not have been more carefree modeling. Through trial and error. Unless you know your prospect will be receptive. and I imagine only the die-hard thrill-seekers would pose for me. A favorite method of mine is to recruit models in the course of doing other things. and I ask her if she would like to hear more about that. This is usually by giving her a card with a website URL. politely move on. When I mention photography to a prospective model in public. some positive. Rushing into things can shortcircuit the building of a relationship and sabotage the recruiting effort. A fitting example is sitting in a restaurant where she is waiting tables. There are. If you do not get contact information from a model. Even models who initially expressed some skepticism have eventually ended up modeling for me after being allowed to view my portfolio at their own leisure. in which case continuing the conversation may make her feel uncomfortable. but other situations will also suffice.Finding and Recruiting Models 15 much of her time. the better first impression you will make. Also. The best situation for her to peruse your images is on her own terms. let alone book a shoot. Typically when you ask a prospective model how you can get in touch with her. you improve your chances for eventually booking a shoot. All you need to do in the early stage is provide a way for her to look at your photos. without seeming as if I am flirting with her. make sure your prospective model seems to have an agreeable disposition. Almost any highly attractive woman will give an affirmative response to that question. do not disturb her at all. If she is not interested. I have approached models whose friends or boyfriends were enthusiastic and encouraging. Ultimately. I attribute this to proceeding at an unrushed pace. I will respond to questions but steer away from elaborate discussion. Choose one prospect in an area and move on. The desired approach is to be forthcoming. The least effective method would be to hold a stack of business cards and deal them out to each passing woman. some models would be uncomfortable looking through it in public. Only at the end of the discussion do I hand her my business card. Sometimes both of you will have ample time to become acquainted. There is nothing wrong with politely excusing yourself and postponing the discussion until both of you are less busy. Once they got to know me. you can probably count her out. and some negative. but wait until you feel comfortable. The more comfortable you are. A prospective model may feel pressured if you proceed too aggressively. this method will give her time to decide and greatly improve the likelihood of a positive response. She might not be interested at all. I then ask how I can contact her when I have an opening. Even if I did. but I encourage you to also ask for an e-mail address. A low-pressure approach works best when recruiting models. For a model who is on the fence about posing. she is more likely to decline than to accept. rather than making a special trip just to find models. My success rate approaching women like this is about three out of four. and your window of opportunity is largely defined by how long you want to linger in the restaurant. If someone seems like they are having a bad day (or a bad life). It takes a long time to explain with words alone what the model can learn in a few minutes of looking at your photographs. I make sure to tell her it might be a day or longer until I will be able to call her. I tell her to have a look at the website and that I will call her. the imagination generates many ideas. By being selective. if I walked up to a model for the first time and phrased the offer as: “How would you like to earn some money posing nude for me?” it would frighten her off. The only goals of an introduction are to establish interest and get the model’s contact information. I have approached prospects who were miserable at their jobs. If a model is enthusiastic and asks for details. Many prospective models would rather defer a decision than immediately give one to a stranger they just met. I tell her I am a photographer who sometimes hires models. Having a potential model as your server provides many advantages: repeated opportunities to appraise her features. When you mention the word “nude” without context. a brief introduction is better. but not abrupt. I may continue talking to her as my schedule permits. it is a judgment call based on the situation. making me as welcome as a ray of sunshine. I do not canvass the area asking people to model for me. there is nothing lost by letting her wait to see your portfolio. you may turn her off with an ambiguous choice of words in a struggle to describe the kind of nudity you intend. but more often than not. not going to help recruit models. Just handing out your business card is . or if she rushes through her own volition. each woman I approach understands my offer as a unique opportunity for her to work for me. Be choosy. Getting a prospective model’s contact information is more important than giving out yours. Do not simply go “cruising” for models—that will get you nowhere. However.
workshops and group shoots are viable options. • Be picky. The optimum way to do this is with an outstanding portfolio and professional attitude. As I stated earlier. If you are worried about imposing on people. stay professional. respectful. Develop the confidence and trust of the model before booking a shoot. and forthcoming. • Approach multiple prospects in the same area. Refine your portfolio and personal appearance. Do Not • Rush into a booking when you first meet someone. • Be abrupt. Summary of Finding Models • Approach model candidates in a professional manner. wait for another situation before you approach a prospective model. . Even if you are not a natural people-person. Key Points for Getting a Stranger to Model The technique of asking strangers to model is a relationship-building process.16 True Confessions of Nude Photography Here is a quick review of making the introduction: Do • Make a brief introduction. rather than convincing women to take the plunge for the first time. but I have learned how to approach unfamiliar people almost effortlessly. keep looking and maybe come back to her later. if you have a plan of approach. or want an easy way to work with models. • Be polite. The following two sections. but this is the exception. If you do not feel relaxed. “Vetting Models” on the next page and “Offer the Job and Set Up the Shoot” on page 20. upbeat. and persevering in spite of the ones who do not. and do not be pushy. • You can find a stranger to model for you. Simply move on to the next prospect. Do not waste time pursuing any model who has made it apparent that she is not interested. You need to be comfortable to make this work. Concentrate your efforts on finding models who are already willing to pose nude. you can acquire this skill. • Free advertising can be as effective as a paid campaign. just remember you are going to make it a brief interaction. Social networking yields higher rates of success. Part of making this technique fruitful is having faith that there are women out there who want to model for you. When phoning prospects. I used to be apprehensive when approaching perfect strangers. • If you are having trouble. because if you are nervous it will sabotage the process. and do not be discouraged. are the next steps after identifying potential models. If someone is hesitant. I have photographed women the day after the first meeting.
and models will avoid associating with you. Also. the first thing I do is to remind her of who I am and make sure she has time to talk. It is important that you know what you are getting before you hire a model. work ethic. If you are sure which candidate you will choose. fitness. Even a young person. It is premature to talk about a time and place for a shoot until I know she is making an informed decision about the content of the shoot. you might make the job offer right at the end of the interview. and references. piercings. You can say something like. I will ask questions such as. the photographer. stretch marks. Once you have learned how to recruit models and completed a few shoots. You will have your own list of particulars to ask. usually twenty-four hours. what I look for in a model. or scars that are relevant to me. As you select models. When I have the model on the phone for the first time. I give the model time to finish work. Just like any practiced interviewer. again. more advanced vetting processes include attitude. The phone call should be professional but comfortable. For example. and can opt to request photos via e-mail or her website. you will need to set up the shoot. this is [your name]. this is [your name]. the more elasticity her skin will retain as she ages. flat stomach. I was just calling to see if you’d checked out the portfolio on my website yet. How’s it going? Do you have a few minutes to talk about the possibility of modeling?” The next order of business is to confirm that she has looked at my portfolio. If I do not hear back from the model after a reasonable amount of time. This is the time to press the nudity issue. In addition to the basics mentioned above. If it happens a second time. the written information about my process. you should not project the image of someone who is having trouble finding models. make the job offer in a separate phone call or e-mail. if inactive or a smoker. It is helpful to find out what imperfections a model has before you set up the shoot. and others will be too small to affect your images. Additionally. the more physically fit a model is. what one observer sees as a blemish. etc. Interviews An in-person interview is not always practical or time-effective. she is not sufficiently interested. Once you know there is mutual interest. It may be a pretty face. “Hey. keep a checklist of what you are seeking. Acting unconfident makes you sound unsuccessful. I will call you back [tomorrow/this afternoon/etc. level of blemishes. I call her again. Some new photographers make the mistake of pleading with models to shoot with them.” I do not go into any more detail than that. my number is [your phone number]. but you can photograph a model of any skin tone from light to dark. but you will have to ask questions about what you cannot see. “Have you looked at all the sample photos in my portfolio? Are you comfortable with every one of them?” I want to hear the model indicate complete comfort with the images in my portfolio. and tan lines. another may see as a mark of distinction.]. Do not grill the model. Blotchiness in fair-skinned people becomes more pronounced with age unless they get regular exercise. Voicemail If I call the model and get her voicemail. You may not have the time to interview every model in person. etc. skin that has a warm tone and moderate tan is the easiest to light and shows the fewest blemishes. she is not interested enough to continue pursuing. class. Make sure you confirm your potential model has everything you require before you book the shoot. Whether you have only one candidate or many. I ask her to take some more time to review my work before we set a firm booking. You want to receive a good value for what you pay in modeling fees. Ask qualifying questions to help underscore that this is an interview and she is an applicant. I have already seen her.Finding and Recruiting Models 17 Vetting Models Once you have established some solid prospects. “Hi it’s [your name]. If I get the idea that she has not sufficiently reviewed my portfolio. Every model has flaws. You need not be able to see the model’s whole body to get an idea of her skin tone. you will want to become more methodical about whom you hire. and not just a vague statement that she is okay with nudity. the photographer who met you last [day of the week]. can have uneven skin. I ask her about any tattoos and other factors that are important to me at the time. some can be hidden. but there may be hidden tattoos. The basics are an interview and a portfolio review. you should not sound like you are asking her for a favor by taking the job. and long lustrous hair. The best way to see a model is in person. The other side of the interview is to ask the model about her qualities.. I want to be sure she has seen examples of the poses I require. I do not pursue this prospective model further. it is time to narrow down the list before making a commitment to hire one for a shoot. I will say something like. If the model answers but says she is busy.” If I never hear back. I will leave a message that goes something like this: “Hi. If you want to reach me. Typically. The right model will express interest in the job. Give me a call or text me at [your number] when you get a chance. cosmetic surgery. If there are several suitable candidates and you need time to decide whom to hire. such as tattoos. handle it the same as a voicemail: offer to call her back. Make the tone of the conversation like it would be in a job interview where both parties contemplate gaining something. or is otherwise hesitant. the photographer who talked to you the other day. and . If I get her voicemail a second time. I may need the flexibility of a gymnast for a particular shoot. The way to achieve this balance is by being as informed as possible about each potential working partner before you offer her employment.
I will skip the in-person interview if the model is experienced. I usually request a bikini shot for this reason. A less obvious aspect is that you learn more about her personality than you would over the phone or in e-mail. Models who are forever busy with other things and unable to respond to you in a timely manner are likely to be late. Just as with physical appearance. I discovered that this was a problem area for her. a face-toface interview is better than the risk of being disappointed when she shows up for a shoot. and at that time you may wish to request additional images or other information. no model is going to be perfect in this area. . if a model is very far away. an un-retouched close-up of the model’s face and a bikini shot. The Portfolio Review Some people want to be a model so much that they will go to great lengths to get a shoot with you. and I opted not to hire her. scars. Additional shots you can request are a full-length side view and a back shot. Due to these reasons. The communication you have early on with your model will give you an indication of how responsible and responsive she is. The only problem is that some of these people may have bodies that do not fit what you have in mind and they are not going to tell you that. If the model has tattoos that I want to cover with makeup. at a minimum. My goal is to make images. It is not uncommon for me to ask a model to show me her abdominal muscles during an interview. I will often schedule a follow-up meeting at a makeup counter in order to get a perfect tone match with the cover-up. and can distort the shape of the breasts. say. or not even show up at all. Do not accept photos that are too small to show enough detail. not only will you be disappointed. and her muscle tone. It is completely fair to treat the initial communications with a model as an interview process. You will need to see. In a case where you cannot conduct an in-person interview I suggestion you examine portfolio images very carefully. On occasion. while others are not. I once received a dozen shots from a model that were all what I would call “hide my tummy” poses. a model has changed considerably since the sample photos she sent me were taken. either. Some are very responsible with great personalities. consider finding a model with a better work ethic. novice model.18 True Confessions of Nude Photography In-Person Interviews If I have never met a local. and get references from previous photographers. In more than one instance. I have decided not to accept a model after they have failed the interview. lives far away. The process helps me determine what rate of pay to offer a model. The obvious benefit of meeting face-to-face is that you can see exactly what the model looks like. Be careful judging photos you have received via the Internet. you may have to risk foregoing the interview. the best models show up on time and put in a good deal of effort.” Instead. Attitude and Work Ethic In addition to the right physical look. bras offer more support than most bikinis. I will conduct an inperson interview. For example. such as tattoos. Beware also of lingerie shots in place of swimwear shots. clarify any uncertainties. recent photos may not see the need for an interview in order to book work. that a model will not show up to an interview if she looks different than the photos she has sent you. “Let’s get a cup of coffee. but I am fairly forgiving of their shortcomings. though. In the interview. and has good references for recent shoots. I learn what the model’s photos might not show. You do not need to see nudes to approximate what a model will look like undressed. Do not attempt to schedule the interview by saying. If you make assumptions based on insufficient photos. Similarly. so I am not offended if a model does not show up on time—but I do decide if it is worth booking her again. but also there is a greater chance that the model will get cold feet at the last minute and not show up at all rather than allow you to discover her deception. “You’ll need to meet me beforehand. not to make friends. it is probably because the model is trying to hide it. It is more likely. Make clear that it is not to socialize. If she does not respond to your requests. unfocused. These help show what the model looks like from every angle. Many of my models are college age and therefore have little work experience. Inform the model as to why you want to interview her. If you receive photos that seem to omit a particular body part (thighs and stomach are common omissions). for just a few minutes so I can be sure that you’re what I’m looking for.” An experienced model with a collection of clear. If the model has little experience. After requesting more photos. I am always very careful about reviewing photos before booking a model.
• Do not ignore warning signs. I never do so in a confrontational way. Knowing the work of the reference adds credibility to their endorsement. Models who start out flaky. Most are able to come up with at least two endorsements. • A phone interview allows you to gauge enthusiasm. Instead. Most photographers tell me that a model was cooperative and comfortable modeling nude. I will give the model the benefit of the doubt. I will ask a model for the names and contact information of two photographers who she has recently shot with. I prefer to see the photographers’ websites before I e-mail them. If a model claims to be an experienced professional. An in-person interview is a sure-fire way to know what a model looks like right now. I ask how well the shoot went and when it occurred. I ask the photographer to confirm the rate instead of asking how much she was paid. Do you know any reason why they didn’t. A reference separates fact from fiction. or do you have another reference you can give me?” I am only a stickler about references until such time that I gain that solid. I need to know that she will deliver results that are in line with my expectations and the amount of pay she demands. • Talk to references. A prospective model who is out of touch about the modeling world might still make a decent model. • Evaluate the applicant’s attitude and work ethic. and I make a point to ask when she worked with each. Summary of Vetting Models • Conduct an interview. The prospective model should demonstrate enthusiasm and reliability early in the recruiting process. but does not have a reference from the last six months. Sadly. If the model and photographer were both hired for the shoot. I do not work with models who have tried to deceive me. • Review her portfolio. Sometimes I discover a model who asked me for unusually high rates of pay has never worked for those rates. The testimonials I have received have varied. I will even go as far as describing the model to make sure they are remembering the right person. that is another reason to want solid references. the photographer may not know how much the model was paid. If there are inconsistencies. I will seek references. a few new models try to fake their way through the interview process instead of being candid about their lack of experience. or website messaging systems. It is up to you where to draw the line between moderate puffery and a troublesome credibility problem. I will wonder if we have the same definition of an experienced professional. positive feeling about shooting with the model and getting my money’s worth. You can contact a model’s references via phone. she will probably pick the two photographers who she was the most comfortable with. Getting recommendations from other photographers who she has worked with goes a long way towards verifying a model’s abilities. Nothing goes further than a solid reference from a reputable professional. as some people may balk at disclosing a pay rate but are okay with confirming her rate if you already know it. I am inclined to ask the model about it. as a rule. If there are discrepancies or if I do not get a response from a reference. I may say something like. If the model is demanding an unusually high rate. If an in-person interview is not possible. but you may find it is not worth the extra effort to shoot with them. A scant few models who have claimed to be full-time professionals were not able to tell me about any photo shoots they had done in recent memory. “Your reference never responded to me. . I ask if she has anything more recent. I also tell her reference how much she is charging me and ask if that is about the same as they paid her for her last shoot. Make sure you see all the body areas that are of concern. A model may not use her most recent experiences as her references. e-mail. If she tells me about shoots that took place longer ago than six months. remain flaky through the entire working relationship.Finding and Recruiting Models 19 References Before hiring an experienced model. When talking to a model’s references. I will ask the reference if they are sure.
I prefer to wait at least a week or two before asking again. A few questions from a prospective model are normal. I offer her a gig. I never call again after a third “No. Do not offer alternate days or ask her why.20 True Confessions of Nude Photography Offer the Job and Set Up the Shoot Once I have confirmed that the model has reviewed my portfolio and that she is someone I want to work with. while the rest take a second or third call before they are ready to model. which sometimes happens. For example. if a prospective model asks many questions this could be a sign of ambivalence. wait until she has resolved them before proceeding with a shoot. She may come around eventually. especially if she repeatedly asks the Overview of Setting up the Shoot • Ask if she is available for a specific day. I may call and book a different model. A couple of days before the shoot. I give the model a specific date in the near future that I have chosen for the shoot.” Be wary of anyone who says “Maybe. I usually call about one or two weeks apart. but if a prospect does not give me an immediate “Yes” response. Avoid the mistake of asking. • A couple of days before the shoot. I call to confirm. Only about a half of them say “Yes” the first time I call.” Treat a noncommittal response as a “No” and call back in a week or two. • If she hesitates. This helps the model remember the shoot (so she does not accidentally create a scheduling conflict). I have a time slot open in the morning and another one in the afternoon. “Are you interested in modeling for me?” This question is too broad. tell her that it’s not a problem and that you will consider her for possible future work. same questions. . “I am setting up a shoot on the fourteenth. not a specific model. An individual model should be only one of many job candidates you are considering. What’s your schedule like that day?” If she says she is busy all day. • Call each prospect until you find an available model. Answer questions fully and honestly. “No. However. By not pressuring them. If a model seems to have conflicting feelings about shooting with you. and I ask if she is available that day. but do not ramble. Questions are a healthy part of the familiarization process. Offer her a specific gig with no more than two options. I explain how much the job pays. I give them the time they need to feel comfortable with the idea.” you have probably closed the door on ever working with her. This is a key to my high success rate with approaching strangers. call to confirm. concentrate on booking a specific day. and if she answers. Remember. and then politely end the call. If I do not get a confirmation from the model with less than twenty-four hours remaining before the shoot. look elsewhere.
This also includes revealing your personality to her through conversation and vice versa. If you go to an art gallery or museum. I seldom conduct less than a three-hour shoot. Photo 11. In cases where cost is an issue. I have pulled off full-day shoots and even multi-day shoots. or time taken to cover tattoos? Even if you arrange to pay by the hour. For starters. and accessories with your model. This is long enough to get warmed up and try plenty of ideas without getting fatigued or breaking the bank. It is always better to forego a booking than to have to stop a shoot early and without any usable images. especially for your first meeting. Perhaps the easiest preparation to discuss is physical appearance. I have had great shoots with models who brought nothing more than themselves to work with. Foundation may not be necessary. but some concealer can be useful for covering a blemish or two. Models will want to know what kind of poses they will be doing so they are sure to feel comfortable. I like to choose a quiet place with an agreeable atmosphere. style. I had the model show up at the stylist’s location with a clean face and washed hair. or adult. In most instances. so these terms are likely to cause confusion. shorter shoots can help you meet a budget and still reward the model well. You do not have to put your photography into a category. travel. This usually means showing sample images of every genre of pose you plan to do. An effective style can be minimal makeup with a single prop against a plain background. In many cases. it is a sound idea to give the model an estimate of the total amount she can expect to earn. she needs to know what general styles of poses she will be doing. artistic nude. Preparing a model involves more than telling her what time to arrive and what to pack. If they have an unusual job or hobby. I prefer to work with some props or activities that will keep the shoot moving. awkward situations during the shoot. your meeting is going to be hectic. tell her what the range is. especially at first. with no makeup or props. a favorite hat. and Playboy-style are commonly used and better describe what you want. remind her to bring a bikini to wear during the application of makeup. I prefer half-day shoots that last no more than four hours. as these have a mixed message that puts people off because these words are sometimes used to mean art and on other occasions used to describe nudes that are more explicit. If you go somewhere noisy and frantic. The terms nude. that can inspire some props. especially if she will be doing her own makeup. Avoiding miscommunication before you book a shoot will help you avoid cancellations. due to the time that is inevitably spent on non-shooting activities. Some photographers prefer a purely natural look. Discussing Styling As part of the recruitment process. Are you paying by the hour for modeling? Are you also paying the model for preparation time. I do not recommend anything shorter than ninety minutes. Discuss what activities the payment includes. Your choice of setting is important. The term figure photography means the same as artistic nude. the following is what I suggest as a starting point to tell the model. so the two of you will click well come shoot day. Some beginning photographers are at a loss for how long a shoot should be. how much she will be paid. you should discuss makeup. Prop ideas include musical instruments. whether novice or accomplished. but is less commonly known among those outside the industry. A solid grasp of terms used to describe each genre of nude photography and what each means will allow you to describe what you plan to shoot. She should know what to bring and what to expect during the shoot and afterwards. I avoid the terms erotic. For marathon sessions. or hesitation about allowing you to publish the images later. Until you devise your own ideas. you can just show your work and let the images do the talking. Clear Communication Clear communication is fundamental to avoiding disappointing surprises. If the amount may vary a bit.Finding and Recruiting Models 21 Setting Expectations Models. both you and the model need the kind of preparation that can only come from experience. I wanted a retro-style look. The words glamour and pinup do not necessarily mean nude. will want to know your goals for the shoot. . and how the photographs will be used. I would avoid drinking establishments or consuming alcohol for a first meeting. it will make your model think about art. mature. If she has scars or tattoos that need to be touched up prior to the shoot. or an object of personal significance. For this shoot with a classic Jaguar. They perform best when they know what is expected of them.
There is not enough time to recover from a mishap. A model’s body is her income. Stay moisturized. You do not want even slightly dry skin. or cigarettes. French manicure). Do not be afraid to call and ask for clarification. a snack. Be active enough to burn off any excess energy before bedtime. ink. protect yours. • Do not forget to bring directions to the shoot with you. • Keep cell phone breaks to a minimum during work. call as soon as possible. such as tea. • Get rid of any unwanted hair in your normal fashion. and fat-burning workouts. in an e-mail. Although a light tan can be attractive. Bug bites and tan lines can last a long time. We want to avoid elastic lines on your skin. Include moisturizer. coffee. • Do not change your hairstyle unless requested. • Get a full night’s rest if you can. If you are going to be late or cannot make it.) • Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol. • Know what makeup (if any) you are expected to do before arriving to the shoot. as you will not know the recovery time. • Exfoliate dry skin and do not forget your feet. The Day of the Shoot • Wake up early enough that you will not feel rushed. Channel that energy to propel you forward and you will get over the butterflies a few minutes after the posing starts. You may want to give your own version of this information to models you have booked via your website. fatty meats. or bruises on your skin. and cements your relationships with new contacts. • Take care of your skin. • Exercise vigorously five hours a week. and be certain to modify anything that does not apply to you or your models. robe/ cover-up. endurance. • Do not tie your hair tightly. because you may be too excited the night before the shoot to get enough rest. • Do not experiment with hair or skin treatments. • Stretch and stay limber. This list is in chronological order from about a week before the shoot up to the time when the model departs for your location. these all show up unfavorably on the image. Giving good advice to your models goes a long way towards establishing yourself as a helpful person. (See “Appendix C: Model’s Survival Kit” on page 120. The following are recommendations I offer the models who book with me.g. Do not experiment with a new method. One Week before the Shoot • Confirm all details of the shoot and ask questions. and cuts so they do not become scars. Three Days before the Shoot • Do your nails. and use sunscreen. • If you have been asked to have your hair and makeup a certain way. Eat sensibly. Make sure you understand the process before using the information. Unless you have discussed otherwise. After and Between Shoots Two Days before the Shoot • Get some moderate exercise. flexibility. Stay hydrated. If you are lost. • Do not put on any tight clothes or undergarments. allow preparation time. Avoid getting paint. Models should read the whole list before beginning the schedule because the order of some steps will vary based on particular situations. . • Remember that what you do between photo shoots helps you remain competitive with other models and boosts your earning potential. Look for inspiration and learn new poses. makeup. but do not do any marathon workouts today. that can also leave a mark. Do not be a no-show without calling. which can dry skin. • Exfoliate lips if needed. • Cut back on tanning. Do this more than two days before the shoot if it normally takes you longer to recover. bites.22 True Confessions of Nude Photography The Model’s Preparation Preparing the model is essential to the recruiting process and a successful shoot. • Take care of skin. Take care of scrapes. just call and ask. do not be embarrassed. • Moisturize from head to toe. The Day before the Shoot • Pack your kit. Stay away from sweets. • Avoid anything that will stain your teeth. I suggest trim nails with a neutral color (e. and junk food. • Practice posing and posture. • If this is your first nude shoot. or verbally. be sure to get a restful night of sleep tonight. • Eat healthy foods. avoid damage from excessive UV rays from the sun and tanning beds. Avoid sun exposure and tanning salons. • It is normal to have a tinge of nervousness. Perform a mix of strength.
