How To Take Candid and Playful Nude Photos

What’s your first thought when you see this picture?

For me, it’s the “realness” of it. I’m struck by the authenticity of the shot. I think you’ll agree that a piece of the model’s true personality seems to come through in this image.

Shooting candid shots is certainly not difficult. Walk down any busy street and you can take 50 candid shots within a single block.

However, shooting candid nude shots is a far more difficult task. But on the rare occasion when you’re able to capture a model in a truly unguarded moment, the result is often quite charming.

Taking casual nude images is difficult because a nude photo shoot tends to have a certain structure to it; and a great deal of that structure usually involves some degree of posing by the model.

In other words, whether you’re shooting glamour, nude, or erotic images, most likely you’ll be directing your model into poses of some type.

Since I didn’t take this picture, I have no way of knowing what lead up to this particular image. For all I know, the authenticity I see when I view this shot might all be a ruse. Still, as ruses go, you’ve got to admit this would be a pretty good one.

But in this particular case, I don’t think it’s a ruse. I believe the picture represents an authentic sliver of time that occurred between the photographer and the model.

And though I don’t know the details of this specific shot, I can share with you the circumstances that have enabled me to capture similar shots during my own career.

For myself, shots like these tend to occur soon after finishing a specific set of images. Many of my sets consist of about 150 shots; with each shot featuring a different pose (requiring quite a bit of effort and concentration on the part of the model).

When I eventually tell the model, “Okay, we’re done,” she’ll inevitably fall into a comfortable body position and allow herself to relax, both physically and mentally. At this point, we may talk for a few moments before moving to the next set.

If you’ve developed a good rapport with your model over the course of the shoot, she’ll likely feel comfortable simply being herself while also being completely nude.

It’s during these “in-between” times that casual and candid shots like the one seen here are most likely to be captured.

 

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Are There Limits in Glamour and Nude Photography?

 

By almost any standard of glamour photography, this image is definitely unique. In contrast to the usual intent to portray models as attractively as possible, this particular shot presents a model in apparent anguish.

I find pictures like this one to be very interesting. It’s as if the picture is part of a story that the viewer knows nothing about. And since the viewer has no idea what’s going on, he gets to make up his own narrative regarding the shot.

But instead of trying to come up with our own explanation of the picture, let’s examine some of the techniques that went into making it such an effective image.

First, the mere fact that it’s in black & white adds a “documentary” style vibe to the shot.

Second, the contorted body position is also very different then what is typically seen in glamour work. The expression on the women’s face accurately conveys a true sense of despair (not an easy thing for a model to do).

However, what I like most about this picture is the unusual perspective of the model’s hand reaching toward the camera (with her arm creating an interesting diagonal to the composition). To get this perspective, use a low shooting angle and a wide-angle lens.

 

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How to Choose The Perfect Nude Model For The Job

This image is from one of my favorite nude shoots ever. Though the paint makes things appear a bit messy, it was actually a very simple shoot to execute. The model, Jubilee, is one of the most free-spirited and experimental nude young models I’ve ever worked with.

The scene was very simply lit. I simply used four flash heads bounced into four umbrellas to light the set very evenly. This was done so Jubilee could freely move around a fairly large area and still be well lit.

Apart from the lighting, all that was required was putting up some seamless white paper and making a quick trip to the art supply store to pick up some inexpensive paints.

I gave Jubilee the paints, a few foam brushes, placed her in the middle of the large white “canvas” and gave her the instruction, “Do whatever you want.”

From that point on, all I had to do was photographically document the proceedings.

With this type of shoot (one in which the model will be setting the pace), the most important thing you can do is find the right model. Preferably, one who is fearless in front of the camera, likes to experiment, has few inhibitions, and is willing to do just about anything it takes to get great pictures.

Since I had worked with Jubilee many times before, I knew she would be the perfect girl for the job.

From a purely business standpoint, this set of pictures has been one of my most profitable ever.

Not only did I sell the pictures from the set you see here many times over, I also sold images that I took immediately after the shoot featuring Jubilee in the shower and bath washing the paint off her body.

