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+.



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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