People who are just photography consumers—non-photographers—often envy professionals for the models (the “naked” models!) they photograph. But there’s nothing simple about this photographic discipline, where your photos can easily end up as kitsch that flatters neither your model, nor you.
Nude paintings are as old as mankind. And this artistic genre is still beloved today. It’s no surprise that nudes and erotic content appear in photography as well.
Erotic Content in a Facebook Age
The world’s largest social network, Facebook, is quite conservative concerning nude photographs. For example, any photo showing a nipple needs censoring before it can go on Facebook. This ruins the artistic impact of nudes. But it can’t be helped—their web, their rules. Twitter is more benevolent here: you tell them the nature of your content, and they make sure that your audience is informed before viewing anything unsuitable for minors.
Clothed but Erotic?
Yes! It’s possible. Often a seductively clothed model is much more attractive than a completely naked figure. That’s because human imagination is much wilder than reality. If you don’t know what clothing to use, go for the classics: a white blouse or t-shirt (maybe with provocative text) and an interesting backdrop, and you have a picture that just has to work.
Poses and Faces
Another thing that definitely makes a photo more erotic without reaching for nudity is the right pose. Take a look at what suits your model best, and if and how each pose is attractive. Have your poses prepared in advance, so that during the shoot you only need to fine-tune them. The pose also needs to fit with the face. Because of this, this genre does not work well with beginning models. (My apologies to the exceptions.) Also, a beginning model is more likely to feel ill-at-ease in this genre. That’s bad for her, and bad for you too.
One of the most important things for a model to learn is putting emotions and expression into each shot. Erotica without emotions and emotion without expression never look right. Often portraits with a great-looking face are much more seductive than an ordinary photo of a whole nude body.
Take care that what they’re saying is what your photo needs. Expressions, poses, light, and environment. If even one of these elements is bad, then the photograph will be bad as well, and in the worst case it will feel cheap. That’s definitely not your goal. Make sure that your pictures are tasteful, and when starting out, don’t be afraid to take inspiration from more experienced photographers.
Eroticism and Fashion
Recently fashion magazines have been publishing more and more great photos with an erotic subtext, where only one part of a person’s clothing or accessories dominates. You’ll find such photos in almost every fashion magazine and website.
One important point in closing. Before every shoot, prepare a model release—a contract about how the photos may be used. The release should give the model’s birthdate. Know that the model is of age before she arrives at the shoot. If she’s not, absolutely refuse to shoot.
Despite our censored day and age, tasteful photos that reveal more than a censor might like can find a way to their audience.