Baring It All

Nudes, nudes, nudes!

I’ve done a lot of fine art nudes as a model, and they are a category all in themselves. I will write more about them separately. They are among the most physically demanding work I’ve ever done, because you want clean lines, shapes, and forms in each image. You want them to look interesting and elegant, not like some creep snuck off with a camera and hid in your closet or like a cheap porn site.

Right now, I’m focusing only on preparing to for a shoot that calls for some level of nudity. No matter if it is partial, implied, or completely nude, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind.

NO CLOTHING LINES.

Nothing ruins a nude photo like clothing lines. The seams and folds of whatever you might be wearing that day leave red marks on your skin, even if they don’t hurt. You can most easily see this any day right after you take off socks or jeans. Lines mark where the elasticity of the socks kept them in place and other red lines show up where every seam of your pants laid against your body. Sometimes they show up from shirts too.

The worst perpetrators are bras, underwear, and corsets. If you are doing a lingerie or corset shoot the same day, DO THIS SHOOT LAST.

Red marks from clothing can take an hour to leave your skin. It can take longer for underwire bras or steel-boned corsets.

When going to a nude or semi-nude shoot (or really any part of your body that will be exposed skin), you want to wear loose, baggy clothing.

Typically, models that shoot this type of work professionally are an odd sight on the street on their way in. They have oversized baggy sweatshirts on and either oversized baggy sweat pants or lounge pants that are loose around the waistband. You don’t wear a bra or underwear under this, and if possible, no socks and slip-on shoes if you have a pair. Meanwhile, they might have flawless hair and makeup. It’s a jarring image.

This will minimize those clothing lines and make it possible to shoot almost as soon as you arrive. If you have a long drive or transit, you want to keep any seams that might fall on your arms, legs, or waist constantly moving to eliminate lines from forming. (It’s not a bad idea to have someone else drive. Often, if you’ve never met the photographer before, you’re bringing a friend or partner as a safety precaution anyway. It’s easier to let them drive.)

Bring a loose, soft robe.

A robe is a staple if you plan on doing this kind of modeling a lot. Not every photographer is comfortable with a naked person hanging out in their studio space. Some are, usually if they shoot nudes, boudoir, and glamour regularly.

Keep in mind, however, that almost every photographer has run into an uncomfortable situation where they’ve received unwanted sexual advances or had a model or client misconstrue the nature of a shoot or their relationship in some way. They are just as nervous about getting a bad/false reputation as a predator or threat as a new model or client is wary that they might be one if they weren’t researched thoroughly.

Also keep in mind there may be other models present, other clients in the studio, or other staff and hair and makeup artists that are NOT used to nudes and are not comfortable with the idea of naked people sitting around them for hours. Be respectful. They just want to do their job and go home for the day without trauma or the discomfort of potentially awkward situations.

When in doubt, bring a robe to sit in for that 30 minutes to an hour of waiting around for lines to disappear.

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