I have had the pleasure of being asked on many occasions to shoot Artistic Nude Photographs both for Models and Clients alike… In all my years behind the lens I have heard many reasoning’s and considerations that have gone into the decisions before making this bold step.
I have listed some suggestions and considerations you should decide prior to shooting nude (Specifically, nudes with the aim of publishing the images “MODELS”), because a) it could save you a lot of grief down the road and b) out of respect for the photographer and their time and efforts.
1) What is my goal (motivation) and is this shoot appropriate with these goals?
An important question, and one many models, clients and photographers don’t seem to ask themselves early on... why do you want to shoot nudes? Is this for you or to please someone else? do you want to model for extra money? Do you want to become famous? Do you want to start a career?
CLIENTS – Are you planning on giving these images as gifts to a partner/spouse? Do you want to display these images in the home or on-line? Are you happy with people seeing these images of yourself? Friends, Family and Perspective Employers may see these images.
MODELS - If you are you looking to be an agency-signed model or a spokesperson for a big company, nudes in your portfolio, or on the internet in general, could be a problem for these guys.
Are you considering this for fun? to become comfortable with your own body? to capture your youthful beauty?
PLEASE do your research, before committing yourself. Find a Photographer that you feel comfortable with, that will help you create the images that are the most flattering and suitable to your requirements. Ask for examples of their work, references or just have a chat over the phone/Skype and build a rapport with them before the shoot.
2) What is my comfort level?
Seems a pretty obvious thing to consider!
Yet, it is not always considered prior to shooting; being a “fan” of nude art does not mean you will be comfortable with your own nude pictures or with being nude on a set. If you are not comfortable, it will come across both in how you pose and in your expressions, and will be obvious in the photographs.
Can you comfortably stand in front of the mirror nude, practice poses, and like what you see? If no, are you likely to be comfortable in the nuddie, in front of a photographer and perhaps others (e.g., make-up artist, assistant), taking images that may be seen by a million people?
Plan accordingly. If you are possibly going to be very nervous, anonymous shots, implied shots, and so forth may be a better way to start. “Chickening out” at the last minute and flaking, cancelling, or suggesting a change to a lingerie shoot is not respectful to the photographer and rest of the team. Don’t get me wrong – certainly you should not follow through with any shoot where you are made to feel uncomfortable, for example, because of a photographer’s behavior. However, becoming suddenly too shy at the last minute because you didn’t research your photographer didn’t practice poses, or it didn’t really sink in that you would have to be undressed in front of others, are not good reasons to break plans or an agreement.
3) How will my friends/family react if they see my images (and how much do I care)?
Regardless of how open minded you are, the reality is that you may have to deal with family, friends, or co-workers who do not approve of nudity – particularly yours. Even taking steps to stay anonymous, there is always a chance that your family, friends, and co-workers will see your images. Facial recognition software seems to be an increasingly big part of image indexing programs, so even using a “model” name may not keep your images from being tied to you now or in the future. Furthermore, it may only take one “friend” to find your images online and circulate them around your whole social network. Are you prepared to handle their reactions?
4) Who is the photographer?
Obviously, you will want a photographer who is likely to take shots of you that you will be proud of. The obvious place to start your research is the photographer’s portfolio – so take a look at it! Keep in mind; these are the photographer’s best shots. Can you see yourself being happy with shots like these?
I would not recommend selecting the photographer solely based on his/her portfolio. You also want to consider the following:
2. You can always let your friends and whomever you want to know what your model name is and let them see your shots. You can post any of your shots on your personal websites if you want your personal network to see them. In this way, you don’t really lose out on the possibility of people seeing your shots – but you can control who sees what a little better.
3. Many photographers may publish images of you before you approve them. Indeed, depending on the contract you use (or don’t use) they may not care if you approve of them or not, nor have any obligation to run them by you first. It is reassuring to know ones you might not like are not going to end up on your personal facebook page for all your friends and family to see.
4. Even if you are really proud of the shots and don’t mind everyone seeing any/all of them, you may not want your real name associated with them because you may want to have different things come up in web searches when people Google you. For example, if you were to start up a new business you might rather your business sites come up first when people Google your name – not your photo shoots.
5. Related to this, you are effectively “branding” your name (model name or real name) when you promote yourself as a model. You can’t really brand it two ways at the same time very effectively (e.g., as the most awesome model around, and as the best Estate Agent in town).
6. If you are promoting yourself as a model (e.g., to get more work/shoots), you’ll want to come across as professional as possible. Good photographers won’t have time to play hide and seek with your portfolio on a website full of personal stuff, and will probably assume you are not very professional or serious if they can’t find it right away. A “fan page” may help keep your modeling work separate from your personal stuff, but a unique model name makes it even easier. Use one name only for your modeling (websites, communications, etc) to market yourself most effectively. Set up a separate email with your model name and tie it to the websites and fan pages. This keeps things very clear for the fans and photographers and helps brand you better for SEO (search-engine optimization). It also keeps you better organized, especially if you start getting really popular, to not have people emailing you to multiple email accounts and/or under different names or to different profile pages.
7. Future employers. Some employers will object to nude photos. If you are using a model name for your photos, your employer may be less concerned about them (same reason as #4 above). As an employee, your name could be associated with the company, and the company may not be comfortable with the nude images that come along with your name.
8. Further, many companies admit to Googling their applicants before hiring them. If they don’t like your pictures, they can find some reason not to hire you and you would never know your nude photos were the real reason you didn’t get the job.
9. Maybe you’ve worked hard in the gym, your pictures are beautiful, and you deserve to get the credit, and it’s rubbish to feel like you have to “hide” them with a model name. True… However, you will identify with your model name
On the bright side, respect and good communication solves 99% of problems you might experience on set and leads to really positive, enjoyable experiences.
In summary, my strong recommendations for your first nude shoot: