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[Part 12/23 | Module 2: GETTING YOU STARTED]

Whatever story you want to tell, make sure that the background goes well with the main subject, both in interest and tone.

Although in glam/nude photography the model is the focus or principal subject of the images, it doesn’t mean that backgrounds are unimportant. If the model comes in first place in your photos of these sorts, the background often comes in a close second in terms of importance to the overall image.

The right background will emphasize the model, the story, message, and mood. The wrong background, or too much emphasis on the background will detract from the model.

Paper Backgrounds, Muslin Backgrounds, Cyc Wall - Photo Background

Photographic Backgrounds: Two Approaches

There are two approaches for shooting appealing photographs with a variety of backgrounds. It could be “clean and simple” or “intricate and complicated.” Makeup, hair, sexy wardrobe and more won’t matter much if your background isn’t treated appropriately and in ways that accentuate the model.

A) DIY Or Clean & Simple DIY Photo Backgrounds
You might decide to use straightforward and uncomplicated backdrops, e.g., paper seamless or muslin. Doing so allows you to isolate the model and focus, almost entirely, on the details of your subject. You can still tell a story with a simple seamless background, but it’s usually going to be told through pose and expression – an “emotional projection story” if you will.

Some art nude photographers believe fine-art nudes are best accomplished in monochrome. If that’s your goal, to produce fine art B&W nudes, it might be a good idea to keep your backgrounds simple and uncomplicated.

Various DIY Studio Backgrounds & Settings

Black muslin or paper works well for those sorts of images. These sorts of backgrounds highlight the model by being nearly completely non-distracting. Grey or white backgrounds can also accomplish the same, as can those with very subtle and slight texture or design. Some photographers use black velvet to capture a deep, rich, black background.

Imagery - Photo Studio Backgrounds - Importance of Photo Background

B) Intricate And Complicated Photo Backgrounds
More intricate or complex backgrounds often work well as they become part of the images’ stories. The risk, of course, is in the background distracting viewers from the model. A balance must be found between the model and the background to ensure the background adds to the allure of the model, rather than subtracts from it. It’s a very subject thing and your sense of aesthetics will guide you well…hopefully.

On Location Photo Backgrounds - Importance of Photo Background

Blur The Background With Depth Of Field (DOF)

More often than not, nude and glamour photographers, as do other sorts of portrait photographers, choose to blur the background with short or shallow depth of field. This is generally accomplished by using longer lenses (telephoto) and open apertures, i.e., low f-stop numbers. Doing so allows you to separate the model from the background.

Sometimes, of course, you might want to connect the model to the background in rather obvious ways. For those times, you probably don’t want to use too shallow a depth of field and might decide to shoot with normal or wide-angle lenses while keeping your aperture on the closed side, that is, with higher f-stop numbers.

Blur The Background With Depth Of Field - DOF - Nude Photography Model Results

How To Setup Your Photo Background’s Purpose

  1. Select a mood you want to express. It doesn’t matter whether you are shooting the model outdoors or indoors. Choose a lens or focal length (when using zoom lenses), an appropriate aperture for the amount of depth of field you wish to record in order to separate or isolate the model from the background, or connect or attach her to it.
  2. When shooting outdoors, pick a shooting angle and framing that excludes extraneous clutter and things that distract. Note: The brightest elements in a photo will immediately draw the eyes of viewers. This fact can be utilized to draw attention to the model, or away from her, which is rarely the goal with this genre of photography.
  3. If there are distracting elements in your frame, remove them or choose another angle of framing that excludes them. Again, things that distract reduce a photo’s message, story, or impact. It’s important to remember this and that’s why it’s being repeated.
  4. Contrast between your model and the background works well. Contrast can be accomplished through lighting, focus, and depth of field. Usually, all three are at work when contrasting the model with and from the background.
  5. Always try to use backgrounds, as well as foreground space, strategically and in ways that highlight the model. Beginner photographers are often advised to compose their subjects in ways that fill the frame. This minimizes the background while the foreground, i.e., the model herself, is emphasized. But don’t completely frame-out your backgrounds In other words don’t completely sacrifice the background as it often adds appeal to the overall image as well as the model. Again, your sense of aesthetics will help guide you.

Photo Scenery Background - Importance of Photo Background

Some More Visual Examples (3D Simulation)

3D Simulation Setting - Influence Your Photo Background
Wandering Around, Changing Shooting Direction & Axis - 3D Simulation Setting
Aperture & Depth of Field - 3D Simulation Setting
Focal Length - 3D Simulation Setting
Lighting Will Affect Your Scene and Background - 3D Simulation Setting

In Conclusion: Backgrounds Are Supportive Elements

No matter what background you choose, with nude or glamour photography the subject should most always remain more important than the environment she is being photographed in. The background should serve the purpose of supporting the story, emotion, and more that you’re trying to express in your photos, while not overwhelming it.

Thanks for reading.

Imagery - Behind The Scenes Nude Photography - Importance of Photo Background

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