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 Since launching his own site,, 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, 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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