Art Nude Resources


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jul 2, 2015
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Gladstone, Queensland
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I have lined up a very experienced model for a photo shoot in a couple weeks. Part of our session will involve some art nudes. I have never done them before, hence making these arrangements to get some experience. I work regularly with models but more editorial fashion and some advertorial work.

Just wondering if anyone knows of some good online resources for art nudes? Like I said I am not that experienced and would like the use the time beforehand to learn and get some inspiration.
What kind of resources are you looking for? If it's about inspiration, 500px is a very good place to see some great art nudes. For a more boudoir oriented eye, look for Christa Meola, for example.
I think you're hung up on the "OMG, it's a nakkid lady!" element of the shoot and not the "I'm shooting a live model" element and it's the second piece that matters more. Let me explain: if you had a model showing up to shoot fashion or glamour or'd be thinking of lighting, backdrops, props, and what you wanted the shots to look like. It's exactly the same with art nudes--only more so. You need to be making decisions about how to pose the model (though some of that will depend upon once you see her--but you can still make some guesses...if she's petite with short arms than poses with her arms bent over her head aren't going to work as well, and so on). You'll be making lighting decisions (one-light with high contrast? soft light with more boudoir-ish feel?) You'll be thinking of settings. And you should be thinking of concepts. Good fashion isn't just a cute chick in a nice dress--there is a feel or message to the shot. You're looking to do the same with the art nudes. Are you looking for bodyscapes? Emotive messages? Twisty-bendy poses that create unique physical shapes? Manipulating shadows? Integrating in to nature or surroundings? Contrast (so she doesn't fit with the surroundings)? If she's a veteran, she'll be able to create her own poses but do provide her some thinking on your part so she's not starting completely from scratch and assuming you're just some GWC.

Okay, here are a couple of hints/tips to consider since you haven't shot this before:
1. If it's indoors, do a temperature check. She'll likely want to the room warmer than you do. More importantly, even in a warm room, a small draft (from a leaky window or a vent) can be chilling to a model so check on those.
2. For some models, it's a really big deal to have changing space. Not true of all of them, but some believe there is a big difference in posing nude vs. stripping in front of you or even you shooting while they change/undress (even if it's a great shot). So get clear on this upfront with her.
3. No touching. There will be plenty of times shooting fashion when you need to move a lock of hair or adjust a necklace or smooth a wrinkle in the dress and models are okay about you making those adjustments for the efficiency of it all. But most art nude models will have an issue (especially if you've never shot together before or don't have a rep as a great shooter of artistic work) of just reaching over and adjusting some hair. So check with the model upfront about how to handle adjustments. For instance you may want to tweak a pose. So just ask her: "when we need to make an adjustment--move some hair, reposition a wrist, how do you want me to handle that? Do I verbally explain, do I point/model it myself, do I just go over and adjust you? What's your preference?"
4. Start out with a couple of warmup shots (she can be clothed) to test equipment, learn how to work together, and she how she prefers to move/respond/pose. Then immediately go nude. Do NOT treat this as a bit by bit gradual thing (she unbuttons part of her blouse, then the bra comes off, implied nudes, then topless, etc.). That will just raise sexual tension and nerves on your part. Pull the bandaid off quickly and after 2 minutes you'll discover she's just a model and not a naked woman.
5. Print out some sample poses. Not to copy the photos or match the surroundings. But b/c you like the pose or want to use it as an inspiration or there is something in it you like (the positioning of a hand, the curve of a back). Show them to the model and then let her play. If she's a veteran like you say she is, she'll be grateful for the examples but then like a great jazz musician will go off on her own ad-lib solo and amaze you. Oh, and they don't need to be sample art nudes...swimsuit, yoga, dance photos...all good're looking for shots that show off a form (so either transparent or tight-fitting the model knows what she's doing with her hips and the small of her back). If you need some sites to go to, besides 500px, try model mayhem or model society.
6. Hands and feet are critical. You won't have a large coat or handbag or shoes to cover those suckers up. Models will mostly need to be off their heels (to create a longer flowing line). Hands open (not a fist) to create a longer line. Again, there will be some pose exceptions (where you want a pose that implies tension or you want her to look awkward). But as a rule, off her heels and on her toes, extend the fingers. Think ballet.
7. Fabric is good. An old curtain that is sheer, a long piece of lace, a large transparent shawl, a man's dress shirt...a good model can take one of those and spend 2 hours with it doing magic.
8. I recommend at least 2 different settings b/c you've not shot this before and don't know this model. She may be best with a seamless white backdrop in a classical studio setting (in which you can also have a light that produces a strong shadow against the backdrop). Or she may do her best work in a more "natural" setting like a bedroom or near a window with soft light coming in or a kitchen table or on a beach or forest. So if you've got time (at least 2 hours) and they're close together, prep for some studio work and then move to your house or woods or beach that's close by and shoot some there.
9. This is your first shoot of this kind. So shoot a bit (after the warmups), upload the first 20 photos and then the two of you take a look. If she's a veteran, she'll have some insights. And you'll discover that maybe you've forgot to check your EV or aperture setting or there is a nasty shadow from the light that you're too distracted to notice. So take a quick break just to do a quick check on the initial results so you have time to adjust if you're doing something really stupid.
10. If you are shooting outside or in any kind of semi-public space (like woods or beach), go there the day before at the time you intend to shoot. Look for public issues (the trash collection that comes to the park at 10am every morning, the dog walkers who show up at noon, the surf club that meets at 2pm and so on). Look for good spots to shoot. Check for where the light falls and especially look out for mottling (dappled light coming through partial foliage so you get unsightly shadows and bright spots on your model). Pick up coke cans and other detritus that your eye won't notice when you're shooting but will jump out in the pictures after you're done. Look for stuff (like broken glass, nails) on the ground where you'd be asking your model to stand (especially an issue with urban decay/deserted house settings).
11. Language. At various times you're going to have to describe things graphically. Don't be embarrassed by it. Just say "I need you to slide that shawl so it covers your left nipple but we still get some side boob." Or "bring that leg up so it covers your labia."
12. I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. And I'm especially not up on Australian law. But be sure to check her ID. Take a picture of it for your records. Probably not an issue. But if you ever display the photos, especially in the US, you may need to not only provide a copy of a model release (which I assume you're using) but also proof of age.
13. Post results (or links to results). I'm not being prurient about this. It's just that when any of us take the time to provide lots of tips, it's nice to hear back "this is what worked, here's what didn't, here's how we improvised or did something different, lessons learned, and here's an example of the work".

Good luck!
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Cheers.... Heaps of useful info there. Some I'd already considered. Much I hadn't.

Still unsure of exactly what I want to do with her yet. I'd like to avoid studio if I can. But I'm unsure of a suitable location for what we can do locally.

Still got some time up my sleeve to figure that out.

And I will share them here. This is about the only place I can.
Unfortunately she didn't make it here this time. but she seems to travel this way regularly so hopefully I will get a chance to work with her next time.
This guy has some the best nude resources I've seen online. I've been following him for some years now:

I know this is rather late coming in, but this is something that a little close to my heart, and I do agree with a great deal of what @JoeW says ... especially 2, 3, and 11 ... Some highlights of the way I try to conduct things:

I always use formal names for anatomy
I always have a robe for them to cover up with between shots. No running around naked.
I always discuss the shots before I even book. The fewer surprises the better
I never touch the model, unless it's at a non-erogenous part, and even then I get permission
I always establish that they have the right to refuse to do a pose or shot.

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