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[Part 09/23 | Module 2: GETTING YOU STARTED]

The success of your first nude photoshoot is all in the planning. Take your time to settle everything before your actual shoot and make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.

Your first nude photoshoot may make you feel somewhat nervous in anticipation of it. You may experience a case of the jitters and a sense of mildly noticeable anxiety. Perhaps a little fearful and intimidated? That’s normal. Don’t worry about it! “Forgetaboutit!” as the wise guys say.

Sure, you’re going to have doubts about many things related to your first shoot. You’re hoping everything goes fine and will be alright but a nagging doubt persists. Forgetaboutit! As excited as you are to take this photographic leap, you remain unsure of your footing as you approach it. Forgetaboutit! It’s how you’ll learn. From your mistakes, that is. And with practice. You’re going to have fun learning and making mistakes and practicing!

Beyond the planning and organizing, you need to make a few more decisions before your shoot. These additional decisions are designed to keep you focused on a goal. That goal being, of course, to learn and come away from your shoot with some great pics. Some “keepers,” as pros say. What are keepers? They’re the frames, captures, shots that are the best amongst the sets you shoot. Every shot won’t be a keeper. The majority of them won’t be keepers. But you are going to come away with a keeper or two. Maybe more than one or two?

Keepers. Not. ↓

Fails - Nope, Nope, Nope - Bad Results my Dan Hostettler

Determine The Style You Will Shoot And More!

Are you thinking about a fine art nude shoot? A simple nude shoot? Perhaps a teen-style nude shoot? Maybe you think you might try shooting glam-nude? Whatever your plan is or becomes, if you haven’t already made that decision, then stop right here. It’s an important decision! One you must make before your shoot.

Many new or inexperienced sexy women photographers underestimate the importance of this decision or, worse yet, don’t decide at all. If you want keepers, and it’s a given that you do, the first decision you’ll need to make, before more specific planning, is what style of nudes you’re going to be shooting.

Generally, nude photography is not something where you can simply “wing it.” Sure, more experienced nude photographers might get away with winging it now and again, if and when they need to, but that’s because they’re experienced. If you’re not experienced, shooting these genres by winging it is not a good idea. It’s probably a fairly bad idea.

Instead of rushing head-over-heels into your first nude photoshoot, arriving at your location/rental studio and snapping away with your camera, hoping for the best – that’s called “Spray-and-Pray ” (article by JimmyD on SWP), and it’s not a recommended technique – it’s a much better idea to invest in some planning. When you have a clear idea of what you want to shoot and how you’re going to shoot it, spraying-and-praying isn’t required. Spraying-and-praying relies on Lady Luck. Guess what? Lady Luck is fickle. Very fickle! How fickle? Forgetaboutit!

magery - Nude Photo Styles - How to first nude photo shoot

Discuss And Agree On Key Elements BEFORE The Shoot: e.g., Outfits And Makeup

The process of preparing your mind and stimulating your creative juices before a shoot will help you yield keepers. There’s also preparation of the set and model. Make sure your model knows what she’s expected to bring to the shoot: wardrobe, jewelry, that sort of stuff.

If you won’t be having a makeup artist (MUA) present, it’s a good idea, a very good idea, to have your model show up outfit-and-makeup ready. If you have hired a makeup artist, ensure the MUA and the model are both fully prepared for the type of shoot and the style you’ll be shooting. That style will help direct the MUA in terms of applying makeup that matches the sort of style you’ll be shooting. Glamour makeup is very different, for example than teen-style or street-style makeup.

Keep Things Organized - 1 - How to first nude photo shoot

It’s a good idea to agree upon those things via email. Emails are recommended, rather than phone calls alone. That’s because everything is in writing and there’s less chance of misunderstandings. In this way, the model, as well as any other crew members who might be present, all have the same information: Date, time of the shoot (called the “call-time), the place to meet or location, and much more. Pre-decided fees should also be in writing but not shared or copied to anyone other than each participant on an individual basis.

Keep Things Organized - 2 - How to first nude photo shoot

Shedding Some Light on Lighting

When considering lighting approaches for your first nude photoshoot or shoots, lighting may seem a bit daunting. You’ve likely seen plenty of different styles of nude photos and, often enough, the lighting might seem complex with multiple light sources involved. Best lighting advice for those starting? Keep it simple. Simple, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean your images won’t be as good as many with more complex lighting.

Simple means you’ll be free to focus more of your attention on your model and less on your gear, in this case, your lights. That’s because focusing on your model is where the majority of your attention should be focused when you’re shooting. Even more so when you’re just starting. Once you become more experienced your attention on your model will, if anything, increase commensurate with your experience. In other words, you will free up more and more of your attention from your gear to your models. And that’s a good (and important) thing!

There’s an abundance of terrifically executed nude photos that were shot with a single light source (digital training) . That’s why, when starting out, you might consider shooting one-light sexy photos. Many awesome nude photos, of course, have also been snapped with two, three, or more light sources. But one-light portraits are simpler, leastwise in terms of lighting.

It might be the best idea to start by shooting one-light nude portraits. You can always add more light sources later as your skill and experience increase. Keep it simple. When you’re starting, simplicity is your friend.

One Light Setup On Location - How to first nude photo shoot

Shooting Nudes Is Similar To Portraiture Style

Wait a minute! “Portraits?” you might be thinking? “Who said anything about portraits? This is nude photography, not portrait photography!” you may have answered yourself with.

