You found a nude model…what next?

August 17, 2014

A couple of articles a ago we spoke about finding a nude model to work with. The only additional advice i can give, is also trying Facebook groups. There are hundreds of photography groups  all around the world where models and photographers go looking for either work (models) or looking for models (photographers). Some groups are more active or better run than others. Eventually you will find one that fits your needs.

 

Once you have found a model to work with, what do you do next? it is very important to have a photo shoot prepared before you start a photo shoot. Possibly even before you book a model. Get an idea of what idea, theme or style you want to photograph. Make a list of props or items needed to achieve the look you are after. Ask the model (if you have one booked) as most good models have a lot of props already. Things like shoes, accessories, lingerie and so on. You will be surprised how well stocked good models are.nude-muse_eden_headdress_4351

 

Once a model turns up to a photo shoot, sit them down and explain in better details what you wish to achieve. Show examples of photos if you have any. (usually better to send photos to the model before hand to help them prepare). If the photo shoot is nude, make sure the model understands what level of nudity they are expected to do, BEFORE you book the model. Never surprise the model on the day and never book a model who is not prepared to pose to the level of nudity you are after. Doesn’t matter how pretty she is or how much you want to work with THAT particular model, it will end badly trying to get a model to pose nude when she doesn’t want to.

 

Send examples of the photos you want to do, to the model so they fully understand what you have in mind. Have a look at a models portfolio and see what work they have done in the past. If their portfolio is full of implied nudes, then don’t expect them to do explicit open leg work. it just won’t happen. if you have worked with the model over many months or even years and the model is very comfortable with you and trusts your work, she might agree to go up a level or two. I state MIGHT. There is no guarantee and some models might get offended at the suggestion. it will vary from person to person and what you have in mind. always be clear honest and open about what you do or have in mind in any communication.

 

Be prepared that some models might not want to work with you. You see a model, they do art nude work, their portfolio is full of art nude work, exactly the style you wish to achieve. You contact the model and she doesn’t reply. Or she replies but says she doesn’t wish to work with you. My advice…move on. Some models are too busy and fully booked, in which case contact them again later, incase they get a lull in their work. Others are called “art nude snobs” and will only shoot with specialist art nude photographers who have a specific reputation in a specific genre. Hey that is life. Instead of getting offended and replying with a nasty letter, just move on. Think on it this way, it shows that they are not the type of person you would have had a good working relationship with anyway. You would not have gotten good result, and they might even cause headaches sometime down the track. Just move on. Plenty other models looking for work.

 

If a models asks if she can bring a friend or partner along, then let them. I have never had any issues with chaperones, mainly because I have always conducted myself in a professional manner. If you are a professional photographer (or want to be one) chances are you have or will have to work in front of people or groups of people. Whether it be on a set or even photographing an event or a wedding. you will be in the public scrutiny and it is something you will have to get used to. Having a chaperone there is no different. Some partners enjoy seeing their girlfriend being photographed, others are very helpful and will help with applying oil to the models body or holding a reflector.

 

Yes there are stories that photographer say they had an issue with a partner. Without knowing the full story, there might be a reason why that happened. Maybe the photographer said something inappropriate, or maybe just the partner was a jerk. No one but those present on the day know the actual truth. As i said, in all the years of photographing nudes (and that is all i do now), I have never had any issues with a partner. Well once I did have a partner storm out of the studio when their girlfriend got undressed for the nude part of a portfolio shoot, but it turned out that they have had relationship issues before hand and weeks later she was a single gal.

 

Yes some partners will give their two cents worth in advice, just listen politely, nod your head in agreement and just do what you were going to do anyway. Sometimes they might just have a great idea, so never dismiss things out of hand or be too proud to listen to someone else. Some really good ideas came from models or their partners.

 

undressing_5069Always give a model a place they can get changed. Yes a model is going to pose nude, but give them a place to get changed, especially if it is their first time or you have never worked with that  model before. I work with many models and some of the models I have been working with for years on a regular basis. Those models have become so comfortable with me, and I with them, that they just turn up, don’t even bother going to a change room, and just get undressed on the spot and throw their clothes on a nearby couch or chair.

 

undressing_8780Never stand and stare at a model getting undressed. It can be creepy and make the model feel uncomfortable. I usually am doing last minute checks on camera or lighting anyway, and casually chat with the model catching up on the latest gossip since we last met.

