In the world of photography, the human body holds a remarkable power to convey emotions, tell stories, and celebrate the diverse beauty that exists within us all. Whether you’re a professional photographer or an enthusiastic hobbyist, this article will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to elevate your body photography skills. From understanding body positivity and fostering a comfortable environment to exploring creative angles and lighting, we will delve into the art of capturing the essence of the human form.
Why Body Photography?
One of the top requests I’ve received as a test photographer is to capture updated body shots for a model’s book. Not to be confused with “digitals” that are done at the agency, body shots are exactly what the term entails; images that accentuate a model’s physique.
The parameters for a successful body photography session are very reminiscent of a basic model test; clothing is minimal, therefore the overall mood and styling need to make sense. This type of imagery can turn trashy in the blink of an eye, thus requires a bit more finessing for all involved.
A model is typically being considered for a specific brand or article in a magazine when this type of work is being requested by the agency. I will often inquire with the booker if this is the case and style the shoot accordingly in an attempt to help them book the gig.
Body Photography Clothing and Wardrobe
Body photography clothing is often undergarments, swimwear or a good pair of denim. There will never be a shortage of pictures of models wearing only a pair of jeans with arms folded across their chest. Swimwear and lingerie are also key clothing items to choose when highlighting a model’s form, but photographers are encouraged to be venturesome with their vision.
The location also needs to match the clothing whether it be a bikini at the beach or a bodysuit in an indoor setting. The main crops for these images are:
- full length
- waist up
Women can be tricky as we seek an accepted balance between minimizing and emphasizing their natural curves as the dissidence of non-inclusion is on the rise. No matter the body type, however, lengthening a woman’s body remains to be a constant. In addition to curves, some key areas to highlight on a woman are their legs, the indent right at the glute (if applicable), and their neck.
Some looks are best achieved in naturally-lit situations, while others are better accomplished with a one-light setup in the studio. Choose the lighting that will do the model justice with a proper gradation that clearly defines their body.
Keep the posing natural and unforced. I will often start my shooting sequence with the model in a starting position and have them move slowly from there.
Implied Nudes in Body Photography
Please note that a model does not have to be completely stripped of their clothing for an implied nude to work. It can be achieved with strategic lighting and body/prop placement. Mario Testino’s towel series is a perfect testimony of this. Implied nudes for body photography can become T&A awfully fast if one is not careful.
These images are very delicate in nature and require a certain level of intimacy that can only be established with their trust. Take the time to build their trust in you, as this will deliver a certain level of authenticity. Then, direct the shot from the expression of the model all the way down to the overall look and feel.
Body Photography for Men
As with women, the styling consists primarily of underwear and a good pair of denim. Body photography for men tend to be more arduous because they often have to flex their muscles for periods of time and still manage to have a non-pained facial expression.
Simply having men look down and away from the camera while flexing produces great results and still plays to the overall mood. It is one less thing to focus on. Having them in a more relaxed pose that naturally emphasizes their musculature is a great way to achieve a successful expression for images where seeing their face is required.
The focus for men is on their muscles, all of them; particularly the “V” and core. A fool proof way to achieve definition is by lighting them slightly from the side to cast shadows across their body. Popular crops for men are:
- from the “V” on up
- full body
There are a number of different ways that a body shot can be orchestrated. Simplicity often reigns supreme over an overcomplicated setup any day of the week.
Make sure to have a clear vision from the start and connect with the model.
In conclusion, body photography is a unique and powerful genre that allows us to celebrate and capture the beauty within each individual. Throughout this article, we have explored various tips and techniques to enhance your body photography skills. Remember to prioritize communication and build trust with your subjects, as it is essential to create a comfortable and empowering environment. Experiment with different poses, angles, and lighting to highlight the unique features and personality of your subjects. Embrace diversity and celebrate body positivity, ensuring that every body shape and size is represented and celebrated. Finally, always approach body photography with sensitivity, respect, and an appreciation for the stories and journeys that each person carries with them. By following these tips and techniques, you will be able to create stunning body photographs that empower, inspire, and showcase the true beauty within. Keep exploring, learning, and capturing the essence of the human form, and let your creativity shine through your lens.
For more on model test shoots and lighting check out the following: