Nude Photography, Overwhelmed? Best Tips On How To Get Started

Rating: 3.32 based on 74 Ratings
  By Michael Moodie
Nude Photography, Overwhelmed? Best Tips On How To Get Started

Nude photography has been a genre explored for so many years by some of the world’s best nude photographers.  Even though nude photography is sensitive in nature, it often yields some amazing images.  It is considered sensitive in nature because they say there is a thin line between artistic nude photography and porn photography which can be a bit disturbing to some viewers if they see nude photographs because they find it erotic. But this is just an interpretation of some individuals who are not as open to the human form as others. And as a result of this, you can find viewers who may see the artistic intention through your nude photos of your model. Because for them, nude photography is a form of fine art depicting a nude figure.  On the other hand, we can also find viewers who may see the nude model in nude photograph as a slightly nude human body while others see it as a completely nude human body in photography.

The subject of nude photography has always been something many photographers stray from as there is a slight awkwardness in it. However, having done a few sessions of nude photography myself, I can attest that it probably one of the most beautiful genres of photography next to doing maternity shoots. It comes with a lot of vulnerability and that is shaped in an artistic manner for the viewers to understand and not to view it for its mild sexual nature.

In this article, we will be exploring how you go about executing a successful nude photography session.  Keep in mind that when you are into photo shoot, you must always be creative. As photographers, think of nude photography as fine art nude photography and not an erotic photography. Here are some photography tips of the things nude photographers should do and tips of not do during nude photography shooting. These tips are primarily for beginners but if you are a professional as well, they will come in handy.

1. Make The Model Feel Comfortable

This is one of the most important things that should be done, before, during and after you’ve completed a session of nude photography. Some models are experienced while others are still in the course of learning and trying to become comfortable with themselves as models. To make this easier for them you should always try to communicate and show respect for what it is they’re doing as being photographed nude might look easy but if you’d be surprised how much courage and effort it takes to follow through with it.

In a world where insecurity has become a plague amongst all of us, models sometimes feel as if their naked body or facial expression lacks something. Making the effort to eliminate this discomfort and insecurity will help to make your photography session that much more enjoyable for you and the model.

2. Get Creative With the Nude Photo Shoot Edits

When it comes to certain kinds of glamour and fine art photography, the rules of editing go out of the window. But if you’ve been through Photography Courses and Tutorials, you are ready to take on photo editing according to your own ideas. This is the right time to be creative especially when it comes to the colors and tones of your image. You can do this through Lightroom.

Do you want to create great effects with your skin tones? Well, you can do this by adjusting the Camera Calibration Section as well as the Split Toning Panel which you can see in Lightroom. How about a cinematic looking image effect?  One of the best ways to do this is to apply a warm tone to your highlights (preferably moving towards the orange hues) and a nice desaturated blue to the shadows of the image.  By doing this, you would surely create an instant classic!

If you are want to create amazing effects for your nude and boudoir photography, check out the Shades of Boudoir Lightroom Presets Workflow by Sleeklens.  These presets are expertly designed for nude photography and will give you great effects with just one click (yes, All-in-One effects).  You will get 50 high-quality presets as well as 10 local adjustment brushes for adding that extra touch of detail every nude photo needs.  Check out the video below for a walkthrough of this amazing collection.

On the other hand, if you feel creative enough, you can explore the Photoshop route with some photo manipulation effects. By this, I’m not referring to alter your model’s body without their express permission, but some cool effects like changing the ambient, using Double Exposure effects… you get the point. Adobe isn’t the only option as there are many competitors in the market providing quality software for digital-post production.

The third way, in case your working gear happens to be limited at the moment, is to use smartphone apps like Snapseed. It’s available for free, of course not niche-intended in this case, but you can create some high-quality results by using the tools offered in there. It’s not complex science but to know your way of how tools create entirely different looks depending on the parameters used. Remember, these are tools, so regardless of the software you choose, your creativity is the only factor that sets the difference.

3. Connect With Your Model

When doing a nude photoshoot, it is important that the photographer and the nude model are on the same page. This helps to eliminate any uncertainty with regard to the intention and idea of shoot. Take some time out to make comfortable and get an idea of their personality as you would with another nude model. As photographers, remember that this model is exposing her human body to you willingly so make sure that mutual level of respect is shown most especially when the photographer is male. Run through the poses you have in mind and capture them with your camera.  If possible, show ideas to the model on how to maneuver her body movements. As a professional photographer, you can also add some props. A male model partner can be used as props to be able to capture her best nude shot.