You might not think of it that way because you and the model will frequently agree on price from the start. These models may occasionally earn the higher rates they post. By offering a sufficient price. chances are you are not a well-known photographer commanding great sums of money for your photos. you will be working with part-time models who do not derive one hundred percent of their income from modeling. but these are their asking rates. The model has likely read your pay rate and is willing to accept the job. Try a mix of cash and photos. In a negotiation. As long as your price is equal to or higher than hers. All discussions of compensation are a negotiation. do not decrease this amount. Great-looking models who are experienced posing nude do not have trouble finding people to pay them. I simply look elsewhere. I can always contact the model later on in case the situation may have changed. compensation for nude modeling follows the rules of supply and demand that govern any other contract labor market. compensation varies widely. I avoid trying to convince models to accept lower rates of pay. though this is rare. Full-time models exist in larger markets and can be out of the price range of most amateur photographers. I usually state how much the engagement pays. The photographer’s skill and style can also influence the rate of pay. Figure 2: TFP and paid shoots. or she may envision earning supermodel wages for her first gig. I am usually willing to offer a small bonus (around 10 percent) to models who perform well during a shoot. However. but you must determine the value of your photos compared to the value of the model’s services. Logically. In my castings. This kind of bartering is sometimes called TFP or TFCD (Trade For Photos. Have a budget in mind before you begin casting a particular shoot. An enthusiastic hobbyist photographer can offer several times the going rate. some top-notch models demand astronomical rates of pay. some urban areas have an oversupply of models. and hire models who have a similar level of skill to your own. do not book the shoot. the deal is struck right away. Even with all circumstances being equal. she usually supplies a link to her online portfolio. Your budget and goals will determine the amount of pay you are willing to offer. Some soonto-be models find this to be a win-win. Some photographers might want to compensate models with only photos. A first-time model may work for a fraction of what she is worth. a lackluster photographer may discover that models are demanding higher pay. . Isolated anomalies cause spikes and dips in model pay. If you are reading this. Those who have worked a couple dozen modeling jobs have a more realistic idea of what pay is. In essence. Modeling fees in urban areas can be higher due to the cost of living. I wait until the end of the shoot to surprise them with the extra money. there is no simple. This then becomes the new rate of pay for subsequent shoots. Questions about compensation are some of the most frequent inquiries I get. There is nothing wrong with TFP or TFCD work. or Trade For Photo CD). Just confirm that she is ready to work at your stated rate of pay. An abundance of photographers has the inverse effect on pay rates. The portfolios sometimes include a requested pay rate that is double or triple the rate stated in the casting. Once you offer a rate of pay for a specific shoot. As long as I still feel I am getting images that warrant the pay. Accordingly. I continue giving small increases on each occasion I shoot with a particular model. two models or two photographers chosen at random can have widely different expectations of pay rates. Do not be discouraged when this happens. thus reducing the pay. If I have not budgeted the amount a model is asking. When a model applies for such a casting. Photographers pay models their asking rates when models are fully booked. A model may be motivated to work for lower pay with a photographer who inspires her to produce her best images. you will be hard-pressed to find many models willing to pose nude on a TFP basis. Unfortunately. Pay rates for nude models vary widely by region and by skill level of the model. there are two prices: the price you are willing to offer and the price the model is willing to accept. all-inclusive answer. If you do not find a model who fits the casting. At the other end of the spectrum. If they continue to do well. This often happens quickly because the model has not thought about rate of pay until you bring it up. On the flip side. Those who are new to the field often represent outliers.Finding and Recruiting Models 23 Negotiating Compensation Modeling can be a job or just a hobby. Some beginning models work for nothing more than the sheer thrill of modeling or copies of the photos. Suffice to say. I will continue to raise their pay. Rates follow inflation and sometimes decline in a poor economy. you have an agreement.
if a model has tattoos I need to cover. If the initial focus of the conversation is money. Do not be picky about the model until you are getting great results from your photographic technique. only to have it later cancelled because you could not agree on wages. it raises a red flag. requiring an extra hour of preparation. reveal this up front. Rarely do photographers pay just for hours spent shooting. I take into account everything that it will take to get those results. Do not worry about making a profit while you are new to the game. do not promise more work for her than you can deliver. I offer a rate of pay that reflects this. and be willing to pay for better models. If you are unsure of how long you will be able to shoot. Shoot as much as you can. do not spend a ton of money. Discuss with the model what activities you will compensate her for. my ads have attracting some people who wanted money but were not great models. If I know a model will require more time to achieve worthwhile results. When I offer a rate of pay. so most models expect to be paid from the moment they arrive until they leave. copies of photos) • Career-enhancing benefits (publication. I usually offer the model a fixed amount for a shoot and give her an estimate of how long it will last. When you are starting out. A model needs to know the minimum she can expect to make. For example. . Then be more discriminating about who you photograph.g. I also tell her how much per hour it works out to.24 True Confessions of Nude Photography Factors That Increase Pay Rates • Geographic areas with a high cost of living • Inflation • Demand for models (others who offer modeling jobs) Factors That Decrease Pay Rates • Poor economy • Over-supply of models • Photographer who inspires models • Non-monetary compensation (e. The last thing you want to do is commit a slot in your schedule. I take this into account when making her an offer. I offer pay based on the results I expect. If I know a model will be ready to shoot the minute she walks in the door. Some models give me more value for my time than others. As a rule. Being Specific About Pay Make sure you discuss compensation before you set the time and location of the shoot. I offer her a higher rate of pay. name recognition) Over the years.
I recommend going to the store with your model and using a tester to make sure it matches. I sometimes have to mix the colors. but you should check for any imperfections such as cracked polish. If she has brought any props or accessories. I may plug it into my sound system. in which case hair styling and makeup application should both be natural and minimal. If she has her own music. To cover tattoos. Regardless of what look you desire. Tan lines make blending makeup more challenging as well. ask her to duplicate the look. and feet. This tattoo cover is not inexpensive and it is difficult to master. the better everything will go. and scars I recommend Dermablend™ brand cover-up makeup. make sure the stylist. Dermablend™ dries darker than it appears when wet. Stray hairs can be particularly distracting with solid backgrounds and in certain lighting conditions that highlight the edges of the hair. An exact skin tone match and blending into the surrounding skin are essential. Act as if you have done it a thousand times—even if you have not. and might take a self-portrait to make sure the lights are all on and positioned correctly. Before you shoot.25 Photographing Nudes Two days before the shoot. The larger the area to be covered. I let the stylist apply the cosmetics and do any other touch-ups. legs. the Dermablend™ is almost indistinguishable from real skin and is waterproof and smudge-proof. which is available online and at Dillard’s. I show the model to the area that I have prepared for her to unload her belongings. hands. When matched and blended properly. If she has a robe. I get in touch with the model to confirm. Use a smoothing serum to keep stray hairs from sticking up on the model’s head. I make sure my studio is set up. model. Many models are accustomed to doing their own makeup before the shoot or having a trusted colleague do it. or a model who is competent at applying her own Dermablend™ if you intend to cover tattoos and the like. or debris. we look through them together. I show her where they can be hung up. If you desire a more glamorous look. Excessive makeup seldom looks as good as real skin. Do not be nervous. and the setting powder changes the color slightly. and will apply two or three half-inch diameter areas before I decide the best match. which also lets me know if I need to advise her to move her car. a stylist adds a lot of value. See “Setting Up Your Studio” on page 5. The more natural you are. I usually allow about ninety minutes for him/her to style the model. birthmarks. I stock a selection of Dermablend™ colors. I check to make sure both are as we had discussed. warm-up outfit. arms. It is better to find a Getting the Model Ready When the model arrives. coat. Once in the studio. If I have selected a stylist. unsuitable designs. I ask if she had any trouble finding convenient parking. Some photographers prefer a natural look for nudes. To conceal dark tattoos or other large imperfections. If you have seen a style you like in a model’s portfolio. Do not be overly chatty or bold. Fingernails are easily overlooked. If you arrange for the model to do her own hair and makeup. I will offer her water or anything else that I may have on hand as long as it will not stain teeth. You will likely need a makeup artist. On the day of the shoot. I tidy away any distracting clutter. She will usually tell me where she parked. If I cannot see her car. just keep working. a second application is often needed. The model should bring a bikini to wear during touch-up of blemishes over the body. Any minor blemishes will need touchingup and you may want modifications to her face. or other garments. Make sure she . it is contagious. Refine your technique for covering tattoos before you attempt it for an important photo shoot. including some touch up after the first minutes of shooting. take a good look at the model’s face. is not chewing gum and that her teeth are clean. either natural or glamorous. The results of poorly applied makeup can be worse than no makeup at all. agree on a style in advance of the shoot date. Do not be shy about asking for a change to any part of her look. or whoever is doing the makeup uses as little makeup as is needed to enhance or conceal. This makes the studio more comfortable than dead quiet. Styling ideas can come from your portfolio or images you have found elsewhere. I greet her and ask if she needs help bringing anything into the studio. If she was supposed to arrive with makeup and hair ready to shoot. I will have some kind of lively music playing at a reasonably low volume. You should hear back from the model at least 24 hours before the shoot time. the more difficult it will be.
Complimenting a model on being patient or having insightful posing ideas can help establish a rapport and makes your model feel valuable beyond the visual. but this does not always have to be about the model’s appearance. will pay off for the rest of the shoot. explain what you are doing. I always warm up with clothed shots. If you cannot match by mixing Dermablend. it is more sincere and original to acknowledge their personality. Figure 4: Dermablend appears lighter straight out of the tube than it will when dry. look her in the eye. or anyone. Nonetheless. I regularly do my first few test shots with the model in the clothes she was wearing when she came in. do not go out on a limb trying to flatter her. Spending time to get the lighting right. but do not tell her you wish she were taller. I have used color charts for painters and printers. not what may go wrong. or dramatic makeup. even if it takes twenty minutes. other photographers. In fact. If you cannot afford an expensive color chart. As long as Talking to the Model When you are in the company of a model. either do it through the lens or as part of your preparation. Photograph a color chart before you get too deep into the shoot. Although they may never tire of hearing about their physical attributes. Do not criticize things you cannot do anything about. is terribly unprofessional. I still employ a stylist on some occasions. Whether you want a natural look. a stylist. . If you are looking at her for a particular reason. consider using a top coat of skin powder. and after four years of art school. or assistant. such as determining if her legs require makeup. model who has a look that is close enough to what you want without cover-up makeup than it is to make a half-hearted effort to make drastic changes with makeup. When you talk to the model. Some photographers employ a compliment to break the ice. intelligence. it was no more difficult for me than learning to paint. I found doing makeup to come naturally. Keep it light and say what you mean. Making a reference exposure at the start of the shoot. If you need to examine the model’s body. I feel this helps the model relax. but most rely on the model. or professionalism. Photo 12. Denouncing past models. look for a substitute. for that matter.26 True Confessions of Nude Photography Figure 3: A tattoo to be covered. Stay positive and keep your focus on creating great images. they are better than nothing. it is acceptable to tell the model you need to touch up her hair or nails. Starting the Shoot Test the lights on your model. Attention to detail in the hair and skin will help your photos look great. remember to use no more makeup than is required. Models constantly hear about how beautiful they are. Figure 5: This attempt is too dark. it is not appropriate to disparage other models or the modeling industry in general. For instance. This will help you color correct your images later. Some photographers have the talent to apply makeup and fix hair.
” That sounds better than “Turn your crotch away from me. “Scoot to your left a bit. but this makes you seem less experienced and less sure of your role as photographer. You can say something such as. Some photographers assume it is polite to phrase instructions as a question. a pair of jeans with an unbuttoned shirt. it will become a powerful asset in many ways. If you have a complicated pose in mind. it will make the model hesitate. Flashing strobes are like applause. Avoid spending a lot of time correcting your model’s pose without shooting. Be alert to facial expressions that contradict the body pose. “Can you turn your chest more toward the camera?” I find that models prefer unambiguous direction and do not find it discourteous. I must explain to the model how to keep her entire body correctly positioned. but by suggesting something I do want to see instead of harping on what I do not like to see. Avoid physical contact with the models during posing. for example. do your best to describe it. turn your chest more toward the camera. direct her into something less covered. a model in a lovely. Your choice of approach will be a personal one. By conveying a A Few Pointers • Keep shooting. “Now. take a break.” but rather as “Here’s something I’d like to see you do differently. you should be able to direct the action from behind your camera like an expert. let the model relax.” is clearer than asking. This is far easier and more encouraging than agonizing over a single exposure. take a shot anyway. After you have taken a few shots with the model clothed. refer to her chest—not any of the popular vernacular terms for breasts. it can be beneficial to take a more methodical approach. If you want the model to turn her chest toward you. . “Let’s take a short breather and I will explain the next set of poses we are going to do. If that does not work. and introduce your ideas as the next phase in the shoot. even if her feet are still in the same position. One effective technique is to mention a body part and describe what the model needs to do with that body part to achieve the desired pose. and direct her to make a small change. “Place you right hand on your right hip. Keep shooting and directing small changes until you have the exact pose you want. for instance. “Come back to center. clear refinements. If the model wanders too close or far from the main light for a well-lit shot. It does not matter if you waste a few shots for the sake of keeping the shoot flowing.” Once the model has achieved the basic pose. If the model does not get it exactly the way you want. If you are hesitant. the shoot should get off to a wonderful start. Stopping the shoot can be discouraging to all but the most experienced model. but I tend to tell rather than ask. then move your right foot a few inches to your right. What you do not say is as important as what you do say.Photographing Nudes 27 you are properly prepared and conduct yourself in a friendly and professional manner. Do not be apprehensive.” On occasion. stopping frequently to discuss poses. It is much more efficient to stay behind your camera and use verbal direction. Do not refer to something as a “bad habit. Touching a model can come off as creepy. you can suggest the specific. it may throw her body off center. Those rare gems—the shots where every aspect of the pose is exactly as you want it—will occur more frequently. I might say. If you know the model well. New models need to learn to follow verbal direction and new photographers need to learn how to give it. Keep your verbal directions simple and clear. If the model stretches her limbs in one direction.” or any other popular term for a woman’s crotch. If you do want to make a lengthy explanation. as will. I will be direct when I coach the model. Then tell her to hold the pose. Saying. one at a time. By making clear. • Give clear instructions.” will suffice. For example. you will keep the shoot progressing with the poses you want and without any confusion. It helps the model’s confidence. it is easy to say.” The First Nudes of a Session It is common for nude photographers to warm-up with clothed shots.” Whenever possible. Something like. concise statements. How to Give Verbal Direction Once you master verbal direction. For example. halcyon posture can be spoiled if her face looks pained. By learning these verbal techniques. “Turn your hips so your front isn’t pointing directly at me. If I want the model’s pelvic region facing away from me. I will rephrase what I want. I will be able to coax her back in with a verbal cue and a hand motion. use neutral terms and not slang for body parts. • Do not use slang for body parts.
I have learned from experience that what you say and when you say it can make a drastic difference in the model’s spirit. When this happens. This is not necessary if your model is eager to begin posing unclad. Keeping a steady pace puts the model into a great mind set to keep working. since the lines will fade as the shoot progresses. Like any first day. I slow things down a bit. but some have experienced a moment of trepidation at removing their bottoms. I take a special approach. Contrary to what some may presume. let alone undressed. Moreover. I have carefully developed techniques for setting expectations with the pace of the shoot. an experienced model who has only done clothed shoots will usually be more nervous than one who has never modeled before. that is. She has jitters about the unfamiliar. especially for first-timers. such as the model above. and choice of words. Your verbal delivery should be confident but not pushy. One major lapse that inexperienced photographers can commit is to hesitate to direct the model into unclothed poses. not start-and-stop. Shooting too long without progressing to unclothed poses can be confusing for the model. direct a new one. Photo 14. With a model who has never posed fully uncovered before. do not re-ask the model if she wants to pose nude. she worries about your approval. Even if the model wears loose-fitting clothing on her way over. A back shot is a good warm-up. This is her first day on a new job. shooting an average of every 10 to 15 seconds.28 True Confessions of Nude Photography sense of confidence. This is an acceptable trade-off. it is not necessary for your style to include frontal nudity. the warm-up clothes can leave some marks. . but I do not delay unnecessarily. You established that fact prior to booking. Success with First-Time Models I have photographed scores of models who had never modeled before. but it helps in cases where the model and photographer have not worked together before. One drawback of warming up with clothed shots is the lines that clothing can leave on skin. I do not progress to nudity as quickly. if she has never been a model before. or twenty-minute warm-up. However. Side shots make good warm-ups. As soon as each pose is captured. The momentum should make the shoot feel like it is an inevitable progression. it is less intimidating. you will encourage confidence in the model. I fire the flashes two or three seconds apart for a few frames and then switch to the next pose. Standing without any props or clothing can be the most intimidating way to start a shoot. Of course. Giving the model a prop or furniture can make her more comfortable with her initial nudes of the session. tone of voice. Keep shooting in a steady (but not rushed) fashion. It is important to keep moving onward so the model doesn’t have a chance to feel nervous about why you may be pausing. I have captured over a hundred frames of her in a fifteen Photo 13. whether she is experienced or not. The first full-frontal nude with a first timer will typically occur within twenty minutes of starting to shoot. their first nude shoot is a milestone. Never have I had a model balk at being topless. do not be afraid of proceeding to the first nudes of the session. Do not regress to the recruitment stage on the day of the shoot. your fear will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. and your voice is nervous because of this. If you worry needlessly that she will be uneasy. and your model will be physically and mentally prepared for some great shots. Choose your words well with the uninitiated model. there are questions and a little anxiety. By the time I shoot a model's first nude. Even for models who have done a hundred shoots with next to nothing on.
Side or back shots can be mixed in to help the model warm up. • Undress from underneath. Once she crosses the hurdle to nudity. . The model’s attitude will likely mirror yours. and it is contagious. • Props or furniture can help the model feel more comfortable and focus her attention on something other than feeling naked. she quickly becomes selfassured and you can be more direct. Use phrases that describe what to do with clothing instead of what you want to see. but not to have it explicitly verbalized. but especially first timers. Say. Help her choose an interesting outfit to get into character. “Open the shirt and bring it off your shoulders. The undress from underneath technique. demonstrated by a first-time model who started off timid.” instead of. An ideal scenario is with the last piece of clothing being a jacket or open shirt that she is nude under. Be straightforward. Some models might want to bring someone with them. • Go slowly. Have her remove one item at a time— even just open a zipper or button—and take anywhere from a couple to a dozen shots.” Many new models want to pose free from clothing. simply instruct the model as to how you want her to pose. After every dozen shots or so. • Try non-frontal angles of view. The aspect that they single out as being the most helpful was the incremental progress towards the first nude pose. begin by photographing her clothed. • Do not be hesitant or reserved. • Keep extra people to a minimum. try to position them out of sight from both you and the model so that they cause as little distraction as possible. Do not do more than a dozen shots without progressing unless you feel your model is becoming ill at ease. or even the tenth time. This helps with all models. Do the shoot as soon as she is comfortable. so when conducting a shoot with extra people present. If your model has not done nudes before. but do not overdo it. This feels more secure for new models than removing undergarments as the last step. With an experienced model this approach may be tedious. including her outfit. but do not stop.Photographing Nudes 29 Apprehension is the enemy. but with a twist: the undergarments should come off before the outer garments do. “Expose your breasts. Photo 15. Greet the model warmly with a handshake and chat a bit. Start by photographing the model in an outfit. These tips and techniques can mean the difference between a lighthearted success and a nervous and fruitless session: • Talk a bit before the shoot. have her undress a bit more. is a little like getting into a hot tub. have her pose fully nude. do not delay unnecessarily. I have had many first-time models tell me that it was much easier than they thought it was going to be. It takes a while to acclimate. Do not make a big deal of it. Modeling nude for the first time. and specify which undergarments to include. this will make it clear to her that the undergarments will be part of the photos. but before doing a second outfit.
can spoil a good percentage of shots. you will miss distracting snafus that crop up. Put easy poses up front to build confidence. pose. or anything else in the model’s mouth that may make her face look strange. and lighting for lurking flaws and eliminate them. but others may never fully grasp it. background.” you might as well be sleeping on the job. the shooting tempo is more methodical. Resist being Photo 16. and should never divert your attention away from the quality of each shot. I am tuned in to anything that might be out of place. my shooting pace will slow. Some recommended accessories for nude looks include boots. leaning. whether due to light sensitivity or another factor. belts. “Wow! I picked a model with an amazing physique. change enough variables that each look is clearly distinct from the others. Body paint helps define absorbed in the best parts of a this look. Photo 17. background. It is easy to let attention to detail fade as your concentration shifts to the general aspects of the model’s pose and the lighting. You do not have to shoot this many frames. and necklaces. A look can be defined by changes to hair. I check for awkwardness in each pose by scanning the model from head to toe. For makeup. accessories. etc. it is wise to have a visual example and/or a written description. A shot list helps you show the model your agenda for the shoot. so sequence the essential poses in the first half. and work toward heavier makeup at the end of the shoot. It is frustrating to have a model repeatedly change poses an instant before you are ready to take a shot. I spend thirty minutes to an hour shooting each look and it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to prepare for each look. jewelry. Sprinkle a few more easy ones throughout to allow breathing space. For each theme you want to shoot. you take some risk. When trying a new look. scan the entire model. gloves. fabric accents. Blinking. Within each look I direct the model through a variety of poses: sitting. hats. In most cases. As the session progresses. The ability to transition from pose to pose and fall into a fluid rhythm with the photographer can be learned quickly by some.30 True Confessions of Nude Photography If you are working with an untested model. props. Inexperienced models have more to learn than just easing into their first session posing unclothed. makeup. scarves. If you are thinking. candy. Unless you consciously consider every detail in your view. I start with the lightest look that I want to shoot. furniture. I take more shots than many photographers—anywhere from 200 to 400 shots per look—about one shot every ten seconds. you will not make it all the way through your list. and crawling. lighting. kneeling. The mechanics of posing require some subtle refinements and control. How I Spend a Half-Day Shoot (Not including setup and cleanup) • Model’s preparation: 30 minutes • Shoot first look: 20 minutes • Preparation: 10 minutes • Shoot second look: 40 minutes • Break and preparation: 20 minutes • Shoot third look: 35 minutes • Preparation: 20 minutes • Shoot final look: 60 minutes Shoot a Variety of Looks I try about four or five looks during a shoot. I check again for chewing gum. Similarly. Organize the shots according to the order in which you plan to shoot them. Such a collection is called a shot list. Having some patience helps. crouching. standing. partial clothing. . While shooting. when I have worked with the same model several times. such as a hair band on the wrist or stray hairs.