 

It is usually not a good idea to ask a model to get undressed, then start setting up lights or props, leaving the model standing totally nude with nothing to do. It is not professional and the model maybe cold.

robe_7659At the very least give them a robe to put on, or wait till you are done before letting the model know you are “ready to begin”…which is a nicer way to say, get your gear off.

 

makeup_nudeIf you can afford it, supply a hair/makeup artist for the shoot, to help the model look her best. it gives the model confidence you know what you are doing and will actually help the model look her best, which will make your photos look much better as a result. Some models are very skilled at doing their own, especially experienced models, but don’t rely on that. Most models unfortunately can’t do anywhere near as good a job as a good makeup artist can.

 

Which leads me to makeup artists. makeup_0969There are good ones, there are average ones and there are terrible ones. Keep trying out several makeup artist, till you find one that is reliable, affordable and does a really professional job. Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference. A model does and she will tell you if she loves the look or hates it. I have two makeup artists who have had 90% of model compliment their work. You can’t make everyone happy.

 

Also make sure the model turns up to all nude photo shoots, without a bra or underpants on. make sure they wear loose fitting clothing only, to avoid pressure marks or bra marks on their skin. These pressure marks are unsightly, take a lot of time and effort to remove in photo editing software, and are very easy to avoid in the first place. If they did wear underwear to the photo shoot, as them to remove it and put on a robe. It usually takes about an hour for pressure marks to go. That is where a makeup artist is handy. It usually takes about an hour for a good makeup artist to do both makeup and hair. So while the model gets her hair and makeup done, those pressure marks will be all gone by the time she is ready to pose.

 

Now that you are both ready to begin, the next step is posing a nude model, which we will discuss in the next chapter.

Do you really need a release form? Heck Yes!

August 17, 2014

It has been a while since I wrote on here and thinking about moving the entire blog over to our main site Nude-Muse Magazine  www.nude-muse.com. Till then will continue where we left off.

 

In this section I will talk briefly about model releases. I must stress this is a guide only and you should get proper legal advice specific to your needs as we are talking about legal contracts.

 

Why do we have a model release and is it useful? A model release is a contract between you and the model and states the terms you both agree the photos should be used and under what conditions if any. It can be a form of protection for both parties.

 

If you are photographing people, especially nude people, always and I must stress, always use a model release. If you don’t you could be leaving yourself open for all kinds of pain and trouble. It doesn’t guarantee 100% protection, but it should eliminate most issues. The release must state that they agree and understand that they will be photographed/videoed nude. Over the years I have photographed hundreds of nude models. Thankfully only a very small percentage have tried to cause trouble and in each case, the model release helped saved a lot of hassles.

 

No matter how happy and friendly the photo shoot goes on the day, and everyone leaving with smiles and feeling good about the work done, things can get nasty, and I mean really nasty months and sometimes even years later. Some models keep their nude work secret from friends and family. In these cases, the friends and family can cause a lot if issues for the model once they discover their secret. They can put tremendous pressure on the model which causes the model to go after you. One model said that we videoed them without permission, others have said  that they changed their minds, some said their partners will leave them unless the photos are removed while others have had their boyfriend/ partner call us up and threaten us unless we removed the photos (yes they threatened actual physical violence). Oh yes that does happen and you are naive to think it will never happen to you. Some experienced nude photographers will know what I am talking about.

 

As long as you did everything by the book and conducted yourself in a professional manner and have a signed model release, you should stand your ground. In each case the model release saved a lot of hassles and legal action. When these models turn nasty they really turn nasty and will even lie to get what they want. It is sometimes a good idea to keep record of conversations (emails etc) as further proof of what was said. Some models will happily slander you in public forums. Of course many people will believe what is said in public forums without needing any proof beyond what a distraught model says.

 

As a photographer, especially a professional one, your investment is the photos you take. so protecting that investment is a very important part of what you do. A model release is a type of insurance to protect your investment. Think of it this way. A property investor or builder, invests in bricks and mortar, the buildings. A stock broker invests in stocks and bonds and so on. Each has a form of contract to protect their investment. Do you think a property investor will demolish a building or part of a building, just because someone changed their mind, or their partner didn’t like them buying the property? Heck no. An investment is made for the future to hopefully make money not just now, but out of future sales for years to come. The photos you take are your investment, and anyone taking photos with a loss in mind is not in it as a business, but are just hobbyists or are very bad business people. The aim is to get a return on your investment and maximise that return for as long as you can. That is what any business does. Photography has only one item it can invest in…..that is the photos you take, so protect those photos as much as you can. A model release is one of the most important steps you can take. Having good backups is another but that is for another time.

