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How to Set Up Your First Nude Photoshoot



[Part 8/21 – SHOOTING]

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.

How to set up your first nude photoshoot

Your first nude photoshoot is probably going to make you feel nervous. You will have doubts if everything is going to work out fine. You will hope that everything is going to be alright. But maybe you are totally crazy to give it a go and want to finally get started. Anyhow, I would like to provide you with a few tips that will definitely help you in securing a smooth first run.

Further: I think that the key mainly lies in a great preparation. So pin down the type of style you want to create, and make sure you communicate this to your model. Only then should you go on to take a look at how to properly set up a photo shoot.

Nude Photo Style - How to first nude photo shoot

Determine the Style You will Shoot

Preparing the “perfect” photo shoot is not that difficult but a rather time consuming task – at least when you are doing it for the first time. But as the old saying goes “failure to prepare is preparing to fail”.

You do not just want to go rushing head over heel into your first nude photoshoot, snap away with your camera and hope for the best. But of course, before you can even think about how to prepare and how to set up a photo shoot, you really should have a clear idea about the type of shoot that you wish to create.

Are you aiming for a fine art shoot, a simple nude shoot or a teen style? Maybe you are going for more of a playboy style scene? Whatever the case, if you have not already made this decision, then stop right here. This is an important decision and one that you absolutely have to make before you can go any further.

One of the main fundamental errors that new nude photographers make is to underestimate the importance of this decision, or even worse, to not make the decision at all. If you want to take perfect photos then you need to prepare correctly.

Nude photography is not something you can just “wing”. For clarification on the many different styles of nude photography, check out some of the earlier articles of this series.

Keep the Photoshoot Organized - 2 - How to first nude photo shoot

Discuss and Agree on Key Factors BEFORE the Shoot: Outfits and Makeup

It’s not just the preparation of your mindset before you go into the photo shoots, but also the preparation of the set and model. Make sure that the photo model has her outfit and makeup ready. If you have hired a special makeup artist, make sure that the artist and the model are both fully prepped on the type of shoot and the style of outfit and makeup that is required for the day.

Communication is the key to making sure that all of the people involved in the photo shoots can work together effectively and create some stunning nude photography.

So: Prepare all necessary steps beforehand and agree upon them via email. I recommend emails instead of phone calls alone because you have everything in writing right at your fingertips in case of any trouble occurring. This way, the model also has all defined details such as place, time, date, outfits, makeup, fee, intended purpose etc. in cold print.

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

Shedding Some Light on Lighting

When it comes to your first shoot, lighting may appear as an extremely complicated thing.

The variation in the potential set locations can often create hard work for the photographer in terms of getting the right amounts of light onto the scene. Of course, lighting is made infinitely easier in a studio photography environment compared to an outdoor scene. Indoors, the photographer has much more control over the lighting levels and positioning than he or she could ever get from an outside set.

Newcomers and also enthusiasts to the world of nude photography, I would advise to just keep it simple when it comes to lighting. Stick to an indoor set wherever possible. And above all, try not to stress yourself out over it. You want to make sure that you are enjoying the photo shoots. If you are not enjoying it because you are too busy stressing out, then this will rub off on your model. She will feel uncomfortable and the shoot will be a disaster (we will cover how to work with nude photo models in more detail later on in this series).

So keep it simple and use a white translucent umbrella for a soft lighting and a maximum of 1 or 2 head flashes. Don’t get carried away. Do a few test shots, and make sure that the light highlights the models shape.

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

Book an Experienced Bunny and Start with Very Simple Posing

If ever you are having the opportunity and are able to make a good deal, look for a model that has already made some experience in front of the camera to start your first shoot with. She will definitely ease the work you have to put into directing poses.

It is really important that you try to work with natural and minimal poses in your first session (a book about this topic may give you a great headstart upfront).

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

The Actual Shoot: Lead and Schmooze

Ultimately, you just need to let the photo shoots flow, have a good time and make sure that all parties involved are having fun in the process. After all, fun is – at least to a certain extent – what it is all about, right?!

