Last week, I posted an article here on PhotographyGiveAways.Com that talked about the language difference between the words “nude” and “naked.” That article received a fair bit of response. I’ve received a number of e-mails over the past week from readers — almost all of which contained the question: How do you find nude models?
I’ve photographed a lot of nudes over the past 20 years that I’ve been a professional photographer. The nude figure is a truly awesome subject for a photographer, and I’ll tell you why: Photographing nudes, for a photographer, is kind of like cheating. Why, you ask? Let me tell you:
The greatest sin that any sort of art can commit is to be boring or uninteresting. Art can be ugly, unskilled, horrific, in bad taste, or any number of unpleasant things, and it can still ‘work.’ It can still be made to ‘work.’ But, boring or uninteresting photography NEVER works. Boring or uninteresting art never works. On the other hand, if an artwork is interesting — no matter its faults — it has value. Now here’s the magic of nude photography: No matter what, it’s always interesting.
People find images of other people without their clothes on interesting — period. That’s just human nature. If there is an image of person without any clothes on in your photograph, then your photo is not boring. It might not be a ‘great’ photo, but it’s certainly not a boring photo. There’s simply no such thing as truly bad nude photography. Because, there’s simply no such thing as an uninteresting nude photograph. You can mess up the lighting or composition severely, it can appear entirely inept in its execution, your nude model can be absolutely grotesque in appearance, or entirely plain and nondescript. The photograph, no matter how you take it, will not be worthless — it will not be a boring photograph. People will still be interested in looking at it. There’s no other subject matter in existence like that. So, it’s kind of like cheating. You get a person a to remove their clothes, you take the picture, and viola! The worst you can do is to get an ‘ok’ photograph.
So, of course, for this reason — and a number of others — many photographers are interested in shooting nudes. But, if they haven’t done it before, they can be quite perplexed regarding the question: how do you find nude models? So many photographers who haven’t shot nudes before are curious about this. I get this question all the time. If I’m showing nude work anywhere and an inexperienced photographer is among the viewers I will almost invariably be asked: How do you find nude models to pose for you?
The reality is that it couldn’t be easier to find nude models willing to pose for you. I’ve had no problems whatsoever finding models to pose nude, and most of them have posed entirely for free — without any payment at all. In order to get models to pose nude for you, you’ll require only four things:
1) A level of photographic skill that makes your pictures appear somewhat more professional looking than the average ‘snapshot’ looking photographs taken by rank amateurs.
2) A website where you can display your nude photographs. (You can use a free service for this)
3) A Facebook page.
4) Some examples of your nude photography work.
Yes, that last one is a bit of a catch-22. With my method of finding nude models you’ll be required to already have some examples of nude photography work that you’ve already done. But, don’t despair, read on and I’ll tell you how to go about getting these.
The entire process is simple: You need a few examples of nude photography work that you’ve done that looks to be something a little better than completely amateur in appearance. It needs to be tasteful and somewhat artistic in appearance. Those first few photos are your key to an almost endless supply of models willing to pose nude for you. So, I would suggest you just bite the bullet and pay a professional model who does nude work to pose for you in order to get those first few shots. Go to a website like ModelMayhem.Com, sign up for a free account, and look for models in your area that will pose nude. Find one with rates you can afford, book them, and get a few good, tasteful nude photographs to start your portfolio off. You don’t need many — perhaps half a dozen or so. If you wish, this will be the first and last time you’ll ever absolutely need to actually pay a model money in order to pose nude for you.
After you have the photographs, publish them somewhere on the internet where they’re freely viewable by anyone. If you don’t already have your own website, a good service that you can use for this is 500px.com.
Next, go into the security settings of your Facebook account and make your Facebook page freely viewable to any and everyone. It’s better to do this with your personal Facebook page, but you can set up a page specifically for your photography if you’d like.
And, step three is, simply begin posting free ads. Use free online classified sites like Craigslist, or Kijiji. Put ads up on billboards at local colleges. Run classifieds in local papers if you can afford it. When you put these ads up, say that you’re a photographer who is looking for models to pose nude. Everywhere you can, provide a link to your example images and to your Facebook page. Then, sit back and wait.
The idea is that you want potential models to see your images in order to see that they’re not the work of a rank amateur — that you have some level of skill and talent. You’re not just some joker that bought a camera at some chain store. If a model can’t see examples of your work, they’ll likely assume you’re just some creep that wants to get their rocks off taking photos of them without clothes on. Secondly, if your Facebook page is open and viewable to them, they can see your day to day interactions, and you appear entirely accessible, it increases the amount of comfort they’ll feel. A creep with less than admirable intentions will not make themselves so accessible and open to the world at large. They’ll be somewhat aloof and protecting of their actual identity.
Potential nude models need to see that you do work that they can’t have done just by having their boyfriend or girlfriend take some pictures of them. And, they need to see that you’re not sinister or likely to have less than innocent, artistic motivations. If they see this, you’ll get contacts from models interested in posing for you — and, interested in posing for you only in exchange for copies of the photographs you take of them.
You’d be surprised how many people there are out there who want to have photos of themselves posing nude that are tasteful and well done. A lot of people are proud of their bodies, recognize its beauty and realize that this beauty fleeting. They want well done, tasteful nudes of themselves that they can keep for the rest of their lives.
A couple of pointers: When corresponding with the potential models who contact you, always do your utmost to maintain a professional and cordial manner. Conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism. Show respect, be polite and be friendly. And, only do this because you wish to explore the art of nude photography. If there’s anything in you that wants to do this because you think you’ll get a sexual charge out of it, forget it. Give it up. Go and hit up a strip-club instead. If you’re doing this for sexual reasons: One, you’re very likely going to create problems for yourself. You’re going to come off as creepy, and if you do manage to convince a model to pose for you, you could, without even realizing it, conduct yourself in a manner which frightens them. If that happens, you could find yourself having a run-in with an angry boyfriend or Father, or even the police. And, two, you’re going to be disappointed. A nude photography shoot with a person you don’t know very well is not at all a sexual sort of experience. You may think it is — I can assure you its not. If you do think it is, that’s your fantasy that you’re thinking about, not the reality. As someone who has shot many hundreds of nudes the past couple of decades I can promise you this. The experience of photographing nudes can actually be kind of bizarre, alien and surreal if you don’t have experience with it. I think most non-photographers, or even photographers who have never shot nudes, would be absolutely stunned at just how non-sexual the whole thing actually is.
When I first started photographing nudes, the method above was the method I used. I didn’t hire a pro to get those first few photographs, I was lucky enough to have friend who was willing to pose nude for me. And, Facebook wasn’t around at the time, but I did have a personal website. Just by posting my pics online and making them freely accessible to anyone, and by placing ads in free classified areas around my town, I averaged two to three inquiries from interested potential nude models per month. And, I’d say about one of those every two months turned into actual photo-shoots.
After a while, of course, the numbers grew. The models, happy with the work and the experience they had, told friends of theirs who also began contacting me. The word got around. And, after about a year or so, I was regularly having to turn away the majority of models who contacted me because I simply didn’t have time to fit them all in.
People think it’s exceedingly difficult to find models willing to pose nude. It really isn’t. There’s a lot of people out there who really want to have well-done, tasteful nudes of themselves. And, if they feel comfortable with you not being a creep or a pervert, and that you’re only interested in getting beautiful photographs and nothing else, and if they see that you do reasonably good work that they can’t get simply by hitting up a non-photographer friend, they will pose for you. And, very often, they’ll do it for no money.