Here is mine: Checklist for Closing a Shoot • Thank the model and praise her work. Closing the Shoot Have a mental checklist of what you want to accomplish at the end of the shoot. While the model is gathering her effects and preparing to leave. but be hesitant to speak her mind. Commenting on her specific strengths is especially helpful in encouraging good habits and ending on a positive note. I will walk through the changing area or anywhere else that I think a model might have left something. motion. professional-quality photo. and she is probably a bit weary from the shoot we just did. and given other quick favors. • Have the model sign the model release and get a copy of her ID. Not all models are heading straight back to where they came from. Leave time and have the proper supplies and clean. payment. but choose compounds that wash off easily and have a plan for clean up. By ending with enough time to talk about what I liked most about the shoot. You can let her give out your contact information so other photographers can contact you for the reference. This not only allows me to stay productive. (See the next section. Once she has seen the photos. To be extra certain. but to discover any of her possessions that may have become mixed in with my accessories. Just five minutes shooting a few frames for the model goes a long way towards cementing a lasting bond. She is much more likely to want to dive into an ambitious challenge after you have accumulated a few garden-variety images. If she asks for the photos to be mailed through the postal service. A reminder that the first batch of proofs will not be retouched helps eliminate confusion later. something for her grandmother or to pose with a special possession. private facilities for a shower. I have photographed models with their dogs. or offer copies of the photos. • Pay the model. Perhaps she wants a head shot.Photographing Nudes 31 Final Poses I save exertive poses for toward the end. Near the end of the shoot. there are other reasons to delay tricky shots to the end of the shoot. I discuss how and when I will get copies of the photos to her (if that was part of the arrangement). It gives you time to build the model’s confidence before attempting something complicated. After we complete the model release. I emphasize that they will be protected so that only she can download them. she is less likely to feel disheartened at the end of an otherwise productive session. I will say that I am up for it and that I will get back to her when I have a specific date for the next shoot. You may or may not use a model release. or jumping. “Model Releases”). I usually decline because it is not convenient and it is hard to guarantee that the images end up in the model’s hands. I would like some time to review the photos so I can get an idea of what I would like to do for our next shoot. If I am using anything messy like water or full body makeup. Remember if she removed any jewelry during the shoot and ask her if she collected it. • Inform the model when her copies of the photos will be available. If she is going to be downloading the photos. It would be a mistake not to praise the model and thank her for her work. but offer to retouch the few images that she selects for her portfolio. I help the model make sure she has found and packed all of her belongings. . If a difficult shot flops. I tidy up my equipment a bit. Posting your references on her profile on a modeling site is the customary way of doing this. including contortions. suggest that she check her bags. In addition to the logistical challenges. It is usually not a good time for either of us to check our calendars. Those few extra minutes of my time give the model a treasured. in front of their new homes or cars. If she’s not from the area. It is not prudent to immediately ask about booking another shoot. • Make sure the model has all her belongings. If the model mentions rebooking. ask the model about any special requests she has. It is not unusual for a model to hope you will ask this question. I save it for toward the end as well. I will ask if she wants driving directions to her next destination. It is easy for a model to leave small items behind if your studio has become cluttered. It is okay to invite her to use some of the proofs temporarily. I can let the model leave knowing what she helped me accomplish. and any other paperwork. she will be excited about doing another shoot. pay your model. You can mention to the model that you will be happy to provide a reference for her. or you can post your remarks online. Messy shots can add a new flavor to your work. If she is not sure. but only if you actually intend to follow through.
the release would probably be invalid. that the model has agreed to be photographed nude and has given permission for the photos to be published. If she rushes on her own accord. it may actually be less enforceable because it gives a plausible reason why the model might have misunderstood the agreement. • Your intentions should be expressed before booking. and have not had a problem with a model release. It would be difficult for the model to prove you rushed her into signing a release. Some photographers have told me they worry that a model will not sign a release for them. or any contract could be easily nullified with this excuse. This is why it is important to be as clear as possible both in discussing the release with the model and in writing the release form. • Explain the release to the model. getting a release signed is not difficult. and is a crucial element of a valid and enforceable perpetual release. If a release is filled with complex legal Photo 18. There is no reason to misrepresent yourself. I have the model sign the release after the shoot. Nonetheless. The written release merely documents it. If you rush or otherwise coerce the model into signing the release. Requiring that the model sign before you pay her is not coercive. even if the model does not ask for them. language. but you may accidentally be misunderstood. Signing a release before the shoot could mean that the model is not making an informed decision because she is releasing photos that do not yet exist. In some instances. If a model release is signed based on a misrepresentation. among other things. This is called a meeting of the minds. Getting a Release Signed Can Be Easy • A model release gives you permission to use photos. this does not usually invalidate the release. it may not be valid. if you tell a model that her image is going to be used for a breast cancer exam pamphlet and instead sell the images as pinup posters. for convenience. In other words. Signing a model release. there may be a third party involved. Contrary to popular belief. For example. The model release states. it is advisable to encourage the model to read the entire release and to offer explanations. • Done correctly. . A misunderstood model release may also be unenforceable.32 True Confessions of Nude Photography Understanding Model Releases The typical model release is written as a contract between the model and the photographer. and reflected in the release. so avoid this kind of coaxing. • There must be a meeting of the minds. it may not be enforceable. but this could still technically invalidate it. such as a publisher or stock agency. if a model simply claims that she did not read the document before signing it. the release is still valid. However. it is in the minds of those signing the paper. I explain it all prior to booking the shoot. but telling the model that you will pay her less or will never pay her unless she signs right away is. • Payment is made in exchange for a signed release. an agreement does not exist simply on paper. I do not have trouble getting signatures because my models are not under any illusions about the content of the session or how the images will be used. It is fortunate that people cannot nullify contracts simply by saying they did not read them. but I advise against this. Some photographers like to get the release signed before a shoot. the mutual understanding between model and photographer constitutes the agreement.
if an image of a model lying on a bed is going to be used in an advertisement for STD awareness. topless. For example.” and so on. • Confirm that the model’s name and signature match her identification. It is just a normal step in wrapping up the shoot. Use a separate release for each model and each day that you shoot. it is a better practice to pay your models a fair wage. I explain what each section means: “This says you’re being paid. Model Release Checklist • Have a model release appropriate for nudes. It is usually sufficient for the release to have a statement that the photos can be used for any purpose. • A statement of consideration. noting nude content in the release is paramount. it is preferable to consult with those companies as to what their model release requirements are. As long as you have explained all the details before setting up the shoot. and this is where a regular model release may not suffice. unaware of being photographed. that you intend for the images. model releases can be signed after that. You do not want to make a policy of giving out free photos or cash. this is less of a concern. the entire contract may be called into question. For obviously posed shots. Let her take the document with her if she wants more time to examine it. Some agency-signed models require an additional fee for a perpetual release. In many cases. The date on which the photographs were taken also identifies the content. There have been cases where a nude photo may not appear to have been posed and could be construed as a photograph taken while the model was changing or relaxing. “You’ve done a model release before. The release will only permit uses that occur after it is signed. Explain to her that model releases are standard business and she will receive the agreed upon compensation immediately after you both sign. • Require the model release for payment or copies of photos. When presenting the release to an experienced model. Typically. I suggest you be diplomatic but firm. If I sense the model has any doubt. Be tactful to preserve the opportunity to secure permission to use the photos. This prevents anyone (model. If she has specific objections.00 can threaten the enforceability of the release. • Explain to the model how to fill in the model release. and that is the reason you are paying the model.com/resources for a list of microstock companies. It is important that this is established.). etc.nudephotoguides. If you plan to license your photographs for stock or microstock. If the consent is revocable. Most microstock companies post a model release for public download. But. do not needlessly pay the model.Photographing Nudes 33 The Typical Parts of a Release • Identity of the model by name and current address. However. I always use a model release that specifically mentions nudity. • A list of the uses. • The model’s consent for you to use the photos. with realistic or documentary styles of shooting. Do not use one release to cover a range of days. consent for use in controversial contexts should be documented in the release. but before paying the model or giving her copies of the photos. publisher. such as drug use or a sexually transmitted disease. If you do have an occasion where a model balks at signing a release. If the consideration clause of the release is called into question. even if they are also being compensated with copies of the photos. you might consent to using an altered release. Tell the reluctant model that she should take her time to understand and agree with the release before signing. Just pay your models fairly and everyone’s better off. Some legal experts argue that paying the model a token fee of $1. Having the release state the intended content beyond any doubt removes questions about what is being released. including promotion and advertising.) Get the release signed after the shoot. Just like when shooting. The fact that it is for a noble cause does not change the fact that it is a sensitive subject. Completing the release on the day of the shoot is convenient. this consent is irrevocable. If they have never seen a release. you should not have any problem getting a release signed. • Confirm that the model has printed her name as it appears on her identification. the consent is also perpetual. if the images are going to be used in conjunction with sensitive subjects. you do not want to project nervousness when presenting the release. . or otherwise) from asserting that the model had intended only to release nonnude photographs from the session. • Take a photograph of the model holding her identification. The release gives you permission to use the photos. I explain the release. I ask. however. you had better have her explicit consent documented. If your release contains a consideration clause. (See www. • Identity of the content of the photographs (nude. right?” and they will typically affirm that they have. the model could conceivably change her mind and revoke her permission. this part says you’re giving me permission to use the photos. or possible uses. However.
I tell the model that it is okay to put some of these watermarked images into her online portfolio. This can be a driver's license. Several documents suffice as a second form of ID.) I do not want tons of unedited photos in circulation so I do not just post them publicly or leave them on her doorstep.nudephotoguides. but if the model has additional identification with her. they cannot be used without my knowledge.34 True Confessions of Nude Photography Identification After the release is signed. It is through authentic and civil interaction that strong and productive relationships are built. Photograph the model’s identification. passport. I will typically have discussed the issue during the recruitment process. The photos can be written to CD or placed on a USB drive. (See www. the photographs are useless to me. Relationship building is not about selling or marketing yourself. I will supply corrected versions of the ones that she chooses. I take a close-up shot of the ID. Something like “Copyright.com/resources for a list. Presentable final images require moderate to extensive software processing to ensure correct color and contrast. I postpone payment until it can be provided. and that I am willing to take the time to edit a few of the images in Photoshop for the her. [your name]. Without proof of age. This is adequate for her purposes but too small to be marketed for print or stock. and few people travel without ID. When I have time later. or federal-issued ID card such as a military ID card. it is about refining the way you interact with others. and to remove any distractions or imperfections. If the model has no identification. It has been a long time since I have had a model show up to a shoot without some sort of ID. It is common to put a small watermark of text stating that the photos are proofs. I require at least one government-issued picture ID that includes a date of birth. permanent resident card (green card). The requirement is posted on my website. I photograph the model’s identification. The identification is crucial for a couple of reasons: making sure the model is who she says she is and proving that she is of legal age. I include every shot except technical mishaps. Sending Photos to Models The day after the shoot. state-issued ID card. I will make sure the model knows that they are proof quality. Any files I give to the model are downsized (typically 800x1200 pixels). A driver’s license is standard. By not giving out my highresolution files. the identification is often required to accompany the model release before anyone will publish the nudes. Photo 19. uncorrected proof ” should prevent any confusion that these uncorrected images are intended to be of final quality or intended for publishing. lack a photo. or are not government-issued. There are a number of free or nearly free online services that will let you store images in albums that include access control. I usually output uncorrected images via batch image processing software. I will meet the model or she will pick up the photos or I could let her download from a protected location. Secondary ID can be a student card or birth certificate. as well as a few shots of the model holding the ID next to her face. but are not enough on their own because they do not contain a date of birth. and working with models is no different. birth certificate. The professional world runs on relationships. After the Shoot The days after and between shoots are a time to cement professional relationships. . I photograph that as well. Although it is highly unlikely that your model is an imposter. Such images are called proofs. If they mention that they do not drive.
“Let’s try something else. “Thank you for your input during the process. and it was a satisfactory shoot. A simple.” Most photographers give glowing references. as there may be a pending shoot and I want the model to be hired before the opportunity is gone. or a failed idea. start a family. After you have become acquainted. They may gain a new beau. frustration.” will go a long way to cementing the working relationship. do not vent your Photo 20. you need to have a genuine discussion and find where you both want to collaborate. you should project a confident attitude. I try to respond to these quickly. If Things Go Poorly. get married. if you do not have trust to give. Trust is also a two-way street. Stay Professional There will be rough spots in any professional relationship. and there will likely still be places where you agree and can collaborate. find the appropriate time to bring up any particulars. and do not emphasize the problems.Photographing Nudes 35 Building and Refining Relationships You want your working relationships to be long-lasting and ever-growing. Be yourself and let the first impression be a genuine conversation. enjoyable to be around. I try to be as detailed as possible about the factors that matter most to me: cooperation. For example. Prepare yourself so you know what you are going to say. you can often just move on by saying. This is not always possible. If things start out poorly. but you are confident that once things progress you will start achieving great results. so a lukewarm one is sufficient to get your message across. you should be properly attired in clean. You can communicate as much sentiment with what you do not say as with what you do. encourage your counterpart by telling her that in your experience. Do not lose your cool. so when it does happen. “She was on time. or find a career soon after first posing with you. and communication skills. Keep things moving. innovation. you will not receive it in return. Sarah had many references. Sometimes awkward topics can result in disagreement. If an experience was negative. Your tone of voice should reflect confidence and honesty. In cases of disagreement. I didn’t end up with any images that I’d put in my portfolio but it was good practice. the process is a cycle. fashionable clothing. Although relationship building was touched upon earlier (see “Where and How to Find Models” on page 11). posed well. Do not forget to thank your counterpart for her collaboration. Here is a summary of attitudes and techniques that will help you build relationships with models.” If your counterpart seems disheartened. athleticism. Be polite and courteous. Just saying it was a good shoot is not very helpful. Relationships Are Two-Way Streets This is not about you imposing your ideas on your counterpart. hold onto those connections by continuing to collaborate or staying in touch. reinforce the idea that you were collaborating successfully up to this point and can continue to do so. just as every long road has an occasional bump. Do not automatically shy away from disagreement. and had an expressive face. Impressions Are Important When meeting for the first time or the tenth time. there are sometimes rough starts. you could say. You do not want to stumble over your words or be constantly pausing to think of the right thing to say. Be on time. On the other hand. it will be helpful to know what you disagree on. Many models are at an age prone to rapid transition. Do Not Be Afraid of Awkward Topics Just because it may be difficult to introduce a topic does not mean that it does not have a place in a professional discussion. I mention everything I liked about the model: if she was on time. was comfortable. but do not memorize a speech. personality. A seasoned model. change schools. . Giving References Other photographers may contact you about the models you have shot with. you do not want to speak in rehearsed phrases that sound like a recorded sales pitch. even if time is short. If necessary. or the rough spot may become permanent.
• Make sure the studio is ready before the model arrives. • Do not forget the model release. • Warm up a bit with covered shots. • Confirm before the day of the shoot. and back angles. • Shoot a variety of looks. especially if the model is a novice. but do not stop. This gives you an opportunity for breaks and yields a more interesting range of images. • Keep the shoot flowing. • Learn to give verbal direction for the poses you want. • Allow time for styling and other preparations. Go slowly if needed. • Follow up with the model to continue the working relationship.36 True Confessions of Nude Photography Summary of Shooting Nudes • The best shoots begin in the recruiting process with clear and thorough communication. side angles. .
It usually requires improvisation and compromise based on the surroundings. Strobe with Snoot Beauty Dish with Grid Before Shoot-Through Umbrella Reflective Umbrella Monolight with Striplight Softbox Monolight with Small Softbox Pack and One Head Boom Arm Collapsible Reflector Strobe Head with Sock Diffuser . and topics for further study appear at the end of the book. This is not an exhaustive explanation of all lighting concepts. Location lighting is more challenging than being in the studio. I will explain some of the concepts used in the lighting diagrams that appear throughout the book. you may also want to develop fashion and still life lighting skills. Studio lighting allows the ultimate control over illumination. but not as difficult as lighting outdoors. Here are some illustrated examples of the studio equipment I will discuss throughout this guide. In this section.37 Lighting you jump in and start taking a bunch of nude photographs. to stack the odds in your favor. and with most figure photography taking place in the studio. If you intend to use wardrobe and props with your nude. Location lighting refers to a shoot that is not in a studio or other familiar environment. Lighting is my top consideration once I have found the right model. take some time to set up your studio lighting. the majority of the examples are indoor lighting.
and is not too expensive. Equipment is merely a means to an end. is easy to transport. Stick with name-brand modifiers. starting with the simplest. You do not necessarily have to buy the exact equipment to achieve the effects in the corresponding lighting setups. try to get lights that share the same system for attaching modifiers. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. You can often buy some of these items as a package to save money. Since many of the readers of this guide may not have amassed a huge inventory of equipment. and Portable This starter kit has enough power to light the shot. see the readers’ links at the end of the book (page 113). They are numbered. Better pack and head systems have heavy-duty cables that loose less power than flimsier equipment. also consider sunlight! The reflector provides fill light. Not all manufacturers make products to the exact same specifications. If you do not have the equipment listed. If you are only going to have one light stand. If you are on a superlow budget. Figure 6: Light Kit #1 . through #4. spring for an air-cushioned one. An exact match is not required to achieve the results seen here.38 True Confessions of Nude Photography Four Light Kits for Every Budget Ansel Adams once said. and especially your equipment. minimum 300ws Modifiers • Small softbox. Power (watt-second) recommendations and other measurements are approximate. you can improvise until you find something that suits what you aspire to. I have defined four lighting kits. leaving you with a color cast on your images. Use a wireless trigger instead of a sync cord. If you are on a budget and are inclined to reduce clutter. minimum 600ws (watt-seconds) • Second monolight. nobody will know if you paid a lot or a little for your equipment. perhaps with the help of just a reflector or diffusion panel. Have an assistant hold the reflector. Suggested Configuration Lights • One monolight. but not so large that you cannot travel with it. It is portable. and you can use it later in your larger studio setup. Treat the kits as potential shopping lists. I have specific recommendations on my website. in college) but if these items seem too pricey. These kits are just a framework. Pack and head systems produce less light than monolights of equivalent power because some power is lost in the cable.” Your technique. Bear in mind that differing lighting systems do not always have compatible connections between modifiers (such as softboxes) and light heads. Look at the lights in each diagram to choose what you need. 24"x24" or larger • Two 48" shoot-through umbrellas • One 48" collapsible reflector. Once you have captured an outstanding image. Here are some of the studio apparatuses that help you aim and modify the light. In this guide. Knowing your equipment is essential. you can make some of your own accessories if you wish. Adapters can be clunky. Light Kit 1 Two Lights: Quick. Some photographers take pride in shooting nudes with just natural light. Some low-quality umbrellas and softboxes may not be pure white. I have refrained from including shots that require a large investment to reproduce. is only as good as the images it allows you to produce. Each subsequent kit builds on the previous one. The monolight is a good first purchase. white/gold Light stands • Two 8' Move freely. the most complete. or clamp it to a light stand or other surface. Purchase a sturdy one. you can skimp a bit on the light wattage (I did decades ago. you will begin to tailor your lighting arsenal accordingly. Each one corresponds to several lighting setups in this book. As you develop your style. #1. and can save you money if you do not want to get a second light right away. and more. In addition. so kit #2 has everything that kit #1 has.
Take care. aluminum sheets can cut you. minimum 300ws • Monolight. 24"x24" or larger • Strip softbox. Tape the edges with foil tape for safety. The sock type diffusers quickly slip over the light heads with an elastic band and can help you economically diffuse the background lights. minimum 300ws • Monolight. Suggested Configuration Lights • Monolight. A shoot-through umbrella can be used to reflect light or diffuse by shooting through it. minimum 600ws • Three strobe heads Modifiers • Small softbox. but to achieve everything in the guide you will need to spend more. 17"x54" or taller • One 48" collapsible reflector white/gold • Three 40° grids to fit strobe heads • Two sock diffusers to fit strobe heads • Two 48" shoot-through umbrellas • Two snoots to fit strobe heads • White beauty dish. Figure 7: Light Kit #2 Figure 8: Light Kit #3 . The sock style diffusers are much more economical than softboxes and quite sufficient for background lighting. minimum 600ws • Two strobe heads Modifiers • Small softbox. minimum 600ws • One power pack. with grid Suggested Configuration Lights • Monolight. You can come close to many of the lighting setups in this guide using this list of equipment. The monolights allow you a portable two-light system for location shoots as well as a backup should your main pack fail.Lighting 39 Light Kit 2 Four Lights: Practical Setup This setup is economical and represents the minimum for attempting most studio lighting. minimum 600ws • One power pack. 24"x24" or larger • Two 48" shoot-through umbrellas • One 48" collapsible reflector white/gold • Two 40° grids to fit strobe heads • Two sock diffusers to fit strobe heads Light stands • Two 8' • Two heavy-duty 10' Light stands • Two 8' • Two heavy duty 10' You can make an inexpensive snoot out of thin aluminum roofing sheets sold in home improvement stores. minimum 22". Light Kit 3 Five Lights: Versatile Power This light kit contains the equipment you would need to shoot the vast majority of images in this guide.
with white diffusion fabric so it can be used like a softbox. A figure lit from head to toe is said to have full lighting coverage. Bare tube light.40 True Confessions of Nude Photography Light Kit 4 Six Lights: Plenty of Options With this kit. and some unattractive.a. For the large umbrella in this kit. Suggested Configuration Lights • Monolight. Some light is harsh and some is soft. The brightest light in a setup will always be expressed as 100%. or coverage is called a lighting modifier. Hard light is sometimes called direct or specular. “brolly boxes” or parabolic lighting modifier). It is a matter of preference and style. gold. Desirable spill will fill the shadows. 17"x54" or taller • One or more 48" collapsible reflector white. but there are some related concepts. Do not worry too much about the math. 60"-86" in diameter • Gel kit with holder and barn-doors Light stands • Three 8' • Two heavy-duty 10' • 14' boom Photo 21. This is not the last light kit you may find yourself wanting. Mixing the two can yield a wide range of results. minimum 1000ws • Four strobe heads Quality of Light Quality of light does not refer to how well-made your lighting hardware is. in the context of nude photography. Lighting that obscures the model in shadow is often viewed as more artistic. we are mostly concerned with its hardness or softness. Figure 9: Light Kit #4 In photo 21. but in nude photos less fill light. and how much detail of the model is revealed. Higher watt-second outputs than the minimums listed will give you more options for experimentation. spill. such as 40% (main light twice as bright as the fill light) or even 20% often yields more dramatic images. minimum 300ws • Monolight. and direct light can be dramatic. there is no modifier (nothing attached to the light) and the entire studio is lit with light bouncing in almost every . while too much spill will wash out colors. you can experiment with the power settings until the lighting begins to look like the examples. black • Four 40° grids to fit strobe heads • Two sock diffusers to fit strobe heads • Four 48" shoot-through umbrellas • White beauty dish. Softer light can be pleasing. establishes many aspects of the image including mood. Getting the Light Right A lighting ratio (also called a contrast ratio). minimum 22". Anything you add to a light to control the quality.k. Certainly. Light that extends beyond the subject and bounces around your studio is called spill. the softness or harshness of light is called its quality. In two-light portrait photography a fill light of about 65% of the main light is traditional. In this book. Modifiers • Softbox. there are additional tools available. with grid • Two snoots to fit strobe heads • Two umbrella boxes (a. you can recreate any image in this guide. while lower contrast images can risk looking pedestrian. compositional elements. minimum 600ws • One power pack. I prefer an 84" silver parabolic lighting modifier. The degree to which the subject that is lit is called coverage. some attractive. When it comes to controlling light. Soft light is created by placing one or more diffusion materials in front of the light. I express light output in terms of percentages. 36"x48" • Strip softbox.