The most important lesson to be learned from this shot is that sometimes the most important talent a nude photographer can possess is the ability to choose the right nude model for the job.

 

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How to Use Only One Light For Dramatic Nude Pictures

I’ve always been very fond of this particular image.

Not only because it’s a very sculptural photograph of a nude female torso; but also because it’s a shot of my girlfriend, Penny.

This image was taken using a single tungsten hot light. My goal was to accentuate Penny’s muscularity and body definition as much as possible while using only a single light source.

When your goal is to emphasize detailed body definition, it’s a good idea to use hot lights. Hot lights are commonly used when shooting bodybuilders and fitness models.

The benefit of using hot lights when shooting this type of image is that the light stays on constantly (in contrast to flash lighting). This constant light enables you to easily move the light equipment around the subject and observe how different positions effect how the light falls upon your subject.

Side-lighting (or a position very close to side-lighting) will further serve to bring out details of your model’s body.

In this shot, I love the look of the deep crevice in Penny’s back. I was able to accent this area by positioning the light into a location that I felt was ideal.

As you can probably imagine, this would have been a drastically different – and far less dramatic – picture if the light had been positioned directly in front of her.

To further enhance musculature and body definition, a light layer of body oil was applied just before we began shooting.

Finally, a dappled dark grey muslin backdrop was used to give the background a bit of texture and to contrast sharply with her naked body. I remember this shoot like it was yesterday.

Thanks, Penny. Q

 

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Glamour Photography: The Art Of Naked Deception


This is a deceptive photograph (even more deceptive than most glamour photographs – and that’s saying a lot).

At first glance, it has a very casual feel to it. It succeeds in giving the impression that the shot was made in a very spontaneous manner. A nude woman simply lying amongst the sheets of a bed.

However, getting shots like this is not as simple as this picture makes it appear.

In other words, you probably won’t have much success if you stake out the bed of your wife or girlfriend, wait for her to open her eyes, and start snapping away.

Closer inspection of this picture shows that it wasn’t taken quite as spontaneously as it seems. For one, the white background provides a great contrast to the model’s skin. Also, there’s no clutter in the shot: no drapes, no clock radio, not a single distraction to be found. Not many actual bedrooms would provide such a clean “canvas.”

Add the beautifully soft and even lighting, the perfect manicure, the professionally applied makeup, the tousled hair that probably took an hour to get just right, and suddenly you have a glamour photograph that isn’t so casual after all.

 

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The Importance Of Sexy and Unique Shooting Angles

I’m a big fan of searching for unique and interesting shooting angles when I shoot glamour and nude images. Though I believe it’s a simple thing to do if you’re aware of it, I think this valuable compositional aspect of photography is one that most photographers overlook.

In fact, I believe that an interesting shooting angle may be the simplest way for you to turn an average picture into a very good one, and a very good one into a great one.

If this is the case, why do so many photographers overlook this factor? In my opinion, there are two reasons. The first one is that photographers simply don’t realize the transformative qualities that unique shooting angles can have on glamour and nude photographs.

The second reason is that shooting in this way is far more physically demanding on the photographer.

To shoot from unusual angles, photographers have to be in constant motion and always looking for new perspectives. Sometimes these shots require quite a bit of movement by the photographer (climbing ladders, lying down on floors, etc.). However, in my opinion, the added physical exertion is well worth it.

I shot this photo while the model, Breanna, was standing on a ledge in my home. This allowed me to shoot from a very low angle and produce a very unique image.

Another important thing to note about this shot is the position of Breanna’s feet (up on her toes, feet pointed). If she and I had been less aware of the importance of the position of her feet, this picture would not have the same impact and allure.

In addition, the simple blue walls contrast nicely with the tone of her skin. Remember, you don’t need a lot of props (or any at all) to create striking nude images.

 

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Making Your Models Wet: It’s Easier Than You Think

It was only a few years ago that taking a simple nude underwater shot like the one seen here would have been an expensive and frustrating task.

Until fairly recently, the protective cases that allowed photographers to shoot underwater were cumbersome and a huge hassle to use. These cases could turn a basic 35mm SLR into a contraption the size of a shoebox.

