My Digital Training: 50% OFF HERE!
[Part 08/23 | Module 2: GETTING YOU STARTED]

You might be an expert in knowing how to shoot (family) portraits. But working with a (paid) model might be quite different.

Enough with all the introductory information! It’s nearly time to start shooting photos. Sexy photos. You’re ready, right? But whoa there, partner! Hold those reins in for just a little longer. There are still a few things to talk about. We’re almost there though.

While it might seem as if there can’t possibly be more to say before shooting – beyond selecting a model, deciding on what gear you’ll use (camera, lens, lighting, etc.), picking out an environment, location, or background to shoot in or in front of – there’s still some horse-talk to engage in. Nude photography horse-talk. I know you’re ready to kick your spurs and begin shooting. But please. Por favor, compadre. Indulge me a little longer. I promise we’re almost there.

(Yeah, I just watched a Western the other night…)

It Is Easier Than Landscape Photography. But…

It’s not difficult to start shooting nudes. All you need is a camera and a willing subject, right? After all, it’s not rocket science or brain surgery. And even though you might feel a bit intimidated at first, you can handle it. Being a tad apprehensive is perfectly normal. More so if this is all new to you, this shooting nude models thing. But don’t worry. A lot of that comes with experience. Plus, remember this: People are among the easiest subjects in photography. No kidding around. They are. Even nude people. (Well, perhaps except for those times when you’ll need to deal with moody models, but that’s another story.)

Imagine for a moment you’re shooting landscapes. First off, after deciding where you’re going to snap some landscapes that would be the envy of Ansel Adams , you need to trek to wherever it is you’re going to shoot your incredible vistas. That’s not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes, it takes some long-distance driving followed by strenuous hiking while carrying a fair amount of gear. On top of that, there’s the issue of weather. There are times when shooting landscapes when weather conditions can be challenging and less than optimal. Some of those times, the inclement weather makes for better landscape photos but it also makes getting to where you need to get to take those better photos more difficult.

Sure, it’s worth it sometimes, and other times not so much. Why? Because shooting landscapes means you will be dealing with things you have little to no control over. While planning is important, Mother Nature has a way of sometimes caring less about your well-thought-out plans and throwing monkey wrenches into them.

When you combine landscape and nude photography, you have to cope with challenges like I have done here in Australia .

It Is Easier Than Shooting Mountain Goats. Most Of The Times…

Wildlife photographers face some of the same challenges.

Have you ever seen, for example, an incredible photo of mountain goats? Not snapped at a zoo but in their natural habitats ? Capturing that incredible photo meant the wildlife photographer had to get to those natural mountain goat habitats. That’s not to say it can’t be fun doing so. Especially if you’re the outdoors type. But it’s often not that easy either. And, even more often, there’s a lot of waiting involved; waiting around to capture that great image because mountain goats aren’t models who take direction or take part in a collaborative process. They don’t show up at designated locations when arranged to be there.

Sometimes, it’s not just about waiting, it’s about multiple treks to those mountain goat habitats and waiting each time you trek there. It can take several visits before the opportunity to snap the perfect pic of a mountain goat presents itself, if it ever does.

Mountaing Goats vs Nude Mountain Models - 12 Essential Tips

People Photography Is Much Simpler (The Genre, Not Necessarily The Person)

People photography, including nude people, in many ways, is so much simpler. Not merely simpler, but it’s a genre of photography where you have near-complete control of your shooting environment. You won’t have that level of control when photographing mountain goats, guaranteed you won’t.

With this genre of photography, you get to select the subject you want to shoot. You get to decide on your lights and camera and lens which you won’t have to be like a Sherpa guide and porter to use. And unlike mountain goats, you get to choose the environment or backgrounds for your photos. Your only possible limitations are your abilities to creatively envision and imagine your finished photos.

Having said all that, and despite the pep talk and words about the simplicity of this type of photography, you still need to do some (prep) work like. You need to efficiently and effectively organize and plan before your shoot and follow some proven tactics during a shoot.

Here are twelve tips to help you make your sexy women photoshoot a success. Always try to incorporate these tips into your planning and shooting and the odds of capturing terrific, professional-quality images will become better and better.