A broader pattern of diffused light is produced with the bounce umbrella. As in portraiture. A shoot-through umbrella (photo 23) is similar to a softbox at a fraction of the price. Light with 7-inch. higher contrast illumination. Notice that the light on the model is now too bright to show detail and the shadow areas are too dark for detail. Clearly. the effect can be seen on the background. Notice the hard shadows of the model’s legs. Others are permanently attached. In photo 22. a black backing called a spill kill can be applied to the umbrella. or other diffusers can give a softer edge to shadows and reduce hot spots. Light with bounce umbrella. silver reflector. Photo 22. Using softboxes.Lighting 41 direction. Some spill kill backings are removable so an umbrella can be converted between bounce and shoot through. Light with shoot-through umbrella. many photographers prefer diffused light for photographing nudes. produces deeper dark shadows and has a quick falloff at the edge of the light. Photo 24. The reflector shapes the light into a cone. umbrellas. To control some of this light. The softbox does a better job of controlling spill but provides less head-to-toe coverage. more stray light spills on the background and the floor. Photo 23. If I do use a strobe with a reflector. this modifier has limited potential as shown. the uncontrolled light bouncing around the room creates quite a bit of fill light as well as background light. The image with the softbox (photo 25) creates a gentle light. a 7-inch on-strobe reflector added to the light head directs all the light toward the model. Compare the shoot-through umbrella with the umbrella positioned to bounce the light (photo 24). creating a harsher. it will be to bounce the light off a wall or ceiling when working on location. Light modified with a 17”x54” softbox. Although the lit area of the figure is bathed in a generous and idyllically soft light. Photo 25. The un-flagged light also causes lens flare in the image. Had the softbox been larger there would be better coverage. . similar to that of the bounce umbrella. The light on the model is harsh. but with less control of the light.
With the small umbrella. the transition from light to shadow is more gradual. Close Light A common mantra is to use as large a diffuser as possible. Light with a beauty dish and grid. The quick light falloff across the torso and the length of the body is not much better than a bare light. a very large umbrella box (photo 29). the area of coverage. The factors that affect the quality of light include type and size of diffusion material. is smaller. Large. and to place it as close to the model as possible.42 True Confessions of Nude Photography umbrella. Photo 28. start by comparing the model’s shadow on the floor in each image. Quality of light is a subject to which you can devote much study. Because it is smaller than the softbox and Photo 27. Photo 26. Grids are available for just about any reflector or softbox. A small umbrella (20 inches). A beauty dish is a special kind of reflector designed to produce a light that is smoother than a softbox. reflector shape and size. the other. and distance to subject. One uses a very small umbrella (photo 27). too. The desired result is for the light to “wrap around the model. At the other extreme. This smooth transition between lit and unlit areas is what some refer to as wrapping the subject in light. . the light coverage is narrow and the contrast is a bit harsh. A large umbrella box (86 inches). Compare the brightness of the hips and abdomen areas between the two images. This one (photo 26) is affixed with a honeycomb grid that restricts the illumination to a narrow angle. If you have trouble telling the difference.” Examine the following two images.
Just remember that it is normal to have the clipping warning flashing in areas that are supposed to be white or near white. experiment. so you will rely heavily on the preview in calculating exposure. A Word about Exposure In figure photography. To use a light meter effectively. lights behind the model help separate and define the figure. on either side of the model. you can achieve a greater ability to fine-tune the effects of lighting. The following are three kinds of separation lights. but these are misleading. either directly behind or slightly to one side. washing out the shot. you need to take more than one reading. Learn about them. and a couple of spots in the model zone. you should decrease the expose until they are no longer flashing. They are placed behind the model. Separation lights (also called accent lights) are neither fill lights. some hate them. This is often called exposing to the right. but not more than 135-degrees). but I am fan of using it in conjunction with a light meter. but a histogram shows you more than eleven tones from black to white. It is a bar chart of the data captured for all the tones in an image. Barn doors can help control accent light. In addition to lighting the front of the model. but to set your lights. but do not let them burn out too much of your subject. Most cameras have a clipping warning that flashes areas of the image that the software determines are overexposed. Most importantly. Lighting that is straight-on tends to make the model look flat. The concept is similar to the zone system. Hair lights are a type of backlight. a diffuser with a deckled edge can blend the light’s edge. some overuse them. below. or gels can make it difficult to calculate exposure with a meter alone. Accordingly. Light colored hair can look great with backlighting. front. Not only does the clipping warning kick in well before any real danger. Some photographers adore them. Knowing how to use a meter will teach you a great deal that you cannot learn from LCD preview and histogram. even if you Photo 29. A histogram (figure 10) is a way to check the exposure of an image. The main light is commonly placed at an angle and in front of the model. These lights can stand some overexposure and still look alright.Lighting 43 Direction (Angle) of Light Light can come from many angles: above. . A regimen that includes metering can also help you avoid careless errors. so that she blocks the light. side. one near her feet. Through the detailed information that metering provides. I strongly encourage a handheld light meter. More mysterious effects can be achieved with light that comes from an angle behind the model. and behind the model. if mid-tones receive a clipping warning. and aimed towards her (photo 29). The height of the bars indicates how much of each particular tone exists in the image. Digital sensors a do a much better job capturing highlight data than shadow information. edge lighting. The true power of meter readings is not to use them to set your camera. I will then take four or more readings in the background. Place the kicker on the same side as the main light for a more traditional look. but you may also want some areas of the scene to remain white. The kicker needs to be at least slightly behind (95-degrees. nor background lights. Kickers are placed at a low angle. Black is on the left end of the scale and white is on the right. Backlights are typically above the subject. A rim light points directly at the lens and is placed behind the model. It is an effective practice to expose as brightly as you can (without overexposing) and then darken the image during postprocessing. careful exposure is important to make sure the skin tones and other elements of the composition have the effect you want. It is easy to predict the results using a camera’s LCD screen. The lighting of curved features requires more care on an unveiled model than when clothed. and to one side. or the light will hit the lens directly. and some ignore them. and use them where you decide they work best. I will take an incident reading near the model’s face. or you will get lens flare or other defects. while side lighting defines contours and textures. Do not point the lights at the lens without the use of a flag. such as forgetting to turn on one of your strobe heads. Figure 10: Histogram. Backlighting. both high and low. darker areas will be plagued by more background noise. Be careful that the model does not move too far.
Abandoning the meter altogether is like not using a speedometer in a car. do not rule out the benefit of carefully measuring and analyzing every detail of your lighting. The images below show the same model and same background. “at least one. and a rim light. Use as few lights as you need to get the desired effect. you can shelve the meter until you make major changes to the lighting or set. Some have a knack for proper exposure and others rely on trial and error. More on background light later. How Many Lights Do You Need? The short answer is. depending on the effect you want. a large softbox to the right of the model. you can still tell how fast you are going. the right of the body. Never add a light without a specific reason. Once you are familiar with your own studio. just not as accurately. see page 51. Photo 30. background. The left shot (photo 30) used one light. but the results are dramatically different. Every light you add increases the complexity of controlling the light. The point is that there is no magic number of lights. The only change is the lighting. Regrettably. There are all kinds of lights. many photographers do not see the need to own a meter.44 True Confessions of Nude Photography always shoot with available light. For the corresponding lighting diagram. Resist the temptation to set up every light in the kit. if you want light on the background add a background light. . maybe two or four or more. But. You will find a wireless trigger a convenient way to fire studio strobes when using the meter. and turn them all up to the max. Also see “Skin Tone” on page 102. For example. the left of the body. The shots in this guide use from one to six lights. how large your background is. each with a job. Never add a light without a specific reason. but you can learn to notice the tonalities produced by each setup. The differences between these shots can be subtle. The shot on the right (photo 31) used five lights to illuminate the hair. Four lights. and so on. Photo 31.” It really depends on what you want your light to do. One light.
ceiling. Many photographers also wear dark. The walls. yellow walls. Green walls make for green skin. low-powered light and you paint the walls black you might not have enough light to get acceptable photographs. reflected light is not what you want. You may have noticed that high-end cameras.Lighting 45 How Your Studio Affects Your Lighting The size and colors of your studio affects your lighting. reflecting light back at the model from above. the more light bounce you will have. and every object in your studio can reflect light towards your model. Stick to neutrals (white. Instead of painting walls black. If you have only one small. black). photo 33). A color-corrected version of the previous image. it works in the same way. You could paint some or all of the walls (and possibly the ceiling) black and then add reflectors where you want. you could hang up black cloth. Avoid unrolling any more colored background paper in front of the model than is needed. In the images at the right (photo 32. floor. I cannot tell you exactly how to paint your studio. jaundiced skin. A background reflecting on the subject. . you can see green reflections in the surfaces of the model that face the floor. Lighting Examples The next few pages contain lighting examples and diagrams of the corresponding lighting arrangements. it will just reflect additional unwanted light. tripods. the closer the walls are to the model. But sometimes. affecting skin tone. In a small studio. because each room is different and it depends on your photographic style and equipment. white walls act like built-in reflectors kicking light onto your model. Sometimes reflected light helps by filling shadows. Figure 11: Example of studio wall colors. wide rolls of paper. The smaller the studio. With a standard-height ceiling. This is so that they do not reflect as much light—especially onto shiny props (like wine glasses) that you are trying to photograph. and so on. Avoid colored walls that will reflect their hue onto the model— even an off-white such as cream colored. sometimes called a “black reflector. Below is a diagram (figure 11) as an example. gray. This is an effective way of experimenting before committing to painting walls. Photo 33. Photo 32. foam board. neutral-colored clothing for the same purpose. and light stands are painted black. or anything black that will absorb the light.” prevents reflection. but too much can spoil the image. A device designed to absorb light.
Shooting with available light means having a fast lens. For a zoom. Example # 1 Category: Skill: Light Kit# Available Moderate none Heads: Shutter: Aperture: 0 1/125 sec. press the shutter after exhaling but before you inhale. f/6. f/2. Indoor or out. you have an initial task of discovering interesting light. consider having the model turn into the light to get detail on her face and body. If you cannot use a tripod or other solid surface. For a fixed lens.8 is considered fast. you are probably working with a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/100.46 True Confessions of Nude Photography Available Light You do not need to spend a single dollar on lighting equipment to get superb results. though I tend to prefer shooting no higher than ISO 100. Available light. be aware of your posture and your breathing. That is. You just need an abundance of patience and practice. and stay relaxed. It rises and sets quite predictably. such as having your feet parted shoulder-width. You may have to shoot at ISO 200 or 400 to get the shots that you want. 1. With very slow shutter speeds. If the light is dim. but do not hold your breath more than momentarily. Hold the camera with two hands. Anchor one elbow against your torso if you can. This means using a tripod or an ultrasteady hand to avoid camera shake. Keep your elbows close to your body. available light can be used to make striking photographs. With available light. Photo 34. With available light photography. but the weather determines how much you will get. then you must make the most of those fleeting moments while it lasts. I begin the lighting examples with an available light photograph. Model Zone: Unlimited . and that can change from second to second.4 is a fast f-stop. You can also experiment with backlighting under weak illumination. one under the lens and the other on the grip.3 Lens length: 30mm ISO: Model: 100 Hope S. a lens that has a wide maximum aperture. The sun is a fickle light source. Take a stance that you find stable.
but peeking through the clouds. Available Light Sun (1): Setting on a cloudy day. A layered Photoshop file of this image. I wanted a degree of sharpness and depth of field. the lens was about even with the subject’s knees. I chose the white fabric to add some interest to an otherwise low-contrast scene.47 I shot this on an overcast day.8. See “Readers’ Links” on page 113. To steady the camera. This gave me a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second and I was concerned about motion blur given the movement of the model and fabric. when the sun was about a halfhour from setting. but momentarily peeking through. turned 90-degrees to lens axis. Camera (c): 15 feet from model. illustrating selective lightening and darkening with layers. Model (m): Standing.3. Lighting Diagram 1. Although the lens was capable of f/2. See “Contrast” on page 104. . can be downloaded from my website. Due to the slope of the terrain. with one shoulder and one elbow firmly in the sand. I performed some selective lightening during post-processing to help the figure stand out. I laid on the ground. I opted to shoot at f/6. I had the model face into the light and took the shot at the natural moment of rest when she was reversing the direction of her movement. Near the ground for stability and image angle.
Be mindful that fill light from a strobe can create an artificial look outdoors. Nevertheless. notice the hot spot created by the strobe on the front fender of the car. Overcast day with fill light.48 True Confessions of Nude Photography Overcast Day with Fill Light The sun (1). it was so overcast that the studio strobe I brought outdoors provided about half the light on the model. f/7. Notice the fence. These areas were lit with natural light. For example. provides fill light. with the sky as a mega diffuser. A softbox (2) to the right of the camera. powerful. Model Zone: Large Lens length: 67mm Photo 35. sunlight is also fickle and unreliable. and back of the car are dark and flat.1 100 Kaitlyn P. but is fast enough to freeze any movement from the model. Make sure the fill light is less powerful than the main light so it will lighten shadows and not create new ones. outdoor light can become your ally. too far from the strobe to receive significant amounts of light from it. is abundant. with some practice. Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 2 Outdoor Easy 1 1 1/60 sec. and the lowest-priced light source you will ever find. The 1/60 second shutter speed allows some blur to dramatize the falling water. But. . When shooting the photo on this page. at about a 30-degree angle to the axis of the camera. top of the car.
Model (m): Standing. 10 feet high. Automobile (a): 2004 Audi TT 3. Camera (c): 10 feet from model. 8 feet from model. aimed at torso. 1/60 sec. Overcast Day with Fill Light Sun (1): Sunlight was metered at f5. Fence (f): Backdrop is approximately 12 feet behind the main subject. Light (2): Softbox 24”x24”. level with shoulders. turned 45-degrees from lens axis. Provides fill light.6. .2 Roadster.49 Lighting Diagram 2.
Your studio configuration will determine how much of the light source bounces into the shadow areas. examine the image on this page. If you do not have a reflector. Lack of versatility means that you cannot control subtle lighting effects as easily. With such a setup. Model Zone: Limited Lens length: 45mm Photo 36. as long as the model does not step too close to the light or out of its path. Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 3 One light Easy 1 1 1/200 sec. Fill light is provided by a collapsible reflector (2). The lit model zone allows for moderate movement. Disadvantages of a solo light source include limited coverage and lack of versatility. With the lack of fill light. You cannot use specialized lights to accent the model. Using one light. In this photograph. the contrast ratio will be higher in single light setups. you should experiment with single head setups. Side or backlighting can be more effective. Advantages of a single light setup include portability and dramatic contrast. a white wall will suffice. Notice that the calves and feet are not lit as brightly as the rest of the figure. only one strobe (1) is used. Even if you have an array of strobe heads at your disposal.50 True Confessions of Nude Photography Using Just One Light It is possible to achieve interesting photographs with a single light source. Position the model close to the wall so that light from your strobe bounces onto the shadow areas on her body. frontal lighting is generally the least flattering or interesting. fitted with a strip softbox. . As an example of limited coverage. You cannot light the background more brightly than the subject. With a single light source it can be difficult to create separation between the subject and background. f/8 100 Hope S.
use a dark background and eliminate the reflector (2). In a small studio. Model (m): Standing. The addition of black fabric or black panels can control light reflecting from behind the camera or the unlit side of the model. Reflector (2): 48-inch collapsible reflector. especially if the walls.51 This setup relies on reflected light to provide any detail in the side of the body that is turned away from the single light source. For more fill light. fabric. Lighting Diagram 3. Using One Light Light (1): 17"x54” strip softbox. turned 90-degrees to lens axis. For even deeper shadows. ceiling and background are dark colors. Reflectors. The reflectors should be one or two feet away from the edge of what you can see through the viewfinder. 6 feet from subject. height centered on model’s torso. Background (b): 9-foot seamless paper. 5 feet from subject. there will be more bounced light. color: Thunder Gray. torso twisted back towards camera. height centered on model’s torso. or foam core panels should be attached to light stands using spring clamps. hang white fabric or white panels as close to the model as possible. . level with mid-thigh. Camera (c): 10 feet from model.
With the light coming from the sides and behind the subject. Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 4 Low-Key Moderate 2 2 1/250 f/11. Advantages of low-key lighting include drama and emphasizing forms. restrained lighting can impart mystery and avoid making an image more explicit than intended. and flags. and elbows. breasts. We may not think of skin as reflective. chin. Contrasty.52 True Confessions of Nude Photography Low-Key Light Low-key photographs contain predominantly dark tones. which is particularly suited to defining subtle curves as it rakes across the surface of the figure. A dark gray seamless paper yields a smoother range of dark tones than black would. Covering any light colored walls with black fabric is especially useful. A small degree of bounced light can provide some nice shadow detail but too much will reduce contrast. Remember that you can render black shadows on any color background by controlling of the light. but it can be quite shiny when the angle of light to subject is the same as the angle of the camera (angles of incidence and angle of reflection). This image takes advantage of side lighting. the skin serves as a reflector. snoots. Challenges for this lighting setup include controlling spill and calculating accurate exposure. Disadvantages of this setup include a loss of detail and a melancholy mood. By reducing spill. In a low-key setup. you limit the amount of bounced light. grids. low-key images also dramatically showcase the contours of the body. you want the restriction that comes with barn doors. Model Zone: Large Lens length: 74mm Photo 37. shoulders. Low-key lighting .0 25 Narza C. This is why there is normally a bright spot on curved areas such as the nose. In the realm of figure photography.
Platform (p): 20 inches high to facilitate pose. Model (m): Kneeling on a platform. Camera (c): 8 feet from model. 6 feet from subject. Large white umbrella or umbrella box (48” or larger). facing camera. height centered on model’s torso. you can substitute large silver umbrellas for the umbrella boxes. a size that covers the entire subject is desirable. Silver umbrellas scatter less light than white umbrellas.53 For the large white umbrellas. color: Thunder Gray. Lighting Diagram 4. Low-Key Light Light (1): 100% power. Background (b): 9-foot seamless paper. . Some manufacturers market this item under the name “Parabolic Lighting Modifier. Light (2): 75% power. just above platform. I suggest 86” umbrella boxes. height centered on model’s torso. Large white umbrella or umbrella box (48” or larger).” For a higher contrast image. 6 feet from subject. Black curtain (d): Prevents light bounce.
Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 5 Location Moderate 3 3 1/160 sec. Model Zone: Medium Lens length: 52mm Photo 38. Success with natural light depends upon having enough of it at the destination to get the kind of results you want. the sun or window light. Of course. You can see some reflection in the tiles at the right edge of the frame. With the beauty dish close to the camera. Model zone: The variety of overlapping light sources allows a moderate range of motion within the lit area. The model’s wet skin and the glossy tiles are highly reflective. Some tan lines were reduced on the model’s shoulders and the hairstyle was made more tidy. In this confined space. shiny surfaces posed a challenge. you might need to climb or put equipment on furniture. A disassembled softbox is portable. Confined location. as demonstrated by the shot here. it was easy to reach over and adjust the aim of the light when the model moved from kneeling to standing. In a small room. The camera was hand-held because the space would not accommodate a tripod. f/9. With this particular setup. but are not always the modifier that you want. Some postprocessing was performed with photo editing software to complete the coverage of the suds where there were some gaps. These images were shot in a small room with a tub and window. the bounce light (2) and the photographer were both on a countertop. The conventional eight-foot ceiling presented both a limitation and a benefit. you will be concerned with portability and time constraints.54 True Confessions of Nude Photography On Location in a Small Room If you are lighting a location shoot. Umbrellas are easy to travel with. but takes time to assemble. and a collapsible reflector or two is the most portable lighting system. this was one setup where the photographer was less comfortable than the model. A beauty dish is more portable than an assembled softbox. .0 100 Ann S. A monolight is more portable than a pack and head setup. With little room to maneuver. A good deal of the warm color cast comes from light reflecting off the amber-colored walls.
Outside the window. Bare monolight. softening the backlight. . The fill light was about three feet from the ceiling. The desired effect is an image that has a subtly brighter center. Without the bounced light. bounced off 8-foot white textured ceiling. 7” reflector. aimed almost 90° straight up (tilted slightly away from the model to avoid direct spill). Aimed through window.55 The ceiling limited the height of the main light (1). Background (b. Lighting Diagram 5. Vanity (v): Countertop.): Frosted window. Tub (t): Bathtub. Camera (c): 7 feet from model. Bare head. Model (m): Kneeling. 7” reflector. Confined Location Light (1): 100% power 22” white beauty dish. The frosted window acts as a scrim. The outdoor light creates some edge lighting to give the figure some more dimensionality. Simulates strong daylight coming from outside. a monolight (3) provides the impression of light coming through the frosted window (there was no sunlight at the time of the shoot). the edges of the image would be too dim due to the falloff from the gridded main light. faux finished wall. a second monolight with a 22-inch white beauty dish with a 40-degree grid. Light (2): 25% power. 40° grid. turned 70-degrees from lens axis. Light (3): 50% power. The low ceiling was useful as a reflector to bounce fill light (2) from a bare flash head. white tile. but does not give the impression of a spotlight. 18 inches above head.
0 Lens length: ISO: Model: 74mm 25 Hope S. and get permission from the vehicle owner.56 True Confessions of Nude Photography Sculpt with Light Sometimes what you choose not to show is as important as what you do show. I paid the garage owner a small fee to cover incidental costs. Keeping the light behind and above the model was sufficient to restrict it from hitting the fronts of the subjects. Because the nearest wall was over thirty feet away. By restricting light you can reduce a composition to its essence. He also spent his time to open the shop for us. or back creates a more striking composition. In this image. move the car into position. You can even make the unlit portions of your model merge into the darkness. there is no discernible bounce light. Unlike light from the front. the model poses with a 1951 Jaguar XK 120 4. and the garage had similarly high ceilings. f/16. Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# 6 Low-Key Moderate 4 Heads: Shutter: Aperture: 3 1/400 sec. This is where the principle of using as few lights as necessary really helps you define your subject. top. 1951 Jaguar XK.2('69) SE open-top two seater. Light sculpting. Postprocessing on this image included smoothing the reflection in the windshield and darkening the background. Model zone: Large . Dark and distant backgrounds further help to engulf the subject in an inky atmosphere. Photo 39. The model and car are lit with two large umbrella softboxes. placing light to the side. When photographing round shiny surfaces you are likely to catch the direct reflection of your lights as is evident in this image. He provided shop towels and cleanup supplies.
the umbrellas were powered by 2. level with mid-thigh. To achieve a large depth of field over a large object in a large room. Background (b): Distant. This light produces the blue edge on the thigh and fender.57 A DSLR camera could have been used to capture this lighting setup and it would look fine in this book or online. left. I chose a Mamiya RZ67 medium format camera fitted with an Aptus Leaf 22 digital back. They are also easy to transport and set up. Another image that uses this light setup is photo 2 on page 4. I chose the medium format camera because my intent was to create a file that could be sold as a wall poster. and behind model. even with thigh. . Above. but the large umbrellas are not expensive. Fitted with a 86" umbrella box. right and behind model. In this shot. you will need plenty of lighting power. Fitted with 7-inch reflector and heavy blue gel. Smaller umbrella boxes could be used. Right of model. which will alter the effect. High. which. The lens was a 110mm. allowing for significant light fall-off and limited light bounce. Light (2): 100% power. Model (m): Leaning on hood. has an equivalent viewing angle of a 74mm lens on a fullframe DSLR. Lighting Diagram 6. Sculpt with Light Light (1): 100% power. Fitted with a 86" umbrella box. Light (3): 25% power. Instead. If you use lower power. you can compensate by moving the lights in closer and using a larger aperture. 45-degrees to lens.400 watt-second packs. Automobile (a): 1951 Jaguar XK 120 SE. Camera (c): 20 feet from model. when used with the Leaf back.
a cloudy sky. you will generally want to focus on her. you can face into the sun when it is near the horizon. around her edges. All you need is a large. and perhaps a few small areas of the body. a cave opening. However. remember that the model is supposed to be dark. To create a silhouette you need to light the background but let no light fall on the model. You can achieve these setups with a single light source. Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 7 Low-Key Moderate 4 1 1/250 f/11. It has been angled to shine only on the background. a sunset. Putting the face in profile can help create an interesting outline. Even though the model will have few if any details. an open doorway. In a stark image like this. If the model’s long hair conceals too much of her posture. In the image here. a boom spot is positioned above and behind the model. Model Zone: Moderate Lens length: 55mm Photo 40. there may be instances where having an interesting background in focus can be effective. such as fabrics. Catching the reflection of the setting sun in a body of water or the bright part of any surface can increase the contrast effect. This setup presents the viewer with only the contour of the model. and a window. . When calculating your exposure. Avoid letting the subject merge with other objects in the scene so you have a clean outline of the model. try tying or slicking it back. a large body of water. Silhouette. but the majority of the subject should be darkened.0 25 Tess I. you rely on gesture to make the pose interesting. bright area and a way to keep the light off your model. Other options for making interesting silhouettes include translucent objects. If you are outdoors.58 True Confessions of Nude Photography Silhouette Silhouettes are a dramatic lighting extreme. It is okay if you can see detail in the shadows.
off center. Unmodified light suspended on boom. you could create a variant of this effect by positioning a light on a high stand to the side instead of above the model. . pointed away from the model. 10 feet from ground. Silhouette Light (1): 100% power. knuckles. Model (m): Sitting on a platform. Since the light head is aimed at a spot above the model. turned 90-degrees from lens axis. Black curtain (d): Prevents light bounce. there are really two light sources in this image. Camera (c): 10 feet from model. Light bouncing off the background paper provides a secondary source of illumination. color: Thunder Gray. the bounced light illuminates some upper surfaces of the subject. If you do not have a boom stand. Lighting Diagram 7.59 Although only one head is used. level with torso. Reflector (r): The background becomes a light source when it reflects light onto the model. knee. Background (b): 9-foot seamless paper. Notice the light on her toes. Platform (p): 20 inches high to facilitate pose. and abdomen. 4 feet from top of background.
