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Photographing the female form

Photographing the female form - Females are very popular photographic subjects but you don't always have to focus on the whole body.

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Category : Portraits and People
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Gear
Although just about any focal length lens can be used it's best that your model feels comfortable so a longer lens, such as a 70-200mm, will get you detailed, close-up shots without having to invade their personal space. If you're going to use a mix of ambient light and flash you'll find a light meter useful to get the light balance right. You'll also find a reflector a handy tool to have around just in case you need to bounce a little more light into the scene. If you're going to be doing your shoot near a window have a net curtain or some other thin material that can be put up to diffuse the light. Make sure the material you use has a neutral shade as strong colours will add a cast to your images. Have some different coloured sheets for your model to lay on too, so you have a variety of tones to play with.

Technique
Don't set your shoot up where your next door neighbour and his dog can look in as this will only make your model uncomfortable. Make sure your it's warm on the shoot too, as skin covered in goose bumps may not be what you were after, although this can look good for close ups. Before the shoot, ask your model to not wear anything that will leave marks on the skin such as bra straps. When your model arrives, keep conversation going as there's nothing worse than an awkward silence. Also, be careful with your gaze. It's understandable you need to look at your model's figure but if you do this for too long you could make them feel uncomfortable.

You're emphasising shapes so you need to create ample tone to define the curves and lines found on the body and using shadows is the best way to do this. Shadows can also help hide bits your model might want to hide too. As you want to emphasis shape, asking your model to apply lotion or oil to their skin will help reflect light and as a result enhance their curves. A light spray of water will also work but this will have to be applied more often.

Watch out for changes in light, for example, window light can look great one hour then horrid the next. Your best light will come from a window that's north facing but if you don't have one in this direction and your light's too bright, just diffuse it with a net curtain or something similar.

Don't photography straight limbs and ask your model to position themselves to make curved shapes more prominent if possible. Hips and breasts are popular photographic choices but don't forget about the curved line of the spine, the arch of the foot and the nape of the neck too. Try back lighting your subject to enhance the curves as the light will almost halo your subject and really make them stand out. Light from a lower angle will create stronger contours.


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