Etude No. 2: Stana in Studio

I’m a glamNude shooter… and lingerie…and boudoir…and sexy portraiture. OK, even some expressive B&W series every now and then.

But figurative classic nudes? Nope.

Nevertheless, I felt the urge to deal with this style since it actually is a part of the Sexy Women Photography basic elements. Now my reason was not necessarily to add this look to my repertoire but rather to obtain a certain understanding of it and a comparison to my commercial works.

So I forced myself into a self-prescribed lesson regarding this topic earlier this year. In other words, a crash course.

Art Nude Imagery Stana - Etude 1 - ClassiC Nudes by Dan Hostettler - 1

Stana, the Classic Art Nude Model

In order to successfully start such an endeavor, the most important point is to choose the right model (type) to collaborate with.

As you might know, a typical glam model with a pretty face and nice curves rather tends to pose in a more static way. Teasing and alluring expressions is what you can expect, yes. But as a whole concept this shots will end in a more “decorative” result than in an active one.

So the art nude model for my little, private project had to be very experienced with shooting classical (studio) nudes. After all, the aim was for the model to teach me (!) about good poses, shooting flow and other crucial aspects in this specific area.

Stana - Etude 1 - BTS Screenshots - Posing & Shooting Flow - Classic Art Nude Photo Shoot Crash Course

Luckily I know Stana, the perfect model for this job. Over the past few years, I had the pleasure to work with her at my private master classes. Stana is an excellent, sought-after, bright and outstanding art nude model who works globally for calibers like Guido Argentini, Andreas Bitesnich, Tono Stano and others.
She’s also very tall – simply an awesome body to create striking poses supporting and extending super looooong lines and greatly beautiful (and valuable) for creating abstract forms and shapes.

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Poses: Art History Lesson + Muscles + Keywords

When trying to achieve a classic nude series for the first time by implementing figurative (sculptural/statuesque) poses, it immensely helps that the model is full of knowledge and ideas about classical art motifs.

In a long term shooting relation between a model and a photographer (shooting sessions over and over again), the photographer normally brings in his/her visions and concepts while the model contributes her interpretations to the overall work. Together they then develop unique and wonderful studies/series – sometimes even by coincidence. It’s creation, not depiction after all!

But because I was totally new to this style, I had no vision, no concept, no beginning, no end… Stana was my teacher that afternoon. And she was magnificent: Not only does she know all about the traditional sculptors like Michelangelo, Rodin, Antioch, Donatello, painters like Rubens, Goya, Titian, Ingres, photography masters like Stieglitz, Marc de Burgweid – no, she has also studied their body of work intensively and therefore knows pretty much all there is to know!

Stana - Etude 1 - BTS Screenshots - Posing & Shooting Flow - Classic Art Nude Photo Shoot Crash Course 2

Stana replicates and evolves the poses – plus she exactly knows their imperfections and how to bypass them. Imperfection example: Wrinkle formation on the back when sitting on the floor. Have a look at Ingres “Grande Odalisque” – see the towel that covers a bit of the back and butt? – https://goo.gl/SYhBU2

Following the co-creation of some very classical poses, Stana taught me about another acting concept based on keywords. I learned about catch words like force, repose, loneliness, elongation, levity – a concept, that photographers seem to use quite often.

Boiled down: This posing concept requires the photographer to capture tension, curves, lines, muscles, spine, flowing forms and more. All of this is created by means of standing poses and sitting/lying ones on the floor.

This acting-bases session gave me maximal input and was really demanding! Throughout this intense lesson, I was continuously hoping that the shapes I created with the model and the chosen interplay between camera and model would depict and condense the chosen keyword in the best possible way…

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Lighting: Creating Plasticity

I’ve setup the shoot in front of a simple white backdrop. And I’ve prepared too much light. My idea was to go with a key and a fill-in. But after the first 3 test images Stana reminded me that this style is all about plasticity. No flat, soft lighting, nope – a rather semi-hard light with a good visible shadow cast.

When Stana appeared on set, I already noticed that something bothered her – but she was polite enough to let me take a few shots first. She probably thought I would notice the mistake myself. But when I didn’t, she intervened…

So I switched off the fill-in and shot just along with a medium-sized octobox from the left side (related to the camera position). This direction is what created the shadow cast and nicely formed the shadow play Stana had recommended in the first place.

Stana - Etude 1 - BTS Screenshots - Lighting Setup - Classic Art Nude Photo Shoot Crash Course
Classic Art Nude Photo Shoot- 2D Light Set Plan

What I’ve Learned & Conclusion

The entire shoot was just marvelous! Not only did I take some new images in a novel style, no, I also received an art history lesson and an exploration thereof.

On top of this, I definitely gained more posing insights than I was hoping for, got to implement new shooting aspects and already created some decent results (IMHO).
I was (and still am) deeply impressed by Stana’s art knowledge and the flawless outstanding practical implementation of the poses during this session.

Regarding my commercial work: I’m not sure if this style fits my needs – parts of it probably do.
Figurative/static/sculptural and very compositional posing is something I like a lot, yet the dynamic interplay and teasing part is missing.

What I most definitely will do is to shoot more conceptual-based B&W series – far from glitz and glam but with more flux and allure than offered by classic art nudes…

…classy timeless B&W series with a captivating swing and a sexy twist – so to say.

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