60 True Confessions of Nude Photography Achieving Isolation on a White Background If you have tried to shoot for microstock. the material that builders use to simulate tile on bathroom walls. If you run out of light heads. Tile board is resistant to stains and scratches. The model is front-lit from one side by a strip softbox and a smaller softbox on the other side provides fill light. and washed-out shadows. which is reflected by the tile board under the Example # Category: Skill: Light Kit# Heads: Shutter: Aperture: ISO: Model: 8 Isolation Moderate 4 3 to 6 1/160 f/9 100 Jackie C. It is available from home improvement stores in 4 by 8-foot sheets for less than the cost of a roll of background paper. causing flare. . and do not overpower the background lights. and is easy to clean. The key to even coverage of background light is not a lot of light. if you diffuse them with softboxes or umbrellas. You want non-embossed. I use a roll of nine-foot wide white background paper. you should not overexpose the background of an isolation. Not much fill light is needed due to the white background and the white studio walls and ceiling bouncing light all over the place. chromatic aberration. use glossy white tile board under the model. For a full-length shot. There are a few keys to doing this: have plenty of background lights. Two lights will do in a pinch. you should have at least four background lights. but a lot of lights. Four lights ensure even illumination of the background. Any shadows in the upper corners will be easy to retouch. If you have four lights. you probably wondered how to isolate a model on a white background. ghosting. Isolation on white. White plexiglass is a beautiful but expensive and less durable option. Model Zone: Moderate Lens length: 45mm Photo 41. Several balanced lights give more uniform coverage than one strong light. White tile board. Only set the background lights bright enough to make it white around the edges of the model. you can substitute a collapsible reflector for the fill light. Contrary to popular lore. the umbrellas/softboxes are optional. Excessive background light will bounce around your studio. is placed under the model to make a reflective surface. semi-gloss tile board.
The images on the following page illustrate the purpose of each group by selectively firing only one group in each photo. To complete an isolation. Leave some shadows on the floor for realism. Isolation on White Light (1): 100% power. 48” white umbrella. Light (2): 25% power. Background (b): 9-foot seamless. not under her. right. left. you will usually need to perform some cleanup using imaging software. you only need to clean up shadows behind the model. 17”x54” strip light softbox. low. right. you can usually finish the image with the dodge tool. high. high. Fill light. When post-processing an isolation. use the pen tool to select the model. Light (6): 25% power. For detailed information on post-processing for a white background. 48” white umbrella. In general. left. Each group of lights in this setup performs a specific task. facing camera. If extensive adjustments are necessary. Flags (e): Foam board 24”x36”. 30 inches high. Light (5): 25% power. Camera (c): 10 feet from model. Light (3): 25% power. reflects background. see “Isolating” on page 106. Light (4): 25% power. low.61 model’s feet. White tile board (t): Under model. aimed up. 24”x24” softbox. . near floor. The flags are optional when using umbrellas/softboxes but a requirement with bare heads. Lighting Diagram 8. 48” white umbrella. Model (m): Standing . Color: super white. 48” white umbrella. A foam board flag on each side of the background prevents direct light from the lights from hitting the lens.
Also see “Perspective and Camera Angle” on page 98. Photo 42. enough light spills onto the background to turn it a middle shade of gray. Photo 43. the shadows projected forward by the backlights. Main lights only. the background turns white and the floor shadows begin to disappear. • Do not overexpose the background. • Use postprocessing to clean up any shadows behind the model. Still. Keys to an Isolation on White • Dedicated background lights for even illumination.62 True Confessions of Nude Photography In the photo on the bottom left (photo 42) the main lights are on. The camera is at a low angle to take advantage of perspective and create the illusion of longer legs. only the background lights are on. Notice that there is not enough light to completely bleach the background white. . and the reflection of the model under her in the tile board. In the image on the bottom right (photo 43). Background lights only. With all lights are added together (photo 41 on page 60). but not the background lights. • Glossy white tile board under the model.
and often the only compositional element. tilt or curve the torso.) Curves and Lines The most basic (and boring) pose is to place the model with her shoulders parallel to the horizon. In this section. For example. The model is also a collaborator with the photographer. When you read some “special recipe” for posing. these can sometimes be broken for a fascinating effect. but also posture and facial expression. and shift her shoulders (which helped curve the spine. and each photographer has a personal vision of what she wants to achieve. In nude photography. I rather encourage you to depart from the formulaic approaches to achieve your own style. her torso straight. try to pull the viewer in. The image on the right is more dynamic. you will find some ideas and inspiration for coming up with your own poses. with one shoulder turned away and the weight on the back foot. There is a front view and a rear view. torso. As a rule. Assuming you are working with a qualified model. . her back is almost vertical. Like all rules. Conversely. or documentary (meaning unposed nudes). Many techniques state the model must always tip her head or shift her weight in a certain direction. Instead. was considered feminine. The pose is often linked to the genre of photography you are producing. I had her lift her left foot and bend her leg. As you photograph. and hips from squaring up like a guard at Buckingham Palace. The pose tells the viewer what is going on in the model’s mind and in the photographer’s mind. It is not only the position of the torso and limbs. Too often. poses are blatantly staged. legs are straight and equally angled from the center. the model is the primary subject. The image on the left is static. decades ago. keep in mind that a little experimentation may be a better way to achieve the pose you want. Assuming you are not a documentary photographer. the model exhibits two very different poses. and turn or shift the hips. Most of the techniques contained are intended to help non-nude. Curves are usually more interesting than straight lines. and posing is central to this partnership. Somewhere between the candid photograph and the stiffly posed one is the convincing pose. Right angles appear static. and hips square to the camera. the torso is curved and one leg is bent. In the left image (figure 12). hips. The range of poses is virtually limitless. and they are correct. A model with wide hips may look better turned so they appear slimmer. In the two examples above. Some may argue that posing is part of composition. Posing try to keep the shoulders. The result is a photo of someone obviously posing for a photo. Although exploring these techniques can be informative. It can be more thought provoking to photograph your model while she is engaged in an interesting activity to make her appear unposed. a more aggressive stance is sometimes preferred to convey the individuality of a female model. deviating from the center line of the body. pinup. many portraiture-posing techniques will not be applicable. a pose looks best when it appears natural. the first steps to making a pose more interesting is to turn or tilt the shoulders. today. while other angles imply motion. Shoulders. The legs are at a wider angle. Be aware that these methods are tied to the style of their time. Posing deserves special attention in nude photography for at least two reasons. but most of the comments apply to any camera angle. a more passive look. shift her weight onto her right leg. Diagonal lines are usually more interesting than vertical or horizontal ones. Always Head to Toe The illustrations on the following two pages examine aspects of posing from top to bottom. make them see a story. nonmodels hide problem areas. hips. torso. you must collaborate with the model to create a story. glamour. On the right (figure 13).63 Posing is a primary pillar of modeling photography. keep your eye on these three areas: shoulder. Beware when reading portraiture guides. Figure 13: Weight shift. such as fine art. or you may want to emphasize her width by shifting but not turning them. and hands are all square to the body. the pose is often the most powerful element to communicate context to the viewer. Any visual element that directs the movement of the viewer’s eye through the image is an element of composition. To move the model from the pose on the left into the pose on the right. Each model is different. Figure 12: Static pose.
Be aware of letting the nose break the line of the cheek. we will look where she is looking. Placing hands at differing elevations creates a diagonal line between them. or any array of interpretations.The face is possibly the most compelling and recognizable part of a body. the pose can look static or clumsy. Face makeup is optional if you lean towards a natural look. since it makes the leg look shorter. It is generally undesirable to point a knee at the camera. They give immense clues as to the subject’s thoughts and intentions. If the breasts were to break the contour of the body. cold. Disrupting this line draws attention to the nose. it would draw attention to them. Be aware if your model is looking at the camera. Pupil size is an indicator of mood and shielding the eyes from harsh light can help make the pupils look more intense. Tilting the head back can draw attention to the nostrils. Eyes that are obviously gazing upon something are a powerful way to lead the viewer. out of the frame. The room lighting (not your strobes) will determine the size of the pupils. If you choose to include it in your composition it will play a dominant role. If the model is looking at something or someone in the frame. it can be inviting. . calm. The expression is an oftenoverlooked facet. as this can make the torso look thick. Avoid pressing arms against the waistline. which you may or may not want to do. which is regarded as unflattering. An effective consideration is having the model turn to where her crotch is hidden with shadow. Hands draw the eye almost as much as the face. or at herself. If both heels are hidden.
. This is the same effect as high heels and you can ask your model to remember how her foot is positioned when wearing heels. Placing more weight on one leg imparts a sense of mobility. Imagine a line between the shoulders. Imagine a line across the hips. Tilting the shoulders so they are not at a right angle to the spine makes a creates a dynamic mood. Imagine a line that runs vertically between the eyes and through the nose and center of the chin. Tilting this line where it is not parallel to the horizon creates a feeling of vitality. The spine creates an arc or curve that visually connects the extremities to the body. while a tilt to the lower shoulder looks more relaxed.A head that is tilted towards a higher shoulder indicates a desire to remain upright. Pointing the toes can make a leg look longer. Avoid having the toes clenched. Head tilt is only one of many implied lines that combine to direct the viewer’s gaze around the image. A powerful s-curve through the spine can define the dominant energy of the pose.
they are difficult to perform well and tend to intimidate new models. It may be helpful to show the model exactly which poses you want to try. curving. organized into categories. The more interesting standing poses involve leaning. will give you a jumpingoff point for describing to models what poses you want. Although they are simple to perform in most cases.66 True Confessions of Nude Photography 150 Nude Poses The following 150 poses. and other shifts in weight or direction. Poses without props or other clutter can be striking in their simplicity. though not the best choice for engendering creativity and comfort in novice models. They are the beginning of many modeling sessions. and will help you in coming up with your own poses. Standing Standing poses are among the most basic and are a natural beginning for a discussion. Successful S-curve standing poses rely on at least two shifts of weight—one in the hips and one in the shoulders. .
it is categorized as a furniture pose. posing on a narrow platform would confine the model to poses that conform to its size. Posing with furniture engenders several potential pitfalls. Used imaginatively. It does not have to be a manufactured object like a chair. Posing furniture is selected. Similarly. These same poses could conceivably be achieved on the floor. . in some cases. it could alter the body shapes to be more interesting. knees. soft padding can cause the model to sink in and distort the lines of the figure at hands.72 True Confessions of Nude Photography Posing with Furniture Poses with furniture introduce a platform. for the model to place her weight on. Sinking into padding or cloth may not always be a hindrance. domestic location. Liberally interpreted for the sake of learning poses. Parts of the body can be inadvertently hidden behind portions of the furniture. furniture provides an almost limitless range of possible poses. furniture can mean any object on which the model can place her weight. When in a furnished. or elbows. based on limited padding. The point is that the furniture changes the nature of posing. It either forces the model into poses she would not be in without the furniture. or it makes her more inclined to choose specific poses. the model’s pose will be determined by what is around her. it could be a boulder or a tree limb in the case of outdoor posing. other than the floor. in part. but since the platform effectively defines the pose. For example. It limits where she can stand and move and it suggests which harmonizing shapes can be formed by the body.
Any surface could be substituted for a floor. a sitting pose has the preponderance of the weight distributed to the lower half of the figure. The mood of a floor pose is less formal. . such as a handstand. The long upright shape of the body can be transformed into anything from a ball to a horizontal figure. There is no distinct line between the two. Floor poses can be divided into sitting and lying.76 Floor Poses The floor category contains poses with any significant amount of weight on the floor through some body part other than the feet. A lying pose relies on the upper body for at least some support. but in general. Posing on the floor allows more variation on body shape than standing. More acrobatic floor poses include inverted poses.
Antiques. I look for props that have an interesting texture or a feeling of history. trite and cliché props are the downfall of many failed compositions. metal. who maintain that props clutter the scene with extra items and feel that the only “real” nude is when the model is completely unencumbered. Visually simple.85 Posing with Props Posing with props can annoy purists. Surely. so it is appropriate to warn against making prop choices lightly. Some of the best props do not dominate the image. fabrics. a prop that is personal to the model. . In many cases. can influence the pose better than something generic. or rope work well to fire the imagination of the viewer. Props should be chosen for their visual appeal. and raw materials such as wood. Avoid just throwing props together. such as merchandise for a Halloween costume. although there are some exceptions. geometric props and those that occur in nature can add a great deal of interest to an image. Notice their construction and their surfaces. Intriguing props can motivate the model to perform creative poses. such as a musical instrument or a clothing accessory.
Above: Bicycle tire. Right: Flag-pattern available at fabric stores. .
With multiple models. Having more than one model opens up a range of compositional options. and you are stuck with paying both of them. the models I have worked with have welcomed the opportunity to diversify their repertoire and exhibited friendliness towards their peers. letting the other models touch up or change their look when it is not their turn on set. One trick that works well with three or more models is to rotate them in pairs. say creating the illusion of exaggerated perspective. expect less time shooting with an increased number of models. and others who were so self-conscious they have flat out refused to be on set when another model was in the studio. It requires a bit of tact to ensure that one model does not feel slighted if you work less with her. both will usually send their regrets. A second model can serve as insurance when you suspect the other one might not show up. Contrast in physique is another factor. Maybe the biggest risk of shooting with two models is that one ends up being the star of the show. A lean model paired with a voluptuous one can be a challenge that tells a fascinating story. the difficulty of the shoot increases when the second model enters the studio. I let them know they will have a mystery partner. you can work with more than two at once. Be careful how you approach multiple modeling and to whom. Pairs work well when the models are physically similar. If their heights differ by more than a couple of inches it can look odd. If you do not mind compounding the puzzle. Although a departure from my mainstay. The models can help each other with some things. There is a chance that your intentions will be misunderstood if the two models are to be in physical contact. Without an assistant. You can meet new models this way. be forewarned. or if they are purposefully chosen opposites. Though you might book a six foot model with a petite model for a specific effect. keeping up with details can be taxing. but you should still vet them through your normal recruiting process. but I will supply most of the instruction. I have worked with two women who take it upon themselves to initiate a multi-model shoot. cooperation. If I am choosing two models that have not met. by and large. You also run the risk that one of models will spoil most of the shots with flawed posing. and you will not notice it until after you are done. I have had models who thrived on the interaction with a partner. But. With more collaborators there are more ideas contributed. Some models are cut out for working with others. But. I have not noticed any difference in comfort level. simultaneously working with two models adds a bit of variety and can achieve better results than particular individuals working solo. and I notify each that if the partner does not show that we will still shoot. In these cases. They will have a few of their own ideas.87 Multiple Models Working with multiple models is a way to add an exciting twist to an already interesting pursuit. but others require your attention. On occasion. . or quality of results when the two models approached me to shoot as a pair. if one cannot make it.
your personality. Mastering composition is one of the more difficult—and most powerful—aspects of producing meaningful nude photographs. with a strong command of composition. Photo 44. How many masses do you identify? The main two are the figure and the water. how the eye moves through an image. but also use shadow to conceal. . Ansel Adams famously said. the hair. Think about what lines and patterns you see. It is the language of the visual artist. colors. gives rise to three-dimensional perception within our two-dimensional images. line. and to downplay the role of composition. mass. and they appear within the body as well. Repetition of shapes forms a pattern. and the rocks under the water all are subordinate elements. When a shape or pattern attracts the eye. Learning composition begins with a discussion of the basic visual elements. You can choose which elements to emphasize. The contours and limbs of the model’s body form lines and shapes. They include lines. Visual The arrangement of abstract forms such as line and shape are the basis for all composition. ask yourself what you notice first. make up a photograph’s composition. Devising original compositions from a lone figure can be challenging. You need to look carefully at your subject. Props and background help to expand the compositional elements. Use light to reveal. or value garner the viewer’s attention. Composition is one way you set your photographs apart from the work of other photographers.91 Composition elements of light. What about the illusion of three dimensionality? Although the image is two dimensional. a river). texture. Every image has a composition. they are helpful to add structure when you are starting out. you can create powerful photographs in almost any situation. Later in your career. values. and even breaking the rules. and notice small nuances. and other breathtaking “readymade” compositions are often off-limits to the nude photographer. there are successes and failures. Examine the preceding image for examples of compositional building blocks. landscape and other natural phenomena. you may feel you have tried them all. shadow. Artists have passed down compositional methods throughout the ages. Whether you are weaving fiction or fact. color. shadow. lines. When examining your images. through shading and perspective. and telling a story. Sometimes adding mystery. Composition is the arrangement of elements into an appealing and coherent image. but again the range is limited—you can only pose a model where you can physically put her (a couch. So if there is no such thing as correct or incorrect composition. a tree. the reflections on the water. “There are no rules for good photographs. It is one of the things you never stop learning. These visual elements guide the eye through a photograph. Developing a composition requires you to choose from a myriad of alternatives. Shading (the darker areas) tells us that parts of her are submerged. In nude photography. However. whether you develop it intentionally or allow it to happen by accident. There will be certain poses and lighting situations that bring out the best in any given model. City streets. The body creates a zig-zag of lines and the ripples in the water are repeated to form a pattern. When you peer through the lens.” Although there is no right or wrong. You will begin to take note of small details and make fewer assumptions. A large or dark object may draw in your eye. we typically have a single figure as the subject. But. but the more you do it. it is not always the largest form or shape that has the greatest visual mass. Creating a compelling composition means capturing the model’s personality. and anything else that guides the eye. But. and texture: these are your raw materials. curves. Such an approach is devoid of imagination and character. bending. a chair. why bother trying to learn it at all? Although innovation may not come from following rules. take note of which shapes dominate. there are subtle masses as well. color. the more of a knack you will gain. After you try a few poses. Nude in a river. and comfort and privacy concerns further limit your options. pattern. when you tell a story with your photography. Areas of high contrast due to texture. choosing what not to show. Light. The illusion of depth. A design can connect points of interest to imply lines and shapes. it creates visual mass. perspective gives us a sense that the model’s legs are farther from us than her head. you are creating an engaging image. Take note of anything that distinguishes this model from others. Photographers tend to put the spotlight on technique or the beauty of the subject. you can benefit by interpreting. and the illusion of depth. you should consider the composition of every image you make. and create meaning. color. But. It is not enough to simply find an attractive model and reproduce her appearance through proper camera operation. can be your most powerful design tool. there are only good photographs. to succeed in composition. It can be a daunting task.
guiding line. Even when the earth’s horizon is not in a picture. These flat. The tendency is to want a perfectly level horizon. or implicit. the atypical structure can be attention grabbing. An s-curve resembles rolling hills. Diagonal lines are more exciting than horizontal or vertical ones. . waves. Line can be seen in the border between light and dark areas. Mentally categorize them into vertical. or leading line. notice the lines. lateral lines give a feeling of rest and stability. or diagonal. Lines of perspective are a common implementation of converging diagonals. such as the imaginary line between two distinct points of emphasis. horizontal. The effective use of lines adds structure to an image. In the studio. Lines that converge draw the viewers’ attention. When the body is posed to create straight lines and right angles. Lines that seem connected or otherwise related help guide the viewer through an image and keep them exploring it. Lines within a visual presentation form relationships with one another. Anything that guides your eye along a series of points. Conversely. Strong lines suggest to the viewer where they should look. They defy cultural paradigms of reading left/right or up/ down. Lines can be seen as converging inwards or radiating outward from a point of interest. Do not forget that the four lines you choose as your image frame exist in every composition. any horizontal line that extends from edge to edge of the frame will remind the viewer of the natural horizon. creating repetition. or purposefully to add compositional impact. Photographers may end up with a slanted horizon if they are in a hurry. similar to a standing figure. such as the outline of the model against the background. such as the edge of the body. The relationship between lines in a photograph can be used to create interest. while soft curves may meander lazily back and forth. Lines formed by arms and legs can be parallel or perpendicular. Any wide sloping line that is slightly off kilter with the imagined horizon can give the photograph an unstable or accidental feel. such as a distinct horizon or roadway. When multiple lines converge on a single point. especially at sharp angles. Look for lines that imply an imaginary intersection beyond their end points. When combining the figure with nature. Take note of parallel lines and those that intersect. Parallel lines are a form of repetition and pattern. Lines of the figure relate to the boundaries of the image. aligned with the top and bottom edges of the frame. Repetition of lines is a useful way to create feeling that the elements of an image belong together. An interior photograph can be anchored with this familiar concept. A viewer is seldom conscious of the horizon line unless it is unusually compelling or distracting. it reconnects the composition to nature. A line that zigzags draws attention to itself. Diagonals run contrary to the image frame and create more interesting angles that contrast with the right angles of the image corners. A slanted horizon runs the risk of distracting the viewer if the sloped horizon is not the strongest possible design choice. vertical lines give a feeling of animation and loftiness. including the edges of the image. They can be horizontal or vertical. You may first notice that the raised forearm and the calf of the bent leg are in alignment. you just need to learn to look for them.92 True Confessions of Nude Photography The Power of Lines Figure photography is full of lines that are straight or curved. Lines form relationships with the picture frame (the edges of the photograph). These limbs form a diagonal. When you look at an image. The dominant line in landscape is the horizon. Although curved lines cannot be parallel. through lens distortion. Lines are everywhere. functions as a line. The less trained eye may miss the fact that this line intersects the corners of the image. A sloping line that intersects the picture frame right at a corner has particular power to draw the viewer through an image. tracing the shape of a circle inside another circle. An S-curve is a type of line with powerful eye-catching ability and is particularly noteworthy in that it appears on multiple scales of the body. Make a mental note as to whether any such intersection would appear within the picture frame or outside of it. more interest is driven by the arrow-like formations. Some lines may undulate in a sharply energetic way. or the ripples of flowing cloth. is sometimes called a line of force. they can echo the shape of one another. Identify the lines in the following figure study. This echoed curve could be created when a model stretches her arms out parallel and then curves them both in the same direction. A direct path between two points can be interpreted as a line. an S-curve to the body can be reproduced in the scenery to incorporate repetition into the composition. Lines can be definite. A dominant line that draws our eye. Photo 45.
