nude photography

Have a go at nude photography

As your photographic interests progress, you are likely to try and take photos of somebody in the nude – It’s a very honest and challenging artform, which allows for a level of intimacy far beyond your regular portraiture. Of course, with the modern world’s paranoia about nudity, it’s not easy to know where to begin, so I’ve written a guide which I hope will come in handy to everyone, and give some insight into the hows and whys.

Needless to say, the photos behind the cut may not be entirely safe for work, but rest assured they are all relatively tasteful.

The problem with the definition is that people seem to attribute different things to nude. The most important part of an nude photo is that the person(s) in the picture is naked – and that this nakedness has a purpose.

Find a model

Tina nude 2 See Tina Nude II bigger on my Flickr stream.

This is probably going to be your biggest problem. It is difficult to take good nude self portraits, so you will have to find a model. A wife or girlfriend (or husband / boyfriend) might be able to help you out, but the problem here is that you are likely to know this body well already. One of the few exceptions to this Petter Hegre (see the links section below), who has taken an extensive (and very intimate) nude series of his wife – titled “my wife”

My point is that it would be better to take shots of somebody you have never seen naked before. That way, the picture taking process will be as much as an exploration for you (the photographer) as for the viewer

Finding a model can be difficult, especially if you do not have a photo studio or a professional business card (Neither those mean anything, as even people owning both can be psychos, but it helps when talking people into nude modelling). You could, of course, call a professional modelling agency, and offer to do a few nude shoots for new models who need a portfolio, but this is not likely to be cheap. Alternatively, using a online modeling agency such as OneModelPlace, you could find amateur models in your area.

When choosing a model, take somebody who has features that intrigue you. Don’t fall in the trap of picking somebody with a supermodel body – it removes much of the challenge. Instead, you want somebody who is different than average (making somebody who is not automatically associated with “pretty” look gorgeous is a lot more of a challenge than taking pictures of head-turners). A few pounds too much or too little is great.

Get a place

Picture-36.jpgWhen working with nude photography – no matter how much time you spend getting the pictures to look nice, and hiding away everything you would prefer not to show – the models will be moving, and everything will show, to put it that way. What you want to do is to find a reasonably secluded spot to take the pictures. A photo studio is ideal, but outdoors or on location somewhere makes for great pictures.

Make sure that the temperature wherever the pictures will be taken is good though, because remember; Somebody will be naked, and being cold definitely does not help to make people relax!

Take the pictures

Before you take the pictures, you will have to have thought about what you will want to do. Make some sketches, or have the model go through some poses with clothing on, to get some ideas as to where the shoot is going. Let the model have some ideas or set a theme to get going (a big black leather couch and a pale model or vice-versa can be very exciting)

When taking the pictures, take lots of pictures. This goes for any style of photographs, but particularly nude photography. If you believe you got a shot right – take two more just to make sure.

This also means that you will run out of film fast. Great. That means you can take frequent breaks while you load new film. Have a chat, take it easy, have a glass of wine (if the model is nervous, this can help LOTS)


Picture-29.jpgTry new stuff. Combine strange things. Have you seen the picture of Atlas? Recreate this with a big beach ball, or a TV receiver set or something. Use candles as light sources. Take black and white or colour shots (whatever you normally don’t). Use an overhead projector or a slide projector to project shapes onto your model.

Learn more

Philip Greenspun has an excellent guide to nude photography on, complete with lots of examples, practical tips, and interesting pointers. Not to be missed! has invited Peter Marshall to do A Beginners Guide to Nude Photography, which has a series of articles about nude photos, and how to go about photographing them

Examples of nude photography

Tina nude 1 See Tina Nude I bigger on my Flickr stream.

Bodyscapes is a project by Allan Teger: set of photographs where bodies are seen as landscapes. Very clever, very sexy, but not rude.

Petter Hegre is a Norwegian photographer who specialises in nudes. In recent years he's strayed from the subtle to straight-up pornography, but one thing you can't take away from him: The man's got a great eye for a photo, and it's some of the classiest porn around. Is that a weird thing to say? Well, have a look and judge for yourself.

The Art Nudes blog has a daily update of an artistic nude photo – most of them are of world-class standard – sometimes provocative, sometimes a bit strange, but always of very good quality... And they've been going for the best part of 10 years, so there's plenty of content to get through.

Flickr is of course another source of nude photos – the “Tasteful nudes” pool is a great port of call for inspiration, mostly photos taken by amateur models, but a lot of it is rather good... Although it's not always the best moderated collection of photos. Nudes, yes, but 'tasteful' - not always.

