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Portrait Nudes: My Definition + Model Test Shoot


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.

  1. The portraiture aspect is in focus and not a boldly straight nude pic. Portraiture styles can be artistic, glamy, classy B&W and more.
  2. Framing is mostly tight (no three-quarter or even full-length final results).
  3. 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.

1 - Nici - Results 1 - Model Test Shoot

2A - Set 1 - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --1 - Film Look2B - Set 1 - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --2 - Film Look
2C - Set 2 - Model Test Shoot - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --1 - Film Look2D - Set 2 - Model Test Shoot - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --2 - Film Look

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.

3 - Your Personality Weighs In - BTS - Model Test Shoot

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.

4 - Nici - Results 2 - B&W - Model Test Shoot

5A - Model Test Shoot - Set 3 - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --1 - Film Look5B - Model Test Shoot - Set 3 - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --2 - Film Look

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”.

6 - Nici - Results 3 - Model Test Shoot

7A - Set 4 - Model Test Shoot - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --17B - Set 4 - Model Test Shoot - Contact Sheet - Nici Dee Test Shoot 2017 --2

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.

Tutorial “Contemporary Allure: Portrait Nudes”

LIVE Replay: ‘Contemporary Allure: Portrait Nudes’

LIVE Replay: ‘Contemporary Allure: Portrait Nudes’

5 Films. 95 Min Runtime. FullHD
Tempting & Striking, Fresh & Free, B&W, Silky Glam. Starring Nici Dee.
“Create portrayal, do not just depict a scene!” Contemporary Allure is about designing different moods/stories/emotions by building emotive situations, just like the genre of portraiture is intended to do. Dan started shooting frisky portraiture as an additional business opportunity for doing privately commissioned work, meaning Dan is taking shots of ladies that actually pay him to do so. This photo shoot is meant to push you to start doing such a style of work yourself!

A traveler at heart, inspired by women, working along Swiss precision. Dan is a mediapreneur, photographer, author of several books and founder + Editor in Chief of Being a successful photographer for more than 15 years Dan got internationally published and featured on/in GQ Online, The India Times, FashionONE TV, FotoTV, GoodLight Mag, amongst many others. Dan is currently residing and working in Prague, CZ. Dan will talk about his projects, provide insights in shootings & concepts, produce webinars, create Academy content, explain styles, emphasize the importance of working with models and any other exciting topic he discovers along the way.

A) Do you test models? B) Do you cultivate your own neat sub-genres like I did with "Portrait Nudes"?

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Nici sure is a top choice for glamour/nude photography: she is simply great, collaborative, propositive, so easy to work with, and her strong personality is an additional value that can be useful during the shooting.
I’m glad she is now in your list of models, but since the beginning I had no doubts about it: in the video, when you said “[…] I need to be sure she is the one I’m looking for […]” I instantly replied “Oh yes, she is”. ^_^

Bye Dan!


Hey Dan, yes I did, twice: once in early 2015, in Italy, and once in march 2017, during my visit in Prague. While photos from the last shooting still are on to-do (looooong) list, I can attach some of the first shootings.

It started as a funny shooting, turning later to a more sensual mood.


Another one from Nici’s shooting.

Turning a bit more sensual with the same outfits.

Two shots from the shower set.

Personally, I don’t do a model test shoot. I shoot only as a serious amateur. If I shot for professional/commercial reasons I very definitely would do a test shoot. In that context, money is involved and there has to be a rapport between model and photographer from the beginning. A comfortable model is a happy model and that generally leads to a successful professional shoot. Having said all that; being a serious amateur, no test shoot, I find it exciting to shoot a new model and have the rapport develop (or, not) as the shoot transpires. It’s kind of like… Read more »

Attached is one of the wide instant film. Fuji Instaxx. I have a few more but can’t seem to load multiple images.

I totally agree with you that the rapport between photographer and model begins right with the initial contact. If a good relationship is established in the initial communication, it almost guarantees a good shoot. I’m familiar with some of Nici’s work, and I’ve been impressed. I think she’s a great choice for the webinar series.