If in doubt, why not preparing a questionnaire? Something as simple as drafting ten questions covering from the basics as ‘what’s your favorite color?’ to hobbies, preferred places to chill out, etc. Out of this exercise not only you are establishing the basis for a closer relationship with your model but also this will – and be sure this is for granted – bring creative ideas along the way of which props you should use for the session, or even if it’s possible to make the session outdoors!

4. Make Your Model Feel Involved

Nude Models tend to feel more appreciated and work a lot better when you share the results of a few frames of nude photos you’ve taken. This helps them to personally establish their best angles and give them confidence in what they’re doing in front of the camera. Plus you don’t want to look like a creep who’s just staring at their nudity through the lens of your camera. Communicate and help to boost their confidence as much as possible because it benefits both you as photographers and the model in the long run. Who knows, maybe the model has some ideas of their own art photography that they would like to share and execute during the session.

Always be transparent with what you’re looking for and the intention of this session. This transparency with adds an extra layer of comfort to the model knowing exactly what they’re getting into. A lack of communication and transparency can cause discomfort and anxiety on both parts such as the photographer as well as the talent or model themselves.

Have a discussion a few days or a day before the scheduled date to shoot and bounce an idea off each other as well as letting them know who will be present on the day of the shoot and what is their importance of being on the shoot as well. If possible and you don’t need any help or assistance they I would advise keeping the session as intimate as possible in regards to it just being you and the model or talent. This simplifies a lot of things and leaves you with nothing extra to worry about.

Another fool-proof way of making your model feel comfortable is to let them see what’s going on from your side of the lens. Allow the models to take a glance at the scene from the camera itself, so they know exactly which areas are being portrayed and how lighting is working for the scene. Maybe you can even use a dummy to showcase your idea.

This not only helps to develop confidence from your model to you but also gives them the chance of exploring something that, maybe, they were always curious about (not all professional photographers are this carefree to allow models to be nearby their pricey gear!)

5. Never Touch the Model

Don’t touch the model unless permitted to. In nude photography, this should be a given but often times photographers become so zoned and engulfed in the craft that we forget about a few things such as this. The moment you find yourself getting ready to go touch the model to adjust to the pose you’re looking for, remember how sensitive in nature this session is. Instead of wanting to touch the model, try and mirror the poses to them or give them an example to look at them communicate with them from there.

This rule is very important and shouldn’t be broken under any circumstance especially if you don’t personally know the model or client. If you need anything to be moved or adjusted, try to communicate this in words as best as possible or have an assistant on set. As the photographer, it is important that you communicate to the model or talent as to what it is you’re looking for without having to touch them.

6. Use Props

Here are some tips I can share with you in nude photography. Try to use props throughout some of your shots as it often adds a lot of character to your image and gives it that extra punch to capture your viewer’s attention. Another tip is anything from a curtain, table or even chair helps to get the job done. You can then center some of your poses around that for a more interesting concept. You can apply these tips to enhance your concept of nude photography.

In case you don’t feel confident enough, photo editing can compensate a bit, but remember it’s part of a proper scene setup to include props matching to the topic you desire to cover.

7. Use A Long Focal Length

You want to always keep a safe and professional distance away from your talent or model. Take into consideration that your model is already in a vulnerable state and as the photographer, you being too close might just bring about a sense of discomfort. To play is safe and respectful, try to use a lens with a good enough focal length for you to capture what you need while still keeping a safe distance from your subject as well.

8. Use A Private Location

If you don’t have a space of your own then I would advise looking into finding a private area to do nude photography. This should be a given but you should never try to do nude photography in an area accessible to anyone as it opens an opportunity for mistakes and embarrassments. Make sure the location you’re shooting is private so both you and the talent can have peace of mind knowing there won’t be any unexpected visitors during a session.


