Nude Photography – Style on a Shoestring

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Camera: Know your camera or at least some of the capabilities, as the more prepared you are on the day, the more smoothly the shoot will be. Therefore don't get caught up in its technical aspects. If you're unsure of your captured images, you should take a variety of exposures with different camera settings, but tell the model why you want repeat poses. If you want to use fill-in flash, test it out beforehand for the required exposure.

Location: The main focus of the image should always be the model, so it's best to use a simple set up, and one which doesn't require an expensive studio and lighting. Consider a suitable location such as your own home, at a friend's, a private garden or if you have the chance, maybe an old building or a disused factory. What ever you choose, it must be interesting for the model, even it's only a non-descript background and a chair (a simple prop).

Prior to the shoot, check out your chosen location in order to understand the natural light that's available and what would be the best time of day to have your shoot. The natural light will present to you certain possible images that you can expand on the day; for example, an afternoon sun provides low striking shadows and contrasting images.

Working in an informal ‘real life' setting away from the studio and without either assistants or helpers circling around, is great for creating an intimate atmosphere for your photos. However it is important that the model trusts you. If it's needed, suggest that the model brings along a friend, as this will relax her and it should help the shoot run smoothly.

Model: Maybe your girlfriend or wife is interested in posing for you, and if not maybe a suitable friend. Remember a sensual atmospheric photo does not have to be based around nudity, but do make it clear to your proposed model what you plan to shoot and require of her.

If you're photographing someone that's new to you, then you must build up a rapport with them, as you prepare the shoot. Don't ignore her or her needs, but do have some refreshments on hand. Talk to the model, be calm and relaxing. Don't just go straight into the nude poses, as she might be just as nervous as you. At all times be professional. Be in control of the shoot; its set ups, poses and create a relaxed atmosphere because ‘if you are relaxed, it will help the model to relax too. If you need a signed model release form, make sure that's completed prior to the shoot.

Imagination: Plan ahead and always have a starting point for your images; maybe it's a particular image that inspires you, one that you wish to duplicate. This image is only the starting point for your photo and not necessarily your final image. Otherwise the shoot will be very short and the resultant photos could be dull. If this happens, then treat it as a practise run for you than the final shot.

Do lead the model in her poses, but also listen to any suggestions she might have, as these could add something to the final photo. The rest is down to plenty of imagination. If you set yourself strict parameters for the shoot, for example one light, one costume, then you might just produce a collection of stunning images.

For successful nude photography (be it full nudity or partially clothed), remember you are creating a fantasy for yourself and the viewer, which you have to balance with the technical side. Make sure the overall balance of the photo has a strong focal point and the composition is good/dynamic.

Finally like the best in photojournalism, the best nude photos tell a story. I prefer to set the scenes as if my photos were stills from a film. With the model in situ, I like to hint at what's happening as much from the setting as from the model's pose and state of undress.
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