However, today there are convenient underwater cases for virtually all brands and types of cameras (and for phones as well).

Now that the technical factors required for underwater nude photography have been reasonably dealt with, photographers are free to devote their energies to shooting creative, high-quality images.

In addition to casual shots like the one seen here, shooting underwater gives you the chance to take elegant and beautiful glamour photographs that would be impossible to pull off on dry land (check out zenaholloway.com for some great examples).

However, better cases alone don’t make taking great underwater shots a simple task. You’ll quickly discover that shooting underwater adds an entirely new set of variables to the photographic process.

For example, if you go the low-tech route, it’ll take some time for you and your model to get the necessary timing down. The two of you will have to coordinate your time underwater in order to give you the best opportunity to capture good shots.

Scuba gear can be very helpful for the serious underwater shooter; allowing the photographer to stay underwater for long amounts of time (however, I must admit that my nude shoots have definitely been on the low-tech side of things).

One warning: If you’ve never before attempted to shoot glamour images underwater, be prepared to take a lot of pictures. The ratio of total shots to good shots can be very disappointing if you’re not prepared for it.

While shooting glamour and nude underwater shots may not be something you’ll end up devoting much time or effort to, it’s definitely worth trying at least once.

Just enough to get your feet wet.

 

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Tips For Photographing Very Young Models

This image includes two factors you’ll want to know about if you’re going to shoot glamour and nude  photographs of young women.

I took this shot as part of a set for a magazine that features younger woman (primarily 18 and 19-year-olds).

When shooting nude images of models this age it’s important not to style the shoot in a way that makes them  look even younger than they actually are.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t long ago that publications featuring young models had them posing with teddy  bears and lollipops. Fortunately, that style is very rarely seen these days.

However, you’ll still want your pictures to portray young models as having a sense of youthful innocence. To  help do this, I instructed this model to apply minimal makeup. I also supplied her with accessories that  convey a relatively youthful style (pink hairband and bracelets).

Along with the youthful styling, there is a second important factor in this image that is often overlooked by  many photographers.

At first glance, it appears that the model is resting her head on her left hand. However, in reality, she’s holding her head up so it barely touches her hand. The reason for this is that if she were to actually rest her head on her hand, the left side of her face would – for lack of a better word – have a “squished” look to it.

This potential problem is something you’ll have to keep an eye on no matter what style of photography you’re doing or what age model you’re shooting.

 

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Tears & Fishnets: Documentary-Style Glamour Pictures

 

I like the feel of this picture. It’s a documentary style photo that will definitely leave an impression on any viewer. Those who view this shot will inevitably come up with their own scenario for what may be occurring.

For example, my personal narrative involves a young French girl from the country who ran away to Paris, got caught up in prostitution, and is now having a breakdown in an extremely brightly lit alcove on the Champs-Élysées. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you any further details.

In spite of the tears and overall negative vibe of this image, it’s still a sexy and glamorous shot in it’s own way (torn fishnet stockings have a way of doing that). Certainly, the picture is staged (the reflection of the light on the wall gives the reality away fairly quickly).

However, I find images like this to be interesting. More than anything else, they remind me of still pictures taken during the process of making of a film.

If this style of photography appeals to you, an important thing to remember is to resist the urge to overly direct your model. Instead, encourage her to get lost in a role; in much the same way you would direct an actress.

There are two additional things to learn from this picture. First, be careful not to reveal your lighting setup. Second, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with a combination of fishnet stockings and smeared mascara.

 

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The Best iPhone Tripod Adapter

I recently stumbled upon a nifty little gadget that you might find very useful. And on an unrelated note, I just achieved my lifelong dream of using the phrase “nifty little gadget” in a sentence.

And what is this nifty little gadget?

Hold your horses. Cool your jets. I’ll get to it. But first things first.

Though it’s still hard for me to believe, phones today can take extremely sharp, high-quality images.

While it’s certainly true they have definite creative limitations (no ability to control aperture or shutter speed, for example), they’re still pretty remarkable.

In fact, there may be times when you’ll want to use your phone to create an image beyond just a “snapshot.” And when that time arrives, the use of a tripod may be in order. After all, phones are susceptible to camera shake too.

