Shoot a nude landscape
With careful lighting and posing, you can capture fine art nudes that take their cues from landscape photography. James Paterson bridges both genres to explain how…
Make the soft curves of the human body look like an undulating landscape
Without the distraction of the face within the frame, you can transform the rise and fall of the body into something that looks almost like an abstract landscape
With a classic photographic subject like the fine art nude it can be hard to think of an original
idea. One interesting approach is to focus on the careful positioning of arms, legs and torso so that, when viewed in isolation, they form their own simple compositional lines and shapes. Without the distraction of the face within the frame, you can transform the rise and fall of the body into something that looks almost like an abstract landscape.
When shooting nudes there’s always a fine line between art and erotica, but this is one approach that gives you the freedom to celebrate the form of the body, whether female or male, without straying into the seedier side of nude photography. Of course, it helps if you have a subject who feels natural in their own skin and nothing besides, but it’s equally helpful if they know how to pose and shape their body in a way that looks both natural and visually interesting.
Lighting plays a huge part here, allowing you to sculpt the body by revealing only the parts that you want. Just as a setting sun fleetingly kisses the top of a mountain, we can lift the edges of the body by backlighting it to show the peaks and troughs in the figure as a pattern of light and shade.
When it comes to choosing your lighting, the simplest approach is often the best. For our shoot we used a couple of studio softboxes, occasionally supplementing the light with an overhead beauty dish. Although we shot in a studio, you don’t necessarily need one for this kind of set-up. A home-studio kit and any decent-sized space with enough room to hang a dark backdrop will do.
A project like this is a challenge for your lighting and posing skills, but rather than thinking about it as a nude shoot, it can be just as helpful to see it as an exercise in the subtle power of suggestion. When it comes together it’s possible to transform the body into beautiful, minimalist art.