Hi there! I’m not the anon from your last post, but I have the same question: how do get started with nude photography?

billymonday:

Thanks for asking, u-huh-om. I enjoy answering serious questions from non-anons.

It’s not photography, per se, that’s challenging to learn. You can do very nicely with a consumer-grade DSLR or mirrorless camera, a good tripod and a little training. I’m a big fan of the training videos on Lynda.com. With their help and a little practice, you can learn basics like the exposure-triangle, depth-of-field, and RAW processing. You shouldn’t have to spend more than US$500 for all this.

Regarding RAW processing, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will handle your needs. You can get along without Adobe Photoshop for a long time if you’re skilled with Lightroom. On the other hand, both of these programs are currently bundled from Adobe on a subscription basis for US$10/month, which is a pretty fair deal.

As an aside, film photography is definitely not the way to learn. We had to learn that way in earlier years because that’s all there was, but the myriad benefits of digital are especially helpful to the beginner. Once you understand the basics of light and cameras, if you decide to try working with film you’ll find it far easier.

But your question was about nude photography.

Artists have studied nudes since earliest record history. In the last century, or less, nudity has been portrayed as something sexual or perverted, as anyone on Tumblr can see, but among serious creators nudity remains an essential study in contour, composition, and sensitivity. Welcome to the club!

Getting started means forming a concept, having a reason for the photos you’re about to make. I look for inspiration in paintings and other illustrations, and I develop those ideas through my enjoyment of other cultural influences. Personally, I like to travel and to incorporate a lot of landscape subjects which interest me. It helps a lot (and I’m quite serious here) to write an artist’s statement and to try to stick with it even on bad days. It helps provide clarity of thought. Here’s mine.

Once you have a concept, look for models among your friends or at local art schools. Dancers and yoginis can usually be found and are able to pose nude if you present them with a clear concept. If you live in North America or Europe there are usually some self-titled professional nude models who can either be good or bad. It’s better to start with someone you know and trust.

After that, it’s the fun part – practice! It won’t take you long to get over the anxiety of creating with a nude model. Soon, you won’t even find anything odd about it. You’ll find yourself concentrating on your artist’s statement, working on ideas and trying to hone them in. This part is very rewarding for me, and it’s why I keep doing this. Photography in general, and nude photography in particular, is an imaginative process for me. If I find that I’m bored or not growing, I’ll move on. But for many years now, it’s been an enlightening pursuit, and I hope you find that it is for you, too!