Rebeca Saray shares key advice that will help you in your nude photography projects
As well as thinking about your technical set-up, when it comes to working with nude models, you will need to take special care with the art direction of your shoot and how you interact with your subject. Photographer, director, and digital artist Rebeca Saray (@rebecasaray) shares below what she has learned from her own professional experience.
Pre-production: Take your time
Work out beforehand whether a simple backdrop–such as a cyclorama or fabric–will better transmit what you want to say. Do you need any additional staging or props to accessorize your image? If you do, take the time to visit secondhand shops, flea markets, websites, and other places where you will be able to find curious objects that you wouldn’t have thought you’d need: flowers, fabrics, accessories, wigs, etc.
Rebeca also recommends that you always have a clear concept for the photos you want to achieve so that you will be able to easily explain it to the make-up artist on the shoot.
Make sure the model is comfortable
Make sure that the models you are working with feel safe and comfortable. Monitor the temperature in the studio or the place where you’re taking your photographs and adjust it accordingly–you don’t want your model to be too cold or too hot. It’s often a good idea to have a dressing gown and slippers ready for them to wear. You could also have music playing that helps them to relax and concentrate. Choose something that’s in keeping with the mood and atmosphere you want to create.
Take into account how experienced the model is
For Rebeca, it’s incredibly important to know the differences between directing amateur models and professional models. Maintaining good communication throughout will make the person you are working with feel like they are in good, safe hands.
Explain your idea and use references
Share your references and sources of inspiration with your models. This will make it easier for the two of you to connect and bring your idea to life. Use these references as a guide. However, avoid copying the exact poses or ideas that they use.
Be careful when you approach the model during the shoot
When you move to adjust a pose, add props to the set, or accessories to the model, change the position of something, or move a light, do so in a relaxed and careful way, all the while explaining what you’re doing to the model so that they feel informed and safe.
Be careful when you propose collaborating with a nude model. You should never approach someone and say you would like to take photographs of them without having prepared how you will explain all the shoot details and the goal of your project. You need to be ready to share your portfolio and have references prepared that show how you’re planning to execute your idea. Be careful with the language you use and, preferably, have the initial conversations via written communication.
It may seem obvious, but it’s better to be safe: avoid working in spaces that people outside your team can access, or with outside noises that could distract the models.
Communication and reaching an agreement
As you can imagine, working with a nude model requires establishing a set of boundaries and coming to an agreement on what can and can’t happen during a shoot. Regarding this, these are Rebeca’s suggestions:
–Don’t ever begin a photoshoot without having determined the concept of your project. It’s very uncomfortable to have to resolve issues during the shoot. Not only will you end up wasting time, but it will also distract the model and your production team from what they are supposed to be doing.
–Don’t ever begin a photoshoot without having clarified what you will be asking the model to do to get the shots you need. Don’t let anything take them by surprise because you could end up getting caught up in a misunderstanding that will derail your plans and project.
–Finally, never undertake a project working with a nude model without having established a contract giving you the authorization to take the photos and publish them. This must be signed by all involved.
A trustworthy companion
Based on her experience, Rebecca suggests asking your model to come to the shoot accompanied by someone they trust and feel comfortable with. This will help them to relax and feel safe and at ease. However, it’s important to emphasize that this person should neither be a parent nor a romantic partner, as their presence can complicate the shoot.
Attention to detail
Ask your models to avoid wearing clothes or accessories before the shoot that can leave marks on their skin. Also, speak to them beforehand about the steps they should take before the shoot day, such as moisturizing their skin and taking extra special care of their hands and feet.
If you are interested in learning more about how to carry out these types of projects, sign up to Rebeca’s course, Photography of Artistic Nudity, and she’ll show you how to work on a nude project from setting up your shoot to post-production.