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[Part 21/23 | Module 4: WORKING WITH MODELS]

In Nude – and especially – in Glamour Photography styling can be crucial. Your decision about “What to Wear” and “How to Style” is a major one.

Strange and contradictory as it may sound, clothing (let’s call it wardrobe) is often important to nude – and more so glamour – photography. You will often find wardrobe being worn by nude models – much of it being lingerie – in many pictures.

Wardrobe is used to hide, reveal, call attention to, tease, titillate, accentuate, and more… used artistically, of course. Generally, there isn’t an abundance of wardrobe in nude photography. Mostly, there’s just enough to raise the curiosity of viewers and to further “sell” the allure of the model. Deciding what your subject will wear, if she’s going to be wearing anything – because sometimes nude photography is just that: a nude model, period, without wardrobe – is quite important. Often, it’s as important as whatever amount of skin is revealed. Sometimes, it’s even more important than the amount of skin revealed.

sexy photoshoot - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Choosing The Clothing And Accessories For The Shoot

If you look closely at the sequence of photos in magazines and on the internet (when there is a sequence) you will often notice that, first, there are a few pictures of the model in lingerie or other sexy or skimpy wardrobe. As the sequence advances, you notice that items of the model’s wardrobe are either being removed in the pics, or they’ve disappeared from one photo to the next as if by magic. By the end of the sequence, the model is usually depicted completely nude. It’s like the model has performed a photographic strip-tease, one still image at a time.

You might consider following this same sort of sequence for your nude photo shoots, even when the ultimate goal of the shoot is to produce full-nude images. Just remember to pace things out. By the end of your shoot, you probably will want to have snapped about 70% of your images without wardrobe or with very little of it still on the model’s body. 70/30 is a fairly standard ratio amongst glamour nude photographers, plus or minus about 10% depending on the reasons for the shoots or how the pics will later be used.

photo styling preparation - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Styling Preparations

The wardrobe used in nude glamour shoots, including accessories like jewelry, shoes, hats, sunglasses, and more, is called “styling.” It’s the same for fashion photography and for some other genres. When a “stylist” is mentioned in the credits of a photo, it’s referring to the person responsible for the wardrobe and wardrobe accessories worn by the model. You probably won’t have a stylist on your first shoots. You may not ever utilize the services of a stylist. You do, however, need to be aware of styling and its importance. For most shoots when it’s just the model and you, the two of you are the stylists.
Many glam models have plenty of sexy wardrobe, shoes, and other accessories. They will often bring a fair amount of that stuff to shoots. That means you get to play dress-up doll, in a sense, along with your model (who is playing the parts of the model, the doll, and one of the stylists.)

Obviously you cannot use all wardrobe and accessories which many models might bring to shoots. That’s why it’s a good idea to have discussed wardrobe with your model prior to the shoot. You don’t necessarily have to nail-down the exact wardrobe she will be wearing, although sometimes you might, but your model should have a pretty good idea of what sorts of wardrobe you want to photograph her in. In other words, don’t wait till the day of your shoot, allowing your model to make all the wardrobe decisions based on what she brings with her. Begin planning for things like wardrobe and accessories before the shoot, along with your other planning efforts.

If there are specific sorts of photos you want to shoot, tell her about them and ask whether she has any wardrobe or accessories that might be used to underscore your themes or the looks of the photos you want to snap.

As mentioned, many models have lots of wardrobe and accessories. It’s also not a bad idea for you, the photographer, to being assembling something of a small wardrobe department of your own. Thrift stores are great places to find such wardrobe and to buy it without breaking the bank. But remember: Models come in various shapes and sizes. So you’ll need some variety in your wardrobe department. You might want to focus more on accessories than outfits.

Lingerie & Bikini - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Underwear, Lingerie & Bikinis

There is a difference between shooting a model in underwear and lingerie versus a bikini. For one thing, underwear and lingerie are generally more suitable for studio shooting or in other interior locations while bikinis are better suited to exteriors. For another, bikinis won’t violate any public nudity laws while underwear and lingerie might.

Indoor photos featuring bikini-clad models can look odd unless something else that is contributing to the pictures’ story says otherwise. A photo of a model in a bikini, lying on a bed with the ocean or a swimming pool visible through a window or doorway in the background makes perfect sense. A photo of a model in a bikini posed in an abandoned old factory might not make any sense unless, again, something else in the story says differently.

Jewelry - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Jewelry

Jewelry and jewelry-like accessories can make or break a glam nude photo. If you’re shooting your nude model in an upscale location within elegant surroundings, and the only thing your model is wearing, jewelry-wise, is her day-to-day watch, one that is large and anything but stylish or elegant, it might not be a big plus to your photo.

Note: Many models keep hair ties on their wrists almost like a piece of jewelry. Keep your eyes open for hair ties on wrists. Sure, they can be removed in post, but it’s much easier to simply have your model remove it during your shoot.

Jewelry and other accessories are often part of the photographer’s vision. If jewelry works for you, by all means, use it. If not, don’t. By the way, while jewelry is quite common to use for glamour nudes, the same can’t be said for fine art nudes. With fine art nudes, nude often – perhaps mostly – means nude.

Sunglasses - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Sunglasses & Eye-Wear

Sunglasses often look good in glamour nude photography. Your beautiful, sexy, model now also looks “cool” wearing shades. Sunglasses and other eye-wear can add can add elegance. They can add humor. They can make your model look smarter or cooler or even sexier. There are many ways you can go with eye-wear of all kinds. Use your imagination. Just make it work. If you think it detracts, don’t use eye-wear. It’s as simple as that.

Model Photography - Coats & Jackets - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Coats & Jackets

Although coats and jackets might seem superfluous or out-of-character in nude photos, they can add a level of interest to your images. Often, they add personality to your models. A denim jacket might say something about your model being the outdoorsy type. A black leather jacket might pin her as a motorcycle chick. Jackets sometimes say a lot. They can occasionally say more than other wardrobe.

Glamor Photos - Hats - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Hats

Hats can be terrific wardrobe accessories and can say much regarding the story you want to tell. There are many, many, many styles of hats. If you’re going to use a hat, pick one that adds flair or enhances the image, the story, or both. Hats can add personality, expression, and mood to most any nude photograph. Be advised: Hats can also add challenges to your lighting. A hat with even a small-ish brim can cast an unwanted shadow on your model’s eyes. The eyes are super important in most people photography, nude or otherwise. You might need to adjust you lighting to accommodate for a hat, i.e., adjusting the lighting in ways that remove shadows from around your model’s eyes. But be careful your adjustments don’t turn your otherwise nice lighting into horror-movie lighting where the source of light appears to be coming from too far below.

Extras - Poses - What to Wear in Nude Photography

Extras: Accessories That Enhance Your Stories

Extras can help you imply your story or extend your story without distracting from your model. Course, it might be that you want to distract from certain element of your model. For example, a mask can create a sense of mystery or intrigue. Red-and-white Santa wardrobe is a great way to say “Christmas” or Winter Holidays by adding a festiveness to your sexy model’s images.

What to Wear - Glamour Photography Styling

A Few Final Words On Styling

Deciding on the wardrobe and accessories you’ll use for your nude photography can be as important as the models you decide to work with. Wardrobe and accessories can add much appeal and value, “Wow! Value,” to your images. Don’t treat wardrobe and accessory decisions as if they’re unimportant or merely minor add-ons to your photos. Often enough, wardrobe can be as important as the model, the location, your lighting, composition, basically all the other ingredients for making awesome nude photos.

Thanks for reading.