Other notable links

A history of nude photography in the inter-war era.

And, of course, my own article 45 inspirational nude photographs

Good luck, and if any of my readers have galleries of tasteful nudes – please do post a comment, I’d love to feature your site!

45 inspirational nude photos

Nude photography is a genre most photographers dabble in every now and again. I've often thought of nude photography as a natural extension of portraiture; if you're going to spend so much time on trying to capture the 'essence' of who somebody is, in some cases shedding any barriers between the model and the camera (such as clothes) is the next logical step. One thing that can be a challenge, is to translate portraiture techniques into nudes. For right or wrong, there are still a few social taboos around nudity - and even in relation to photographing nudes - and I often receive e-mails from people who want to give it a right good go, but can't quite figure out how to get started.

screen_shot_2011_11_30_at_152846.jpgGet the book

I am often asked where people who are interested in nude photography should start - and after a bit of research, I've finally found a great one-stop shop for all the information you could need about nude photography.

The book is called True Confessions of Nude Photography, and was written by A.K Nicholas.

You can find it on Amazon UK or

Where to begin?

I've written about the topic before, and you could do a lot worse than having a look at Try Nude Photography; my interview with nude photographer Pascal Renoux who is also featured in this list of inspirational nudes), Adding Passion to Nude Photography, and Nude Photography 101.

You may also be interested in the short piece by Brigitte I posted on nude self portraiture. And, of course, if you're not 100% sure about taking it all the way, there's always the deeply titillating art of implied nudity in portraiture.

I need some inspiration!

The reason I decided to create this post is two-fold; A lot of photographers are posting their first few steps in nude portraiture to Flickr, but many of them don't get the exposure they deserve. This list (with a very few notable examples) consists mainly of photos that I found to be inspirational (in some cases; aspirational), but that haven't had that many views and/or comments. The great thing about this is that even if you are a Flickr veteran, there's likely to be a load of photos in this list that you haven't come across before.

The other way of using this list is for 'imitation as inspiration'. If you're only just starting out in nude portraiture, it may be a useful exercise to pick some of the photos you like best, and plagiarise them. See if you can recreate them as closely as possible, and learn as much as you can about the process. Obviously, I wouldn't necessarily recommend posting the copies to Flickr (or, indeed, anywhere); but imitation can be a great way to get more familiar with a model, with directing your subjects, and getting a 'feel' for what works and what doesn't in nude portraiture. Once you're comfortable, turn off the 'copying' switch, tune in to your own creative vibe, and start creating your own masterpieces.

I did promise you some inspiration, though, and so far it's only been me babbling on... Let's get started!

1 - Call Girl by Glen Flower


From the title, you’d expect something a little more audacious to live up to what we know as a call girl. This photo stands out by going against that predictable notion and taking a more playful tone by use of bright colors and lighting, an eye-catching pattern of characters and a simple yet effective pose.

See Call Girl by Glen Flower in full res on Flickr

2 - Nude 2 by Andy Hassall


The first thing that draws my eye to this photo is the glow around the woman’s figure. Not only is it flattering to accentuate the curves, more importantly it adds an ethereal story to the image. Soft and delicate is a woman...

See Nude 2 by Andy Hassall in full res on Flickr

3 - Untitled by canarinomannaro

It's very obviously a nude, but there is nothing to see. It's intriguing and alluring, almost beguiling. The grains and the black and white do nothing but complement.

See Untitled by canarinomannaro in full res on Flickr

4 - Desnudo Simple by Alberto Ibarra Glez

desnudo simple

There's something pure, innocent, and powerful about this nude; the model isn't without flaws, and the shot itself isn't perfect either - but that's where the beauty comes from. The relaxed pose and the peaceful look means it doesn't really matter. A lovely example of the nude photography genre indeed!

See Desnudo Simple by Alberto Ibarra Glez in full res on Flickr

5 - Day 235: Scar Beneath the Surface. by Brigid Marz


The fear of reality is the attraction of this shot. Wet hair suggests vulnerability. Parted lips infer loss of breath and words. The hand on her breast declares a longing for comfort.

See Day 235: Scar Beneath the Surface. by Brigid Marz in full res on Flickr

6 - Untitled by Jenn


There is a serene beauty when you look at this woman. The pose is almost heartbreaking as she stares out the window and the light soflty hits her skin and her surroundings. The only color in the room is the pink flowers on the wall, which implies that the subject is not sad, but only hushed.

