Today we will be answering some excellent questions posed by photo-enthusiast and reader, Alan. We will be approaching these responses in a new and interesting way:

There will be two points of view represented in each response: the photographer’s [Dan] and the model’s [Chloe]. The questions and answers both fall under the pretense that you either are a nude/glamour model or you book them as a photographer for a shoot (please keep that in mind).

It is easy to focus primarily on the head of your model. But the nude body is as equally as important as the face and you should not divide your attention between the two. Each area deserves its own focus because you cannot have a good photo unless both are looking beautiful.

Really, the closer your model looks to what you want your finished product to look like—the better.


Nails - Photoshop retouching - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

What do you think about doing your own finger and toe nails? Is this something you do, or is it part of the make-up artist’s job? If it is up to you, how do you decide what color palate to use, ie: pastels, bright and bold, or funky and blingy?

[Dan]: Regardless of the job, whether it is for a client or for myself I ALWAYS have a MUHA (makeup & Hair Artist) on set. I find it important that somebody carries out this vital duty in a professional way so that I am allowed the time and freedom to concentrate on the set/lighting/communicating with my model etc.
If there is an obvious theme for the shoot I am about to do, I generally have a nail color already planned out. Sometimes I collaborate on this decision with my MUA and will inform my model prior to showing up how she presents her nails. The MUA is then responsible for making sure the model does show up in the requested style/color. There are instances where we have to tweak things either before the shoot or after in Photoshop.

Most models have artificial nails these days and it’s always a good idea to ask before booking if she is willing or unwilling to remove them for the shoot. Whether you book the girl with a lot of nail accessories is up to you.
Since not everybody is going to spend the money for MUHA, you should keep the thought and effort surrounding the nails to a minimum. Tell the model beforehand to prepare her nails in whatever way necessary because if she does them in studio, it will take entirely too much time which in turn…equals money.

[Chloe]: I leave my nails plain most of the time, especially when going to a shoot or a booking. In my opinion it is not professional for a model to show up with gaudy, flashy nails that distract from her physical appearance. In my free time, sure…I paint my nails all sorts of crazy colors but this is just for me. When it comes time to work, I will either wear a classic French tip or just a nice clear coat and that is all.
I have been on a few, more stylized shoots where the photographer asked for my input on hair and makeup which included my nails. In the end, it is up to the photographer and I just offered my opinion, my job is to pose, not style.

I do not wear fake nails because they are too time consuming and my natural nails look just as good. A photographer should be able to create a piece of artwork with a model, in that she is a blank canvas and he is the painter. The less there is on the canvas, the easier it is for him or her to create.

Tan Marks

Tan Marks & Lines - Photoshop retouching - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

If you wear a ring permanently (like a wedding ring) it eventually leaves a permanent mark on that particular finger. Do you remove the ring when you do a shoot or do you leave it on and remove it when asked to do so by the client and if so how do you hide the telltale mark?

[Dan]: I always remove all model’s original jewelry because it never fits the mood I am creating (though I then mostly bring in some selected pieces on my own). This also applies for more permanent things such as engagement and wedding rings. The tan lines or marks left behind by rings are easily removed with the use of the “Healing Brush Tool” and/or the “Clone Stamp”-tool in Photoshop

This also goes for marks and tan lines left by bikinis, slips or bras. You have to be very aware of the slightest impression or variance. Most professional nude and glamour models are very careful not show up with tan lines or marks on their skin

It is a good idea to always ask about the condition of a model’s skin before book, because if she showed up just back from a holiday with serious tan lines you would have a big problem.

[Chloe]: Though I am not married, I do wear several rings almost all the time. One of them I have worn for ten years, (my grandmother’s engagement ring) and never take it off…except when I work! My rings have never been an issue simply because I am careful. Sometimes during a shoot I have worn my own jewelry because the photographer requested it, but I have never just made that choice on my own. All jewelry stays hidden away in my bag when I show up to work.

As far as marks/tan lines go, again, it is all about being professional. Only a novice would consider lying out on the beach only to develop some serious tan lines and then expect a photographer NOT to be upset. Like I said earlier, your nude body is like a canvas and you have to make sure it is free of marks.

Pale Nipples

Pale Nipples - Photoshop retouching - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

Let’s say you have pale nipples, do you ever use makeup to enhance them? If you do use makeup is it you responsibility or do you allow a makeup artist to work with them?

[Dan]: During one of my first shoots (when I was relatively inexperienced) I worked with a blonde that had very pale areolas. I had exactly this idea of making them appear darker with the aid of makeup. I asked my female MUA to follow through with this. After a few shots however, I just sensed that it looked very fake and would be difficult to reverse later in post. So we removed a majority of the color and left just a small amount in order to achieve a nuance of contrast between the skin tone and actual areola. The rest was done in Photoshop with “Dodge & Burn” tool, using the “burn” function. If you don’t know this function yet, you need to make it your best friend. It is help in nearly every photo post and you achieve quick fantastic results in everything from eyes, hair, makeup, pubic hair and nipples.

[Chloe]: Personally, I do not have this problem but have known other models that have experience something similar. What I have heard coincides with what Dan mentioned, in that a MUA applied makeup to the girl’s nipples. If a photographer didn’t have a MUA, I would feel comfortable applying it myself. It would be no different than doing my own regular makeup, just in a different place. It would seem easier, just in my opinion, to be aware of your model’s complexion before shooting so you didn’t run into these problems.

(Nipple) Piercings

Nipple Piercings - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

If the client is looking for what appears to be pierced nipples, do you allow faux jewelry to be applied and if so who applies it, you or the makeup artists?

[Dan]: Good question! In order to shoot in my style, I always remove as much jewelry and tattoos as possible but I did do a little research and found this: “Non-Piercing Nipple Jewelry”: which includes, nipple shields, nipple rings, magnetic earrings and nose studs. I did not find a fake nipple ring that appears to be stuck through the nipple itself, like a barbell. Everything I found was in a ring form.

Either way I would suggest asking the model to apply it because they are going to be better at working with their own body than anybody else. Perhaps if they requested assistance have your female MUA or somebody else the model would trust on set to lend a hand. Here a few Youtube videos on “How to fake a piercing” (unfortunately no nipples examples since it seems to be a PG kind of thing, you know…):

[Chloe]: I actually have worn fake jewelry before, (not in my nipples, in my nose for a punk rock style shoot) and wanted to take the ring home I liked it so much! I put the fake ring in myself and it was really easy. If the photographer wanted me to wear a fake nipple ring, I would want to put it on myself rather than having somebody do it for me because…well…I don’t want a MUA accidently hurting me. If for some reason I couldn’t do it without help, the MUA is the person to ask.

Pubic Hair

Pubic Hair - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

Obviously if you are completely shaved between the legs then this question would not apply, however, if not, who does the hair down there? When you get out the shower and you dry yourself the hair falls into a natural pattern, but once you put on and then take off your panties it’s not the same?

[Dan]: That’s a seldom asked question and situation though, which is unfortunate due to the lasting trend of being completely shaved. Personally, I do enjoy shooting a model with natural pubic hair every once in a while. Though I am not a huge fan of the look, it is boring to shoot the same look constantly. Obviously, it is impossible for a model to shower every time she removes her bottoms but there is a simple solution. I sometimes just suggest that she rub or fluff the longer pubic hair in order to get the desired look. It is a pretty simple and effective method I find.

[Chloe]: I have run the gamut when it comes to pubic hair and have never had a problem “styling” it myself. Just like if you get hat hair during the day and don’t have the chance to shower, all you really have to do is run your fingers through it to bring it back to life. I would say that it is often more difficult to maintain a trimmed or totally shaved look than a natural one. It is very easy to get razor burn down there, (which requires makeup or work in post) or if you have very “stylized” pubic hair, like a landing strip or design, photographers won’t want book you because it doesn’t fit their style.

