Fine art nude photography is hands-down one of the most difficult types of photography out there. There many factors that have to play in harmony together for the final image to be sensual, powerful, intriguing, natural and sexy at the same time. Your first barrier is your attitude as a photographer or an artist (or both in one, preferably). Model not only has to trust you implicitly, but she also has to feel completely relaxed and safe. Her body language has to be fluid and tension free, otherwise you are both wasting your time. If you work with professional nude models then they are used to posing nude and some of them are more comfortable nude than posing to portraits. But don't be shy asking models, who even specify in their folio or website that they do not shoot nudes, if they would be interested in such photoshoot. Remember that women (especially attractive women) are bombarded with all kinds of advances on a daily basis. Most of those advances are shocking or just plain sloppy, so naturally their defense and self preservation instinct kicks in, and rightly so. So what can you do then. Build your folio with quality images only: solid composition, good lighting and skilled editing. Those do not have to be nude shots, just images that will tell the model what type of person you are, what artistic sensitivity you have, and what drives your passion for photography. Let your images talk for you. If a model likes your photographs she will most likely be interested in working with you. Then make an effort to look through her folio and see what she likes. Ask her to send you sample images from the net or her own, so you can learn what is appealing to her. I cannot stress enough how important that is. Get to know your models' personality. It not only is essential for you to understanding them, but more importantly shows that you actually care about them as human beings, and not just as a subject for the lens. Then just ask her if should be keen on shooting portraits or street fashion, which will give you a chance to meet and connect. When you meet in person you have a ground to judge when (or if) is the right moment to ask her about a nude shoot. Remember, it is not what you say but when and how.
Make absolutely clear what is the purpose of the shoot, how you will use the images and what images you will be publishing and where, and what she is getting out of it. Whether it is money or photos, you have to be clear about it. Just put all cards on the table so there is no guessing or misunderstandings. Do not surprise them with something they did not expect during the shoot. In best case scenario it will create a barrier and you will have to deal with fake and stressed body language. Remember they are nude, respect that.
Next, you should have some knowledge of human anatomy and how light can affect it. Learn how muscles move and align, how body moves, what poses or angles are in symbiosis with give type of light. Watch professional dancers in slow motion and see how graceful their movements are. Observe women on daily basis and learn, how they react, what they do with their hands, how they tilt heads and what emotion caused it, how they smile or fall deep into thoughts. Those emotions can be evoked or ruined by words. Choose them carefully.
You will be posing the model, yes, but photos should appear not posed and natural. Real life reactions are your best school of what is natural, but there are other sources of inspiration. Try to deconstruct fine art nudes from world class photographers (they don't have to be famous, they just have to be bloody good), especially the light and how it falls. Watch how women photographers capture nudes, they have different sensitivity and you can learn a ton. Unlike dancing, the trick here is to capture that balance in a single frame, a frame that is still, and viewer's eye has to glide through the image without abruptly colliding with composition issues. Stop thinking like a man, start feeling like an artist. If you really passionate about light and shadows, forms and creating, you will forget you have a nude model posing for you.
You will need at least basic understanding of how light works and what can be done with it. In fact becoming obsessed with light is your aim. For me nude photography is all about game of shadows. I do not see body parts, I see lines, shapes and the power of composition. Imagine that light falling on model's skin is like lingerie. Dress your model with it in away that she is sexy as hell but sublime and feminine, she doesn't excite but intrigues and stuns, she is not revealing but alluring, she ceases to be a model and becomes a wonder of light and shadows.
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Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙)