Nude Photography Tips for Beginners

Nude Models

You might be just be starting out in nude or glamour photography with the simplest of cameras, but the principles that we’d like to show you are for people who want to learn to use a DSLR camera, or at least a camera that allows the photographer to adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. If that is your camera, let’s find a few tips to help you.

Rest assured, it does not have to be a traumatic experience. You simply need a little advice to get started and the best place to begin is with the basic concepts that are used to create a great nude photograph. By the end of this PhotoBlog, you will be ready to take your next steps in nude photography with as few stumbles as possible.

Think About the Composition of a Nude Photograph

A Google Search defines composition as ‘something that is created by arranging several things to form a unified whole.’ That is exactly what it is, the composition of your photograph is the combination of elements coming together to create the whole image.

The composition is the foundation of every photograph. It includes the lines, shapes, and forms in a photograph, which is usually the model. It also includes the placement of objects or backgrounds in relationship to other elements within the scene.

When you are taking a photograph, you are actually composing it just as a painter designs a new painting. Pay attention to the composition of every photograph you take and you will soon see a significant improvement.

Include a Subject in Every Photograph

What is your photograph about? Without knowing the answer to this question your image will never work. Your subject, the model, is what you want the viewer to see first when they look at the image. It can be a full length study or you can get closer and perhaps even closer for extreme close-ups.

Use the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds explains where to place your subject in the image. It is an essential ‘rule’ that you will use in composing almost every photograph you take. Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal squares (basically a tic-tac-toe board) with the lines equally spaced. The four points where the lines intersect are the strongest focal points of your image. You might have this grid as an option on your viewing screen.
The lines that make up the squares are secondary strong points.
The human eye is naturally drawn to these spaces within a frame, not the center of the frame. Make use of this to maximize the impact of your images by placing your subject along one of these lines or at the intersection points. For example, if you are doing a portrait “head shot” of a person, place their eyes along these points and lines. Likewise, for a landscape, place a tree at one of these points for maximum impact.

Watch the Background and Foreground

A photograph is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional scene. This means that the camera effectively ‘flattens’ the scene. That is why it is critical to pay attention to the background and foreground of every photograph. The background is anything behind your subject. If there is a tree directly behind a person’s head, it will appear that the tree is growing out of their head. Likewise, a fence could seem to grow out of the side of a person.

The foreground is anything in front of your subject. What is in your foreground is just as important as the background. If you are shooting a beautiful lake sunset but there is an ugly tire on the water’s edge, the photograph can be ruined (unless your point is a commentary on pollution).
Learn How to Use Focus to Your Advantage

Will your subject be sharply focused or allowed to be blurry? Will you have the foreground and the subject in focus but the background fuzzy? How soft will the background be? The focus will make or break your image and, as you can see, there are many options. This is where aperture, f-stop, and depth of field come into play.

Aperture is the size of the opening inside your lens that allows light onto the film or digital surface. F-Stop is the measurement of the aperture. Depth of field is a term telling you how much of your scene will be in or out of focus. By understanding how to use these concepts to your advantage, you can begin to control how your camera flattens the scene.

In general, you want the subject and a small part of the foreground in focus while the background is blurry. This helps avoid distracting lines around your subject and draws the viewer’s eyes to your subject. However, there are times when you will want the entire scene in focus. Landscape scenes are a perfect example because you may want both the mountain range in the background and the tree in the foreground in focus.

A good rule of thumb regarding your f-stop choices is to remember:

  • The larger the f-stop number, the more of the scene will be in focus and the more light you need to record the image.
  • The smaller the f-stop number, the less of the scene will be in focus and the less light you need to record the image.
  • Lighting Is Photography
  • Photography is the art of capturing light reflected from subjects on film or a digital surface.
  • Always be aware of your lighting. If your subject is a child but their face is too dark to see, the image will not work.

When you look at a scene, your eyes are constantly adjusting to the different lighting situations. When you take a photograph, the camera only records one light situation because it does not have our brain’s ability to interpret and adjust to the scene. Every camera is slightly different in how it ” meters” or reads the amount of light in a scene. This is one reason why you must know your camera and should practice with it in a variety of lighting.

Some general rules of thumb are:

  • Avoid harsh light behind your subject.
  • Watch out for dark shadows.
  • Watch out for whites that glare in the light.
  • Avoid shooting at high noon when the light is harshest (mornings and evenings have the most appealing light).

Always Consider Colour

The world is in color. Sometimes the colors are white, black, and gray, but it is still color. While your subject will already have a color of its own, pay attention to how that color interacts with your background and foreground. If your subject is green and the background is green, your subject may be harder to see in the image. In contrast, if your subject is red and the background purple, you may be able to see the subject very well but the clashing colors can distract from the subject.

Just like painters, photographers should have a basic understanding of complementary colors and color harmony. A little study of color theory will go a long way to improving your photographs.


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