 

You must be very careful in what the model release says as that can be either a saviour or your downfall. You must get proper legal advice on how to draft a good release form. Sometimes that can be expensive, but in the long run it can save you a lot of hassles and well worth the money spent. You can start by finding a good model release online, but be aware that it is usually generic and may not cover all your needs. We had our release form looked at by three different lawyers expert in contract and arts law.

 

Some models will want to change the model release as they might not be happy with some of the wording. My advice is do not let them, as that can also cause a lot of headaches, as you are not an expert in legal contracts, the changes may alter an agreement in a way that could cause you to lose all your photos and not be compensated for that loss. We have heard that happen to photographers. If a model refuses to sign the release without altering it , then you are better off just letting that model go and keeping your money. It will save you a lot of issues later. We heard of one photographer who let the model change the release form. About a year later she wanted her photos destroyed. Because of the changes she put in place, he had no choice but to destroy those photos of her. To add insult to injury, she didn’t even have to compensate him for that loss (that is she didn’t even have to pay back the model fee he paid her.). A very expensive mistake indeed.

 

Another step that is an option, but one we recommend, is having a pre-photo shoot form. We at Nude-Muse have for a few years now, have a form all new models must read and sign that they understood the form, before a photo shoot begins. It states that the model understands that they will be both photographed and videoed nude (already stated in the model release, but we added that in as an extra measure). Nude photo shoots have different levels of nudity. Everything from implied nude through to explicit and in some cases actual sexual contact. Our form states only the two levels that we deal with. Full frontal artistic nude work and revealing art nude work. The model must sign which level she is comfortable doing and that is the level we will photograph. The model also states that she understands the difference between the two, as defined by the photographer. The form also states a few other things specific to our photo shoots. This extra form might not be necessary, but we feel that it adds another level of protection from models saying that they didn’t agree to pose that way, or that they didn’t know they will videoed or something similar. Once again the wording is important and must be checked by professional legal advice.


These are just guides and we advise you to seek professional legal help. It will save you a lot of money in the future and protect your most precious investment…your photos. Never photograph anyone nude, unless you get them to sign a model release form. So in summary. Always use a comprehensive model release form and always get it checked by a legal professional before using it.

Where to find models.

July 12, 2011

Most photographers will at some point would like to try photographing the nude. The most common issue is where do you find models or people who are happy to get naked for you?

There are several ways you can get nude models. Most people will start with partners or friends. Although partners are usually people you see and spend time with them nude on a regular basis, does not automatically mean that they will be willing to be photographed nude.

So what are the options?

Some photographers get models in shopping centres or the street. They will see somebody they would like to photograph and just walk up to them and ask if they would like to pose for them. Yes you can get models from the street or shopping centres, but this method I feel can very quickly lead to major problems, especially in this day and age.

The pro’s of this approach are, that there are plenty of potential models out there.

The con’s of this approach are many and varied. The most important one is the person can easily be under-age which can be a disaster. A lot of young women can look like any age, depending on how they dress, makeup hair style etc. It is too hard to just guess and can get you in a lot of hot water. People are also very guarded now a days and will see such an approach as predatory. Not everyone wants to be a model and most will freak at suggesting posing nude.

On a few occasions you might get lucky and find a willing participant this way who is over 18, but you will often have gone through hundreds of no thank you’s, face slaps or bad accusations to get there. It is just not worth the problems.

I have asked a few people I already knew in local businesses and shops I frequent and out of those very few said yes they wanted to try it. Most would not even talk to me after asking them, even though I had a professional portfolio I could show them, a professional studio I work out of, and a known business name. Imagine the response you would get without anything to show other than enthusiasm.

Another approach is to first just offer a clothed photo shoot such as fashion (don’t even ask about swimwear or lingerie in this situation). If you find someone and managed to do a photo shoot with them AND it went well, then and only then talk to them about swimwear or an artistic nude photo shoot.

Another approach is to put an advert in a newspaper or local online market place.

The pro’s are you will get a lot of response.

The Con’s you will get all kinds of weirdos and time waster too. No control over what type of model/person responds (might not be what you where after).

 

Another avenue is modelling websites, such as modelmayhem, onemodelplace, ausmodels modelfy and the list goes on. There are plenty out there.

The pros’s are that plenty of models to choose from. Can find models who will pose for free (if you give them some photos of the shoot in return and of good enough quality). You choose the type of model you want for your photos. People on the site want to model. Models will indicate that they are happy to pose nude.