You’re probably already aware that there’s an abundance of little tripods made specifically for phones. While these tiny tripods possess a high cuteness factor, their practicality is questionable.

This is where this nifty little gadget comes into play:

The Gary Fong Tripod Adapter for the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS

The beauty of the Gary Fong Tripod Adapter is that it lets you easily mount your iPhone to your regular tripod and allows you to take stable shots until your fingers start to bleed (or until you’re done, whichever comes first).

It’s so simple and so ingeniously designed, you’ll wonder how you didn’t think of it yourself.

Check out what Wired Magazine has to say about the Gary Fong Tripod Adapter:

“…despite its basic design and almost complete lack of fancifying, it could be the most practical iPhone tripod mount we’ve seen. There is no need for suction cups, permanently-attached stick-on adapters or even damage-inviting dock-connectors. You simply slip the iPhone in when you need to take a steady picture. Easy…”

Would the good folks at Wired Magazine lie to you? Perhaps. But in this case, they’re right on the money.

If you’re interested, head over to garyfongestore.com and take a look (my detective instincts tell me there may be someone named Gary Fong involved in the operation).

(Note: I have absolutely no financial interest in this product. Even if the company sold a million units simply because of this post, I wouldn’t receive a dime. Which is pretty sad now that I think about it).

 

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Naked Models: Deceptively Real or Really Deceptive

Was the image above “posed”? Since I didn’t take it, I really have no idea. To me, it comes off as a natural, candid, and spontaneous shot. To many people, including myself, those are very favorable traits for a picture to possess.

However, photography is a deceptive medium. It’s impossible for a viewer to know if this photograph was posed or not.

I certainly agree that the natural look of this shot is appealing. However, it’s impossible to know whether this shot was taken in a spontaneous manner or if the model is simply someone who possesses an ability to portray “naturalness.”

Ultimately, does it matter? In my opinion, no. I think it’s a good shot (no matter how it was obtained).

In my work, I’ve found that I’m most likely to capture images such as this one during the “in-between” times that inevitably occur during shoots. For example, it may happen while I’m making a lighting adjustment and the model uses the short break to simply fall into the most comfortable and natural position possible.

“Natural-looking” pictures like this one can be created in a number of ways. And there’s no doubt that they’re usually quite charming.

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The One Unbreakable Rule Of Nude Photography

While looking through some old files, I came across this shot of a girl named Kitty. When I saw it, I knew it would be a good idea to include it here. Not because there’s anything special about the picture itself, but to use it as a visual reminder to those of you who do nude work.

As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, Kitty looks very, very young. Though I can assure you that she was 18-years-old at the time of the shoot, she certainly doesn’t look like it. That’s why I went to great lengths to confirm her age before I even considered picking up a camera.

When it comes to nude models, there’s only one type that you should absolutely never work with. Quite obviously, that’s the underage girl.

Never photograph anyone nude who is under the legal age. It’s impossible for me to stress this enough. Before you even consider setting up a shoot with a model, make sure she’s of legal age.

You’ll need to find out what the minimum age is for your particular location. This advice also applies to those of you reading this who live outside the United States. The legal age differs from state to state and country to country.

Photographing an underage girl is a mistake you never want to make. As I’m sure you’re well aware, the legal ramifications can be extremely serious.

 

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An Interview with Erotic Photographer Michael Charles

 

Gram Ponante is a leading voice in the nude photography industry. He is the Senior Erotic Consultant at Fleshbot.com. Since launching his own site, GramPonante.com, in 2005, Gram has appeared online, in print, and on-the-air in media around the world as an articulate and engaging commentator on all aspects of the adult-oriented industry.

 

An Interview with Michael Charles

By Gram Ponante

For many years, Michael Charles has been working at the highest levels of the nude and erotic photography world. He is the creator of InsideGlamourPhotography.com, a leading website devoted to the art of glamour, nude, and erotic photography.

Michael has recently completed a very informative—and, in my opinion— excellent eBook regarding the tools, tactics, and temperament required to be successful within the fields of glamour and nude photography.

