Learn to light the body led lights
Consider how lighting will affect your nude imagery for the best results
After perfecting the pose, the next most important consideration is lighting. “Lighting is incredibly important for artistic nude photography. Light sets the mood, directs attention to desired areas and reveals form in a flattering way while hiding unflattering areas. I have used many lighting kits over the years, starting with an inexpensive softbox strobe kit, up to a four-light Profoto kit with tons of light modifiers. My current kit is four Hensel monolight strobes with various size softboxes, umbrellas, grids, a beauty dish and a snoot. I also use a small constant light kit for shoots with a fast-moving subject,” explains Parker.
You must think about lighting your model not just in terms of illuminating certain parts of the body, but you need to be aware of the shadows too. Where the shadows fall is almost more important than where the light falls. You should be moulding the light and shadows around your model’s body, not moulding the model around the light.
“The light setup will drastically change the atmosphere and the mood. Shadow can partially hide, or alternatively light can expose the model. It all depends on the mood and style that you want. Playing with light and shadow is what photography ultimately really is,” explains Schmitz.
For nude photography we’d always recommend that you avoid shooting with the light directly in front of your model. This will fill in too many of the shadows and hide any interesting texture and muscle definition. Try to stick with side lighting and back lighting as these will always give you more control over the shadows and where they fall. Rim lighting can be very effective as it will illuminate the edges and curves of the body, providing a glowing outline.
Your aim should be to create interesting and flattering shadows and not just to fill everything with light. Often the parts of the body that are left in shadow create the most intriguing and sensual parts of the final image. There’s no need to show off every part of the body in every shot – you can leave something to the imagination.
It’s not always the case, but if your aim is to highlight the curves and smooth lines of a female body, natural window light can be the most desirable option. It can be far less harsh than hard studio lighting, and when combined with something like a sheer white curtain, it can be beautifully diffused and delicate. Utilising natural lighting can help with emphasising the raw nature of the nude human body.
In contrast to this, if your aim is to highlight muscle tone and structure of a male body, you will probably want to use a hard-light studio setup in order to effectively sculpt the shadows around the harsh lines and angular shapes of the body.
Add creative shadows to your shots – the most common way of doing this is to use a window blind to create lines across the body, or to use a gobo with a studio light to mimic this effect. It is a great way of giving the image a bit of an edge and also to create new lines and contours to lead the eye over the body.
“Most of my work is made using only one light source,” says professional photographer Peter Nielsen (peter-nielsen. squarespace. com). “As large a light source as possible, placed close to the model. Most of the time during shoots is spent trying out different poses and working on lighting positions. Some shoots take place in the homes of the models, so I travel light, and often use only speedlights with a modifier. For me, the most important aim is to get the light as soft and pleasing, while still keeping high contrast and most elements hidden in the shadows.”
“Light directs attention to desired areas
and reveals form in a flattering way”
Using a continuous studio light or LED is a great asset for a nude shoot – it gives you complete control of the lighting. This
is because you will be able to see exactly where the shadows will fall on your model before you take the shot, which means you’ll be able to move the light and model to exactly where you want
them to be.
Use a gobo
You can use a gobo to create interesting shadows and highlight the contours of the model’s body
Use harder light to emphasise the lines and angles on the
this image by John gasca creatively uses a projected lace pattern that appears like tattoos on the
Above Mould the
Utilise natural window light and shadows and use it to mould and highlight your model’s body
Right Back lighting
natural window light
is a great way to softly light your nude model. the sheer curtain helps to diffuse the light