9. Cover Up

While shooting nude photography, I’ve found out that less can be more and I can consider it as one of the best tips when asking my models to get nude. Your model doesn’t always need to be completely nude or practically showing everything in nude photography. He or she can use their hands or legs to cover a few key areas. Even an oversized shirt can come in handy to make the session a lot less raunchy and porn like and more artistic. You as a nude photographer is not as open-minded and artistic when it comes to nude photography as others so they probably won’t see what you’re trying to evoke through your photography unless you make it obvious. Doing nude photography teaches you a lot more than one may think. It teaches you more about respecting and appreciating the human body as an art form when it’s nude and furthermore opens the mind of others to view things like this in photography.

10. Anonymity

Keeping your nude image model anonymous and posing her strategically to hide her face adds mystery and also helps to tell a story in nude photography. This also adds some comfort to your model being nude as she won’t be easily identified if the image is posted on social media or her image printed in a portfolio.

On the same line of thought, it’s important to count on a disclosure contract for your models so they can feel comfortable with regards to where are their photos going to be published and under which conditions. Maybe some people would like to have a private nude photography session but they withheld because of a preconceived idea that their photos are going to be all over racy magazines. Instead, be clear. Ask your lawyer (or more experienced photographers in the field) about which paperwork needs to be filled so both parts feel secure about image distribution – mostly in the era where social media profiles are a mean of building a portfolio for us photographers around.

11. Consider the Ambient

Maybe something as simple as to consider if there’s enough heating for the area where the studio session is taking place can be ignored without intending it. Let’s be real: your models are wearing their birthday suits, meaning that’s essential to provide an ambient in which they feel not only warm but comfortable.

Consider your interior decor to add some cushions around if the model needs to sit on the floor for a long period. If in doubt, just remember to have some blankets around – neutral tones preferred – as they can also be used as part of the scene you are portraying.

12. Practice Some Empathy

If you happen to be starting and feel nervous about the session, imagine what’s going on for your model! Instead, prior to asking the model for a complex pose you may have seen in a magazine or while studying, ask what’s the opinion of the subject of your photos. This point goes alongside #3, but instead of just being the suave photographer that likes to have an insight from its models consider what would be like to be on the other side of the lens.

13. No Cell Phones

If you intend to have an assistant or more people on set while doing this nude photography session then I would strongly recommend that each individual except the model or talent is permitted to take their phone to the area where the session is taking place. The day and age we live in, mobile phones are capable of taking high-quality images or videos and can instantly be shared with social media platforms or sent to others. This is not to judge the character of the individuals on set but it is always better to be safe than sorry and the permission of one person to take images of a nude models does not give permission to everyone else as well.

14. Make Sessions Time-Efficient

Instead of wasting countless minutes by planning the scene at the moment, just plan ahead for most of the event. Yes, it’s true that you have to interact with your model as a key element of the session, but one thing is to decide which pose to portray and another is to discuss over half an hour if the lighting is okay for the scene, if the backdrop is set in place, if your laptop starts, if the camera tether is working and many other issues that you can imagine. Things happen, so best to be ready and be time-efficient.

Another key aspect of this point is to consider taking mid-session breaks. It not only relieves the tension of the session itself but also gives you enough time to gather your thoughts on how the photos are turning out to be if you need to repeat a pose… and why not, grab a bite for you and your team. Set aside areas where coffee, tea, water, and small bites like finger food or biscuits are available when needed. The prolonged exposure to intense artificial lights can affect the health of your model by lowering its blood pressure, so another good reason to take breaks in between.

Nude photography is such a tricky topic and if not handled carefully, can go south pretty fast and easy. Try to be as professional when it comes to photography especially in nude photography as by showing respect and consideration to the model for taking part in such a sensitive but rather amazing genre of photography. Nude photography can be so exciting. Your shooting skills can be trained as you get some tips on how you can capture great nude photos. I do hope this article has served as a great help in executing your first nude session.

Well, we hope this guide has given you an insight into the craft behind nude photography. If somehow, this article has awakened your creativity of nude photography feel free to subscribe with us or drop a line in the comments below. See you next time!



Rating: 3.32 based on 74 Ratings
The following two tabs change content below.
Michael Moodie is a Freelance Photographer and Photojournalist. He Enjoys Lifestyle Photography and Traveling while doing all things creative!

Latest posts by Michael Moodie (see all)

Comments (1)

  1. [email protected] Verified buyer

    Done a great job. Really great article in dept and covers almost all important points. Thanks Micheal.