These lines run along the white railing in the background. The repetition of interlocking triangles throughout the image guides the viewer’s eye (figure 16). Figure 15: Horizontal and vertical lines relate to the picture frame. Additional triangles are comprised of lines in the wall and the picture frame. lines are at work to guide your eye through the design. There are horizontal and vertical lines that give the composition structure by aligning with the picture frame (figure 15). and the lines of the overhang converge on the model (figure 14). implying a line that bisects this triangle. These lines. the resting calf. and torso form a second triangle. Her upper arm. In the image above (photo 46). the lines of the ledge. Lines at work in a composition. Figure 16: Lines form repeated triangle shapes. Notice the lines entering through the upper left and upper right corners. The head and bent arm form a triangle. The model’s gaze is directed at her elbow. additional lines in the wall.Composition 93 Photo 46. the sole of the foot on the ledge. Observe the line created by the raised thigh and that it points towards the upper left corner. raised thigh. . and the darker vertical indentation in the wall. Figure 14: Leading lines converge on the figure.
create the sense that the model is anchored. Many photographers avoid having the model make eye contact or even have her face visible if they do not wish for it to be a point of emphasis. determined not only by its size. shapes. you can interest the viewer’s eye in moving through the image. A model’s gaze. a perfectly balanced image is boring. will gain attention. but she will jump out from a dark gray one. As humans. tones. Contrasting color. we attempt to make sense of an image as a whole. As humans. touching. texture. A thoughtful composition considers compositional elements in both positive and negative spaces. but also color. The viewer is instinctively drawn to what the subject is engaged in or contemplating. the subject is off-center. but it is something that most viewers sense in a similar way. When you mention the word “contrast”. The impact of your subject depends on how it stands out from the background. The dark background is a dominant visual element and the model’s gaze is directed towards the murky darkness. However. The same goes for sharp focus or unusual shapes. one cannot ignore that the eye is drawn through subject matter. Positive/ negative space refers to the relationship between the subject and the background. We try to tie together the visual elements and make meaning of it. even if there is no intended meaning. nor is it recommended that the elements be spaced equally from the center. and so on to create harmony and unity. Emphasis Emphasis is achieved through points of interest. A sense of balance is created through gesture and mass. This means balancing color. photographers first think of tonal differences between light and dark areas. and belonging together out of regularity such as patterns and repetition. In general.94 True Confessions of Nude Photography Balance and Unity Balance is the characteristic of how objects are distributed across an image. feet.” There are a few principles by which the mind completes any missing pieces of lines and shapes implied by a design. Balance is subjective. vivid/dull. A light-skinned model will blend with a beige background. or overlapping are interpreted as being part of a group. or creating an asymmetrical composition. or any compelling visual effect. In the following photo (photo 47). Brighter. Unity creates a feeling of order. An image does not need to be symmetrical to be balanced. as will especially compelling elements such as the face. for example. and interlocking lines. Viewers simplify what they see by “connecting the dots. Objects in the foreground garner attention. contrast is a much broader term in the context of composition. Objects that look similar to one another tend to be perceived as a pattern or group. sharp/soft focus. “Nude in a river. light/dark. Eyes and hands draw special interest. The light and shadow on the floor. also called figure/ground relationship. Points of interest are created by contrast in colors. . Although emphasis mostly relies on contrast. more vivid colors tend to attract the eye. A sense of action will grab attention.” Visual elements that are close. Photo 47. Contrast exists in many other categories. If both sides of a photograph are equally weighted. When determining how an image is balanced. we tend to recognize whole forms instead of a mere collection of lines and shapes. and other body language implies action or intended action. smooth/rough. contrast. and any factor that contrasts it with its surroundings. Too much regularity will make your composition boring. such as the ripples in the water in photo 44. patterns. even if they are not similar. hands. remember that each object has its own visual weight. helping to unify the image. you have balance. and differing shapes. By placing your subject slightly off center. especially large objects. interlocking lines. The subject is positive space and the background is called negative space. These are any meaningful parts of the image that attracts viewers’ attention. completeness. warm/ cool. especially if they are in the sharpest plane of focus. Interesting compositions employ enough variety to create attention without causing discord. Dissimilar shapes. and gesture. The viewer’s gaze follows lines through the composition it will continue in its current direction until it reaches a visual element that causes it to stop. remain aware of where they are placed and what they are doing.
by overlapping. but can be a handicap to the photographer. for reasons of workflow. try to place it with some separation to the model. and unrefined aspects of the model’s posture or expression. Cool colors will contrast against the skin of the model. The warm tones of the body against the blue color creates a contrast as well. so you will be aware of everything affecting your composition. Another strobe. most photographs are intended to be rendered with the background intact. privacy. Although out-offocus backgrounds are often fashionable. or vice versa. Contrast can be dramatic. a background that has sufficient character may be better if it is somewhat recognizable. But. There is also contrast of shape. will make the model stand out. and the flowing curves of the body. Blue rectangle. Additional examples of tonal contrast exist throughout the forms in the image. look for patterns. colors. Be on the lookout for distracting elements in your background. There is tonal contrast. draw conclusions. . a rectangle with straight lines. so that it can be easily edited out with software. or being attractive and enhancing the scene. All these forms of contrast draw our attention through the composition. the iridescence of the plexiglass. we would be overwhelmed.Composition 95 Overcoming Selective Vision Our eyes and brains process immense amounts of data about the world. lines. A traditional artist does not have to worry as much about selective vision because what they do not notice will not end up in their final product. It may be a blank studio wall. succumbing to selective vision means neglecting essential compositional elements. If you cannot avoid a distracting element. Take color harmony into account when considering the background. taking the time to find an interesting background can go a long way to enhancing a nude photograph. A large softbox illuminated the front of the figure and part of the background. distracting backgrounds. helps create an impression of unity. and through repetition of colors and shapes. Backgrounds are chosen for their qualities of either being plain so they do not compete with the model. The smooth texture of the background. This strobe can be seen in the corner of the image. Do not forget to look beyond the points of interest. and sometimes jump to them. This will obscure any minor variations that could be distracting. and time. The way that the elements relate to each other. which is what a fine art painter does when they create from his/her mind’s eye. The model should be sufficiently far from the background so it will be out of focus. This is especially true with patterns. you will want a plain background. With scenic backgrounds. light control. However. Choosing a Background The background is an underappreciated part of composition that often falls victim to selective vision. fitted with a blue gel and a grid. paints the plexiglas and the model’s shoulder with blue light. The resulting mental simplification is called selective vision. I shoot much of my work in the studio. If you plan to isolate the figures so you can combine them into a montage. and any other visual characteristics that will enhance the image of the model without overpowering or clashing. We’ve discussed how a photographer can use emphasis to draw the viewer’s attention. This photo employs several kinds of contrast. A light background with a dark-skinned model. and the skin all serve to create textural contrast. There is a near perfect circle. Compare selective vision with unconscious omission. Also see “Background Cleanup Checklist” on page 108. The image above (photo 48) was created with two light sources. With a camera. If we were to respond to every signal coming to the brain from the eye. but colors that are too vibrant can be jarring. most notably with the bright light against the black background in the upper right corner. or an exotic outdoor location. Photo 48. It protects us from information overload. We recognize and make sense of familiar objects. at the minor elements.
However. there are many great photographs and other visual compositions throughout history that do not conform to this. A standing subject would be placed on one of the two vertical lines. the rule of thirds does not suggest an order of precedence among subjects. this method is prone to yielding static compositions. the method still holds up satisfactorily. For clarity. and right. most of the various golden mean methods emphasize a primary. A subject can be aligned either through its center or along one of its edges. lower. the four division lines can be referred to as the upper. Nonetheless. and the horizon would be placed on one of the two longitudinal lines. The proportions are close. The rule of thirds works well with a single subject that can be placed along one of the division lines. This method states that you should place your subjects and other important compositional elements along the division lines between the nine squares. The most important compositional elements would be placed on the four points created by the intersection of these lines. Photo 49. with a pair of subjects. . There are. ignoring all other possibilities. as some do with any given working method.96 True Confessions of Nude Photography The Rule of Thirds The “rule” of thirds is not so much a rule as it is a process. It is not difficult to learn and is manageable enough that it can be applied on the fly while looking through the viewfinder. The method can also be successfully applied with a subject that fills the frame in such a way that interior points of emphasis can be arranged along the demarcations. while the golden mean offers the Fibonacci spiral for placement. With three subjects or three distinct points of emphasis. the golden mean can be used to proportion elements more deeply embedded in the composition. It divides the viewfinder into nine imaginary sections: three rows and three columns. the rule of thirds is a good start for anyone who is learning composition. Of course. Also. It is one of the first ways that many photographers are taught to subdivide the image area. of course. Some photographers use the rule of thirds habitually. The rule of thirds involves only straight lines. many more compositional frameworks that can be employed to learn how to bring order to an image. The rule of thirds offers four locations for points of interest and four lines for the main elements. left. Rule of thirds. and this knowledge can help you turn out satisfying images at any stage in your career. but not the same. Bear in mind that placing subjects along all four lines runs the risk of a static composition with symmetry from top to bottom and left to right. Some people are apt to assert that the rule of thirds is the same as the golden mean (page 97). off-center subject.
I prefer to create images that I find interesting and innovative. deeming it an over-practiced fad and actively avoid it. rather than photograph according to a formula. long before people discovered it and began applying it to photographic composition. The golden mean existed (in mathematics and nature).62. The blue curve (called a Fibonacci spiral) follows the intersection of these lines. The golden mean. this book is 8. Some photographers follow the golden mean religiously and sometimes sacrifice everything else in their photos in the process. This tends to produce more dramatic balance than dividing the image along thirds. If the differences between the golden mean and rule of thirds seem perplexing. The green bars divide the image according to the golden ratio (approximately 1:1. An 8x10 photograph has an aspect ratio of 1:1.Composition 97 The Golden Mean The basis for the golden mean is a number called phi that has a value of approximately 1. A summary follows at the end of the section on composition (page 100). but I also apply lessons learned from the classic methods of composition. which is not very close to the golden ratio of 1:1. Multitudes of modern scientific studies offer no conclusive evidence that the golden ratio produces a universally. similar to the rule of thirds.62). observe their similarities instead. A standard DSLR camera has an image ratio of 1:1. it should be noted that rectangles conforming to the golden ratio are not found in typical photographic proportions or other graphical formats. The image below (photo 50) is overlaid with a graphical representation of the golden mean.5x11 inches and has an aspect ratio of 1:1. The standard way to use the golden mean in a composition is to place the design elements along the lines indicating the golden rectangles and Fibonacci spiral.62. Golden mean and Fibonacci spiral. Others reject the golden mean outright. Figure 17: Golden mean and Fibonacci spiral.29. Photographers who follow the golden mean place their most compelling point of interest in the cradle and other elements along the spiral. vertically. . aesthetically preferred rectangle1. Despite all the lore surrounding the golden mean. The framework can be flipped horizontally.5.25. is a framework on which a photograph can be composed. Photo 50. or rotated 180 degrees and still be in accordance with the golden mean. It can be an effective asymmetrical arrangement for a pair of subjects. The center of this spiral is called the cradle.
True Confessions of Nude Photography
The visual pathway is the sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices. Every successful image has a visual pathway, whether it is intentional or occurs through happenstance. Without a pathway, the eye wanders aimlessly through unrelated elements. The pathway forms a structure, and the viewer’s gaze should flow through this structure. To determine the visual pathway, contemplate the order of visual dominance of elements. Although your eye may briefly hunt for each element, the mind latches onto each point of interest. The exact pathway will vary with each viewer, but we are all similarly programmed with regard to what we notice first. The vast majority of viewers are unaware that they are following a visual pathway and many photographers do not analyze why their images are successful, having devised a pathway through either intuition, serendipity, or both. Since it is based on the viewer’s reaction, there will be various interpretations. However, many viewers will follow similar, if not identical, pathways through a given image. It should be a photographer’s goal to learn to create visual pathways to the extent that it becomes second nature. The first area of emphasis is called the point of entry. A bright light, bright color, a human face, or another aspect of the photograph will grab our attention first. After the entry point, the eye can be compelled to move to another point of interest or it can follow lines through the image. The eye will move along limbs of the body, edges of the torso, edges between contrasting colors, or edges of contrasting shades of light and dark in the subject or background.
Photo 51. Visual pathway.
How to Identify the Visual Pathway of an Image
1. Identify points of interest. 2. Identify lines of force. 3. Determine which point of interest is the entry point. 4. Determine the sequence of the remaining lines and points. Try to identify visual pathways with your images and the images in this book. Ask yourself if the visual pathway makes the composition interesting. Ask yourself if the eye becomes stuck or confused at any point. Consider focus, brightness, color, shape, and other aspects that distinguish a line or point of interest. By adjusting the contrast of specific elements either up or down, you can change the visual pathway. In order to reduce the prominence of an element, thus removing it from the pathway, lower its contrast until it recedes. If you seek to add an element, or promote it in the sequence of viewing, increase its contrast.
Perspective and Camera Angle
Perspective is the depiction of spatial relationships. It helps us determine which objects are close and which are far. Perspective is very powerful in developing the illusion of space in what is essentially a two-dimensional representation of our threedimensional subject. Perspective creates strong, obvious lines that can be used to align the other elements of the composition. This is effective when the subject is placed either at the vanishing point or at the point of greatest divergence. If the vanishing point is within the frame, the eye is drawn to it. In the case that the vanishing point is out of the frame, the viewer will tend to be drawn to whichever vertical line, closest to the camera, joins the lines of perspective. Some lenses render perspective differently from the way we normally see it. Think for a minute about the distortion created by a fish-eye lens. Your use of perspective can change the mood of a photograph either subtly or blatantly, depending on the degree to which it is altered.
In figure photography, perspective can be used to accentuate parts of the body, as well as to obscure. Inherent challenges of wide-angle nude photography include having a background wide enough to fill the wide angle of view and achieving satisfactory focus and depth of field. Some photographers employ a trick of perspective to create the illusion of longer legs. To do this, use a short focal length (normal or wide-angle lens) and position the camera low and close to the model. A typical vantage point is about eighteen inches off the ground, eight feet away from the model. You will need a background that is quite large in order to get edge-toedge coverage. Foreshortening is the illusion of shortening some or all of the body through the effect of perspective. Foreshortening happens to body parts or other objects that are nearly parallel to the axis of the lens. The effect is created by both the diminution of distant objects and the convergence caused by linear perspective. In the photograph shown at bottom right (photo 53), the torso is foreshortened because it is close to the axis of the lens; but in the other photograph (photo 52), the torso is perpendicular to the lens and it is not foreshortened. Foreshortening can create a dramatic and striking image, but it could also make the body look awkward if it serves only to make some body parts look thicker while not affecting the rest of the body. In both photos, the head appears the same size, but compare the length of the legs. The perspective created with a close vantage point and wide-angle lens can further emphasize foreshortening. The second kind of perspective, atmospheric perspective, also called aerial perspective, causes distant objects to appear muted in color and contrast. Atmospheric perspective does not rely on lines. Stronger, brighter colors appear closer, and colors that are more subdued recede. The combination of a wide aperture and a lens that has shallow depth of field (typically a longer focal length) enhance the feeling of depth by exaggerating the impression of atmospheric perspective.
Focus and Depth of Field
Focus can be used to direct the viewer’s eye. When your composition includes both foreground and background elements, your choice of focus determines the primary emphasis on one or the other. The sharpness of your focus is determined, in part, by the aperture you choose. A lens’s largest aperture, the one that lets in the most light, will typically exhibit the softest focus. As most photographers know, smaller apertures create greater depth of field (a larger range of in-focus areas), but somewhere between the middle and the smallest aperture is a sweet spot of overall sharpness. For example, a lens may have its softest aperture at f/1.4, and its sharpest at f/5.6, with f/11 being neither overly sharp nor soft. When you start learning about the effects of aperture on depth of field and sharpness, there is a natural tendency to want to have photos with the largest, sharpest depth of field possible. This helps to reveal the most detail, but it may not be the best approach from a compositional standpoint. Leaving a little mystery and creating some dissimilarity can make an image more interesting. With an out-of-focus background, new, soft, nebulous shapes can appear. Sometimes the most engrossing aspect of viewing a photograph can be exploring the out-offocus areas for almost subliminal images. With this soft background set against the features of your subject, you have created two planes for exploration and purposefully guided your viewer’s eye. An out-of-focus foreground can produce an additional plane for exploration. Using limited depth of field for compositional purposes is called selective focus. Bokeh (pronounced bo-key) is a term that describes the effect of a very out-of-focus area. This out-of-focus area is achieved by using a longer focal length lens (for example 80mm or longer) and a wide aperture, close to or at wide-open. If you use a smaller aperture, the background highlights will start to have straighter, sharper edges instead of being round and fuzzy. The greater the distance between your main subject and your background, the less the background will be in focus, so choose a setting that allows your subject to stand far from the back-
Photo 52. Not foreshortened.
Photo 53. Foreshortened.
True Confessions of Nude Photography
ground. The effect is relative to your distance to the subject, so the nearer the in-focus area the more out of focus a background of a given distance will be. The quality of Bokeh varies from lens to lens, and many photographers prefer a lens with a smooth Bokeh. Some less desirable Bokehs look like jittery multiple images instead of being smooth. “Fast” lenses, those that can obtain smaller than usual f-numbers (e.g. f/1.4), are prone to Bokeh fringing at the border between light and dark areas. This means there will be green halos in the farther away areas and magenta halos in the closer out-of-focus areas. Excessive fringing can destroy the pleasing effect you want from the unfocused area. Note that images using large apertures often exhibit some vignetting, which can also be undesirable. Long lenses usually have shallower depth of field than their wider counterparts. Many photographers choose longer lenses for an out-of-focus area that is more pleasing. You will probably need a tripod to avoid camera shake when using a long lens and natural light.
Key Points of Composition
• At the heart of composition is being aware and purposeful with the arrangement of visual elements. • Place the main point of interest away from dead center. • Place the main point of interest away from the far edges. • Avoid overly symmetrical or overly asymmetrical compositions. • The visual pathway describes the point of entry and progression to each point of interest within an image structure. • Look for lines, the eye follows them. • Diagonal lines impart energy. • Balanced designs hold more interest. • Asymmetrical balance is more exciting than symmetry. • Repetition creates a sense of unity. • Contrast draws the eye. • There are many kinds of contrast: tonal, hue, saturation, texture, focus, and so on. • What you choose not to show is as important at what you show. Mystery adds interest.
Photo 54. In this example, an off-center subject, an out-of-focus background, and three types of contrast (color, tonality, and texture) all emphasize the figure.
This results in lost detail in shadows or highlights. You need to organize the myriad of images so it is easier to find them when updating your portfolio or sending them to models. Before you post-process.” Hard drives are inexpensive. Even very skilled shooters do not ignore post-processing. A few seconds spent before the shoot saves time later trying to identify a specific file. because a reshoot can be expensive and difficult. then model’s name. The second benefit is that in the course of post-processing an image. both of which alter fine details and cannot be undone. even if I deem them “bad. If you shoot a great deal. Your perception of the monitor image depends on the room lighting and colors in your peripheral vision. Make it a goal to learn to shoot in such a way that you have very few mistakes to fix later with software. I store my RAW files separately from my JPEGs. color shifts. theme. Of the hundreds of images I may shoot in a day. It is an educational process that forces you to examine every detail. you will start shooting images that are closer to what you want as an end product. and sort . month. Post-processing improves your work in two major ways. Look for programs that allow you to keyword. Consider organizing by year. an image file format that contains 100 percent of the data your image sensor captures. and reexamining old images can be productive for self-critique. Neutral colored walls. You may be satisfied with the JPEGs your camera produces. No studio is completely color neutral. The camera’s conversion to JPEG also makes assumptions about sharpening and noise reduction. and loss of color information. Figure 18: File organization. RAW images are not associated with any particular white balance or color space and take up much more space than JPEG (JPG) compressed images. Organizing Your Work Working with nudes often means that you had better shoot plenty of frames. and to fix minor flaws. for my fifth shoot with Tera Ashley Cole the files might be named TAC5_1001. You may use multiple packages depending on what tasks you perform most often.101 Post-Processing Images If you take images straight from your camera and show them to someone. use this to your advantage to stay organized. There is a variety of software available to organize images. especially if it’s a high-end camera and you are careful to light and expose your shots correctly. and/or model (see figure 18). batch rename. you may wish to get an additional hard drive every year. as it is a powerful tool to improve their work. and consistent light are important. brightness and contrast. Additionally. Most images need at least some degree of color correction. I will only use a couple dozen and I will spend three or more hours processing each. The first benefit is obvious: to fine-tune each image. you are not showing your best work. Even color-balanced flash tubes can exhibit as much as a 75-degree Kelvin difference for every 1-stop change in output power. Adjust your monitors for proper color. If your camera lets you choose the first few letters of the file name. I use the model’s initials and a number indicating how many times I will have photographed her. some of the image details are lost in the process. I always begin with the RAW image when editing a shot. Shooting in RAW Mode A worthy digital camera will allow you to capture in RAW mode. thumbnails. I keep my photos on an external hard drive organized in folders named for the year. TAC5_1002. You can store older shoots on external hard drives in a fireproof safe. As you gain more postprocessing experience. I also avoid deleting any images. When your digital camera creates a JPEG. you will learn to see what makes a good image. I enter the TAC5 part. project. you learn how to shoot next time. then shoot date. but you will have more latitude to correct minor imperfections or otherwise improve on an image by shooting RAW. By working on each image. This is why it is important to scrutinize every nuance of your images. dual monitors. set up your workspace. Do not just dump all the images in one folder together. A JPEG conversion includes tone and contrast adjustments based on a best guess of what image information is important. and the camera numbers the images beginning with 1001. Your exact storage method is not as crucial as just having a method. and how to reduce flaws. I use one program for everything except some occasional batch renaming. For example. and reflected light will impart color casts into portions of the image.
