To grow and develop as a photographer you got to feed your inspiration, try new things, experiment and keep being curious. Finding your style, can take time: It is made up of your personality, preferences, experience and knowledge.
There are as many different ways to shoot nudity as there are bodies.
What is considered to be sexy with the body varies from person to person, from continent to continent and from time to time. As for the female body a lot of people would say breast and bottoms, followed by legs and the waist, but I have met people that find the neck, feet, diaphragm, ears, the back, sexual organ and shoulders the most attractive part of a female body.
Some like it model thin, some like it curvy, some like it very big, others prefer a strong athletic body. You can find people that gets off on bodies with amputated arms and legs, that want a lot of body hair, that prefer different coloured skins, with or without freckles. The body come in different, shapes sizes and colours…but if you think about it…it doesn’t really change all that much.
It’s funny, dogs for instance that comes in all types of colours, textures, shapes and sizes are often considered nice and cute no matter what. Or take a dolphin with a larger fin, smaller eyes or longer nose, is just as beautiful to us as an “average dolphin”. But when it comes to humans….the slightest variations can be interpreted as very ugly or very beautiful.
It might be good to pause and ask yourself what you would like to create, express, experiment with. Sexy, romantic, bold, graphic, documentary….there are many ways to portray the naked human body.
Get inspired from what some other photographers have done.
Hope you are inspired
Nude naked and undressed
How natural is it to be nude?
This photo tutorial actually came about as a response to all the male amateur photographers that have asked me how start taking nude photos, how to get hold of models. I also saw it as an opportunity to educate and help hinder future model abuse from photographers. I personally know and have met many booth male and female models that have been exposed to various degrees of abuse from photographers.
Before getting in to the hands on practical stuff I would like to get back to the basics and address some primary things that are not talked about at photo school or mentioned in the photo magazines. You need to first understand where you are coming from to be able to identify where you want to go and how to get there.
You have a huge responsibility as photographer, whatever level you are on. There are unfortunately a lot of photographers that inflict suffering and insecurities… and sometimes even sexually abuse their models…without even realizing it
By understanding yourself and your models better, you will be able to establish a relaxed atmosphere and a platform of trust, from where you can be infinitely creative…without hurting anyone.
Even though all of us start our journey here on earth naked, fact is that most people have a charged relationship to nudity. …Booth their own and others. It normally stems from the type of family, society and religion you had in your childhood and what type of experiences you had about nudity. A person that grew up in a nudist family will often have a far more relaxed attitude about nudity than a person that never saw a naked body in their childhood.
Huỳnh Công Út, known professionally as Nick Ut, born 1951 in French Indochina, took this photo of 9-year old Vietnamese girl Phan Thị Kim Phúc who was running toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Trảng Bàng village during the Vietnam War, year 1972 . Despite the conservative times of the early 70-ties especially in the US…. The photo was at first rejected by an editor at AP (Associated Press) because it was showing a naked girl front on…..did not only made the headlines, it turned out to become of the most important photographs in photojournalistic history and has won the Pulizer Prize.
It shows that a great photo, no matter how shocking or provocative it might be, will at some point probably get recognized and accepted….maybe even praised, … if the cause/issue/subject is important enough and stirs enough emotions that is.
(Right after he took the photo he brought the girl to the hospital…she now lives in Canada and they are still in regular contact.)
Nudity can evoke a myriad of different feelings and associations in the observer
From freedom, joy, back to basics, feeling at one with nature to feelings of vulnerability, physical complexes and insecurities, to sexual feelings and fantasies. It can remind you of things forbidden, maybe suppressed feelings and desires or even fear and repulsion, sin and evil.
The sight of a naked female body often arouses sexual feelings in men and both sexes can easily appreciate the beauty of the female curves. As for women, the male body can often be perceive as unattractive, threatening or even funny in photos.
I can easily take flattering photos of any woman, but find it much more challenging to portray the male body in a way that I find attractive. Old fat and hairy is by many considered to be unattractive, but for my dear Brazilian male fiend (which I can mention is commonly regarded as very handsome by booth sexes) these type of men are the sexiest, most attractive and desirable…the bears!