The Con’s are, a lot are unreliable.  Most models don’t want to pose nude. Most don’t even reply to your enquiry. Some of the best models are expensive…..but worth every dollar. You will need to have a portfolio of photos to upload or your profile will get rejected.

When contacting models, always be courteous, state what you want to achieve and be totally honest. Most models can spot a bullshit artist or con artist a mile away. It is their business and they have had experience with dealing with “fake” photographers. Tell the model you are an amateur and are looking for experience and to build a portfolio. Most good models understand this and will help out. Some are very busy and get booked out, so they might not have time for new photographers. Don’t take it personally, they have to choose the best assignments as it is their business and have a short working life.

Always allow a model to bring along a friend or chaperone. Always. If you don’t that is a sure sign to them that you don’t have admirable intentions. Oh and they have heard every excuse you might come up with and will terminate all discussion with you from then on. Think about it from their point of view. They are young women going to a strange man’s house or a remote outdoor location away from help. They will be totally nude. Now you imagine doing that and how you would feel? Please give them respect.

In your contact state clearly what work you want to do. If you want to do artistic nudes, then state that. However please stick with that when the model arrives. The most common complaint from models is photographers who say they want to do artistic nudes, but when the model arrives they try to get them to do explicit or adult work, or worse, try to have sex with the model. Remember that these are models, not sex workers. If you want to do adult work, then tell the model that before you finalise the booking. Most artistic nude models will refuse to do adult work, as that is not what they want to do. You will have to seek specialised adult models who are fine with that. Do not waste yours or the models time by asking them to do the type of work outside the range that they specify they are happy to do.

It is a small specialised niche industry. Everyone knows everyone else, so if you do something bad to a model or she has a bad experience with you, she will tell all the models she knows, who will then tell all the models they know. Before you know it, no one will want to work with you.

 

Word of mouth.  As you get better reputation by being friendly courteous, and letting models bring a friend or chaperone and start producing good work, you will get models telling their friends who will then want to shoot with you. A lot of the models I worked with came from other models referring me by telling their friends that I was good to work with, professional and achieved good results.

 

Good luck.

Next  issue: So you found a model willing to pose nude…now what?

Eye of the lens

April 29, 2011

The lens is possibly the most important investment you can make in photography. Always get the best lens you can afford. Always.

Even if you have a cheap camera body, an awesome lens will make that camera shine. The better optics, being able to focus with more accuracy and clearer glass all add up to a better sharper clearer image. Canon has the “L” series of lenses and pretty much everything in that line up is great. Nikon have their VR equivalent. There are also some great Sigma, Tamron and Tokina Lenses too, but I don’t have a lot of personal experience with these lenses.

Prime vs zoom. In the past prime lenses (lenses with just a single focal length eg 50mm) were the way to go if you wanted unsurpassed quality and even today they are still the best. However the modern day zooms (especially the professional quality ones I spoke about) are just as good, with the added flexibility of being able to zoom to different focal lengths and not having to change a lens mid photo shoot.

A fast lens is important if you to shoot low light or just want that beautiful Bokeh effect (background slightly blurred). F2.8 is usually the current speed limit on most zooms, but can get faster (smaller number) on good primes. Also good zooms will have the same F2.8 throughout the entire zoom range of the lens. Cheaper lenses will vary (F3.5-F5.6 for example) along their zoom range.

Canon have an S series of lenses designed for the smaller crop factor sensors. These lenses are usually cheaper than their big brother “L” series counter parts and true have a cheaper build quality, but they do share the same beautiful optics (usually). An example is the 17-55mm f2.8 “s” series lens. I have been using this for a couple of years now and shot along side a 24-70mm f2.8mm “L” lens. In my opinion it has proven to be just as good in every occasion. The major draw back with the “S” series, is that they cannot be used on full frame sensor cameras like the 5D series. But the “L” can be used on ALL canon DSLR’s.

How does this affect choosing the right lens of artistic nude photography? I just use the one lens as most of my work is in a small studio. I do have a 100mm F2.8 macro lens which also doubles as a great portrait lens. A great way to get two uses out of one lens. Save money and save space in your camera bag. Some photographers have two lenses. Usually a 24-70mm F2.8 and a 70-200mm F2.8. These two will do 99.9% of any and all artistic nude work. Howeverr 95% of the time, you can get away with just the 24-70 f2.8 “L” lens or 17-55mm f2.8 “s” lens.