See Untitled by Jenn in full res on Flickr

7 - H.E.A.T by Nausika Bongard-Bonjour


Raw is the word. It is only human to feel heat and the artist has created a "real" representation of this. Her treatment speaks of grit by having the close appearance of an instamatic or polaroid camera. The ice is not foreign either whether we'd like to admit it or not.

See H.E.A.T by Nausika Bongard-Bonjour in full res on Flickr

8 - Bathtub racer by Jaybird


The fun use of lines and color in the composition reminds me of when we were kids. The way our imagination worked during moments of lull is what the image captures - just proof that even as adults, our imagination still runs away with us.

See Bathtub racer by Jaybird in full res on Flickr

9 - Spiderwoman by Rod Monkey


The minimalism of this nude is an effective delight. I can't help but enjoy the pose - the model on her tiptoes and the bones of her shoulders make the shot and help us appreciate the supple human body.

See Spiderwoman by Rod Monkey in full res on Flickr

10 - Varina & Jiz by Maxwell Lander

varina jiz

I'll be frank with you: There's nothing attractive about this photo; but that's also not the point. It has raw emotion, and a veritable overload of attitude, passion, and even a touch of anger. Bloody awesome work. The rest of Maxwell's work is worth a peek as well; he's one of those photographers who is able to surprise me (in good ways) rather consistently.

See Varina & Jiz by Maxwell Lander in full res on Flickr

11 - Grow by Meta-morphosis


The artist attempts to portray power and strength, that which is intrinsic in a stripped down "real" man. Roots of a tree as a metaphor to the latter are elementally strong and able to withstand nature's (maybe even all) challenges.

See Grow by Meta-morphosis in full res on Flickr

12 - Untitled by Yami Ya


The photo is haunting as the model's spine presses against her skin. The peculiar spine is what catches the viewer's eye and arrests them to linger on nothing else. The mood is solidified by the predominant grey tones.

See Untitled by Yami Ya in full res on Flickr

13 - 112/365 by Lys


The image emits a whimsical feel to its viewers. The different hands clutching the woman's back can be interpreted in many different ways and perhaps different emotions. For example: the hand with red nail polish represents lust by use of color and the hand's slightly stronger grip on the skin.

See 112/365 by Lys in full res on Flickr

14 - No heels, no shirt, no skirt...All im in is just skin...All I want to see you in is just skin. by Lauren


just skinThe model's eyes hold the power of this shot. You stare at her as she stares back at you with a brutal sense of honesty. This shot seems simple, but it's far from it when beyond the eyes you start to notice the curious shape of the body, the flaws of the skin and the odd proportions. I guess it's like looking in the mirror.

See No heels, no shirt, no skirt...All im in is just skin...All I want to see you in is just skin. by Lauren in full res on Flickr

15 - Tina Nude by Haje Jan Kamps

tina nude

I did a photo shoot with Tina many years ago, in 2003; I loved the innocence that shone through in many of her photos. A few years later, she became a glamour model - but I like to think that it was these shots that got the ball rolling (It probably wasn't...)

See Tina Nude by Haje Jan Kamps in full res on Flickr

16 - Untitled by Marko Matus

untitled 2

There are so many things one can say about this photo. The texture is lovely. The light adds depth. Your eyes can fool you - it takes a while to notice what you're really looking at in this photo. This nude is brilliant and unique (and maybe even painful).

See Untitled by Marko Matus in full res on Flickr

17 - Morning by LightDream 7


The warm subdued colors give the photo a Sunday morning vibe. The mood is lazy and grateful as you think about the weekend. What makes this photo real is the detail of the hair on the model's buttocks, the light that hits the crack perfectly and the little bokkeh beside it. Wonderfully lethargic!

See Morning by LightDream 7 in full res on Flickr

18 - Nude by Fran Rivero

This sultry, alluring nude is terribly suggestive, but that's because of her eyes. They're drawing you into the shot, whatever of her body is on display.

See Nude by Fran Rivero in full res on Flickr

19 - Sunshine in the Water by Andreas Müller


This is an enjoyably light-hearted nude. An offshoot from the expression "the sun shines out your ass," the photo deserves recognition for successfully providing humor to its viewers by using the human form. Smooth lines are an added element to the visual appeal of the photo.

See Sunshine in the Water by Andreas Müller in full res on Flickr

20 - Untitled by Dario Torre

untitled 3

The photo somehow teases and thrills. This nude shot doesn't expose much, except the backside of the model, however the attraction is the model's gaze in his reflection in the mirror. It's just enough to make you wonder how the rest of his body looks and what he could be thinking about you.

