Personal Project “What A Beauty You Are” Series – Etude No. 1

“Don’t just shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like!” That’s the basic idea I outlined for a new triple-part series.

Contact Sheet - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

What For? My Needs.

I detected an artistic lack in my portfolio that urged me to produce a different and supplemental style of imagery as an addition to my commercial glam photography.

Less colorful, less gloss, less glitz – no direct provocation and allure. I strived to reduce visual elements, cut perceivable temptation and tone down superficialities in order to boldly concentrate on the women in front of my lens – driven by soft tonalities and charming personalities.

Modeling for Nude Photography - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home
Nude & Sexy DIY Photo Shoot - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Look Concept: Confidence Makes Sexy

The most beautiful women are the ones that feel confident. Confidence and heart create sexiness. Feeling inner strength and being centered translates into a beautiful personality.

No overdone beautifying and styling here. No excessive simulated poses. I sought to capture the sense of real inner beauty, attractiveness and the graced soul that is hidden in every woman, yes, in every model. There’s something special behind every model’s pretty façade.

Hint: Learn the basics about looks and moods, read “The Look Maker” and here: “My “Keyword Tool“ Approach: How To Create Effective Photo Concepts The Simple Way“.

Home Photo Studio Setup - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

No Budget: 2 People on Set. Limited Distribution Rights.

For once, there was no budget allocation in place at all. That’s why I chose to shoot this work at home to avoid any location/studio expenses.

Surely, the models received their small fee based on a non-commercial contract and limited distribution rights.
But during the shoots, the team only consisted of the model and me – 2 persons. That was it.

Based on the looks required, the involvement of a Make-up/Hair artist was not necessary.

Sexy Blonde Photo Model Posing in Home Studio - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Choosing the Ladies: Sticking to Models

The one requirement demanded was to work with persons that are capable of staying in an all-natural spirit – No fakes, no hoity-toity girl folks – I guess you understand what I mean.
To push the variety, I decided to pick models from different sexy women photography genres.

For this first shoot I chose a very natural, curvy blonde pro glam model.

B&W Nude Photography - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home
Blonde Nude Photo Model - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Lighting Design: A Question of Character

In order to receive a genuine image that is reflecting the essential features as close as possible, the light’s characteristic needed to be as unexcited as conceivable.

Female character versus lighting character (getting away from strong ‘Light Ratios‘)!

So I flattened-out the light’s character (shadows) to develop the women’s personalities in a much stronger way. Furthermore, the setup stayed totally the same during all the different shoots done. That’s the other key parameter! This means, the quality of light is throughout congruent.

DIY Key Light & Background Light Setting - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Lighting Setup

I must admit that I used quite some lighting equipment. I put 3 flash heads into action.
However, you can implement the same look with only two speedlights. You just have to waive the idea of evenly lit three-quarter length shots. When you stick to a portrait-mode you will be able to excellently implement the same style.

Background Lighting: The Glowing Heart of this Series

Background Light, Softbox & Shower Curtain - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

The heart is a white translucent lit-through background wall. It’s built out of 4 white translucent shower curtains; the frame was created with the help of 2 Manfrotto Autopoles, an aluminum pipe and a broomstick act as crossbars. Everything was attached and stitched together with a bunch of clamps.
The curtains were not that plain but it didn’t matter because of the (subtle) overexposure the background-lighting created in this scene.

The background got powered by two 80x120cm/2.5×4’ softboxes.

Key Light

Key Light with Octobox & Shower Curtain - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Here curtain number 5 comes into play 😉
The key-curtain was lit by the same principles applied to the background. However, I used a medium-sized octobox here, simply because I had no additional softbox of that size left. Any other smaller modifier would not have provided the same large light volume I needed.

Catch Light Photo Light - Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home

Lighting Gear Equipment Used

  • 5 translucent, white-fabric shower curtains. 4x background, 1x key light
  • 3x 400 WS Monoblocs
  • 2x 80x120cm/2.5×4’ Softbox, background
  • 1x Ø120cm/4’ Octobox, key light
  • 4x Manfrotto Autopoles for the frames. Note: You can use any construction you want to attach the curtains to. I just own my Autopoles so it was the natural way to use them.
  • Transparent tape for sticking the curtains together
  • A bunch of clamps
Michaela Sexy Glam Model - Shooting Black & White Nudes at HomeMichaela in What A Beauty You Are- Shooting Black & White Nudes at Home


In my eBook ‘ESSENTIALS. Studio Lighting for Nude Photography’ I am depicting and explaining a vast variety of light settings (1-4 lights), provide you with extensive theoretical aspects and lead you to advanced, yet simple to understand lighting setups, including 2D set plans and 3D light simulations.

Explore my suggestions, creations, ideas and last but not least my intriguing imagery – feat. Melisa Mendini & Jenni Czech

Mastering B&W Nudes Today - Complete Digital Workflow

MASTERING B&W NUDES TODAY - Complete Digital Workflow

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