1) First Talk. Then Observe. Finally Shoot.

1. First Talk. Then Observe. Then Shoot.

Every model is different. Not only in terms of personality, but in skills and experience. Some are extremely confident due to their skills and experience, and those who are like fish out of water when it comes to modeling. Just because a model wants to model and she may be excited about doing so, it doesn’t necessarily mean her desire and excitement will translate into confidence and skill in front of the camera.

Your first job is to figure out how skillful and confident your model might already be which will give you some idea of how much direction and encouragement she will need when she’s in front of your camera. A good way to do this is simply via friendly and casual conversation, that is, by asking questions about her and her experience and listening carefully to her answers. (Note: Asking questions doesn’t mean delving into her personal life or trying to become a little too chummy with her. The last thing you want is for a model to think you’re hitting-on or coming on to her. That’s never conducive to a great photoshoot nor helpful for your reputation as a photographer.)

You will also discover clues to a model’s level of skill and confidence by observing her general appearance before the shoot as well as her physical bearing, that is, how she presents herself and holds herself in general.

You also need to be aware that, just like all people, models have their good days and not-so-good days. Models are people too, after all. You should always have a plan and a schedule for your session. But remember: Always be prepared to make changes to your plans depending on the model’s schedule or for other possible reasons, sometimes unexpected reasons. Worse, sometimes last-minute unexpected reasons. Doing so is called having a “Plan B.” You should always have a Plan B. Sometimes, fortunately not too often, you might even need a Plan C as well. Backup plans are always a good idea, even if they’re not as well thought out as your Plan A (switching plans and handling unexpected situations well comes naturally with practice).

Always ask simple, conversational things like if your model feeling well. If the temperature in the studio or wherever you’re shooting feels alright to her. Would she like music while the two of you work and, if so, what kind of music does she like. Let her do as much of the talking as possible and listen attentively. Above all, make her feel comfortable.

Take a good look at her. Not like a perv but… you know what we’re talking about. Are her hands and nails looking good? Does her hair look clean and fresh? Does she, in general, look clean and fresh? You’ve seen your model, at least photos of her, before your shoot. If all you’ve seen are photos, has anything changed? Is her hair the same color? Length? Does she look heavier or thinner? All of these are things you’ll need to deal with and, if they are somewhat negative, i.e., not what you expected, you might have to take some actions via lighting, posing, and that stuff.

Some more tips about what being aware of before a shoot here in my article “THE NUDE BODY – THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOUR NEXT SHOOT” .

2) Map It Out. Set Expectations.

2. Map Out Your Expectations.

You must already have a plan and schedule for the shoot. Explain your schedule to the model and what you plan to shoot. Tell her about the sorts of pictures you want to take and the poses you are looking for. This will give her an idea about what you expect from the session. (Showing some photos from your previous work, if you can, is often a good idea.)

You don’t want her to think it’s your first rodeo. If it is your first rodeo, don’t be overly concerned about that. Be honest. Let her know it’s your first time. Everyone appreciates honesty and, if you are new to the game, you might find your model will work even harder to make the shoot a success.

3) Schmoozing is Important

3. Schmoozing Is Important (Yes, Still Is)

There will be instances where you will meet models who need a vocal tonic to boost their egos. This helps them get into the right mood. However, don’t just restrict yourself to praising her facial looks. Go beyond that and compliment her hairstyle, smile, and eyes. But again remember not to come off like you’re hitting on her.

If you come off as being too flirtatious, or sometimes flirty at all, it might not be a positive thing for the shoot. Assuming your model is drop-dead gorgeous, she’s accustomed to being flirted with and will recognize that you’re flirting right away. Many models have finely-tuned radar about such things. Tread carefully.

And yes, the elephant in the room is about the #metoo or #meconfused question. Recent events have highlighted a shift in acceptable behavior between people.

Yes, we need to be careful and look out for signs that this sort of behavior may be unwanted. But, a healthy relaxed atmosphere and light banter are what the shoot keeps going and interesting – for both sides. BTW models take initiative in being funny and lighthearted too. This is not the be confused with any kind of advances but having a great atmosphere.

