It definitely wasn’t rude – a guide to the genre of nude photography.
The evening of Monday 16th May saw over 40 members enjoying a really informative talk by John McNairn entitled “Nude not Rude”. The aim was not to describe the ideal camera settings or lighting but to inform about the whole process from getting started, through finding a model, the shoot itself and winding everything up. John started with trying to define nude photography and the various sub-genres within it. In terms of the photographers themselves, we found that there has been a very rapid increase in the number of female photographers involved in nude photography. One of the reasons that most of the shots are of female nudes is that there are so few male models – only about 2% of models are male and half of them do not do nude modelling so just booking a nude male model can be really difficult.
John went through the pros and cons of studio work and location work – with a studio you have facilities for changing etc., you can control the light and it is warm and dry. On the downside it can be costly and restricted in time. On location it is certainly cheaper and can be more varied but you are dependant on the weather, the lighting can be poor and you have to consider the public. One thing became clear – the two approaches (studio vs location) are completely different. Throughout all this talk John illustrated his points with beautiful examples of his work and plenty of humorous anecdotes from his experience. In addition there were a large number of his prints an display which could be examined at close quarters before the talk, in the interval and at the end. John went on to how to get started and suggested that you shoot with a maximum of 2 photographers as otherwise the model can become confused as to who she is posing for and what they want. It’s probably best to be on your own. The models are usually quite experienced so if you haven’t done this before, simply explain this to the model and they will probably help you enormously as they want you to get good shots and provide positive feedback for their on-line profile.
In the same detailed way John demystified about how to book a model. Most is done on-line nowadays through various websites (purpleport, purestorm, modelmayhem etc.) and he advised very strongly against using someone’s friend, daughter, etc. as invariably it turns out badly in some way or other. As far as the models are concerned communication was very important. They will rate photographers and constantly chat amongst themselves on-line so reputation is all-important both for the model and the photographer. There were tips on requesting a model and what to actually look for and how to keep both sides safe – in actual fact John felt that safety for everyone in all its forms was about THE most important aspect of the work.
The evening continued with a detailed set of tips for what to do in a studio situation or on location, illustrated in his normal way with plenty of real-life examples, lots of anecdotes and images to make the points. Some were very simple but could often be overlooked e.g. it can be difficult is you have a black-haired model and a black backdrop in the studio. The evening was rounded off with a set of Do’s and Don’t’s which laid down some basic rules that should ensure success and make your nude photography both fun and productive. It was a fascinating, useful, practical and fun evening with tons of rally useful advice for anyone contemplating starting out in the genre of nude photography.