44 Photo Tips From The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (Part 3 of 5)


Here we are for the third time.

That’s why it’s called Part 3. Simple enough, right?

So grab your copy of SI and let’s take a look at some very good photography.



Page 55

Adding a lion to a photograph is guaranteed to add quite a bit of drama to almost any image (one exception would be an image that already includes a bunch of lions; but when’s the last time you had that problem?).

Unfortunately, on the vast majority of your shoots, chances are good that you won’t have a lion nearby to spice up your shots. Because of this, it’s important to know other techniques you can use to add dramatic aspects to your glamour and nude images.

The picture here is a good example of two of those techniques put to good use.

First, the model is creating a more dramatic body shape by leaning sharply on her right hip. This simple move is the first step in creating the always seductive “S” pose.

Quite often, simply directing your model to place the majority of her weight on one hip or the other is all it takes to create a much more alluring and sexy glamour photograph.

The position of her left arm also helps to create a more interesting and dramatic feel to the shot (in fact, it’s very similar to the arm position of the cover model seen at the top of this page).

Second, this picture is a good example of the importance of pointed toes and “extended” feet in nearly all glamour and nude images. Take notice of the fact that even though the model is wearing flat sandals, she’s still up on the toes of her left foot.

Doing this essentially puts her foot in the same position it would be in if she were wearing heels.

And as I’m sure you know, the positive visual effects on the legs of a model wearing heels can’t be underestimated when it comes to getting sexy shots. Obviously, women don’t wear high heels just to be taller (if that’s all they wanted, they could go with stilts).

In this particular shot, a close look reveals that even the lioness is up on her back toes.

Well done, big cat. Well done.


Page 56

In the vast majority of shots that attempt to feature women in seductive ways (glamour, swimsuit, nude, erotic, etc.), you’ll usually want your models to arch their backs to some degree.

An arched back (or at least a very straight one) makes almost any pose sexier and more visually interesting.

Experienced models like the one seen here are already well aware of how important an arched back is to good posing. Consequently, they’ll most likely do it automatically and without a thought.

However, when you’re shooting less experienced models, you’ll need to keep an eye on this and remind them to be aware of their back position at all times.

Of course, this puts some added pressure on you to remember to remind her. But that’s part of the job.

My best advice: No matter how you do it, remember to remind her.




Page 66

In my opinion, this shot is by far the most interesting one in the entire issue. It’s the only shot that takes any real risk in trying to create a truly unique image.

The slightly distorted image quality that makes this picture so interesting is the result of using a moderately wide-angle lens (in contrast to most of the other pictures in the issue that were shot with moderate telephoto to long telephoto lenses).

From the shadow under her left arm, you can tell that the picture was shot at midday (usually not the best idea).

However, it works in this case because the model is lying flat on her back. Because of this, there’s nothing to cast any harsh and unflattering shadows across her body or face.

The model’s body position and the hard light conveys a sense of “sun-worshipper” to the image (an appropriate vibe in an issue dedicated entirely to swimsuits)

And once again, notice how she has remembered to point her left foot even though it’s an extremely small part of the overall composition.

Little details like this can make or break a picture. The extreme “length” of her body in this shot is what makes the picture so interesting. Without a pointed toe, much of this length would have been lost.


Page 68

There are a few things in life you just can’t depend on.

One of them is that lazy brother-in-law of yours (yeah, you know who I’m talking about).

Another one is the wind.

Thus, if you want to take pictures of a model with her hair blowing in the wind, you’ll definitely have to bring a fan along.

And without question, you’re going to run into difficulty finding electrical outlets anywhere near the beach. Damn nature!

Unfortunately, small battery-powered fans will rarely do the job. So you’ll probably need to bring along a heavy gas-powered generator that will power a larger fan.

However, going this route will also require you to bring along an assistant or two to help carry the generator. The whole process tends to be quite a hassle (trust me, I used to be an assistant).

My advice: Take some quality time and ask yourself, “Do I really need her hair to be blowing in the wind?”


Pages 86-87

This image demonstrates the power of using unique shooting angles to capture interesting images.

Shooting a model who is laying down in the sand from a low angle and from behind might not be the first idea that comes to mind when composing an image of this type.

Initially, it might seem that having the model look back over her shoulder would cause an odd or uncomfortable vibe to the shot. However, as this picture proves, that definitely does not have to be the case.

It’s a great idea to always be on the lookout for unique shooting angles. I believe that failing to do this is one of the most common mistakes amateur photographers make. I cover this topic extensively in my eBook, SKIN: The Complete Guide To Glamour and Nude Photography.

In addition, notice the arched back of the model and how it greatly enhances the sensuality of the pose. Like pointed toes and lions, it’s hard to go wrong with a seductively arched back (her’s, not yours).


Page 88

If you have to shoot at the beach at midday, this is a good way to do it. From the background, it’s easy to tell that it was a bright and sunny day at the time the shot was taken.

Shooting in the bright sun would have made it difficult to create an attractive image (due to the problem of hard shadows).

However, the problem was easily solved in this case by simply finding a shaded area. Outdoor shade can provide you with a very soft, even, and seductive light quality.








All photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated

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  1. This web site certainly has all the information I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. I like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely keep that in mind from now on.

  4. Thanks for the great tips! I signed up to learn of the numerous variations of lighting techniques, but have been surprised by the many nuances of model posing. Slight adjustments can make an enormous difference.

  5. Just a suggestion about a fan. On a recent shoot with a friend we used one of Paul Buff’s mini Vagabonds to power an eight inch diameter wind machine on a stand. It ran for a good fifteen minutes without a problem. (I was surprised). Plus powered a strobe for a good hundred shots on low to mid-power.

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