In my long years of experience, I never had one shoot where we haven’t made fun, jokes, compliments, laughter. I am pretty sure that the situation in Europe is different than in the US or Australia. Nonetheless don’t be afraid of being open, honest, and funny. Being overly PC (you, model, MUHA, assistant) is not the nature of a people shoot. Yet any sort of willful harassment is to be strongly condemned.

JimmyD, a long-time adult industry veteran with extensive knowledge, about ‘YOUR “SETSIDE” MANNER’ .

4) Keep it Simple

4. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). NTBCW Tip 3.

Photographic lighting is always an extremely important part of shooting your live model. Often, you’ll be tempted to experiment with your lighting. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting but it’s probably not a good idea to experiment unless that’s what you’ve already planned to do . Again, honesty is important.

If you’re experimenting, let the model in on that. Experimentation aside, it’s always best to keep it as simple as you can. Especially with things like lighting. Remember, the subject/model is the most important thing here. She should remain the center of all your attention.

When you’re paying too much attention to your gear, it rarely helps keep your model comfortable. Worse yet, she may become bored. A bored model is rarely a good thing on a shooting set. Resist the urge to suddenly deviate from your plans. Again, keep it simple.

5) Guide Your Model! But Collaborate With Her.

5. Guide Your Model! Collaborate With Her.

You are the photographer and, as such, you are the boss. But your model isn’t your slave or your underling. Tell her what you want, but also listen to her ideas and answer any questions she might have.

It’s a group effort, a team effort, even though it might be a group or team of two. (Might be because if you have a makeup artist or other crew present, they’re part of the team as well.) Collaborate with her. Draw her into the decision-making process. Encourage her to take some ownership of the process. But always remember: it’s your shoot and you’re the ultimate decision-maker.

Listen to her ideas and suggestions, yes. But you have the final say. If you don’t want to do what she’s suggesting, just say so. But don’t be rude. Just be a leader. A director. A decision-maker. Although she is your subject in the shoot she also is a person. Always show respect and be respectful.

Take a few sample pictures and show them to her. Ask for her feedback. This will make her feel very much part of the process and more involved. And she will most certainly love it. Guaranteed!

6) Little Things Help

6. Little Things Help

Look out for the small, little things. For instance, if her hair keeps falling to one side, perhaps there is a way in which you can make it work to your advantage? Perhaps she has a few quirky expressions or mannerisms. Those might also add some charm to your photos and bring out her beauty even more. Pay attention to the small details. Often enough, there are some great pictures made better by small, seemingly insignificant, details. Such things can add a lot of spice to your photos.

7) Music Sets the Mood

7. Music Sets The Mood

Play music on your set. Having music available should have been one of those planning things already discussed. If you don’t have the kind of music the model prefers, that’s okay. Music will still help set the mood for the shoot. Remember though: The music should help set the tone for the sorts of images you want to create.

If you intend your photos to have an upbeat quality to them, the music you play on your set should be upbeat. If the photos are going to be more sensual, slower music with a sensual beat is probably the best way to go. Music can work like magic on your shoot.

8) Strike the Pose

8. Strike A Pose!

You might have to pose yourself to demonstrate exactly what you’re looking for. Yes, it can feel silly. Yes, you will look silly. But often it’s necessary to feel and look silly this way. Visuals help, even when it’s you providing the visuals and looking silly. After all, you want the best pictures, don’t you?

Here a more in-depth insight about one of the approaches I use: “WORKING WITH MODELS: COACHING ACTIONS OVER FORCING POSES” .

Model posing, as you probably already are aware, is among the more important aspects of model photography, nude or otherwise. All tactics and systems will be covered soon in “1010 – Module 4: Working with Models”

9) Listening is as Important as Shooting

9. Listening Is As Important As Directing And Shooting

You want, make that you need, the full cooperation of your model to capture great pictures. To accomplish this, it is essential that you treat her right: with respect and more. Listening is a big part of this. Listening helps to build rapport. Rapport is always a good thing when shooting. The more rapport you can build with your model, the better.

Some models will speak up themselves, offering you suggestions. With others, not so much. That’s when you must step in and seek the model’s opinion and feedback. It’s not a democracy on a set. You are something of a dictator. But a kind and benign dictator. If she is an experienced model, she might have much to offer in terms of ideas.

