Nudist photography, or Nude photography, is obviously about the taking of nudist photos. This can be as an art form, where the nude subject (normally alone) can represent something other than basic nudism, or nudism life, where the subject matter is more wholesale, ie naked individuals on a beach, or a social gathering such as a naturist club or location, or a set-up nudist photo, where the photographer directs the scene or scenario within his or her agenda.
Important, as in most photos, is the lighting, the subject, and sometimes the background, which can add relevance, interest and relativity.
The big questions, especially when taking nude photos as an art form or commercially, is where do you recruit nude models? What are the legal ramifications? How can you make some money from nude photography?
My name is Scott Clifton. I am based in Sussex but obviously will travel as necessary. Most of my work is around naked people, men, women or couples. You can find more about me and see my portfolio at http://scottcliftonphotography.com/
Finding professional nude models.
There are free sites dedicated to this. The URLs of two that I have used are given below.
You have to register with these sites. This requires you to submit a few samples of your work, but the standard demanded isn’t too high! Once you’re registered you can expect models to start offering you their services, up to nude level and beyond. For a price, of course! Photographers refer to levels of work. Portraiture is a basic level that might cost you 20 pounds an hour, upwards depending on the professional status of the model. Many models require a minimum two hour booking. Some models allow you to use their home for shoots which is convenient. Higher and more expensive levels include erotic, implied nude, artistic nude, nude and finally, adult (also known by the descriptive term “open leg”). These terms often aren’t used in a very precise manner.
Using amateur models.
This is obviously more economical (and can be more fun and less intimidating when you start out). On the downside you’ll have to give much more guidance on dress, makeup, and how to pose, and it’s harder to get agreement to publish.
Getting the model’s permission
It’s obviously necessary to get a person’s permission to take photos of them. But you also might need to consider getting their permission for how you use the images. There’s a general presumption in UK law that copyright resides with the photographer. However, the law, as is often the case, can be complex. So, if you intend to sell your images you’d be well advised to formalise your intentions with the model. There’s a suitable free model release form you can download from the Royal Photographic Society at: http://www.rps.org/news/2018/april/rps-model-release-form. Also, if you intend to publish your photos so that other people can see them (say on a website) it’s advisable and the moral thing to do to get the model’s permission. The RPS form can also be used for this.
Where to shoot?
As mentioned above a model who lets you shoot at her (or his, of course) home is convenient. However, best and most expensive is to use a proper photographic studio. But, the equipment is complex to use so you’ll need to go in a course or two to find out how to use strobe lights etc.
Nude photography outdoors (weather permitting) can be fun. But you’ll need a friendly farmer or landowner to give permission (I know a very friendly guy who allows him to use his woodland and lake in East Sussex for a modest fee, for example). Or you need a very secluded spot on public land. The best environment to shoot outdoors is shaded woodland. It gives privacy and avoids shooting in harsh sunlight.
What to photograph and how?
So, you’ve got a model and a location. So what poses are you planning to shoot? There’s no right answer here but there’s one wrong one: start off with close up photos of the genitals. I (Scott) have no problem with taking such shots, as such, and think it’s a valid and indeed challenging photographic subject, but there’s a time and place for everything: try leading up to such shots slowly and bring your audience along with you. It’s a bit like disaster movies. Before the victims get drowned, burnt, eaten by aliens or crushed in an earthquake, the movie establishes them as real people. Then you care when they get drowned, burnt etc etc. So, before you show people’s bodies in closeup, establish them as individuals. That makes for much more interesting photos. For example, in the sequence of photos starting at scottcliftonphotography.com/image_pages_kelly2/image1.html we see the delightful Kelly, initially quite modestly dressed. (As you can see by the photo above, on this page.) By the time we get to the fifth image and see her in all her glory, we are ready to appreciate her lovely body!
With nude photography, the normal rules of photography apply. Composition is key. The “rule of thirds” is a good heuristic (make the main points of your photo lie off centre, about a third of the way in, horizontally and vertically. Also, “fill the frame” with the topic of interest, and look for opportunities to incorporate strong diagonal lines. Facial expressions and body stance are obviously key too. That’s all I’m going to say on that topic – books have been dedicated to composition, and all the above “rules” are made to be broken if you know what you are doing.
Good focusing is important. Try to focus on the model’s eyes.
As regards exposure, especially outside, make sure the model is properly exposed, especially the face. If the model is backlit which can be nice, you could use a reflector (cheap from Amazon) to cast some light back into the face (your model might be able to hold it for you) or use “fill flash”. See below.
You don’t necessarily need a lot of expensive kit to take good photos. Your skill and creativity are more important. However, kit can solve problems. Take lighting. Say you’re photographing your model in a shaded woodland and the gentle light is falling on her body. Lovely, but her face is in shade – not good! You could use the built in flash of your camera, but as the direction of the light from the flash is thrown in the same direction as the lens is pointing, you get very flat two dimensional images. A much better solution is to buy a separate flash unit for about 70 pounds and position it to the side and a bit above the model’s head if you can. You’ll need to set the flash to optical trigger and still use the main flash on low power to trigger it. Or spend another 50 pounds on radio triggers.
Another good lighting option is to use sunlight. Don’t take photos in the full glare of a sunny day, but use shaded light or photograph indoors with window light falling obliquely across your subject.
Also, a versatile camera (digital SLR or high end mirrorless camera) can be useful is controlling the background. Using a large aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.8) will throw a messy background out of focus.
I’ve included a few of my favourite photos and sometimes said said why I like them. First up is Holly (scottcliftonphotography.com/image_pages_holly/imagepage6.html). It’s a good illustration of the principle that less is more. It’s quite a modest photo yet oozes sexuality. Why is she naked? Who is she waiting for? The image tells a story.
Second up is one of my favourite models, Kelly (scottcliftonphotography.com/image_pages_kelly2/image3.html). It illustrates the sparse use of light (low key lighting) to emphasize parts of the body in an erotic way
Next, is the gorgeous Dolly (scottcliftonphotography.com/image_pages_dolly/imagepage3.html), chosen just because she’s so lovely and the image demonstrates the use of a large aperture to de-emphasise a messy background..
And, finally, Bex (scottcliftonphotography.com/image_pages_bex/image3.html) because it illustrates the less is more principle again. Actually, the last two images are far from perfect. The one of Dolly lacks light on her face and there’s motion blur on the one of Bex because I used too slow a shutter speed. It just goes to show that there’s more to photograph than technical excellence.
The law is very strict in the UK. You cannot take nude photos of people under 18. This applies even if “consent” is given and you’re their parent or guardian. Be especially careful when taking photos of group events when children might be present.
Scott clifton http://scottcliftonphotography.com/
Books about nude modelling
There are some handy books around, and there are a links to a couple of books for you to enjoy, which will help to answer your questions about nude photography
True Confessions of Nude Photography, by A.K.Nicholas.
See others below
If, on the other hand you are a photographic model, male, female, young or old, who is over 18 years old and willing to pose for nude photographs, then Nudist UK has the place to advertise your modeling services.
There is an abundance of both budding and professional photographers out there, who require nude subjects for their ongoing project work, or their portfolios, who would pay reasonable rates.
Other books which may interest:-