If you are having a relaxed atmosphere during the shoot and communicate with the model effectively, then you are already in the making of a great first nude photoshoot. Also make sure to explain to your model what you are doing, and what you expect her to do.

When it comes to the end of the shoot, always leave things on a positive note. Tell the model that she did a great job, and that you would love to work with her again.

Dan’s Action Plan

  1. Identify and decide on the style first (nude art, teen like, glamNude etc.).
  2. Look out for a model that already has some experience.
  3. Agree on key factors with the model before the shoot. Tip: Do everything in writing, e.g. email.
  4. Plan the shoot indoor where you have greater control over everything.
  5. Check on the room temperature and make sure it is comfortable for the model.
  6. Once the model is on site and gets her makeup done (or applies it herself): Ensure that she has already taken off her underwear to avoid any disturbing clothing marks and imprints on her skin later on. Usually, the model brings a robe along to cover up while getting prepared.
  7. Start with a maximum of 1-2 (maybe even 3) lights.
  8. Begin with simple poses and let the model participate with some own ideas as well.
  9. During the shoot: Compliment her, communicate and spread a good mood.
  10. Let the shoot take its course. In case you are feeling insecure – do NOT let it show. Just keep going!
  11. Once you are done: However it may have worked out – keep things on a positive note.


Keep Your Photo Shoot Organized - 1 - How to first nude photo shoot

My Personal Tip for Starting Out

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Have you already experienced your first photo shoot? Or is it just about to take place?
Tell us about your (upcoming) “first time”:

Comments

  1. I have problem with focusing.is there a edge with model and Camera?just like we want to get her face only.or her full body.and specially we’re in outdoor,how we keep balance our camera and set up shoot.(think it’s sunny day.)make me sense about it.

  2. Dan,

    While my first nude photo shoot is way, way in the distant past, this is great advice. It actually resembles a mental checklist I have for any shoot, after many a shoot under my belt. The one piece of advice I might add is to consider doing a workshop first, where you’ll have assistance with lighting and someone around for mentoring before you go out solo.

    Joe

    • Hello Joe,
      thanks for your addition “doing a workshop first”. Yes do: to get an impression and feeling about lighting, collaboration and just insights. You are totally right! I’ve forgotten…

      Thanks,
      Dan

  3. Really great article, thanks! I’m just getting ready for my first nude shoot and I’m happy that the first four steps already were correct even before I read this article. It gives me more confidence about how am I preparing for that.

    • Hey Ilja,
      thanks for your comment and congrats for doing your first nude shoot soon! Let us know how it went.
      Glad you got some confirmation here and hopefully one or two things to learn :-)

      All the best,
      Dan

  4. My first nude shoot was well before the days of digital. I was a freshman in college and floored when the gal volunteered to be my first subject. I was so unprepared and completely disappointed it makes me chuckle now. I remember that I used a Polaroid One Touch because I had no idea how to get shots developed and prints made. The second shoot went only slightly better because by then I had at least taken a class and learned to develop black and white film and use a darkroom. I say slightly better because I was experimenting with double exposures and ruined the roll except for one shot when I accidentally pressed the shutter earlier than I had intended. Luckily that one accidental shot was actually a winner and my professor was pleased.
    So First time shooters definitely have the advantage of being able to take a test shot or two and looking at them in the back of the camera. In fact I would recommend they go slow and check their shots in the back of the camera as often as they feel it necessary. Once they get a few more shoots under their belts they can stop “chimping” but at least they will have the confidence that things are going right in the camera.

    • Hey Dru,
      welcome here and thanks for your story! What a great insight, really appreciated :)
      And yes: today in the digital world it’s more easy to be in control. I still remember my first shots I did while the academy-time… – black & white negative, then developing… – and getting the results. This was my time in gaining the first experience in portrait photography at all.
      No plan about lighting yet, but as the prints were finally b/w almost everything could be reinterpreted as an artsy approach, lol.

      Thanks again for your comment Dru!

      Best, Dan

  5. Very useful article.

    Thanks!

    Kenneth

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