Always remember that the equipment is just the tools you use to take photos. Nothing more. So only get, just what you need, not what you think you will need, or “that would be nice to have” train of thought. Otherwise it probably will just sit in your cupboard 99% of the time gathering dust.

The only time you would need the 70-200mm lens or larger telephoto is if you want to get a close-up of a body part (or portrait/head photo), without intruding on the models personal space, or you are far away from the model (usually outdoors shoots only).

Next update we will talk models. Where to find them, what type of model do you need and how to behave around them, especially when they are nude.

Megapixel madness.

March 10, 2011

There is a lot of confusion in regards to mega-pixel size in digital cameras. Quite often the misconception is that the more you have, the better it is. That 20 mega-pixels is much better than 10 Mega-pixels. At first glance that sounds true, but then along comes “sensor size” and “pixel density” to really confuse the issue.

Sensor size is the physical size of the sensor. (width x height).

Pixel density is how many pixels are crammed into a given sized sensor.

If you put too many pixels into a small sensor then they start to interfere with each other. So a small sensor (or cropped sensor) that has say, 18 megapixels will in theory, not be as good as, say an 18 mega-pixel sensor with a full sized sensor, or even a medium format sized sensor.

However you also have to take into account the processor in the camera that puts all that image information, together into an image we see.  A high quality, powerful processor will create a great image from even  a small cropped sensor.

So now we understand that more mega-pixels is important. That large sensor size is important, that pixel density is a factor we must put into the equation and a good image processor to put it all together.

Then how many mega-pixels do we need.

The answer is how big will the final image be? If you will only ever print postcard sized images, then 4-8 mega-pixels is enough. If you have a 24 mega pixel camera and only ever print postcard size images, you will be hard pressed to tell the 24 mega-pixel image from the 4-8 mega-pixel image. But if you are going to create an image the size of a building then the bigger the sensor and more pixels you can cram into it the better.

So how many mega-pixels do I need for nude photography? My answer.…..any size. It really depends on end use. Is it for magazines? For web or fine art prints? Most modern digital SLR cameras are fine for all of the above. They are usually anything from 10 mega-pixels up to 24 mega-pixels (and growing).

Next important factor will be “what lens(es) do I need?”

What equipment do i need?

February 27, 2011

One of the most commonly asked questions is what equipment do I need to take good photos?

Before I answer that fully, There are different types of cameras.

Pocket point and shoot cameras are great for family and holiday snaps, but not really designed for professional use and certainly not for creating great artistic images (Creative people have used these cameras for art, but all have been limited in many ways as to what they could create, by the camera programming). They are usually set for full auto (though some do have very smart programming). However they just can’t compete with the human eye just yet.

pocket camera

pocket camera

Then there are the DSLR’s (Digital single lens reflex) cameras. These are what most professionals and serious hobbyists use for their work. They have full auto mode as well has some great pre-programmed features, but most importantly they have a fully manual function. I always use manual mode, as it gives me the greatest freedom to create the image exactly as I want it.

canon 500D

Canon 550D

Finally there are the medium format digital cameras which look a little similar to DSLR, only bulkier as if they had huge injection of steroids. These cameras usually have ridiculous amount of mega-pixels with a mega price tag. By the time you get one of these up and running you would have spent anything from $20,000+.

pentax

pentax

So now is the time I have to state that I am not a big fan of large over priced cameras. I cannot see the value in them. I have used a lot of cameras in my line of work. Everything from small pocket cameras, right up to top of the range Nikon and Canon DSLR’s. Boy am I going to get some hate mail for what I am about to say next, but here it goes. The only difference between top of the range DSLR’s and mid-low range ones are very marginal increase in focus speed, a very marginal increase in response, and a very marginal improvement of high ISO noise/image quality. Even professionals can have trouble telling the difference between two images shot by high end and low end cameras. Because of the that I cannot see why they are priced $5000-$10000 more than their cheaper cousins. I can however see the value of top range lenses over cheap lenses, but that will be another post.

What Camera’s do I use in creating the images on http://www.nude-muse.com? I use a Canon 50D with a 17-55mm f2.8 lens, and a Canon 550D with the same lens configuration. The 550D is a real beauty, with 18 megapixels, Digic iV processor (same as the 50D and 5D mkII) and has full HD video capability. All for less than $1000.

In the end it is not the equipment that makes a good photo (though it can make your job easier), it is the skill, eye, and talent of the person using the camera. I have seen brilliant photos taken by low end gear, and some shoddy awful ones taken by high end cameras.

In another post I will explain why cameras with the same mega-pixel size might not be the same in performance and quality.


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