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Creating sensual artistic nude photos

Artistic nude photography with model Magda in Krakow. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Photo of Magda taken with very wide aperture – and thus giving very little depth of field. I wanted the focus to be on her face – and that the blurred body should lead up to the face. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

PICSPIRATION SUNDAY: Artistic nude photography is a challenging type of photography – on different levels. But that is also what makes it fascinating.

Everyone who follows my photography – either on Sandvand.net or Facebook – knows that I usually take landscape photos. The last weeks I have also spammed you with photos of monks and temples in Myanmar.

So after weeks of landscapes and monks, I thought I this week would move into an entirely different type of photography: Artistic nude.

I am every second week in Krakow, Poland for work – and have the opportunity to use the studio of my photographer friend Pawel Wodnicki.  He has connected me with several professional models I have learned a lot from working with.

Recently I had an artistic nude shoot in the studio with the model Magda. I have worked with her before – and she is very experienced and professional in the studio.  All the photos in this article are from the shoot with her.

Probably the photo I am most happy with myself from the shoot. I tried to make it a strong portrait of a beautiful woman - in which the nudity is a supporting, but not the main, element. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Probably the photo I am most happy with myself from the shoot. I tried to make it a strong portrait of a beautiful woman – in which the nudity is a supporting, but not the main, element. And yes, I did have to lie down on the floor myself to get the right perspective. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Why artistic nude photography?

For me photography is a passion – and I try to continuously challenge myself to improve my photography. That also includes getting out of my comfort zone.

Artistic nude photography definitely is out of my comfort zone.

There are several reasons for that:

  • There must be a very close cooperation and communication with the model to make it work – and the fact that the model is nude makes it ekstra important that both photographer and model are comfortable with the situation
  • It requires very high skills to do well – both when it come to composition, lighting and editing
  • And then there is the fact that people around me have very different attitudes about artistic nude photography as such – and may even question my motives for taking these kind of photos

Maybe it is because of all this that I find this type of photography both challenging, rewarding and fun.

But also because artistic nude photography is one of the best ways to learn about light and composition.  The human body is beautiful in itself and can take very different shapes depending on how the light is set and the figure is composed.

What do I try to achieve in artistic nude photography?

These photos are taken in a studio – where the background is either black or white.

I try to create photos that are sensual, and maybe even erotic, but not sexually explicit or pornographic. My goal is to present the viewers the beauty of a human body in an artistic way. I like if the atmosphere of the photo can have an element of mystique in it.

Taking artistic nude photos that are more than just another photo of a naked body is hard.  In fact I find it much more difficult than to succeed with a landscape photo.

There are many challenges:

  • To create the right lighting. How you use your light is everything in this kind of photography.
  • The pose of the model is essential and it is a big challenge to achieve a good pose. It takes practice to see what can work.
  • The face expression is also very important and often the biggest challenge. I find that even in artistic nude photography the eye will always lead to the face – and the face expression can be the one factor that determines if you succeed in creating the atmosphere you want or not.

I am still quite new to this type of photography, and by no means an expert. There for these photos are more snapshots of a learning process. But I am convinced if I can learn to master the light and posing, it will also help me be a better photographer in what I do most often: Landscapes.

One light and very wide aperture to make everything besides her face blurry. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

One light and very wide aperture to make everything besides her face blurry. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Using low key photography

I prefer to take artistic nude photos with low key lighting.  The background is black – and I use one light, sometimes two.

I find that this kind of lighting creates an atmosphere of mystique and sensuality.

All photos in this article are taken with low key lighting. The lamps are long softboxes with grids to direct the light.

Other artistic nude photos

Here are some of the other photos from the shoot with Magda in Krakow.

Silhouette photo. Taken with three lights from behind the model. In post-production I have increased contrast a lot. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Silhouette photo. Taken with three lights from behind the model. The lights creates the lines along the edges of her body. In post-production I have increased contrast a lot – and converted the photo to black and white. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Low key photo taken with only one light - a softbox with grid  from slightly behind the model on one side. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Low key photo taken with only one light – a softbox with grid from slightly behind the model on one side. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

A more close-up photo. I wanted to try to make an untypical crop with this photo. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

A more close-up photo. I wanted to try to make an untypical crop with this photo. The model is lit with one grid softbox from the left. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Silhouette photo - with two softboxes with grids from behind to light the lines of the body. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Silhouette photo – with two softboxes with grids from behind to light the lines of the body. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

 

 

 

About the author: Communications officer, journalist, author, digital strategist, photographer, traveller…and more.

4 comments… add one
  • wow very nice photoshoot

  • rick

    nice work
    even nicer if you could give some of the set up, such as :
    how far is your background ?
    how are you killing or controlling ambient light ?
    how are you focussing ?
    speed lights or studio strobes ?

  • rick

    nice work
    even nicer if you could give some of the set up, such as :
    how far is your background ?
    how are you killing or controlling ambient light ?
    how are you focussing ?
    speed lights or studio strobes ?

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