5 to 2 times the cyan value. Digital sensors can tend towards skin that has a blue to reddish tint. be adapted to suit the needs of digital photography2. Ideally. Zone one covers RGB values from 1 to 28. not to reproduce what is seen through your eye. sometimes called quantification noise or posterization. It can. and correct for any mixed lighting. The scene uses all eleven zones. *Dark Caucasian skin can have a yellow value 0 to 2 points higher than the magenta value. Archer (American. I do not try to make final adjustments to skin tone during Camera RAW import. so some areas contain no detail. zone two covers values from 29 to 57. represent the brightness of various parts of an image (figure 19. With outdoor lighting and scenery. Use a Levels Adjustment Layer to bring the CMY values into the suggested range. The dynamic range of an image is a measure of the difference between the darkest and lightest tones. For example. Yellow should be about 5 to 15 points higher than magenta*. If the tones of your image occupy only zones two through eight. In Photoshop. respectively. numbered zero through ten. It was developed for the characteristics of black and white film photography.102 True Confessions of Nude Photography Skin Tone There is no one color for skin tone. Thus. the RGB value is the average value for that zone. Magenta is typically 2 to 3 times the cyan value. Except zones zero and ten. you will have less control. The zone system improves the likelihood of consistently producing a planned result with monochromatic and full color images. select the eyedropper tool. Color correction can be made easier by using the settings in Adobe Camera RAW or similar software. The point is to render values where you want them to be. 1. 4. invented by Ansel Adams (American. set to about 11x11 in size. you should be able to create the tonal range you want within your subject by adjusting the lighting. placing it between 15 and 45. African Skin Common Color Components C M Cyan should be between about 25 and 40. 5. What you envision for your final product need not duplicate reality. however. Set the color temperature balance and tint. Zone System There is a system for creating images with a full tonal range. in photo 55 on page 103. you will want to use a process that does not sacrifice important image information. Click the eyedropper on a well exposed (neither highlight nor shadow) area of skin. Eleven zones. Each zone can be represented in the final image. Banding is most noticeable in the shadow areas of zones one through three. subject shadows. Magenta. 2. and the photographer will have precise control over the process of mapping a particular tone in the scene to a tone in the final image. you have not captured the fullest dynamic range possible. page 103). Magenta is typically 1. Originally.) If you do not want to shoot in RAW mode or use a reference shot. Trying to map a poorly exposed image onto a full dynamic range can produce a distracting defect called banding. textures). Avoiding such defects is an important reason to take advantage of the full capture capability of your image sensor at exposure time rather than trying to fix each image later with software. Zones zero and ten correspond to a single RGB value each. 1889-1963). the following method will help improve skin tones. placing it between 37 and 80. Everything in between is a shade of gray.5 ~ 2) Y M + (10 ~ 35) . of zero and two hundred fifty-five. Caucasian Skin Common Color Components C M Y Cyan should be between about 7 and 22. Zero represents black and ten is white. The zone table maps the zone system values to the average RGB value for each zone. but typically falls in the 70-85 range. In order to achieve good tonality. In the studio. is an abrupt change in tones instead of a smooth gradient. Banding.5 ~ 3) M + (5 ~ 15) *Asian and Hispanic skin typically has a yellow value about 8 to 18 points higher than the magenta value. An exposure of a digital image can only capture a subset of all the possible tones that can be produced by a combination of subjects and light. Yellow can be anywhere from 10 to 35 points higher than magenta. Compare these values to the corresponding table below (depending on the ethnicity of the model). called the zone system. you should achieve close to correct skin tones if you use a reference shot with a calibration card in it (see photo 12 on page 26. and Yellow (CMY) components. Check and adjust the tonal value of each important area (subject highlights. roman numerals were used. background. 1902-1984) and Fred R. 25 ~ 40 C x (1. Experimentation will reveal your options for each image you create. the model’s figure is rendered in zones four through eight. 3. Observe the values of Cyan. each zone contains a range of tones approximating 28 RGB values. 7 ~ 22 C x (2.
No detail. light sources. glare. Specular highlights. White. Using the zone system. Tone of well-lit. Middle gray. fair skin.Post-Processing Images 103 Zone Description black shadows shadows shadows midtones midtones midtones highlights highlights highlights white Texture no texture visible no texture visible texture visible texture visible texture visible texture visible texture visible texture visible texture visible no texture visible no texture visible RGB Value 0 15 43 71 100 128 156 184 213 241 255 Black. Well-lit dark skin. Details 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Darkest discernible texture. primary shadow details. Lightest discernible texture. Near black. dark gray. Very dark gray. . Figure 19: The Zones. Reflected highlights on light skin. Well-lit Caucasian skin. Light gray. Mid-light gray. Near white. Shadow side of Caucasian skin. Medium. No detail. No detail. Photo 55.
GIMP. An image with good contrast has plenty of bright highlights and rich dark shadows. Figure 21: Adjustment Brush in Adobe Camera RAW. is said to be high contrast. You affect contrast with your initial exposure. which allows you to control contrast by painting specific areas darker or lighter. or other tools). If someone says an image “pops. this can be a subtle way to increase separation between the foreground and background. An image that has mostly middle grays is said to be low contrast. If you are creating a monochrome or false color image. as well as large amounts of white or very light area. even if it has some minor areas of extreme lights and darks. An image with large amounts of black or near-black areas. . Figure 22: HSL/Grayscale adjustment in Adobe Camera RAW. Depending on your background colors. you have some options to control contrast in Camera RAW Import in Photoshop (You can also use Lightroom. Tonal contrast is the difference between the predominantly light and dark areas in a photograph. there may be times when you want the effect of contrast that is more subdued. The HSL/Grayscale adjustment (figure 22) can be used to increase or decrease the luminance of various color ranges. The other option you have is the Adjustment Brush (figure 21) built into Camera Raw. Figure 20: Parametric Tone Curve in Adobe Camera RAW. I will adjust contrast in the four parametric sliders on the tone curve. and usually lower or zero out the single slider contrast on the basic tab.104 True Confessions of Nude Photography Contrast There are many kinds of contrast. Skin tones are affected by the yellow and orange sliders. Adobe Lightroom provides similar tools. The Parametric Tone Curve (figure 20) is one of my favorites. you can use the adjustments to make smooth or stark tonalities. High contrast is only one option. Highlights that are too light to show enough detail are called blown out. One of the easiest ways to make your images look pleasing is to increase the contrast.” contrast is often one of the elements they are talking about. If you shoot in RAW format. but unless otherwise specified. shadows that are too dark to show enough detail are called blocked up. the term “contrast” refers to tonal contrast.
with a light source that is large enough and positioned at an appropriate distance. you can use the Shadows/Highlight adjustment in Photoshop to adjust them. A set of adjustment layers to control levels is the next step I recommend to adjust contrast. . using the Shadow/ Highlights command in Photoshop is often an effective early step to control contrast. Next. Adjust the Parametric Tone Curve Figure 23: If your files are not RAW format. This is an easy and commonly recommended way to selectively lighten and darken areas (figure 26). create a layer mask for each of the adjustment layers.. and set it to “hide all. Open in Photoshop. Create a layer called “selective lighten” and adjust the white output to lower numbers to improve highlights. Use Shadow/Highlight Command. As in all post-processing.Post-Processing Images 105 If you do not shoot in RAW format. Tips for Controlling and Adjusting Contrast 1. 7.. called “selective darken” and adjust the black output to higher numbers to darken the shadows. (figure 23. The menu path for this is Image>Adjustment>Shadow/Highlights. you can only compensate a small amount.) This command will darken blown-out highlights and lighten blocked up shadows. 5. 3. Use layer masks to selectively apply lighten and darken adjustment layers. used to selectively lighten and darken areas of an image. Paint over shadow areas to selectively darken them and over highlight areas to make them stand out. Expose Properly. 6. Good control over tonal range is being able to produce nudes with the desired mid-tone contrast level without blown out highlights or blocked up shadows. 2. 4. You must start with a good lighting setup. in Camera RAW Import. see “Readers’ Links” on page 113. Create a second layer. Create Levels Adjustment Layers for lightening and darkening.” Now you are ready to take a white paintbrush to the layer mask to selectively reveal the effect. You can also adjust the midtones on both of these layers to further the contrast. Figure 24: Levels Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks in Photoshop. An example Photoshop file can be downloaded from my website. Use the Adjustment Brush.
the elevated feet or the eye contact would likely have been the start of the visual pathway. making the model larger in the frame. but some strands at the edge need to remain for the hairstyle to look correct. Cropping does not have to be restricted to the background. Cropping the image. Isolating Isolation is the process of separating a figure from its background. I zoom in to double or quadruple regular pixel size and painstakingly draw curves around the figure. but you will pick it up if you keep trying. After cropping. Working Paths. Do crop out any distracting elements. and edges that are out of focus. History. as long as you can distinguish the entire edge of the body. Do not be afraid to experiment with crops that slice through the model or other compositional elements. A nude shot can be cropped tightly so that only one part of the model is visible. A photographer cannot always create the perfect framing through the viewfinder. For example. How much you choose to show of background and other elements can either add to the story of an image through context. Hard edges are along sharply focused areas of the body. Before you do this. The cropped image. cropping can be a valuable tool that you can use both while framing your shots in-camera and during post-processing. You will usually notice different croppings later that help shift the emphasis and balance.106 True Confessions of Nude Photography Cropping Since every photograph involves a choice of framing or cropping. . You will use masks to hide the background in each one: a vector mask for the hard edges and a layer mask for the soft edges. You will perform two types of isolations: hard edge and soft edge. or distract from it. Select a photograph that has a backdrop suitable for easy isolation. Vector Mask. for example at joints or the top of the head. This can be frustrating if you do not have a lot of experience with the pen tool. white background. you may wish to process the background separately from the model. removing the high heels from the image on the right (photo 56. Brightly contrasting backdrops do not work well for two reasons: any missed or blended pixels will stick out like a sore thumb and they tend to reflect a color cast onto the model. Cropping can improve the composition of an image you have already shot by removing distractions. Since most photos contain both hard and soft edges. Layer Mask. this image becomes more of a study of forms. This exercise will require that you first know how to use the following Photoshop tools: Layers. Too much cropping in post-processing may result in not having enough resolution for your final application. It is easy to isolate a figure that is already on an evenlylit. This will help blend any missed or blended pixels with the new background. If you do not have a plain background. Keep cropping in mind when you shoot your photos. altering the balance. Performed correctly. Soft edges include hair. you will need to isolate the model. It helps if the original backdrop is a solid color that is close to that of the new background you plan to add. or adding emphasis to an image. It will take patience to complete your first isolation. shadows where the body contacts a surface. Original backdrops that are close to skin tone are also helpful. You may want to do this because you have a busy background or as a preliminary step to creating a composite image. Photo 56. photo 57) changes the mood. Select hard edges using the pen tool in Photoshop. the picture frame is an ever-present compositional element. Some images benefit from preparing of the edges of the hair prior to isolation. Pen (both curves and straight lines). Be careful in the shadow areas and around hair. I typically isolate shadows and translucent areas of hair separately. you need to create a duplicate layer of your original image so you can work hard and soft isolations separately. so I can adjust the way they blend independently from the opaque portions of the figure. Photo 57. Just press the undo key or use the history panel if you need to backtrack several steps. Stray hairs can be removed and not missed. Prior to cropping. Avoid cropping the figure where it may look awkward.
9. For any softly blended areas. 7. Graphics consisting of shapes or color gradients can make effective backgrounds. 8. 5. Inspect. or shadows where the figure touches a surface. Adding Backgrounds Once you have isolated a subject you may wish to add a different background. Make a Quick Selection of the model. patch healer. correct exposure.Post-Processing Images 107 Isolation Process for Hard Edges 1. out-of-focus edges. 11. “new layer with a mask. Use Eraser to remove any mistakes you made with the Refine Radius tool. contrasting backgrounds. Zoom in to where you can clearly see the areas that need refinement. pixel-perfect control over edges. by using a layer mask. Click on “show radius” to examine areas that have been painted or erased from the edge. • The Magic Eraser—For erasing backgrounds that are mostly all the same color that contrast with the subject. With these two isolated areas (soft and hard edges). Use the pen tool to trace the edges of the body (figure 25. choose Refine Edge. 2. Use Refine Radius tool to paint in the areas that need a softer edge. for example shots on a green screen. 2. and then clean up the mask as needed. Zoom in to 200% or 400% so that you can be precise. healing brush. Take care and do not compromise precision for speed. less precise isolation methods. and contrast. but this will depend on how the Selection identified the boundary between your subject and background. In out-of-focus areas. I would encourage novices to learn Camera RAW to import images to Photoshop. err on the side of cutting into the figure by one or two pixels. Figure 25: Isolating with the pen tool. only out of focus to emphasize to the subject. 4. Make sure to expand the selection to include soft edges. You may want to use the original background. You will usually benefit by setting Shift Edge to minus 10%. 10. Set view mode against black (contrasts with a light background). tone. Duplicate the subject layer and use a feathered vector mask to blend it with your new background. Isolation Process for Soft Edges 1. 3. or single-click it on angle points. Select the output option. 6. Make sure you close the path. Plus.) You need to know how to click and drag the pen to create a curve. and attention to composition. Undo any mistakes and correct them. Does not address color halo. remember to use a duplicate image layer. If background color is reflected onto the edges of model. Select an appropriate image and perform any adjustments to prepare it for isolation (see above).” 13. even if the figure runs off the edge of the document. Beyond the standard image adjustments of color.” 12. such as hairs. 5. Retouching Flaws Well-processed images will enhance your portfolio and attract a better breed of model. or a similar tool. If in doubt. Name it “soft-edge isolation” and use the following process. Use the pen-path to create a vector mask so the original background disappears. From the Select menu. clean up any distracting elements from your image. following the instructions in the next section. Be aware of the lighting and color schemes when choosing backgrounds that match or contrast your subject. here are some faster tools you may be interested in: • The Extract Filter—For erasing mostly solid-colored. Lightroom. and works with any kind of background. 3. check “decontaminate colors. you can layer them to create a composite. If you prefer quicker. the body will blend with the background. Layering techniques that are important to retouching are Adjustment Layers. • The Quick Mask—Almost the ideal solution: relatively quick. Layer Masks. A dull background can help the model stand out. Removes most of the color halo. Uncheck “show radius” and repeat steps 7-9 as necessary. but do not allow post-processing to become a crutch or substitute for a disciplined approach to lighting. • The Background Eraser—Removes background on a photo object that is already “isolated”. Typically not as good as the extract filter. 6. such as strands of hair or drop shadows. The common retouching tools in Photoshop are clone brush. . 4. you do not actually delete any part of the background.
Sometimes a background appears uniform. Moles. and Layer Blending modes. Any hairs that fall across the face or out of line with combed hair should be cloned or healed away. Look for reflections in props and background surfaces that might reveal your lighting equipment or other elements that you do not like. If you are not familiar with these. and eliminate multiple shadows. and other irregularities. can set the hue closer to neutral. • Spot-adjust tonality for good edge separation with model. • Post-processing is not a substitute for proper light and exposure. and freckles can be left alone. It can sometimes take a great deal of skill to retouch these areas. bruises. Set the opacity of this layer to 50%. • Color correct for edge-to-edge consistency. or as desired. • If there are multiple catch lights in the eyes. Use the technique from isolating the figure to assist in retouching background. this can be a helpful reference point in adjusting color. remove or hide the Levels Adjustment Layer. These can easily be removed with the Healing Brush. A black and white adjustment layer. • Retouching too much is worse than retouching too little. Adjust the shadow input level to its maximum allowed value of 253 (figure 26. Look over the entire model under magnification for areas of dry skin. Retouching Tips • Adjust or calibrate your monitor. remove all but one near the top of the iris for a more natural look. removing all but one near the top of the iris will render a more natural look. there may still be a color cast lurking in neutral props and backgrounds. If you are shooting on neutral background paper. nicks. The camera will pick up tiny specs of mascara underneath the eyes that were either missed when you checked the model or flaked off during the shoot. with a few spots that are not quite white. wrinkles in the background. After you Figure 26: Using a Levels Adjustment Layer to detect off-white areas. To verify that a background is white.com/resources. birthmarks. are common candidates for retouching. Creating a White Background Often the goal of isolation is to produce a white background. Label your layers. • Take your time. Sometimes the background looks more realistic if you leave a bit of coolness or warmth in it without taking it all the way to pure gray. with the background masked. If there are multiple catch lights in the eyes.) This will darken everything in the image that is not pure white. . cuts. It is relatively easy to remove debris on the floor. there are some great tutorials linked from www.108 True Confessions of Nude Photography Vector Masks. If you used makeup to conceal a tattoo. Odd-looking shadows on the body can be softened. such as around the eyes. this will likely require further attention during image editing. clean up any off-white areas. Background Cleanup Checklist • Remove distracting elements. Restraint is the best way to keep your model looking realistic. In Photoshop. Areas where makeup is used. Remove stray hairs near the background by cloning or painting them out. • Zoom in to at least 100%. Match both the skin color and texture to similar skin areas. once you achieve pleasing skin tones. Retouching too much is worse than retouching too little. • Use non-destructive edits.nudephotoguides. However. create a Levels adjustment layer. follow these steps. keep it realistic.
Being awarded a gallery exhibit requires a good bit of work. Most galleries that show photography will not have a problem with nudity. Marketing your work will provide you with the possibility of income. as long as it is Photo 59. Never pay a gallery up-front for an exhibit. A print sold at a gallery. However. while others seldom accept new artists. as well as exposure that can lead to more recruitment opportunities. but I typically only sell one or two photos per show. Many . Photo 58. You should seek publications that address the topic of approaching a gallery. it is fair to say that photographers rarely make a notable profit from gallery sales. regardless of the price. along with their commission schedules. There are always more artists than there are places to exhibit. request a copy of their artist submission guidelines before sending your work. I have had the good fortune of having dozens of gallery exhibits ever since I was a student. Have a price in mind for your work. it is one of the most satisfying aspects of the entire experience when someone is willing to part with his or her hard-earned money in exchange for one of your prints. A gallery opening. and broaden your geographic coverage as much as possible. If you are submitting to galleries you will need to use a printing process that is archival or as light fast as possible (meaning that the prints will last as long as possible without fading). Art Galleries Exhibiting your work in a physical exhibition space is a wonderful way to show your work for (hopefully) appreciative viewers. Consider the following few ideas on how you can market your work. but it can also be labor intensive. and possibly to sell it. as does any form of marketing. the gallery should be advertising your work and actively trying to get it into the hands of clientele whom they have cultivated. but do not cold call unless it is their preference. so you will have to keep submitting. Some galleries will tell you to drop in any time. sometimes year after year. and take into account that most galleries take a commission equal to roughly half of the selling price. quality work with artistic merit. marketing your work can be one of the most gratifying aspects of your photography experience. When you consider framing costs and travel expenses to get to the exhibits. In short. However. Many galleries have their artist submission guidelines on their websites. In exchange for this commission. If a gallery’s guidelines are not available. Some galleries show new artists frequently (ten times a year for example). There are many more marketing ideas you can dream up or find in other resources. do your homework to find galleries that exhibit photography and learn how they operate. There is plenty of willing competition to serve the demand for such images.109 Marketing Your Work It is rare that a photographer is able to earn a living through figure photography alone. Only submit recent work to galleries (none more than two years old) and be prepared to bring them some nicely framed prints for their immediate consideration should you get a callback after your initial inquiry.
nudephotoguides. Electronic books can be sold via your own storefront. An image sold online as a poster. framing. To do this. As you may expect.110 True Confessions of Nude Photography processes exist that allow prints to last a couple hundred years or more. Advantages of this route include ease of use and a high acceptance rate. making them suitable for collection as art pieces. These sites are usually free to use and only charge a small commission for each item that sells. They will typically be younger (perhaps collegiate) and are looking for a good compromise between cost. The consumer of online prints has an appetite for low-cost. Photography books can include text or simply be a collection of images. Self Publishing If you have a penchant for compiling your work into physical or electronic books.com/resources for recommendations on selling online prints. Collectors usually follow an artist for a long time. appealing decoration. Online Prints Several sites allow you to display images for sale to the public. will want to know what process you used and how long the prints will last. The check option sometimes comes with an additional fee to encourage the use of online payments. all you do is upload your images. before they make the commitment to purchase an exhibitor’s piece. Highresolution images will allow you to sell larger poster sizes. They typically pay you for your sales via direct deposit or other electronic payment. Remember these prints will go onto walls in peoples’ homes. shipping. hardback. and aesthetic appeal (and probably sex appeal too). Disadvantages include lots of competition and lower selling prices. Some of the best shopping cart services will charge a nominal monthly fee and let you retain the entire purchase price. Anything that is too revealing will not sell well. Some companies that print nudes are available online and are listed at www. so this route requires more technical savvy and perseverance than online prints. They provide printing. Think of this market as one step above the pinup poster market. numbered editions. originality. and the buyers. Using shadow and pose to partially “clothe” your subject can help make your images suitable for this market. so get this information from the firm that prints your work.nudephotoguides. You will likely have to give them your tax identification number for legal reasons. It helps if your images are sold as one-of-a-kind prints or limited. Unless you want to build a delivery system from scratch or invest in ecommerce software. Visit www. you can sell these directly to consumers with little or zero up-front cost. The gallery. They also allow a generous amount of file uploads. the fledgling e-book entrepreneur is better off outsourcing the transaction process. direct digital sales. There is not a lot of hand holding. Get involved with the forums and discuss your work and the work of others to get a better idea of what makes an image that will sell as an online print. Images in the arena range from cheesecake-type glamour to masterful fine art. Look for sales ranks of what is already on exhibit on these sites to determine what is and is not popular. The available media range from paperback. The market varies from site to site. Make sure you find a site that allows nude photography. This marketing channel is best suited for photographers who already have a strong online following. the most archival processes are expensive and you will need to use a service that specializes in art printing. Self publishing websites are also self-service. up to a year or two. and files meant for playback on computers or mobile devices. and other forms of self publishing. .com/resources. upload your files to a shopping cart service that handles the transactions for you. and payment processing. Photo 60. Buyers feel the art is more special if it is not being widely reproduced.
since they have to advertise to a wide audience. According to an article in the New York Times. Just do it when you feel like it. but mostly nude. Nobody from the microstock agencies will get on your back if you stop uploading. consider the potential for misuse and refrain from making available images that will tend to attract problems. Which of your images sell the best? How about that “great” image that you find out suffers from chromatic aberration. top photographers earn a good living selling photos via microstock3. skilled. shadow noise. and others when marketers want to convey a mood of beauty and sensuality that will sell their wares. In addition. I was able to call the publisher and explain the terms of service of the microstock agency. although nudes lag behind beauty shots. You may have thousands of images. The minimum age for nude models on these sites varies (typically anywhere from 18 to 24 years) depending on the laws where the business is headquartered and the locations of their client base.com. The photos are used by game developers and other 3D artists to create human avatars for use in animation. These small agencies are distinct from large stock agencies in that they address a different kind of photography buyer. When uploading an image to microstock. back views. visit www. The shots include some clothed. Fotolia. are sold in sets of up to a hundred images. with no further effort the earnings from a great photograph can continue for years. if you are dedicated. The reference photos must conform to a strict set of guidelines set by the buyers. Even a modest implied nude could be used to advertise a strip club or phone-sex line. Dreamstime. I can almost guarantee you will learn something from the rigorous screening process.com/resources.com and all allow nude uploads. or other defects you have never heard of? Even if you do not make a ton of money. Part of the fun of selling stock is that after you upload your photos.com. Tightly cropped images. The “big” microstock agencies include Shutterstock. . Three-dimensional reference photos are sold through specialized sites rather than general microstock sites. However. cosmetics. keep in mind that less is more when it comes to nudity. A set of 3d reference photos. When shooting for microstock. Watching earnings increase. so you need to have the time to produce and upload a large quantity of images. you can check back and see how your sales are doing. Microstock customers typically work with smaller budgets and have never purchased a photograph from the highpriced agencies. while others would be upset. and side shots that do not show too much are going to appeal more to art directors. Some of my models would have laughed if they had seen their image misused in this way. These photos. but only your top images will be worthy of stock sales.Marketing Your Work 111 Make and Sell 3D Reference Photos Selling three-dimensional reference photos is a niche market for nude photographers. On one occasion. The images shown here (photo 61) are shot on the Savage-brand background color called tech green. from different angles comprising three hundred sixty degrees of view. The feedback you get from your uploads can reveal volumes about your work. Nude images are used to advertise products and services such as perfume. These agencies market your photos for you. The publisher took it so seriously that they fired the advertising manager who caused the incident. a model has contacted me with concerns about how an image of hers had been used by an advertiser.com. For example. I hope that a perfume or spa advertisement is what comes to mind. Photo 61. If you end up with some published work in advertisements or editorial uses it can help build clout that will help you recruit models. Istockphoto. typically 500 or 1. shot on a green screen. Although microstock agencies have terms of service that prohibit your images from being used with sensitive subjects. Upload when you feel like it. Also. spas. and patient the rewards are there. Microstock Microstock agencies are another way to earn extra money and have fun doing it. Photographs of models are one of the best-selling image types in stock photography. these rules are difficult to enforce. make sure you have all the appropriate model releases. and then pay you a portion of the proceeds. Ask yourself what kind of use each image lends itself to before uploading. Selling through microstock is a game of volume. both technically and for image impact. enter some keywords and other data. the green screen is a specific color and the lighting must be such that animators can extract the figures. even by a small amount. Research the kind of images that are selling well before you begin to upload. consider your comfort level with having to deal possible misuse of your images. Although violations of the rules are rare. license them for publication. For current information and links.nudephotoguides. is enjoyable.000 that will sell well. Here is a word of caution about preventing misuse.
