The Nude: How? (NSFW)

In a previous essay I did, “The Nude: Why?“, I made an introduction with some thoughts about how the nude must be taken and how the nude can be seen. Here I want to be more practical and this goes to photographers and models too.

How?

There are 2 main things you must have in mind when shooting nudes:
Light and Attitude.
And once again I want to make clear: we’re talking about nudes, not erotica.

We often get cheated by “art nudes”, which ended up as a misunderstanding due to the photographers’ (and viewers) attitude and mind. I heard many times – and not only by students or young photographers – something like: “hey, got some hot girls/guys to pose naked for me to do art-nudes, can you give me any advice?”. Yes, first of all stop drooling with the idea of having someone naked in front of  you. Nude models should be respected, as much as you want to be respected. They are not to be an object of desire, if your truly purpose is to create nudes. So first of all be honest with yourself and with the model: if you want to do erotica because it’s what you have in your mind, tell them and do erotica, just don’t call it art-nudes: call it art-erotica.

If you want to create a nude series, great, make it clear in your mind.

The models are not posing for your delight; they’re posing for the camera. Don’t take advantage on that. Nudes are about the beauty of the human body. Erotica express desire. It’s different. And there’s nothing wrong with doing erotica or even porn: you can have great art-nudes, art-erotica and art-porn. You just have to make it clear for you what you want.

In my series Silent Skins you have nudes.

Study on a Nude, #9, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Study on a Nude, #9, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

SH3 for

SH3 for “B Shot by a Stranger” by ©GBénard

BodyScape #2 by ©Gonzalo Bénard

BodyScape #2 by ©Gonzalo Bénard

So most important when you’re preparing a shooting with nudes is your attitude. You can have the hottest model, but make sure that when you have the camera on your hands you’re not be drooling over it. Focus on the shapes and see how they flow with light and movement, how a human body can express. Relate it with nature. Attitude and honesty (being professional) is also very important to make the model feel comfortable: the better attitude you have the best you can get from the model. Do not forget that when you’re a photographer of people you’re directing them too, as you’re the one who really knows what you want, so be clear and straight honest. Once again, stop drooling and focus on the silent beauty.

by ©Daemian Smith and Christine Suarez

by ©Daemian Smith and Christine Suarez

by ©Christian Coigny

by ©Christian Coigny

by ©Jeff Bark

by ©Jeff Bark

by ©Gonzalo Bénard

by ©Gonzalo Bénard

The other very important issue is light, and here you can have lots of different approaches, from the most obvious and classical to the less obvious – not showing anything, just letting the viewer imagine. The human body is warmed by the person inside, so lit it warm to bring it out. Give some silence to it. Some warm smooth wind. Feel it as if it was yours.

In a sunny day, lean yourself shirtless against a wall outside and feel the sunlight on your skin. When you feel it you can also feel the shade. With your eyes closed you can feel where the light touches your own body. Maybe you’re in a posture where one of your nipples is warmer getting direct light and the other cooler being in the shade. Or you can even feel it on your face. Try to visualize the light line dividing the light with the shade.
These games of light are wonderful to play with. Contrasted or not.
That’s why I use to tell photographers to get naked first in front of the camera so they can understand better when they’re shooting nudes. Nothing like being on the other side of the job to direct it better. Do all the experiments using your self first. Ask someone you trust to shoot you too. Do self-nudes and pose nude before you shoot nudes. Challenge yourself to feel the other side. Maybe you’ll be much better when you understand the feeling of being shot nude.

by Robert Mapplethorpe

by Robert Mapplethorpe

by Robert Mapplethorpe

by Robert Mapplethorpe

BodyScape #1 by ©Gonzalo Bénard

BodyScape #1 by ©Gonzalo Bénard

nude IV by Peter Arnold

nude IV by Peter Arnold

by WacŁaw Wantuch

by WacŁaw Wantuch

by Masao Yamamoto

by Masao Yamamoto

by Nadav Kander

by Nadav Kander

by Lydia Roberts

by Lydia Roberts

by Bobby Ce

by ©Bobby Ce

Be honest and clear about what you want to shoot. Be professional. You can play before or after the shooting, but while shooting be focused and direct the model in the most clear way. Now turn on the lights, or go outside.
One tip I can give you is if you’re doing nudes outside, no matter if in an urban space or countryside, the best and warmest light is the light of the end of the day. Noon light can be very harsh, but well, you’re the only one who knows what you want, and maybe you want the light harsh to have more contrast.
The most important is that each one feels comfortable in their own skin.

All this, no matter if it’s a faceless, conceptual, B/W or any other nude:  just check how the light create the shape, how it touches the skin and how important is the direction of photography to create the mood of the model.

by ©Joana Linda

by ©Joana Linda

by Bill Durgin

by ©Bill Durgin

by ©Will McBride

by ©Will McBride

by ©Ryan McGinley

by ©Ryan McGinley

Related essays you should read:

The Nude: Why? (NSFW)
Straight Thoughts on Nudes and Ostriches (NSFW)
A Sacred Erotica (NSFW)

Winds With the Sea Inside (NSFW)

What Makes a Good Photograph? (part I)
What Makes a Good Photograph? (part II)

April, 2013

– post by ©Gonzalo Bénard for 2HeadS
follow @GBenard on twitter

Preview and Purchase now:

GBenard IEnergyss  cover The Sacred Book of Gss

The Sacred Book of G” is a stream of consciousness, a thought provoking intimate journal written byGonzalo Bénard. After 3 days of brain death he reborn with a deep loss of memory. He reborn without any sense of his past — of his own roots — of his own self. Before that he’d spent his time creating defences to disguise his autism. He had lost it too. New born G had no memory and no defences.

I, Energy” is a book on Cosmic Consciousness, Quantum Physics and Old Shamanism written by Gonzalo Bénard who not only lived in Himalayas with shamans and in a Buddhist monastery but also in the Western Sahara with old shamans. A guide on healing and transcendental meditation and how you can master your own mind, leading yourself the collective consciousness.

Gonzalo Bénard is a lecturer, author, tutor of autistic teenagers, and a visual artist.His photography has been part of the annual programs of several universities around the world, mainly about the seriesOneness, Nudes and B Shot by a Stranger, and are in several private and public art collections such as Museum of Serralves, Cultural Centre of Cascais or Sir Elton John’s.
His photographs are also being used in Hollywood productions and TV series and you can see his work of photography at his webpage.

Follow @GBenard on twitter for daily updates.

On Amazon you can also purchase these 2 books of Gonzalo Bénard photography:
GBenard nude cover 1ss book cover

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