Nudity is a powerful tool to get your message across, it always attracts attention.
Some peoplego about everyday life totally naked…like nudists/naturalists and certain tribes.
ATTITUDE, How do you feel about nudity in general? Are you comfortable being naked at home by yourself? What about being naked with your family, in front of your children or partner? In public change rooms and showers? Have you ever been to a nudist beach?
How would you feel being the only person naked surrounded by dressed people? For some it is a dream… for others a nightmare.
How do you feel when you are dressed in front of a naked person? Uncomfortable, comfortable, aroused, in control, powerful, or wanting to also get your clothes off?
Think about how your upbringing has affected your view on nudity and sincerely ask yourself if you have a healthy and relaxed relationship to nudity. It’s ok if you don’t…most people don’t, but to be aware of it is the first and most important step. Once you know that you have an issue with nudity, you can work on improving it and start from where you are actually at.
INTENTION, Once you have identified how you feel about nudity and your thoughts about and relationship to it, you can then start to ask yourself why you want to take nude photos. Be as honest as possible even though it might be hard to discover that what you really feel and think deep down, doesn’t always correspond to how you want to to be…or the idea that you and others have about who you are.
RESPONSABILITY, Everyone has their story, their background, issues and hang-ups. What you might think is fun and exiting can be uncomfortable to your model. You might get sexually aroused while your model gets scared or disgusted. Be as open and transparent with your model as possible when planning the shoot and always check with him/her that they understand what you want and if he/she is comfortable with it. Show photos for your model during the shoot so that he/she knows what’s going on and can see how it’s turning out. I always try to create as a relaxed and safe environment as possible, keep showing them what the photos look like and making sure that they are comfortable. Many of my models have asked to take their clothes off themselves, without me having asked them, because they feel comfortable, like how the photos turn out and would like to have some nice nude photos of themselves. For most of my nude models it was their first time naked in front of a camera.
I will round it up for this time, hope I got you to reflect a bit…or a lot.
Using sunlight with natural and artificial light shapers.
All photos Ami Elsius
•Look, and plan for the best light rather than the most beautiful location…good/beautiful/interesting light is crucial to get great photos
•Nature produces infinite possibilities of lighting situations, learn how to take advantage of that
Where to find and how to use commonly occurring light shapers:
*A light shaper or filter is that which goes between the light source and the camera; in this case the sun…and changes the intensity, direction, shape, pattern, softness, hardness and colour temperature of the light… and in particular the shadows it throws.
Examples of naturally occurring light shapers and filters are
Produced by nature:
•Foliage, trees, branches
•Mountains and rocks
•Ports, gates, doors
“And of course there are hundreds of different light shapers made especially for photography: that you can buy or make your self…but I save that lesson for another day. “
With a bit of planning you could get photos taken in natural light (the sun as only light source) with a “studio feel” to them; that look as they were taken using professional lights.
Once you understand the naturally occurring lighting conditions around you…and learn how to use them to your advantage, it will be much easier to move on to working with man made light sources… like flashes and continuous lights.
I will show you some examples to get you inspired:
Where and how you can work, potential clients, identifying and developing your style
Photos clockwise: Amanpulo Resort,Philippines, Maldives, Barefoot Resort Havelock Andaman Islands, Taj Faluknama Palace Hydrabad India, Maldives, Hotel Metropole Taormina Sicily
Preparations for a shoot for Jiva Spa, Faluknama Palace Hydrabad
Philippines, Mazzara Del Vallo, Maldives, Etna
Taj Faluknama Palace, Hydrabad
Dhoni, Maldives Ari Atoll
Maritius, celebrating the Independance day with facepainings in the Mauritian flag colours
Shoot for Jiva Spa at Faluknama Palace, Hydrabad
Photo assistant with a greycard (used to measure and adjust the light temperature of the photo) in an indoor pool in Milano
Traditional fishermen in Talalla Srilanka
Shooting dancers in action takes precision. You need to anticipate the peak of the movement and then press the trigger just a little before the peak, to be able to capture it. Your trigger finger needs to be quicker then your eye. You need to imagine the movement before it is done and always press a little before the ”perfect shot”. If you press exactly when you think it looks the best…you have already missed the shot. The same principles goes for any type of action shots
To freeze movements you will need to use fast speeds and not a too shallow depth of field. Good lighting helps a lot…with high speed strobes or ambient light.