Moreover. They need to be technically perfect and have a reason someone will buy them. so do not give up. I stopped deleting the rejection notices and began carefully reading the reasons my work was not accepted.microstockgroup. If you upload images that are lacking in any way. This helped eliminate the tiny flaws that were leading to rejection. so make sure you do your homework and know exactly what they are interested in before you take the plunge. After I got over the initial discouragement. When I first applied to a couple of sites. An image that has sold as microstock. they will be rejected. If you are rejected by one site. Microstock images must be more than just well composed and interesting. read the rejection reasons carefully. Your equipment and your technique must be professional grade. it seemed impossible to please the microstock inspectors. I upgraded my equipment. I estimate that fewer than five percent of photographers are get into the business on their primary attempt. read all the instructions on each site before you submit. scrutinize your work. I addressed each flaw one by one and was eventually accepted. you can get advice from microstock veterans and participate in discussions at the microstock forums here: www. . and research the process. since they contain important clues to improving your photography and selling some winning images.com Photo 62. There is a portfolio review process. my images have sold many thousands of times. Many make a hasty stab at it and give up after their first rejection. Take your time.112 True Confessions of Nude Photography Keep Trying Getting onto a microstock site is not a cakewalk. With repeated attempts. shooting technique. I was initially rejected. Based on my research. post-processing. I suggest you skip the discouragement phase and get right back up again. A degree of rejection is par for the course. Those who keep trying are the ones who are accepted. I would have missed out on that added income. One trick that helped me was to downsample my images to the minimum size required for review. Some sites have much higher standards than others. Had I given up. Before you start. and brushed up on the submission requirements. In the years following that shaky start. try some other sites before resubmitting to the first one.
The more original your ideas. I recommend you push out of your comfort zone from time to time. you should be contemplating what you might do next time. Ruthlessly weed out inferior or redundant shots. This means you must examine every aspect of your work: model choice.nudephotoguides. it only shows that you need to keep practicing. I hope it has sparked your curiosity and offered new avenues for discovery.com/reader/ Online material includes digital images. I have left certain specifics for you to decide.. but were lacking a crucial detail. will help you create images that are memorable and less ordinary. When you are not shooting. For one thing. Feel free to send feedback via my website (nudephotoguides. The more closely you follow any specific formula.com). Once you have mastered the basic techniques. not every technique in this book will be applicable to each shoot you do. Every time you learn a new technique or perfect an existing one. Be content to add one new skill at a time. Camera. pose. and leaving some details to the imagination. or cycle through your models. you begin to exchange more ideas that are creative. are enough to help you achieve satisfactory results. As you build a rapport. Professional athletes and musicians do not just practice what is easy. Never fall into the habit of shooting on autopilot. K. Adding your own interpretation. and the limited availability of a willing model. and in the plethora of other how-to books. in order to keep this guide in the realm of education instead of training. many photographers are afraid to take risks when they shoot. If this is not happening.nudephotoguides. Nude! A Guide to Lighting the Female Nude for Photography • Up to My Eyeballs in Nude Women: Techniques to Recruit Models. but all art is influenced by something that has come before. instead. composition. and example Photoshop files. my other books. they push their limits and risk failure many times in order to perfect their craft. Of course. or lighting. Be quick to observe and slow to jump to conclusions. • Lights. brief video clips. and will adjust your shooting accordingly. and do not expect instant success. post-processing. There are many advantages to shooting more than once with the same model. and the books of other experienced photographers. Direct Shoots. the other side is that working repeatedly with a particular model can burn you out. You will get to reshoot ideas that you got almost right. Never rest on your laurels or become content to show years-old examples of your work.. risk wasting some shots. They include: Last Words My aim is for this book to provide an overview of many aspects of nude photography. If at first you do not succeed. Your skills should be progressing to the extent that your current shots overshadow the older ones. You will not apply every lesson in this book to every shoot. Use the following credentials to login to the reader’s section: username: password: visual pathway Additional Books by A. you are not going to be able to remember it all. I sincerely hope what I have written helps you to become more satisfied with your figure photography. you are not pushing yourself hard enough. The same applies to photography. the better. add a representative shot to your portfolio and consider removing your weakest one. and Build Working Relationships • Exquisite Curves: Learn Composition and Posing for Photographing the Female Nude . always be thinking about what you are doing and why.com. To effectively review your portfolio for freshness. adding one each time you master the previous one. If you have trouble removing images from your portfolio. you must avoid emotional attachments to outdated images. Although it cannot be all things to all readers. Additionally. the more your work will look like a clone of the work produced by everyone else following the same formula. Artists should all be perpetual students. lighting. Creativity requires a flow of ideas and capturing these ideas in your photographs. Developing Your Own Style The techniques described here. Thank you for reading this guide.113 Conclusion Make it a goal to continuously improve your photographs. Readers’ Links You can access bonus material online at: www. theme. Remedy this by changing the location. try ranking them from best to worst. keep trying. You will learn the model’s strengths and weaknesses. develop your own style by leaving the safety of the systematic approach. With the many challenges that come with nude photography. Nicholas Additional books by this author can be found at www. there is a plethora of resources you can use to keep researching and growing your techniques—not the least of which is examining your own experiences. and so on. at least not at first. Beyond this guide. Struggling does not indicate a lack of potential.
Bokeh may be described as attractive or unattractive for a particular lens. Light colored hair can look great with backlighting. atmospheric perspective The effect that causes distant objects to appear hazy. backlit balance barn doors Subject illuminated from behind. chromatic aberration The amount by which the red. composition The arrangement of elements (line. An object designed to block light. depth of field The area in front and behind the main subject that is in focus. color space Color spaces help output devices such as printers and monitors to display colors accurately. usually an opaque panel. The nude body. bounced light Indirect light that is reflected off a surface and onto the subject. Figure/ground composition. boom An arm that extends from a light stand to hold a light above the model or above the camera. shape. backlight (a. diffuser A translucent material placed in front of a light to soften and reduce its intensity. An abstraction of the body composed to resemble a landscape (typically faceless). (der. Each grid controls light to a specified angle (e. muted in color and contrast. Verb: The act of deciding what elements are included and omitted in the field of view. A honeycomb pattern grid that directs light in one direction. daguerreotype An obsolete photographic process. Exposure information and other data that a camera attaches to an image file. 20° or 40°). especially contrasting halves. chroma See saturation. Especially used in 3-d reference photography.g. Residual color around the edge of the subject when isolating an image.g. Illustration on page 37. contour A defined edge (line) between two distinct colors or tones. DSLR EXIF data figure color scheme A set of colors combined for a purpose. results in color fringes where light and dark areas of an image meet. see SLR. green screen. Usually more effective than barn doors. Non-image forming light entering the lens. Also see ground and negative space. pattern) within a visual presentation.114 Reference Glossary ambient light Indirect illumination caused by light bouncing off surfaces near the subject. GIMP gobo Free alternative to Photoshop photo-editing and retouching software. A lighting modifier consisting of two or four flaps that keep light from spilling out of the desired area. background Parts of an image that are behind the main subject and not considered additional subject. from Japanese).a. . The color space of most computer monitors is sRGB. gobo projector A device for projecting patterns of light and shadow.k. closure color halo The phenomenon by which the mind completes the missing pieces implied by a design. chroma key A specifically colored background (e. Digital Single-Lens Reflex. differential focus See selective focus. Equilibrium between compositional elements. grayscale grid An image composed of shades of gray. Noun: The outer borders of an image. invented in 1839. blue screen) intended to aid in isolation of an image. bisect bodyscape direct light See hard light. Short for “go between” because it goes between the light and lens—a dark material for shielding a lens from excess light. dichotomy A division into two halves.and blue-channel components of the image are displaced from their “correct” position due to lens characteristics. hair light) Typically above the subject. To divide into two equal or nearly equal parts. flag flare frame relationship: the subject of a Bokeh (or Boke) The aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photograph. either directly behind or slightly to one side.
and lights will be. Also called chroma. created by linear and atmospheric effects. Recommended capture format to preserve all information before editing with software. A framework that places subjects on dividing lines that are one third of the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the picture plane. self contained light with flash tube and power in one unit. RAW file incident reading A light-meter reading taken with a the meter positioned at the subject’s location and pointed towards the camera. The main (most powerful) light illuminating the front of the model. monochromatic Having only one hue. Not to be confused with background. everything that is not the main subject. or imaging sensor to render fine detail. foreground. undiffused light.Reference ground In figure/ground relationship. yellow. Single-Lens Reflex (camera). Chiefly characterized by hard shadows. indirect illumination Non-directional light.). Unprocessed image capture. motif negative space Space around or between subjects.g. Also see ambient light. The intensity (purity) of a color. An image with a single hue is said to be tinted. See theme. quantity. line of force (Composition) A dominant line that guides the viewer to a point of interest. subject against a lighter background. Does not have a color space or white balance associated with it. saturation scrim modifier monoblock light See monolight. monolight A portable. Blue-the three primary colors of additive color used in monitor and photo sensors. RGB rule of thirds Red. Diffused light. that de-emphasizes the feeling of depth. Also see reflective reading. camera. resolving power The degree to which a lens or image sensor is able to define the details of an image. portrait lens A lens of sufficient focal length to minimize distortion. The ability of a monitor. . plugs directly into household power. lens. etc. Also leading line or guiding line. microstock Stock photography based on a larger number of less-exclusive contributors (crowd sourcing). and produce shallow depth of field. soft light specular highlights Reflected light in the surface of the subject. scene. A dark. portraiture The practice of capturing a favorable likeness of a specific person. selective vision A mental lapse of not seeing details due to concentration or distraction. set silhouette silk SLR snoot A shooting area where the model. reflective reading A light-meter reading taken with a the meter positioned at the camera’s location and pointed towards the subject. Light heads are attached via special power cords. depth). it can include the background. characterized by soft shadows. mostly two-dimensional. and include a grid at the end to control the light. hue The classification of color by wavelength (red. to form a new image. A light diffuser used like a flag but to only block part of the light. Also see incident reading. 115 guiding line See line of force. Illustration on page 37. Green. photomontage The combination of images. pan To move the camera laterally while making an exposure. honeycomb See grid. Important in establishing balance. Snoots usually telescope in length. to be suitable for portraits. isolation key light Post-processing editing to separate the subject from the background. selective focus Using limited depth of field for compositional purposes. heads and pack Studio lighting consisting of a power pack and usually several lighting heads. orange. perspective The depiction of spatial relationships (e. and other elements. leading line See line of force. A device that controls the quality. photographer. distinguished by edges. Also see stock. Illustration on page 37. Also see soft light. reflector resolution A lighting modifier used to bounce light onto a subject. A lighting modifier that restricts the light to a narrow beam. The term implies the subject as client and the goal of flattery. and or direction of light. See scrim. blue. perspective compression The effect of a narrow field of view created by a long lens. hard light Direct. through physical or electronic means. Increased by the reflectiveness of the surface and the hardness of the light. A monochromatic image with a neutral hue is called grayscale. green.
a mismatched lens shade. 87. 2012. 2008. No 1-2.mma. Web. V. Hacker Art Books. the model.. Often about three times as long as t0. Lynda. the. Michael. 1959.5. 2005. visual pathway The sequence of points of interest that the viewer notices. 2. The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography. 1974. The Negative.) New York Graphic Society. 2007. The New York Times. Fier. Focal Press. Produced as a lens characteristic. and arrangement of elements on opposite sides of a design. 2011). The more watt-seconds. Journal of Consciousness Studies. vignetting A reduction in brightness at the edges of an image. Berger. Mario. Composition Photo Workshop. “Leonardo da Vinci. 1974. Bert. An idea or motif for a work of art or series of works. Chris. Paul R. Trade For Photos. vol. John. 3. 2010. t0. Devlin. Krages.history. Frost.5 is assumed. The Nude. and Sexuality. To select a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number). Ansel. http:// www. Mathematical Association of America. End Notes 1. t0. 269-277. The time it takes for 90% of the total power of a studio flash to dissipate. 1980. “The Myth That Will Not Go Away. Regarded as a critical measure of flash duration for stop-action photography. Obscenity. Taub. Doubleday Anchor Books. or Trade For Prints.. usually 1 degree. 2002. Lark Books.com/topics/leonardo-da-vinci (accessed Sept. 2007. watt-second A measurement of power consumption used to approximate a photographic strobe’s output. Taub. . Typically if not specified. 2002. pp. Blue. Lee. Hirstein. Devlin. Fundamentals of Photo Composition. Charles. the World's Most Astonishing Number. www. Ways of Seeing. Johnson. 6. 17.” Devlin’s Angle. the more light is output.1 Images that are photographed on speculation for sale as royalty-free or licensed distribution. Mark. (First published 1981. Godkewitsch. The Female Nude: Art. The Golden Ratio: the Story of Phi. Livio. Galer. 2007 steep perspective Emphasizing spatial separation by including close and far objects in the same image. Markowsky. 2010. The ‘Golden Section’: An Artifact of Stimulus Range and Measure of Preference. Usually a hand-held device (not built into a camera). 2010.org. When Are Photos Like Penny Stocks? When They Sell. umbra The main part of a shadow. Markowsky. 17 April 2010. “Misconceptions about the Golden Ratio.” The College Mathematics Journal 23. Photography the Art of Composition. Illustration on page 37. A measure of lightness or darkness. Godkewitsch. Nead. A photographic flash. No. John Wiley and Sons. George. Adams. 4th edition. transparent Permitting light to pass enough that people and objects on the opposite side are distinctly seen. Bibliography Adams.5 TFCD TFP theme tone translucent Permitting light to pass through but diffusing it so that people and objects on the opposite side are not clearly visible. The subject of your photos. Photography Foundations for Art and Design. Elsevier. Keith. Eric A. The correspondence in size. Clark. The time it takes for 50% of the total power of a studio flash to dissipate. 2012. Random House. June 5. Bartering photos as payment for a model’s time. vantage point The location from which a photograph is taken.1(1992): 2-19. Johnson. 1999.” website. 2011. Trade For (photo) CD. The A-Z of Creative Photography. The American Journal of Psychology. 2011. Penguin Books Ltd. 1992. pp. visual presentation A collection of elements assembled for the purpose of expression. or with software. 6-7. W. Kenneth. A shadow without its penumbra.116 spot meter True Confessions of Nude Photography A light meter that takes readings from a very narrow angle of view. Bartering a photo CD as payment for a model’s time. Comon. “The Science of Art. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. Crown Publishing Group. Psychology Press. 17 April 2010. A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience”. 15-51. Ramachandran. History Channel. The Painter’s Secret Geometry: a Study of Composition in Art. stock stop down strobe subject symmetry t0. Bouleau. 2003. form.
25 styling 25 S I identification 34 inexperienced models 28. 21. 106 eyes 94 face 18. 110 point of interest 94 portfolio 4. 22. 99. 48 flag 61 flash duration 4 foreshortening 99 forums 10 freezing motion 4 furniture 28. 7. 18 posing 63 exertive 31 posters 110 Z zone system 102 zoom lens 3. 22 art gallery 21. 19. 101. 111. 54 tattoos 17. 54 low-key 52. 72 M E tan lines 17. 95 comfort 5. 41 umbrella box 40. 48 perspective 98.Index A advertising 11 alcohol 21. 108 backlight 43. 31 microstock 60. 56. 7. 22. 65 static pose 63 studio 5. 55 spine 63. 66. 72 legs 63. 9. zoom long 8 light meter 43 location 5. 48 T D daguerreotype 1 depth of field 8. 19. 25. 41. 27. 12. 21. 46. 21. 106 background 95. 41. 113 communication 10. 39 shadows 103 shot list 30 silhouette 58 single light source 44. See makeup 117 G golden mean 97 group shoots 13 hair 22. 46 backdrop 5. 50. 45. 45. 6. 25. 104–107 pinup 21. 58 makeup 18. 10. 30. 25 nose 52. 52. 16. 15. 40–42. 15. 23. 21. 6. 24. 62 balance 94 bartering 23 blog 10 Bokeh 95. 11. 108 teeth 22 TFP/TFCD 23 toes 65 tone of voice 35 tripod 4. 64 F V visual pathway 98. 22 exposing to the right 43 eye contact 94. 102. 57. 8. 106. 40. 87. 100 Dermablend 25 digital sensor 2. 47. 43 model’s gaze 64. 46. 54. 19. 39. 47. 30. 14. 61. 99 illustration 100 business cards 11 camera shake 4. 15. 111 model release 11. 94 head 65 heels 64. 30 C K L knees 64. 72. 109 available light 8. 25. 30. 27. 63 color harmony 94. 111 e-mail 9. 64 feet 94 Fibonacci spiral 97 fill 51. 99 Photoshop 34. 54 illustration 37 motion blur 4. 64. 45. 38. 99 outdoor shooting 5. 91 H R B RAW format 2. 100 umbrella 37. 21. 91. 44. 108 wide angle 46. 106 O P W waist 64 website 9 white background 60. 65 lenses 3–4 Also see wide angle. 118 model zone 5. 44 illustration 37 spill 8. 42 undress from underneath 29 U N negative space 94 nervousness 22. 46 . 106. 65 hips 65 histogram illustration 43 proof images 34 props 3. 28. 35 compensation 10. 108 backlighting 43 hands 63. 32. 108 social networking 12–14 softbox 38. 18. 25. 43 e-commerce 110. 102. 29. 104. 50 example 59 skin quality 17 skin tone 43. 100 collaboration 35. 24. 85. 33 bonus 23 cosmetic surgery 17 cosmetics. 104 references 19 reflected light See spill. 46. 46. 25. fill rule of thirds 96 safety 6. 94 modeling agency 11 monolight 38. 55. 32–33. 60 fill light 7. 18. 107 white 60. 8. 40.
Healing Brush.nudephotoguides. portrait. shoot-through • V-flag. This release is provided “as is” without any warranty as to its usefulness for commercial work. Curves. Adobe Bridge.5 and t0.118 Appendix A: Suggested Topics of Study This text is not intended to be all-encompassing. honeycomb) for reflectors • Lenses: wide-angle. Check with a legal expert regarding the laws of your particular location.). The release is available in digital. Mask Feather. egg crate) • Snoot • Reflector. Overlay. If you are not familiar with any of the following. HSL/Grayscale adjustment. collapsible fabric (black. Black and White). Patch. Layer/Brush Modes (Normal. Multiply. . completeness or appropriateness to your situation or location. For links to additional information. Zoom • RAW file format • RGB (Red/Green/Blue) color theory (additive) • Selective Focus • Software: Adobe Camera RAW. Working Path • Photoshop tools: Clone Stamp. spot metering. Undo (History) Brush.1) • Gestalt theory • Histogram • Inverse square law • Light metering. etc. Be sure to read “Understanding Model Releases” on page 32. prime (fixed). gold. reflective • Lighting ratio • Monitor calibration. color display capabilities. a basic photograph book or web search can help you. Pen. silver) reflector • Boom stand • Color checker (color chart) • DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) Camera • Flags (fabric. Layer/Brush Opacity. • White balance • Zone system Equipment • Beauty dish (white.com/resources/. white) • Umbrella box • Umbrella. foam-core) • Gels and gel holder • Grids (metal. • Photoshop techniques: Adjustment Layers (Levels. Parametric Tone Curve) • Color temperature. Vector Mask. V-flat • Warming filter for lights Photographic Concepts • Additive color theory • Aperture and f-stop numbers • Camera RAW tools (Adjustment brush. incident. zoom • Polarizing filter • Parabolic lighting modifier • Scrim • Softbox • Softbox grid (fabric. Google Picasa (free cataloging software). Eyedropper. silver. see “Readers’ Links” on page 113. GIMP (free photo editing) • Shutter speed Appendix B: Sample Nude Model Release The next page contains a sample of a basic model release suitable for printing and use as an agreement between you and a nude model. Adobe Lightroom. degrees Kelvin • Depth of field • Digital sensor noise • Flash duration (t0. Layer Mask. especially as they pertain to nude photography. editable format. Dodge. but rather to tie concepts of posing and composition together around the subject of the female nude. Additional research into core and tangent topics is encouraged. see: www.
The Photographer’s rights include. to: Use. modify or otherwise change the Content in any manner the Photographer desires. his heirs. and re-publish the Content. legal representatives. from any liability by virtue of any use in composite form. or those for whom he is functioning. advertising. I hereby release. the right to take and create photographs/videos and other still and/or moving images (in all formats) and other graphical depictions incorporating my likeness. and those persons acting with the Photographer’s authority and permission. promotion. Combine the Content with textual matter and/or with other pictures and/or media.Model Release For good and valuable consideration. publishing. I hereby agree that all rights in and to the Content are and shall remain the sole property of the Photographer. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs. or any other purpose whatsoever. and. free and clear from any claims by me or anyone acting on my behalf. the Photographer’s assigns. semi-nude. that may occur. the rights. art. scorn or ridicule. publish. trade. re-use. and all persons functioning under his/her permission or authority. I am of full legal age and have the right to contract in my own name. Use the Content for illustration. I _________________________________ (“Model”) hereby grant to ______________________________ (“Photographer”). whether now known or hereafter created (the “Content”). and nude photographs Photographer Information: Name (Print) ______________________________________ Address __________________________________________ City ____________________ State ______ Zip __________ Country ____________________ Phone _______________ E-mail ___________________________________________ Date of Shoot _____________________________________ Signature ________________________________________ Date_____________________________________________ Model Information: Name (Print) ______________________________________ Address __________________________________________ City ____________________ State ______ Zip __________ Country ____________________ Phone _______________ E-mail ___________________________________________ Date of Birth ______________________________________ Signature ________________________________________ Date_____________________________________________ Witness name: _____________________________________________ Witness signature: _____________________________________________ . even though it may subject me to scandal. discharge and agree to save harmless [photographer]. but are not limited to. in any and all media. and assigns. legal representatives or assigns. editorial. including without limitation any claims for libel or invasion of privacy. the receipt and legal sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged. I hereby warrant that I knowingly appear fully nude in some or all of the photos. in perpetuity. Alter. Description of Content: Mix of clothed.
120 Appendix C: Model’s Survival Kit I have compiled this list from the models I have talked to and my own experience. • Bag for kit items • Cell phone • Drinking water • Eye drops • Government-issued photo ID showing birth date • GPS • Lip balm/petroleum jelly • Oil-blotting papers • Snack that doesn't stain teeth • Second form of ID • Sweater. robe or other warm cover up • Toothbrush. etc. Grooming • Comb/brush • Disposable razor • Hair ties or pins that are attractive or hide easily in hair • Shaving cream • Smoothing serum or light gel • Tweezers • Nail file and buffer • Nail clippers • Nail polish for touch ups • A curling iron (if required) • Straightener (if required) Clothing • Bikini (to wear while doing body makeup) • Lint brush • Loose-fitting clothing for the way over to the shoot (no elastic lines) • Jewelry • Hiking or athletic shoes and socks (if needed for certain outdoor locations) • Sandals (if a beach location) • Hat for sun protection (outdoor shoots) • Accessories and props • Robe or cover-up garment • Outfit for clothed warm-up shots Personal • Aspirin. A savvy photographer will stock some of these items in the studio. balls • Eye drops • Eye shadow • Flushable wipes • Lip color • Lotion/moisturizer • Makeup remover • Makeup sponge • Mascara • Mirror (small) • Tissues • Translucent powder Photographer’ Information • Contact information • Directions • Shot list (if provided) . This is great information to show models. ibuprofen. toothpaste • Sunglasses (if outdoors) • Insect repellent (if outdoors. and test first to make sure it's invisible) Cosmetic • Clear brow gel • Concealer • Cotton swabs. so no sense stocking them unless it is for a single use. Many models will not be able to carry all these items due to space or cost considerations. Certain cosmetic items like mascara should not be shared.
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