Blemishes, Spots and Bruises

Blemishes, Spots and Bruises - Photoshop Retouching - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

What about body blemishes such as dark colored skin spots or patches? Who is responsible, you or the makeup artist for covering up or hiding them?

[Dan]: Blemishes, spots and bruises can be reduced with makeup. Depending on the skin tone, it’s a hard work effort and it will often show in the photos. As long you are shooting stills (not video): my experience has proven that it better to not cover darker, smaller areas too much. It’s a waste of time and it makes your work in post more difficult. If you leave a bruise on a fair skin tone untreated (makeup) it’s easier for you not to miss it in post. You can easily correct them (make invisible) in Photoshop with the use of “Healing Brush Tool” or the “Clone Stamp”.

Skin blemishes and spots in the face are different and should be covered in makeup as much as possible. You have much less skin area for cloning with when you work on the face in Photoshop. So the better the recorded image (tones, structure) already is the better for you in post-production.

[Chloe]: This is something I think most models have dealt with one time or another. Depending on the style of the photographer, they may cover up a freckle or birthmark you have, or they may leave it. I have a small birthmark on my hip and it really splits 50, 50 whether the photographer has it covered in makeup or not. Either way, this often done by the MUA but if there is not a MUA on set, I will do it myself if requested. I also make a point of not playing a lot of hard contact sports to avoid bruises, but have shown up to a few photo shoots feeling embarrassed about a bruise I got bumping into something. It happens though, nobody is perfect.

Body Painting, Fake Tattoos

Body Painting and Tattoos - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

Do you allow your body to be painted as in body paint or these stick on tattoos to be stuck onto your body?

[Dan]: I can’t answer anything as this is not the style I shoot. Chloe…?

[Chloe]: I wore body paint once, super early in my career. The photographer hired a professional painter who did an amazing job and I had no problem with it. At the time I wasn’t as picky, but now I would be concerned that it could be bad for my skin and would be sure to ask a lot of questions about the chemicals in the paint. If it seemed cool, as long as it was applied by somebody who knew what they were doing…I still wouldn’t have a problem with it.

You Have to Make Decisions

No model is going to be absolutely perfect though and it is important to balance your priorities when it comes to achieving your desired look. Some issues like a bruise or spot can be taken less seriously, because if you fixate too much energy on covering them up in makeup, you will be wasting your time. Most blemishes can be photo-shopped out but this is always going to mean more work for you.

Being prepared is the most important factor in creating a great photograph. Have a plan, create and execute your photograph and if you are prepare enough you will be closer to perfection in the beginning and will not have to spend a tone of time in post, fixing a lot of avoidable little things.

One Last Thing to Mention: Avoid Model’s Dry Skin

Dry Skin, Elbows & Knees - Modeling - The Nude Body - Your Next Photo Shoot

Be sure your model has smooth skin, not dry! Keep an eye on elbows and knees as they are problem zones. Professional models apply lotion regular (one that is not shiny or oil in appearance) before the shoot and during breaks to keep her skin little good and moisturized. If they do not, don’t force them too as they could be allergic. But if you noticed elbows and knees looking dry, ask politely if you wouldn’t mind applying some lotion. This will make your production process much easier!

PS: read a great tip about “full-body makeup” in a recent comment written from by our reader Allen here: /nude-photography-101/makeup-for-photo-and-hair-style#comment-1890.

Cheat Sheet: Ask Before You Book!

The impression of a model you get from online portfolios is often wrong and seldom up to date. When making first contact and before the settlement, always ask and get assurance about these things:

  • Piercings (belly, tongue, nipples etc)
  • Tattoos (any kind of…)
  • Tanning marks
  • Actual hair length
  • Actual hair color
  • State of nails (acrylic or natural)
  • Newly “applied” cosmetic surgery