Tasteful nude photography: how to shoot the human form in subtle, classic ways

Tasteful nude photography: how to shoot the human form in subtle, classic ways

Nude photography is one of the most enduring fine art photography ideas, but it’s a fine line between salaciousness and subtlety. In this tutorial we offer our best tips for shooting tasteful nude photography using natural light and a classic black and white treatment.

Tasteful nude photography: how to shoot the human form in subtle, classic ways

All images by Ben Brain

Photographers have always  been fascinated by the human form and it’s easy to see why – there’s a wonderfully diverse range of shapes, curves and forms to fascinate the eye.

The way in which nudes are photographed can provoke controversy, however, from the sublime studies by Edward Weston, and the erotically charged shots by Bob Carlos Clarke, to the less tasteful alternatives seen in glamour photography.

How to shoot tasteful nude photography

In this tutorial, we look at how to shoot a tasteful nude photography. There are a few key decisions to consider that can help you set the right mood for your pictures.

Think in black and white as a starting point; it’s a great way to add a fine art edge to your images. We’re also using natural light for more atmosphere.

Fine art photography: tasteful nude photography tutorial

Strike a pose 

How you pose your subject is perhaps the biggest challenge. Start by looking at images from the history of art and photography for inspiration.

The idea of an ‘implied’ nude that isn’t too revealing can often look best. And remember that generally direct eye contact can make a nude look more like a glamour shot.

Fine art nude photography tips

Every subject is different so start shooting and see how the session and your style evolve. Here’s a few useful tips…

How to shoot tasteful nude photography

How to shoot tasteful nude photography: step 1

Find a model
If you can’t find a willing friend or partner to pose, try an online site such as purpleport.com or modelmayhem.com. You should find willing models to pose in exchange for copies of the images (TFP). Be upfront about your project, check ID, manage expectations and ensure your model is relaxed.

 

How to shoot tasteful nude photography: step 2

Use natural light
You don’t have to use expensive studio lights – window light can create beautiful and atmospheric shots. Use a reflector to help control the light by ‘bouncing’ it into shadow areas. However, don’t be afraid to let shadows go black or highlights burn out. It can add to the atmosphere.

 

How to shoot tasteful nude photography: step 3

Pre-visualise your shot
Most DSLRs will let you set the LCD display to monochrome which is a great way to see how your image will look in black and white. Then you can concentrate on the light, form and tones of your subject. If you shoot in raw your original file will still be colour should you change your mind at a later date.

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