Tips and images by Michael Charles, the author of Money Shots: The Insider's Guide to the World of Nude & Erotic Photography.
Killer Mistake 1: Not showing confidence
||Find more advice in Michael Charles' latest book.
No matter what you’re doing, it's a good idea to display a certain level of confidence whenever possible. And this definitely holds true for erotic photo shoots. A confident attitude on your part will inspire trust from your models. And when it comes to nude models, a little trust goes a long way.
Fortunately, you don’t need years of experience and tons of photographic expertise to feel a real sense of confidence during your nude shoots. All you need to do is stay within your photographic limits and resist the urge to attempt to do more than your skills at the time allow. If you stick mainly to the techniques you're familiar with, you should have no trouble maintaining a high level of confidence during your shoots. In my book, Money Shots, you’ll learn all sorts of techniques that will get you quickly up and running.
Of course, if you’re going to improve as a photographer, you’ll sometimes want to try out different techniques with your models. From experience, however, I’ve learned that the best time to test new ideas is when you're working with a model who you’ve already developed a good relationship with.
Killer Mistake 2: Not being assertive with your directions
Nude shoots require that you direct your models in a variety of ways. The most obvious time for direction will be during the actual shooting process. It’s at this time that you'll be directing her movements and interacting with her in ways that will produce the best possible images.
However, this isn't the only time that direction will come into play. If you’re going to make the best use of your time, you'll need to conduct your shoots as efficiently as possible. This will require giving your models clear instructions regarding such things as hair, makeup, wardrobe, and a million and one other things.
While the exact amount of direction you give will depend on your own personal style, you can be sure that all shoots will require at least some direction on your part.
After all, without direction of any kind, you could easily wind up with a beautiful naked girl wandering aimlessly around your house for hours. And while that may not be such a bad thing, let’s save that topic for another day.
Killer Mistake 3: Pretending to know more than you do
No matter what your experience level - from absolute beginner to seasoned professional - I think you'll find that nearly every model you work with will be a lot of fun to have around.
However, I have one warning: Nude models have a sixth sense when it comes to spotting impostors. Because of this, I suggest you don’t try to fake a model into thinking you're a more advanced photographer than you actually are.
But here's the good news: If you simply be yourself, be sincere, and be honest about your abilities, I can guarantee that your models will appreciate it.
And best of all, you'll discover that most models love to help photographers who are just starting out. In fact, if you simply give them the chance, you'll be amazed by what nude models are more than willing to share with you.
Believe me, it's a form of on-the-job tutoring that you don't want to miss.
Killer Mistake 4: Not having a plan
Don't get me wrong, erotic photo shoots don't need to be planned out with the precision of a military parade. However, at the very least, it's a good idea to have some sort of outline regarding the things you'll want to accomplish during your shoots.
Most likely, you'll go into your shoots with a goal in mind regarding the number of images and sets you'd like to capture. And you'll quickly discover that you're far more likely to reach this goal if you have some type of shoot plan.
As an added bonus, having a shoot plan will also minimize the time you'll spend listening to a naked girl impatiently tap her fingernails on the nearest wall while she's waiting for you to decide what you're going to do next.
And while I readily admit that there are worse things in the world than listening to a naked girl tap her fingernails, I can assure you that it gets pretty annoying after awhile.
Killer Mistake 5: Not complimenting your model's appearance
A common mistake a lot of photographers make is trying to be a little too cool when it comes to complimenting their models. They may be under the impression that being aloof will make them appear more professional. However, no matter how attractive a model may be, the truth is that she’ll always feel a twinge of nervousness when she first takes her clothes off in front of you.
At the very least, it’s a good idea to tell her she looks great and that she’s absolutely perfect for the type of pictures the two of you will be shooting. It shouldn't be difficult for you to sincerely compliment her on her looks; after all, you’re the one who chose to work with her in the first place.
But one quick warning: You definitely don’t want to go over-the-top in the other direction either.
With this in mind, try to find a balance between appearing too blasé regarding her looks and being “excessively enthusiastic”. Both these extremes will tend to make models feel a bit uncomfortable.
Finding the ideal combination will take a bit of practice on your part. As Spinal Tap's David St. Hubbins once said: "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
Killer Mistake 6: Making bad assumptions
I’ve found that it’s usually not a good idea to make assumptions about people's lives based on what they do for a living. And when it comes to making assumptions about nude models, I think it’s an especially bad idea.
Though it may seem logical to assume that models will have a lot of “drama” going on in their personal lives, it’s not necessarily the case. From experience, I assure you that any turmoil that exists in the personal lives of models is no more or less extreme than in any other group of people.
And since were on the topic of bad assumptions, let's go over another important one: The assumption that simply because a model is willing to take her clothes off means she's also willing to do "more" than that.
And while I’m not saying this situation never occurs, I’m simply saying you shouldn't assume it's going to happen at every shoot. If you do, you're going to find yourself being very disappointed.
My best advice: Go into shoots with as few assumptions as possible. If you simply allow things to happen naturally, you'll often be pleasantly surprised by what arises.
Killer Mistake 7: Not being organised
Not having some form of organization regarding shoots is a mistake many new photographers make. If you’re looking to have both creative and commercial success with your erotic photography, it’s a good idea not to be one of them.
And while I definitely suggest you have some sort of organization regarding your shoots, it’s not necessary that every piece of equipment be in the ideal spot or that you need to come up with an extraordinarily detailed shooting schedule.
I'm simply saying that when your model arrives, she should immediately sense that you’ve put some time and thought into the shoot and that you have a clear idea regarding what you want to do and how you're going to do it.
Tips and images by Michael Charles, the author of Money Shots
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