See Untitled by Dario Torre in full res on Flickr

21 - Untitled by Kvn


The photo is a visual craft of highlights and shadows. Though the shadows envelope a majority of the photo, it doesn't darken the message of the image, but it adds to the charisma of what little highlights there are, as they dance around the subject. She looks almost angelic.

See Untitled by Kvn in full res on Flickr

22 - let it flow away by Eleina Priede

let it flow away

There is a beautiful angry desperation to this photo. She holds a knife, but looks as if she doesn't have the strength to use it. Curled up, hugging herself, she holds on in restraint. The light plays well on her weapon of choice, which she may never use.

See let it flow away by Eleina Priede in full res on Flickr

23 - Alex Oller by Ronaldo Donizeti


All I see is a solid canvas in this shot. The subject is flattered and paraded as a work of art, not because of the ink, but because of the texture of his body and the natural peaks and valleys. The details are excellent.

See Alex Oller by Ronaldo Donizeti in full res on Flickr

24 - BS 14 by Marco Villani

bs 14

Minimalism is beautifully portrayed in this nude. Smooth clean lines and duotones work for this piece as they help put our attention on the real focus, imprefect bumps of the subject's skin. There is also an amusing ambiguity to the composition that draws you in.

See BS 14 by Marco Villani in full res on Flickr

25 - Z by Don Pasquella


The androgyny of the model, combined with the otherworldly, almost sculpturesque quality of this photo is astounding. It's a nude, for sure, but subtly so, and extremely well executed. Well worth a closer look!

See Z by Don Pasquella in full res on Flickr

26 - Power by Imitable at Least


Power is truly the message that this capture speaks. The seated pose with his arms raised up and his head humbly down exemplifies the aforementioned power and also achievement. The perfectly strong contrast between the black and white tones complement such as well.

See Power by Imitable at Least in full res on Flickr

27 - Pastel Time_93 by Fabienne Chemin


"I sleep to dream" is my first thought when admiring this nude. The man without clothes as he sleeps puts one in a very naturally relaxed state that trumps all states of relaxation. The artist comforts us even more with the use of very light colors and textures, maybe hinting that the dreams we dream can be nothing but sweet.

See Pastel Time_93 by Fabienne Chemin in full res on Flickr

28 - Chimera by Jason Skinner


Complexity is this artist's game. There is nothing more mesmerizingly complicated than the human body, what more when intertwined with another's (metaphorically and literally). It's a riddle unsolved. The balance, highlights and shadows work wonderfully to make the art three dimensional and labyrinthian.

See Chimera by Jason Skinner in full res on Flickr

29 - Haunted by her by Sharlene Shappart i


Fear overwhelms me as I look at this photo. I take a glimpse and look away as I'm haunted by her stare. The sheer of the cloth on the woman's breast is perhaps the only vulnerability that can be grasped. The nude figure is subtly but effectively used by doing so.

See Haunted by her by Sharlene Shappart i in full res on Flickr

30 - Yolande soft nude 4 by Julio Cristian Ruiz Molinero

The eye travels from head to midriff to the tips of her toes and then back again. The composition urges you to take in everything, before maybe settling on the in-focus nipples, or perhaps on her hands. See Yolande soft nude 4 by Julio Cristian Ruiz Molinero in full res on Flickr

31 - Dune by Lindy Barbosa


Allan Teger is a wildly talented photographer who did a great series of photos called 'Bodyscapes', where little characters would do everyday things in landscape made of a human body. 'Dune' is an imitation of one of Teger's shots, showing how it adds fun and creativity to an oft-overdone shot.

See Dune by Lindy Barbosa in full res on Flickr

32 - Helping Hand by Neo Geodesy

helping hand

There's no doubt about what's going on in this photo, and whilst the subject is undoubtedly verging on the pornographic, the treatment is sensual, intimate, and beautiful. Masterful lighting and great use of depth of field nail this one home. Awesome.

See Helping Hand by Neo Geodesy in full res on Flickr

33 - Tubside by Imre Kissik

tub side

Another great example of 'no clothes, but showing not-a-lot', this warm-tones feast-for-the-eyes by Imre is a cascade of class and finesse. Having her eyelashes in focus is a lovely touch, too.

See Tubside by Imre Kissik in full res on Flickr

34 - Intimate by Luca Gualtieri


Naked like the day she was born, and yet casually covered up. The touch of light on her eyes pulls my vision to her face; and her relaxed yet slightly anticipatory expression adds just the right amount of tension to the shot. Absolutely lovely.

