There are some key things to consider if you are going to be shooting nudes or semi-nudes and if any clothing is to be removed it is important to consider a few things. Firstly privacy. She should be able to remove any clothing away from the camera or if that is not possible, away from you. You may need to leave the room whilst she does this. Secondly her clothing should be kept safe, secure and dry! Thirdly think about the temperature of the room or location, if she is removing clothing she is going to get colder than you and goose bumps and a grumpy cold client rarely makes a good image. It is also important to not to over sexualise the image, you are trying to create portraits that she will want to hang on her wall or keep in a secret box somewhere. You are not creating pornography and nor do we want to create a situation whereby pregnancy itself within society becomes over sexualised. We aim to create portraits that are a celebration of her body and life, they may well include her sexuality but we want to avoid being overt with it.
Have a robe nearby for her for when you are testing your settings and light metering. Be aware of any tight fitting clothing that may have left a mark, you may need to wait until they pass or advise her beforehand not to wear any tight fitting underwear or clothes. It may sound obvious but is she is to wear lingerie ensure that it is clean and in good order, it does not need to be Agent Provocateur but it does not need to be a dirty off white either!
Nude Position One
Perhaps the most recognisable and famous of pregnancy poses and one that is in danger of becoming clichéd if executed poorly. First seen with the Leibovitz portrait of Demi Moore, many celebrities have followed suit. From Jessica Simpson, Claudia Schiffer, Monica Bellucci and Christina Aguilera, all have done “The Demi” or have images inspired by the original. This really a pose you should consider.
The pose starts at the feet ideally with closest foot slightly forward and up on tiptoes, you may need to get her to put that foot onto something to further lift her closest knee higher. By lifting the knee we can get a great rounded bottom, cover the pubic area and create a great arch in the back. You can use this pose in full profile however a ¾ view tends to work best.
The important part to remember is that the hand closest to the camera cradles underneath her bump and the hand farthest away cover her breasts. If shooting in profile you must ensure that both hands can be seen otherwise the image may look odd.
Nude Position Two
Position two is a natural progression from position one and can be moved from one to the other with ease however consider changing your position, her position and gaze to get a variety of images. The legs and feet can stay in the same postion as the Demi, but this time the arms can cross over her breasts but you must ensure that her arms do not cover her hands!
Depending on her body makeup, she may have longer or shorter arms and so you may have to adapt the pose slightly. If she has shorter arms you may need to get her to cuddle her arms by holding her forearms with her hands. If she is leaner or has longer arms, a more shoulder type cuddle can be achieved to create an interesting and sensual image.
It is important that you do not allow her to over reach, over cuddle or slouch. Be aware that by covering the shape of the breasts with her arms we may be making her look larger than she is and if this is the case, get her to open her arms out a bit further by holding closer to her wrists rather than her forearms.
Nude Position Three
The final pose that moves on naturally is to show full nudity or form. In the previous two poses the breasts have been fully covered with the arms however your client may wish to show more. By once again choosing an appropriate foot position we can select a pose that is going to fit the circumstance best. Allow the closest arm to hang freely whilst the other rests against a wall or is placed on her bump or body. This is very similar to a fashion pose however be careful not to over glamorise or sexualise the image with strong shapes and hand positions.
Move her leg or your camera position/crop to hide or slightly show the pubic area should she wish or wear underwear. With the right lighting a very effective and sensual image can be achieved. Here I have used Kodak film with a heavy grain and diffuser to pastelise the highlights.
All of these poses can be used fully clothed, fully nude or somewhere in between. You must always consider your clients wishes and her comfort level, take many breaks and make sure that she is warm enough. Standing on tiptoes, doing the “Demi” and holding poses can be very tiring for her. It is also important to remember that posing nude or semi-nude is not for everyone, it is not to their taste, they disagree with it or they dislike the way they think they look. Respect and empathy. They are the two key words you must learn and understand above all else.
The Next Stage
Posing nude is not everyone however it is important to know how to do it well. Another request that you may recieve is to photograph a couple, once again this is not for everyone and especially for the father! They are most likely going to feel the most uncomfortable during the shoot and as such you are going to need to know what you are doing! Using a compass and understanding "the loop" are a couple of very important tools for your tool box.
Next Step - Sitting
Did you know that The Art and Technique of Pregnancy Photography eBook contains 9 Posing Nude guide illustrations and 17 pages of high quality demonstration portrait images? Find out more..
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