Nude photos are every bit portraits as any non-nude portraits you might have seen or shot. Perhaps you’ve already shot some people portraiture? If so, you’re already ahead of the game because portrait lighting, all genres of portrait lighting, isn’t different, fundamentally, from the same lighting styles and techniques you’ll use shooting nudes. Any styles of nudes.

Whether you’re shooting a company president or a small business owner, an actor, or a doctor, lawyer, friend, or family member, portrait lighting is portrait lighting. All of the same styles and techniques apply to shoot nude models or female clients. They utilize the same fundamental lighting techniques as when shooting nudes. Portraits, you probably already realize, extend far beyond head-shot- framed portraits. Full-body, three-quarter, and half-body portraits are portraits. Period.

Regardless of how much of the subjects’ bodies are framed and/or revealed. You probably wouldn’t use glamour-style lighting when shooting a corporate CEO but, fundamentally, you might use a variation of the same sort of lighting set-ups routinely employed in nude model photography. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to learn the various portrait styles and practice shooting them, whether you’re shooting a nude model or some other human subject.

Simple 1-Light Setups - Nude Photography 101 by Dan Hostettler

Different set locations can create challenges in terms of lighting. Especially exterior daylight nudes and some unique interior location shoots. Lighting is made infinitely easier in a studio environment when compared to shooting outdoor scenes because, in the studio, photographers have total control of their lighting. Again, this is something where keeping it simple is your friend. Select locations and environments that make lighting your models easier and simpler.

So what’s the bottom line of this short lighting excurse? To keep it simple! Consider starting out shooting one-light portraits/nudes (yes, same digital training; can’t emphasize this one enough…).

Don’t worry about whether you have a variety of lighting modifiers. Simply start out using a white translucent umbrella for soft lighting and one strobe or speedlight. Snap a few test shots. Examine the back of your camera to see if your exposure is good and the light is flattering to the model and/or you’re creating a “look” that you’re happy with. Keep it simple. It’s the best way to begin your journey shooting nude models.

Book An Experienced Model And Keep To Simple Posing

The best models to start out shooting with are experienced models. As mentioned earlier (remember my “12 Tips”?), be honest with your model. Tell her you’re just starting out or don’t have much experience. More than likely she will happy to do all she can do to make your shoot a success.

There aren’t any models who want to see crappy pictures of themselves. If for no other reason than that, they’ll work hard to make your shoot a success. Your inexperience, coupled with an inexperienced model, is not an example of two people with the same goals – making terrific photos – keeping it a simple process.

Imagery - Work with an experienced Nude Model - How to first nude photo shoot

The Actual Shoot: Make It A Fun And Enjoyable Experience

Ultimately, the goals of all sexy model shoots are smoothly flowing shoots for everyone involved, to have a good time in the process, and to capture great images. After all, delight is – at least to a certain extent – what it’s all about, right? Photographers don’t choose sexy women photography because it’s a drag. If they do, there’s probably something wrong with them.

A relaxed atmosphere during your shoot, always remembering to communicate effectively with your model and keeping everything as simple as you can are the main ingredients to any successful photoshoot.

Imagery - Direct Your Model and Schmooz - How to first nude photo shoot

Dan’s 10-Point Action Plan

  1. Identify and decide on the style first, i.e., fine art nudes, teen-like styles, glam nude, boudoir, whatever – before the shoot.
  2. Try to work with experienced models when you’re first starting.
  3. Agree on the key elements and objectives with the model (and any other crew that might be part of it) before the shoot. Remember: Put it in writing, e.g., email.
  4. Consider an indoor shoot where you have greater control of the environment and the lighting.
  5. Make sure your model is comfortable, including things like room temperature.
  6. Have your model get out of her underwear – pantyhose, panties, bra – well before the shooting begins. This will reduce or eliminate marks and imprints on her skin once you begin shooting. Models usually bring robes to cover themselves up while getting prepared and when you’re taking breaks from shooting. It’s a good idea to remind models to bring along a robe with them.
  7. Start with a maximum of one, perhaps two lights (a key light and a fill/separation light). One-light portraits are recommended when just starting. Two lights at most.
  8. Stick to simple poses and encourage the model to participate with her own ideas.
  9. You almost cannot offer enough positive reinforcement to models while shooting. It can be lonely out there in the lights and your voice will be most welcome and assuring.
  10. When the shoot is complete, regardless of whether you’re completely satisfied or less than satisfied, always end it on a positive note. You’re not only learning to shoot nudes, but you’re working at building a positive reputation for yourself within the modeling community. Models talk. To each other. You want as many positive words said about you as possible.
  11. Bonus: Don’t forget to have a fun time!


Thanks for reading.

Dan Hostettler - Photographer & StudioPrague Owner

Author: Dan Hostettler   Verified Account; StudioPrague Owner  Switzerland

A traveler at heart, inspired by women, working along Swiss precision.

Dan is a mediapreneur, photographer, author of several books, owner of StudioPrague and Founder + Editor in Chief of Being a successful photographer for more than 15 years Dan got internationally published and featured on/in GQ Online, The India Times, FashionONE TV, FotoTV, GoodLight Mag, amongst many others.

Dan is currently residing and working in Prague, CZ, conducting nude photography workshops, productions and pushing educational formats to a new level.

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Consider a Small Donation?

Your donation helps to sustain, create and regularly update the free content for you.
I love offering my knowledge to you and a small token of appreciation helps to keep the lights on.

Thank You!


Starting Out: Looks & Portfolio Building

Limited Special for: U$79 | RRP $199

Just $79