Glamour photography has come a long way since the stiff and formal sepia-toned nudes of the Victorian era. Hugh Hefner caused a revolution with his launching of Playboy magazine in 1953, and since then society has become inured to photographs of naked and scantily clad women, so ubiquitous are images of the female form. Nowadays nobody is shocked by glamour shots, but there is still an appreciative audience for beautiful photographs that celebrate the female form.
The Definition of Glamour Photography
For most people, glamour lies somewhere along the same spectrum as fashion photography; however, generally speaking, glamour images are not shot to promote clothes or product but are actually about the beauty of the human body. Levels of nudity vary, from full, explicit nakedness to more modest nude shots, strategically composed to hide strategic parts of the body, to pictures of models in lingerie or other scant items of clothing. The tone can range beautiful and artistic to humourous to straight forward titillation, and this will make a difference to where the images are likely to be published. The most popular mainstream men’s magazines look for pictures that are super-sexy but on the whole not too explicit – often featuring celebrities who may not be willing to expose everything for the camera.
Techniques for a successful glamour shoot
Like any form of photography, a good glamour photographer knows some tricks of the trade. Master some of these basic techniques, combine them with a creative eye and you’ll by delighted by the resulting images – as will your model.
- Plan your shoot carefully beforehand – discuss with your model what you want the images to be like: how much, if anything, will she wear; options for the background; props that might feature; and most importantly the overall tone of the pictures. The shoot is more likely to be successful if both of you are aiming for the same thing. Of course, if she’s paying you to take the photos, these choices will be up to her but you can always make suggestions and give guidance if she’s unsure.
- Do all you can to relax your model prior to and during the shoot as this will make her poses appear more natural. If she is feeling self-conscious or up tight, this will translate into stiff, rigid body language – and the result will be a photo with little or no sex appeal at all. Make sure the studio is warm enough or, if you’re shooting on location, be sure that she will have a robe to slip into between shots and do everything you can to maintain her modesty and privacy. For obvious reasons, it’s not a good idea to try and stage a glamour shoot in a busy public area.
- Make sure the lighting is appropriate. Soft focus or diffused lighting is most usually used to avoid over-exposure, as the skin’s surface can be highly reflective. Contrasting light and shadow can be very effective and shadows can provide modesty for the model or be used to create contours on the naked body. Filters and diffusers are worth experimenting with to create a hazy, romantic feel that can blur out skin imperfections. For more modest models, try taking a backlit image – for example, ask them to stand silhouetted in front of a strong light, such as a window. This will allow you to show the shape of the body without revealing the details; it can be a good way of adding a little mystery to the portrait.
- Consider the composition carefully – what postures will you ask your model to hold? How will this work with the surroundings and backdrop? Make sure you take a selection of landscape and portrait shots to allow maximum flexibility in their later use. The composition will directly translate into the mood of the picture – do you want your model to appear relaxed, provocative or athletic? Choose her poses accordingly.
- Spend time on post production. Using image manipulation software, you can adjust the colour, brighten or darken the image, remove imperfections and enhance your model’s best features.
Over the last couple of decades, nude photography has shaken off the seedy image of yesteryear, and in today’s world glamour photography is big business. To be successful in this field, not only do you need the technical skills that all professional photographers have, but you also have to be good with people. The most successful practitioners of the art are those who can put their model at ease and coax the best out of them without making them feel intimidated, uncomfortable or scrutinised. For this reason, more and more women are coming into the field as they are less intimidating to female models – but male or female, if you’re easy-going and get on well with people, glamour photography could be the area for you.
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