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Sexually Provocative Photography Advice

Sexually Provocative Photography Advice - Professional photographer, Holly Knowles shares her tips on shooting erotic, style led photographs.

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Portraits and People

This article and all of the images are produced by Holly Knowles - www.hollyknowles.co.uk


Girl Power

Being a female in the erotic photographic industry is tough!! You’ve got to keep up with the ‘big boys’ and personally, from my own experiences, there are too many opportunities where you can be led astray and deceived. BUT as a female in the minority the benefits far outweigh the negatives!


  • Canon 50D
  • 18- 200mm Canon Lens
  • Canon Speedlite 404si
  • Gold Lastolite Pro- Tri Reflector
  • A head full of ideas!



I use natural light with the help of my Lastolite Pro- Tri Reflector (always on the gold side) and the occasional on-head flash as a fill for ‘hoody’ eyes or ‘light catches’ in the pupils. I am a true patron of the motto: 'keeping it simple'. For every photographer it's different but I prefer to minimise lighting so I can concentrate on what I am creating in front of the camera. You could say my work is more style and concept led than anything else.


Direction is my number one priority on shoots. I have seen a lot of professional models do their stuff and they can really work it; but when you are shooting a fresh face or an amateur model, communication and direction is key. On shoots I am constantly talking and directing the model. It keeps us both focused on the main image, the idea and nailing it! I have seen too many cringe-worthy shoots by other photographers where the atmosphere on set between themselves and the model is so awkward the images that result just never cut it!

Shooting on location

The studio is fantastic and throughout my University years I could always be found inside playing with Pro-Foto lights snapping away using Capture One tethered to a Mac. It was great while it lasted but then I discovered the art of the location and the spontaneity that comes with it! Just remember to be considerate, it's good if you can gain permission before setting up in your chosen location. After all, getting in trouble with the law for being a party to indecent exposure is a serious offence!


As mentioned before I am a very style and concept led photographer. My inspiration comes from everywhere especially dreams, magazines and music videos. The main themes in my photography are colour, being tongue in cheek, unique and sexy! When starting out in photography it takes time to develop your style but once you find your USP (Unique Selling Point) go with it. I struggled for many years to develop a style that could stand out from the rest. I used to buy lots of magazines like Vogue and I.D and study how they made their images, the posing, the lighting, the concept. I used to pull out my favourite images and stick them in a folder (I still work to this method today). It does take a long time to develop your style but to get you started another tip is to emulate your favourite images. At 15 years old I used to stomp about on shoots thinking and shooting like I was Mario Testino!


You can pay to go on a course and learn all you need to know about photography. I wasn’t so lucky, I am a self taught photographer and lend everything I know to John Hedgcoe (a well renowned photography book writer in the 80’s-90’s) So if your pockets are feeling empty hit the library for your basic photographic knowledge. My final tip would be learn the techniques of photography, know your equipment inside out and study all the rules of compositions and exposure, then, here’s the fun part, BREAK THEM!

To see more work by Holly Knowles visit her website: www.hollyknowles.co.uk
You can follow Holly on Twitter too: hollykphoto

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