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:
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
Random, crappy snapshots can be pimped through a polaroid application. It will add an aged and dreamy feel to the images and you will notice that all of a sudden, photos that you never thought would go together makes nice albums and series. There are photos and cameras with built in functions, but if you need to convert your files there are many programs that can help you with that.
I downloaded this really cute and probably the most authentic Polaroid feel application you will find….. for free at http://www.polaroid.net
Here are some of my random snap shots that I never dreamt of putting on my website…but looking at them like this, I start to warm to them. What do you think?
Make up for photographers
Something that many amateur photographers miss, is that make up can make or break a photo. The skill of the make up artist is of course important however, the right direction and communication is crucial to manifest your vision and get the result you want.
There are some things that you as a photographer should know about light and make up. How different types of lotions, oils, foundations and powders give totally different results in different lights and angles and on different types of skin.
I will post an other article on how to get your vision across, direct teams and understand and interpret the vision of your clients…for now I will stick to make up and light
Tide line means the contrast on the neck or jaw line as a result of badly applied foundation in a contrasting colour to the skin tone.
Make up offers endless creative possibilities. Get out and get inspired! (or stay in and flick through a magazine, a book , watch a film or browse the internet)
Yes that’s right, it’s useful even for photographers to have a beauty bag with the most important items. It can easily happen that your make up artist or stylist has forgot something. It’s not fun if chipped black nail polish, a shiny forehead or a badly fitted dress should ruin your shot…when it easily can be avoided. *Chicken fillets means silicon shaped as chicken fillets, to fill out a bra or top if needed. Mainly used for catalogue photos where you use skinny flat-breasted models for clothes that are made for curvier women.
Only apply body lotion or oil to your model if you can do it in a non-sexual way. You want to use the same approach as you would when putting sun block on your child: effective, even non sexual and totally comfortable with his/her nudity. Make sure to bend fingers and legs, arms and feet to get the make up, oil or lotion also in the creases of the elbows, knuckles, knees and heals.
To apply powder on the face, light brush strokes (tap the brush first to get rid of excess) in an outward motion from the eyebrow centre. This is to avoid brushing agains the small hairs on the face.
Highlighter is best applied to the collarbones, neck and shoulders…any part that you want to stand out a bit extra and reflect some more light
Here I have used 3 different light set ups and 3 different types of make up. The photos on the right are taken with the light from the left and the photos on the left are taken with the light shining straight on to the top of the hand. Here you can easily see the difference between different make ups in different lights and with the light comming from different angles. Remember that different body parts respond different as well; ex. a oil might look good on the legs but terrible on the face. Power might work wonders on a shiny forhead but look like a joke on a hairy chest. Highlighter on the collarbones might look stunning but applied to the nose you the model might look like Rudolfs sister.
If you don’t have a big space to turn in to a photo studio…it’s ok; hardly any photographer starts out with a big professional fully kitted studio. Actually, it can be beneficial to no have all the gear and facilities from the beginning…you get to improvise, be inventive and learn to adapt your lights, set up and poses to the present conditions.
Here’s an example of a simple studio set up taken in a home environment. Silvia, a dance teacher and performer showed up at my home in Milan (I haven’t got my own photo studio here yet) desperate to get some photos for her Burlesque classes that were about to start soon. As I was busy with other things I could only give her an hour, I had to find an easy light solution that would do the trick.
I decided to use my Quuantum trio flashes with battery packs and wireless control. http://www.qtm.com/ They are small, easy to place, powerful and fast…with numerous light shaping possibilities. I have had them for less then a year and I just keep appreciating them more and more and finding new ways to use them all the time. I worked with the standard round diffuser with filters (one red and one blue) on two flash heads and a small square soft box on a third flash.
If you have other flashes you could buy gels and attach them on to your flash to get the same effect.
I used the Manfrotto Event Kit ( DIY03KIT) but in a slightly different way from what it is intended. I added a Manfrotto heavy duty flex arm ( 237 HD ) to the reflector holder (which can hold up to a 122cm diameter reflector) , which is included in the event kit; to add some hight. I used a sunfire reflector from Lastolite
The left flash was supplied with a deep blue filter (part of the quuntum filter kit) and clamped on to a chair with the Manfrotto spring clamp with flash shoe ( 175F ) pointing at the reflector.The spring clamp has become a favourite; it’s ideal for photographing small spaces and interiors where a normal light support would be in the way. You can clamp in on to curtain rods, tables, doors, trees, windows etc.
The middle light is fitted on to an Manfrotto 233B bracket with the 026 swivel that can rotate and move the flash unit away up to 45 cm, which in turn is fitted on a Manfrotto black alu air cushioned mini compact stand (can be bought separate or in a 3 pack).
I used the quuantum foldable softbox for the midle light, without any coloured filters or gels.
For my third light I used my Gitzo ocean traveller with a mounted Manfrotto project/monitor holder 183, which I fitted a red light to. I pointed it through the frosted glass which made the light more pink in the tone.
I moved the middle light from right to the left depending on the pose of the model, making sure that it was always pointing at her face.
The process and management involved in a photo shoot.
The more practice you get, the bigger and more complex assignments you will be able take on; with peace of mind that your team is happy and safe, your clients are satisfied and you are able to create what you set out to do…within the time frame and budget planned for.
It’s a lot of things to keep in mind, especially when you do your own projects and don’t have assistants or a project manager to help you out. It’s all about multitasking. Don’t worry if you are a guy and terrible at doing two things at the same time; with the right questions asked, some planning, preparation and practice, you will be able to do it with bravura.