Perhaps more than you can offer if you’re not experienced. Why miss out on the opportunity of an experienced model sharing some great ideas? Your ego, if you feel it’s at stake to some degree, will survive.

10) Naked Does Not Always Equal Sexy

10. Naked Doesn’t Always Mean Sexy

Nude photos are not always about seductive eyes and sensual, inviting poses and expressions. They can sometimes be anything but seductive. Often, something as simple as lying on the couch and smiling in her tank top. (and nothing else.)

Keep in mind that simply being naked does not always automatically guarantee sexy even when the model is, by nature, sexy. Be imaginative! Don’t always go for the obvious.

There are times, perhaps many times, when the least obvious poses and expressions in a nude photoshoot end up being the best.

11) Keep the “Disturbance” to a Minimum

11. Keep Disturbances To A Minimum

Some models are very sensitive to distractions on a set. It disturbs them. A disturbed model isn’t as likely to deliver the goods. If things are going on around your set and they are disturbing your model, you need to take some sort of action. Don’t worry or fret about them! You’re clever. You’ll figure a way to get around whatever is distracting or disturbing your model.

What if it’s you that is somehow disturbing her? Perhaps you’re complimenting her on her sexy, good looks too often? Perhaps the compliments have begun to sound overly insincere or too much like you’re being flirty? Again, relax. Don’t worry. Go with the flow but amend your approach. If you’re beginning to think model-shooting requires being able to read people and having good people skills, you’re right. It’s part of the process.

If you’re pushing too hard to achieve a certain look or expression and it just isn’t working, try something else. Why? Because it’s likely that whatever it is you’re trying to get out of her, pose and expression wise, isn’t going to come or, worse, will look decidedly unnatural. Overly unnatural poses and expressions will be visible in your photos. Sure, a lot of poses are unnatural. That’s the nature of the genre. There’s nothing you can do about that. But certain poses may look even more unnatural depending on the model. If your model cannot pull off a specific unnatural pose in a fairly natural way, it might a good idea to move on to another pose, one she can pull off and make look fairly natural, no matter how unnatural (in real life) the pose might be.

12) Don't Forget the Safety Shots

12. Don’t Forget Safety Shots!

It’s always a good idea to capture some safety shots. What are safety shots? They’re shots you probably don’t need but, later on, might find you do need or are fortunate to have as part of the sets you’ve shot. You might, for instance, be shooting your model fully nude. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also capture some implied or inferred nudes.

What are implied nudes? They’re pics where the model is fully nude but parts of her body like nipples and pubic hair are hidden from view. Let your model cover her nipples with her hands, for instance. The technical term for that is “handbra,” by the way. You can also use props or accessories wardrobe like hats and scarves to cover her lady parts. Use your imagination. There are plenty of ways to turn a nude pose into an implied nude pose.

A great picture is a great picture. Even when you’re shooting full nudes, some of the best images from the sets might end up being inferred or implied nudes. In other words, be flexible in the content you shoot. Go a bit outside of the planned shots and shoot some other images, some safety shots.

Here’s an example of how those implied nude safety shots might pay off: There are outlets for your photos you may discover long after your shoot that don’t want or won’t permit full nude pictures. Why exclude yourself and your pics from those opportunities simply because you didn’t take the time to capture some other photos? Another example: What if you decide to promote your photography on social media like Facebook/Instagram where nudity is not permitted? Well, if you have some implied nudes, it may be that those photos are perfectly acceptable to Facebook/Instagram and their standards and that they adhere to Social Media’s Terms of Service for photographs. Score! You just found another outlet for your work. One that might result in more work or attract other models.

Again, it’s always a good idea to also shoot implied nudes along with the full nudes you’re shooting even if full nudes are the goal of your shoot. If for no other reason, then just to be on the safe side.

Thanks for reading. And don’t dream of mountain goats.

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.

Playboy-Style Glamour Photo Production

Special: U$49 | RRP $99

Details & Buy

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!


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!


Playboy-Style Glamour Photo Production

Special: U$49 | RRP $99

Details & Buy