For a while now, I have been exploring a new sub-style that I call Portrait Nudes. Of course we could simply classify this as “Nudes”. However, let me explain the subtle distinction I make here.
- The portraiture aspect is in focus and not a boldly straight nude pic. Portraiture styles can be artistic, glamy, classy B&W and more.
- Framing is mostly tight (no three-quarter or even full-length final results).
- And I am very after incorporating the subjects’ authentic personalities and feel. So it is not exactly their shapes, bodies, and curves that I am after in this style.
It, of course, happens to be that the bare chest is shamelessly depicted (depending on styling & hair) but this is not the main reason why I shoot this sub-genre. Captured nudity is just the natural extension and part of the whole composition.
Portrait Nudes are about the women, not their body.
Portray! Do Not Just Depict The Scene
In any of our work, be it glam, boudoir but especially when covering portraiture-like work, we need to feel the connection to the subject on the final photograph. This demands that we must try to establish a bond during the shooting process – we need to attempt to truly connect.
There is a wonderful quote by Annie Leibovitz: “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
This is exactly what it is all about: being enthusiastic, keen, falling in love, schmooze, interact, talk, push – of course all those things within the certainty of our professional boundaries. But don’t be afraid to also voice these boundaries. Most of the time we are more hesitant and cautious than a situation would allow for. Overcome your fears (assuming you have any) and start to dally a bit. Weigh in your personality and establish a flow. Whoever our subject in front of the camera happens to be, a good rapport will flourish when we are charming. Being charming is the term of importance here and the right way to follow – not being flirtatious and pushy.
If you want to reveal the inner beauty of your subjects you need to radiate joy and enthusiasm, charm and elegance. Every person responds positively to classy charm.
Your Personality Weighs In
I know that acting the way as described above is not exactly a default common behavior for most of us, certainly not for me. I am an introvert, rather shy when meeting a person for the first time – I feel anxious and uncomfortable. But it is my job to get that charming environment going and to ignite splendidness during the shoot. We have to switch gear and start acting at the right moment. Pumping adrenalin, creating inside power, telling ourselves that fear only exists in our head, that the person in front of the lens is most likely a bit nervous too and that it is our job to bring out the very best alluring and meaningful loveliness for this very moment.
It takes practice on our side (= shoot, shoot, shoot). Practice in acting, getting our act together and developing the skill to “connect”. “On Demand Charm” is a tool we need to have ready for use. Being a photographer is not so different from being a model when it comes to playing a role on the set.
Picture Language: Organic (No Strict Posing)
When looking at my first distinctively shot Portrait Nudes, I notice that the picture language has developed organically. On set, there was not much of a plan or specific posing instructions involved.
When I was shooting the series with Suzzi or Sabi, I didn’t apply a particular on-set play or posing directions. In settings like this it is best for me to work with my neat, self-developed “keyword tool” which helps me to set a basic tone, mood or little story that the model/client and I are following along. This strategy does not demand for any strict posing instructions but rather builds on our imagination. In those shootings, it is crucial to not overpower the situation with tech. It is about staying true to the subject in front of your lens, not worshipping gear perfection.
I will exactly follow this idea and conceptual shooting techniques in my upcoming webinar “Contemporary Allure – Portrait Nudes”.
Testing Nici For Webinar “Portrait Nudes”
In the before mentioned webinar “Contemporary Allure – Portrait Nudes”, I will for the first time work with a new model, named Nici (Czech-Japanese descent). I will strip down any stereotypical, standardized and internalized model poses and do my utmost in order to have model Nici’s truer self emerges.
Of course the sub-genre of portraiture allows for different moods and little stories, too. But in general it is about the feeling and connection, not about interpreting a fake story as realistic as possible.
In the video shown above, I was testing Nici’s standard abilities as a model. I had to get a basic idea about her take, interpretation, personal opinions and more. We played through the standard program of a test shoot and I identified all the points which I will approach differently, in more organic and natural ways when during the live shoot with her in my webinar “Contemporary Allure – Portrait Nudes”.
On June 24, I will demonstrate all my strategies to establish that special connection with a subject and – of course – how alluring and sexy Portrait Nudes are created. It will be my first time with Nici in a real setting – no smoke and mirrors. Just setting the right atmosphere and working this session with allure and charm, so to say.