With all of the crazy shoots I do, from running around in the desert with just a pair of goggles as wardrobe to using a giant disco ball as a chair or back rest or yoga ball there is one type of shoot which I seriously just love to do. I love simple nude portraits.
There is something very free and easy about this type of work. There are elements of fashion portraits along with regular portraiture which can be blended and mixed in many different ways. There are not too many rules when it comes to nude portraits, but I think consistency should be one.
When I shoot these sessions I definitely have a slight game plan and I really like to base a lot of what I shoot in these sessions off of my subjects own personality. It is a portrait after all and it should reflect who they are! The nude aspect can turn into an issue if you let it. After all, why are you using nudity in the image? This is something I always ask myself when I shoot nudes.
Is it to show vulnerability? Am I trying to exude confidence? Is it a way my subject can just let their guard down? Sometimes people are more likely to be themselves when they don’t have any clothes on! But you also have to recognize their comfort level. Are they okay with full nudity, just topless, no clothing but certain parts covered and the list goes on. This is something I like to discuss before a shoot, not just as it is about to happen.
The simplicity is not as always as simple as you may think. Keeping it simple also means a lot of planning ahead! I don’t usually talk technical but for this type of shoot I will. When I am shooting portraits I really like to use natural lighting. I find strobes and bright lights to be distracting to my subject. Even if it is a professional model, when that strobe fires there is either a distraction or they want to change up the pose for every shot.
When I shoot with natural lighting they will hear the shutter click, but there are no visual clues to what I shot and not exactly when. Also this allows me to talk with my subject a little more and sometimes get even more of their personality into the shot! And this is always my goal.
I tend to create a giant soft box with a huge white muslin backdrop and place my subject in the middle of it. They are surrounded by soft light and it is a very comfortable environment. Sometimes I’ll even set it up outside because the sounds of the wind and leaves and birds can really be calming. Plus a lot of people like the idea of being naked outside. It adds to the whole free and easy vibe.
This is when I definitely like to shoot with one camera, one lens, one subject and nothing else. Nobody else is around in the immediate area. Just the two of us having fun and creating images which we will always remember. I just dig it. What can I say, I’m a sucker for this type of work.