I have found that most skin retouching tutorials on the web are overdoing it. I know that many people like the skin looking totally flawless, plastic and artificial. That look is commonly seen in magazines and adverts now days, but most clients want a result that looks real.
If you, like myself, want a more natural looking result, instead of the totally smooth but obviously fake effect, where you can’t tell if the skin has been retouched…this is for you.
Here’s an easy, visual, Photoshop tutorial that will take you step by step through the process of evening out the colour and texture of the naked skin as well as some slimming and toning….all with a natural looking result, leaving the water drops on the model intact.
If you don’t have photoshop allready or would like to upgrade…visit: www.adobe.com/products/photoshop they have free trial versions as well
www.photoshop.com check out for more tutorials, info and tips
I think the photos are pretty self explanatory, however you are more than welcome to post questions if there’s something unclear.
A drawing tablet (also called a graphics pad ordigitizing tablet) is recommended for precision and ease of work. I use Wacom
Duplicate your background layer
Choose Liquify under the filters menu
I chose the warp tool and started pulling in the belly a bit
Masking the arm before retouching the double chin
I used again warp tool to pull in the duble chin
removed the mask
and started to reduce the underarm fat
then the clone stamp to further slim the waistline
I used the healing brush to fix the foilage in the background, leaving the area closest to the skin untouched. Of course this is much easier if the background is white or in one colour….then it is easier to do it all in liquify
then the dodgetool to brighten up the shadows made by the belly
then picked the brush tool and copied the colour around the areas that I would like to brush in. Keep updating the colour to blend in as much as possible, in every new area that you are woring on
you need to use a soft brush and with low opacity, it’s better to use a low opacity and paint over many times. I was careful to only brush a bit on the areas without water drops
I copied the layer and continued to brush in a more even skintone
be careful not to overdo this part
changed the opacity to se where the water drops had been, then picked the eraser and erased over each drop. Be careful not to erase outside the waterdrop
flattend the imaged, saved it and done!
If you only look at the right photo it looks natural, but if you look at the left you see the difference. Very useful for non commercial portraiture…in particlar for pregnant women that want to look natural with the big belly, but most often prefere not to show their extra chilos on their legs, arms, butt etc.
if you can show that you can do this to your photos to future clients, you might find it easier to find nude models…people in general tend to be vain and want to look as good as possible when they have their photos done
I did a fairly quick job just to show what is possible. It is far from perfectyly done and if I would have done it for a client I would have spent more time making it look perfect….but still natural,
I am now 7 months pregnant and feeling great
These photos were taken 1 month ago at 28 weeks, at my sisters summerhouse at Bohus Malmön, Sweden.
Check out other photos I have taken of Pregnant Women
or go to my site
2 x Q-Flash Trio Strobes with wireless control and coloured gels
Canon 5D Mark II and canon lens f/4 L IS 24-105 mm
Unfortunately the shot was not planned and I had left my Manfrotto tripod at home. Instead I propped it up on a table with various supports I could find lying around….like some books a sock and a toy.
I desaturated the photos in Lightroom and then gently retouched the photos in Photoshop….like I always do with the pregnancy shots.
Tip when mixing natural light with strobe light:
When mixing natural light with strobe light, I always always try to make the light look natural and not like I have used a flash. Use low effect, gels and diffusers and position the strobe so it doesn’t create strange shadows that goes against the natural light source. Se photo caption for more details
Soft romantic colours and materials of Danish designers.
Shot on a cold, grey and totally overcast October day against a withering castel garden.