We will go through each one of the below questions in detail
Why? Is it for a client or yourself, what do you want to create
When? Weather, light, access, crowded or empty
Where? Photo studio, at home, nature, hotel, factory, castle
What? Photo equipment, lights, props, clothes, food, water
Who? Models, assistant, hair and make up artist, stylist
How? Transport, access, payment for location, contact person
What’s the reason for this photo shoot? Is is personal? Maybe for a learning experience, to express a vision, to build your portfolio, maybe for an exhibition or for a pitch; to attract a job.
Its always good to keep the “why” in mind and not to derail in to other ideas along the way. For instance; if you need to compliment your portfolio with a series of fashion photos to make it complete, but on the day of the photo shoot the model suggests some artistic black and white topless photos for boyfriend. Try to see the bigger picture and remember the reason you have put all this work, planning, maybe also money, involved people etc. to make it work. Ask yourself if it’s really worth it, just to see some boobs.
Maybe its for a client. A client can be a company a private person and adverticing agency, a magazine, a model agency etc. Try get as good picture of the end-user as possible…the client of your client….the one who will buy the product, read the magazine etc. Get clear of what the desired end result is.
*I will talk about communication in another post; how to get your vision across and how to interpret the ideas of your clients.. Keep an eye ot for that….it’s very important!
Summer or winter, hot or cold? In the summer you might need to bring a hat and sun block if you are going to be out a whole day…in winter a thermos with hot tea and some extra blankets for the models to not freeze to death.
Night or day, dawn or dusk, rain or sunshine? The light changes a lot in different weathers and time of day or night. It you are going to do a photo series at dawn…you might want to split it in two days …as the dawn doesn’t last for very long.
Is the place empty or crowded? Maybe the day of the photo shot is a public holiday and the location is crowded with people…whereas when you first saw it was 10am on a work day and totally deserted.
By the sea; high tide or low tide can make a huge difference.
Empty or closed?…some areas have booms or fences that close the area off for the weekend or at night.
Damp or dry?….make sure your gear and the clothes and accessories are kept clean and safe.
The more you know about the location and how it changes in different lights, weather, days etc. the lower the risk of having to cancel the photos shoot, or having to work uphill trying to work around the problems….problems that could have been easily been avoided with some planning.
Studio, hotel, factory, ruins, beach, city, museum, under water, vehicle, church, barn, home, bar etc.
There are endless possibilities:
First you need your imagination, a good contact net can be very useful and for some places you need to have cash as well.
If it is just a personal project it can involve you and any and all of the following:
Photo assistant, model, stylist, stylist assistant, make up artist, hair stylist.
If you work for a client the list can be a lot longer: art director, photo agency, advertising agency, producer, client etc.
Depending on the nature of the photo shoot it can also include more specific people like: a set designer, chef, lather expert, handyman, security, pet owner etc.
In other words the team can become very big…and the team have needs….everyone needs to eat and drink, be able to go to the toilet, the models need to be able to change in privacy and not freeze to death etc.
A checklist is always good to have. It’s very frustrating to be out in the countryside ready to shoot and you realize that you have forgotten the memory cards at home. This list works well for me, but these days it’s an internal check list that happens automatically…. you can add or remove things to make it fit your needs. It’s just to get you to start thinking.
•Photo equipment: Camera, lights, reflectors, tripods, extension cord, batteries charged, battery charger, extra battery, memory cards, extra hard drive, laptop
•Bits and pieces: Clamps, safety pins, needles, tape roller, nail polish remover, translucent powder, wet wipes
•Energy: Food and drinks or check before where to refuel
•Protection: Blankets, hat, sun block, umbrellas, right shoes, knee pads, protection for your equipment and the people
•Logistics: Transport to and from location for everyone involved, filled up car, trolleys if the location is far from your transport, keys, passes, phone numbers, phone with battery
•Legal bits: Model release form, property release form
•Shoot enhancers: Props, music, clothes, accessories
You might wonder about some of the points, but I can tell you that I have been in many situations where all of these things have proven to be important….very important actually.
Imagine that the model shows up with black flaky nail polish when you have set out to do a clean natural health shot.
Hot summer day, far from the nearest kiosk…and you have forgotten to bring water.
Clothes are too big and everyone forgot to bring pins.
You show up at the building, doors are locked and you forgot the number to the owner/security guard.
You got to be one step ahead all the time and have back up plans. You don’t want to stuff up your first big job because you forgot to think. With practice this becomes second nature and actually quite fun.
This is just as important as the first question of why. It doesn’t matter if you have worked out that you want the photo shoot to take place in Madagascar a misty morning in an open field with lemurs and 5 naked women on motorbikes. You might also know what lights to use and even the name of the nearest hotel where you would like to stay…if you don’t have the budget for it (or the right contacts or a lot of luck).
A feasibility rapport is good to establish;
Is it doable? Is it worth it?
If the answer is yes, then you can start to plan how to go about doing it.
Transportation – Of the team and all equipment
Budget – What does it all cost? Can you afford it?
Who do you know? – That can be useful
Practically – Identify obstacles beforehand
Planning – Is it doable? How to go about it?
Access -Keys, codes, gates, private property, crowded?
Contact persons -Get names and numbers of everyone
Production is all about multi tasking. You got to think and keep thinking of the following
•Planning: the why, when, where, what, who and how
•Direction and Communication: with models, hair and make up and artist, stylist, assistant…(art director, client etc.)
•Keep checking: the light, exposure, pose, expression, clothes, hair, make up, alignment and angles
•Basic needs: Safety (for people and equipment), food and drinks, temperature, time, toilet
It’s recommended to start with smaller projects and then work your way up to more elaborate ones.
Hopefully this proves to be useful for you
What are you waiting for?….start planning that next shoot!