I recently sat down with Michael at his home in the Hollywood Hills to discuss his new book, SKIN: The Complete Guide to Glamour & Nude Photography.

 

Gram Ponante: Let’s begin at the beginning, how did you get started in photography?

Michael Charles: My first interest was fashion photography. That’s the style of photography in which I learned a great deal and sharpened my techniques. It’s also where I learned how to handle the various aspects regarding the business of photography; factors like dealing with models, art directors, agencies, and the million and one other things that come with being a professional photographer.

Gram: But fashion photography implies the presence of clothing, while your work definitely celebrates the absence of it.

Michael: That’s true. I soon realized that what had actually drawn me to fashion photography were the models and the very unique and creative ideas that the top fashion shooters consistently come up with. Though I spent quite a few years assisting some top fashion photographers, I never had much interest in the actual “fashion” part of things.

Another realization I eventually came to was that I don’t have the type of personality that enjoys presiding over the dozens of people that are required to make serious fashion shoots work.

Gram: You prefer a one-on-one interaction?

Michael: Definitely. Not only does nude photography take the variable of “fashion” almost entirely out of the equation, it also allows me to do my work on the smaller scale I prefer. In fact, the great majority of my shoots consist only of me and my model.

Gram: Now, I’m a pretty lousy photographer…

Michael: So I’ve heard.

Gram: …and yet even I realize there’s a kind of power thrust on someone with a big camera. One thing I found especially useful in your book was the information about how to keep the proceedings professional and comfortable.

Michael: Definitely. While there’s inevitably going to be the need for some improvisation during shoots, having a structure in place that’s consistent with what you want from the shoot and setting things up in a way that allows you to achieve your goals helps everything flow much easier.

In fact, I’ve never had a shoot in which I wasn’t able to get the shots I wanted; and I think that’s primarily due to taking care of as many variables as possible beforehand.

Gram: In the book, you talk about how to handle things when a model brings her boyfriend or husband to the shoot.

Michael: Yes. Fortunately, that situation happens very rarely. However, when it does, it adds another variable to the equation. But if you know how to deal with it, it’s really no problem at all.

Gram: Your book covers a lot of ground. Not only do you go over the specific skills needed to work with nude models, you also devote time to some basic photography techniques that will help the new, DIY photographer.

Additionally, you detail the process of approaching potential models. And you don’t shy away from addressing the potential for sexual scenarios arising between model and photographer.

Michael: It’s important to keep in mind that if a photographer is doing his job well, both the photographer and the model will be enjoying the process. It should be a fun job on both sides of the camera. Sometimes things happen. That’s just the way it is.

Gram: In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect defines flying as throwing yourself to the ground but missing.

Michael: From a photographer’s perspective, I can appreciate that concept. There is definitely a Zen aspect regarding how a shoot plays out. I go in with a basic outline regarding the images I want to capture; but I also make an effort to stay in the moment and be open to changes along the way.

Gram: I’m curious about why you would write such a comprehensive book and talk about how “doable” your job is. Don’t you worry about competition? Won’t you anger the Brotherhood of Erotic Photographers?

Michael: Well, if that Brotherhood exists, I’ve certainly never been invited to their parties. Besides, there’s plenty of work to go around. It’s a big world. In fact, I even include a bonus eBook that provide readers with direct connections to the industries biggest publishers and buyers of photographic images.

Gram: Finally, in line with the type of personality required to pull off this job, can you address any misconceptions people might have about glamour, nude, or erotic photographers?

Michael: All I know is that I’ve had a great deal of success doing this kind of work without having the type of personality that many may think would be required. In other words, I don’t have the brash, aggressive personality that might come to mind if one were asked to envision a typical “nude photographer”.

I think the most important thing a photographer can bring to this type of work is authenticity. Models know when a photographer is trying to fool them; it’s like they have a sixth sense. I would advise aspiring photographers to be themselves, have fun, and not take things too seriously.

After all, there aren’t many activities that so perfectly blend creativity, moneymaking opportunities, and beautiful women. To me, that’s always been an extremely attractive trio.

 

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 Tips, Techniques, and Ideas for Glamour and Nude Photography