One hand held warm light (Coloured Gel infront of the strobe…I used a mix of a soft pink and a yellow light creating almost a salmon colour effect) through the foilage creates the feeling of a distant sun.
I am at 6:00 O’clock and the model at the centre of the clock facing me or on a slight angle, the strobelight was held at 10:00 or 2:00 O’clock, pointing towards the model through some foilage.
Canon 5D Mark II
Tokina Macro Lens 100 f 2.8
I used a very short depth of field, ranging from 2.8 to 4.0, making the background blurry and creating a softer romantic look
QFlash Trio (QF8)
Qflash Pilot (Wireless Control)
Quantum Turbo SC Power Pack
I used the Quantums standard light shaper with gels that I cut out from sheets myself. They have filter and gel packs that they sell but often I find them to strong when I want a soft natural effect.
Desaturation and filters in Lightroom and skin retouching in Photoshop
If you are a beginner or a full blown pro, there are always new things to learn and inspiration to soak up. There are many great photo blogs, websites and videos where you can learn and get inspired all for free. To make it easy for you I have listed a selection of some of the best and most popular photo blogs.
Check it out:
I will have to start with The Manfrotto School of Xcellence
A complete photo school with:
Joe McNally, Drew Gardner, Bill Frakes and myself; Ami Elsius just to mention a few of many contributing tutors.
You can learn and get inspired from us from live (or archived) webinars, still or video tutorials and blog entries. It’s a well of varied and precious information…for all levels of photographers.
Of course you have Joe McNally’s own blow which is one of the most popular photo blogs in the world…fantastic resource for flash/strobe users. Joe is the Author of 3 best sellers: A guide to digital photography, The hot shoe Diaries and The moment it clicks.
Do it yourself tips for the handy person. A great site for economical and useful photo solutions.
I haven’t swashbuckled with pirates, nor have I swam the English Channel. I haven’t even been to Antarctica. But I have travelled to many far away places, created a lot of still and moving pictures for myself and others. And I’ve made it my life’s goal to be as creative as possible towards everything I endeavor.
Top Photographer Chase Jarvis…a very creative and inspiring person who generously shares his experiences and tips.
I really like how he’s written his Bio:
On a deserted island, I’d go insane without photography, film, music, my wife Kate and our family pets. Storytelling, creative innovation, and visual voodoo – no matter the medium – make my heart go thump thump; and sharing all this online with the world, plus as much of my professional experience I can muster, makes my soul sing. I’m fond of crows, and love that they’ll fly toward anything shiny. I can find humor in anything.
I have won a boatload of awards for my work, and I’m grateful for every single one of them, but I’ve always been unsure of whether I earned them or whether the jury was rigged. I was transparent long before it was hip to be so, and I believe deeply in teamwork, community, and collaboration. Let’s be friends. Better yet, let’s swim the English Channel.
David and Libby Nightingale’s blog
A beautiful and highly popular blog with great tutorials (some free and others cost) and stunning photos.
A site that mainly focuses on landscape photography, with a special section just for tutorials.
Heaps of different camera reviews collected in one place.
Great and big variety of practical tutorials. There’s also a gear guide and a buy guide.
How did I do that?
Photoshop genius? A spirit? Awesome light setting skills? Smoke?
Sometimes you just need to be in the right place in the right time…and keep your eyes open and have your camera handy.
Fact is I was just at the right place at the right time. The reflections are actually 100% natural. A late afternoon at my mums place, the sun, filtered through leaves shining in to the living room through a small gap in the window where the marquise didn’t reach. The rays played with the hand blown glass and bounced off the small stone pebbles that covered the bottom. I was there, I moved the bowl back and forth, but it was just in that position that you saw the magic and I could hardly believe what I saw; It looked like smoke dancing on the wall, but it was still and motionless.
I had it printed and framed and now it hangs in my mums house, on the wall right opposite where the glas bowl is. My mum took a couple of photos of the result and sent me….I like it and am tempted to do one like that for myself as well.