See Intimate by Luca Gualtieri in full res on Flickr

35 - Untitled by Jorge Carrion


I adore how this portrait comes across as a battle between humans and their surrounding elements. There's something brutal, yet serene about this photograph that I can't quite put my finger on - which is why I keep coming back for more, I suppose.

See Untitled by Jorge Carrion in full res on Flickr

36 - Untitled by The Girl Behind the Lens

girl behind

In this photo, you can barely tell what it is a photo of; to me, the first thing I noticed was the sheet in the background, which led me to think we are looking at a bed. Only then did I realise what the photo was on. A masterful study in subtlety that appears to be all too rare in the genre of nude photography

See Untitled by The Girl Behind the Lens in full res on Flickr

37 - Morning Bell by Kristaps B

morning bell

High key photography is something that lends itself well to portraiture, and nude portraiture is no exception. A feeling of innocence, purity, and simplicity is projected onto the viewer - and the soft lighting helps make the model seem approachable. A delightful shot!

See Morning Bell by Kristaps B in full res on Flickr

38 - v2 by Hans Proppe

hans proppe

I know this photo has a nude body in it, but it took me quite a while to figure out quite how. That, in itself, is enough reason to include this image in the list, I believe; the abstraction of nudity is something that really appeals to me; the intrigue, intricate textures and delicious lighting - perfect!

See v2 by Hans Proppe in full res on Flickr

39 - Naakt by Klaas v/d Pijl


Some nude photography has a whole other layer of nudity in it; an innocence, a complete and infallible belief that there's nothing wrong with not wearing clothes. This photo, to me, is an excellent example of just that. Yeah, the girl is nude, but there's just something about her calm facial expression which shows that she doesn't do shy. A simple shot, for sure, but worth recreating for its zen-like calm when you're working in the studio

See Naakt by Klaas v/d Pijl in full res on Flickr

40 - Assembly of Shadows by Dreamography


The title of this photo speaks to me. Sure, there's a nude person in the frame, but it's incidental; this image is all about the interplay of light and shadows, and about the mystique of it all.

See Assembly of Shadows by Dreamography in full res on Flickr

41 - Venus by Artemisia Artex


Nude portraiture is hard, I won't lie about it. Nude self portraiture is a whole other level of hard, but 'Artemisia' pulls it off beautifully. Gorgeous lighting, a look that really locks with the viewer, and the fiery red hair make sure all the image comes together beautifully.

See Venus by Artemisia Artex in full res on Flickr

42 - Can't you almost hear her thoughts by Sol Lang


Whereas some nudes stand for pride, strength, and self-confidence, this photo is almost the exact opposite. The model's facial expression is reserved - afraid, almost - which makes her vulnerability shine through. Her body might be nude, but I can't help but feel that in this photo, we are also staring at a bared soul.

See Can't you almost hear her thoughts by Sol Lang in full res on Flickr

43 - Te Ofrezco by Manuel Orero

te ofrezco

There is a long history of nude photography and pregnancy, and frankly, it's curse-worthy hard to come up with a new take on the topic... but this image does it gorgeously. A pair of baby shoes, and an out-of-focus mother-to-be? Fabulous. Okay, so she isn't actually completely nude; but as far as a cool idea for a shot goes? A definite winner.

See Te Ofrezco by Manuel Orero in full res on Flickr

44 - Disappearing by Brigid Marz


I've been a huge fan of Brigid's work for a long time, and this photo is a great example of why; she often manages to convey a vulnerable strength - or is that a strong vulnerability - in her subjects. Strong poses, powerful lighting and great post-production - take a look at the rest of her portfolio as well!

See Disappearing by Brigid Marz in full res on Flickr

45 - Brooke (plage 2) by Pascal Renoux

6308561585_14252bb53a_m Pascal Renoux' work often has a sense of wonderment about it - a playfulness that goes far beyond what many other photographers are able to offer up. There's an intimacy in that playfulness; an incidental, rather than elaborate, sense of nudity, which makes his work stand out. Fantastic stuff.

See Brooke (plage 2) by Pascal Renoux in full res on Flickr

And finally, a few words about copyright

Most of the images used in this post are used without explicit permission from the photographers, however, they are used under the 'criticism and review' sections of UK copyright legislation. The photos in this article are used in reduced resolution, and I warmly recommend that you visit them in their full-resolution glory in Flickr. Remember to comment and favourite images you like on Flickr to show the photographers your appreciation. If you are the photographer of any of the works in this write-up, and you had rather I didn't include your image, please let me know.