A question I am often asked is what it is like to photograph nude women. People want to know about the awkwardness or if there is some sort of sexual tension. Is there leering? Is there touching? Do I ever get 'aroused' during a shoot? Has anything embarrassing ever happened? Is it weird doing a nude photo shoot with people that I know? Has an orgy ever spontaneously erupted? I can understand the interest and curiosity. We all want to know what goes on "behind the scenes." So I thought I would take a moment and talk about my experiences. But a word of warning. Don't bust out the Vaseline and tissues just yet, because it's not what you may think.
Photo shoots, whether clothed or nude, contain many variables. There's lighting and light modifiers, camera equipment, props, wardrobe, make-up, hair, the location and the models themselves are all part of what makes up a shoot. Some are more complicated than others. For instance, if you are shooting in a public place, you would have to be aware of what is going on around you, cars, other pedestrians etc. If it is a nude shoot in a public place, you have to be on the look out for the police! Things like the weather can change constantly and may effect how your shoot goes. If you are shooting on a sunny day but there are a few clouds, the moments where the sun is blocked by the clouds will give you a completely different look. Things like hair and wardrobe need to be constantly assessed. Does the model have a tag sticking out of her underwear? Did the wind just mess up the models hair and now she has a 'fly-away' that is stuck to her cheek? And light. Light is one of the single biggest aspects of what makes or breaks a shoot, and good photographers are constantly assessing it. Some of these things are easier and more controllable in a studio environment or on a closed set somewhere, but the attention to detail should not be overlooked.
At this point you are probably saying.. "I thought this was an article about photographing nude people?" My reason for explaining all of that is to try and illustrate the number of variables that photographers often face during the coarse of a shoot. And that barely scratched the surface. The reality is, there are too many other things going on during a professional photo shoot to stop and leer at the nude models. My goal is to produce the best possible photos that I can and in order to do that, I need to give my full attention to all aspects of the shoot itself. Having said that, it also means that during the coarse of a shoot, I am more likely to be thinking about light and shadows than I am to be thinking about the models tits and ass, which also means the chances for me to become aroused or create any sexual tension is slim to none.
The rapport I develope with the models is also a huge factor in the 'mood' that exists during a shoot. Models are people, and like everyone else, they have their own individual personalities that will dictate how you interact with them. Let me just say that again. MODELS ARE PEOPLE! The photographer is usually the one that sets the tone for the shoot and if you maintain a comfortable and professional environment then the experience should be an enjoyable one for both the photographer and the model, which ultimately should produce a better end result. Many of the models I have worked with and photographed nude are people I have known prior to photographing them and I can't honestly say that it has ever been an awkward experience. I make a conscious effort to try and create an environment that doesn't make it awkward for people. I'm not going to give a tutorial on what you should or shouldn't say or how to behave during a shoot, but for me, maintaining a comfortable and safe environment is important to not only create good photographs, but to uphold my reputation. So things like touching a model are rare and only happen if it is mutually agreed upon.
As for spontaneous orgies... well I can't honestly say that has happened to me. I'm sure if you're Nigel Barker, you've probably had a few models throw themselves at you. The photo shoots I have been involved in are comfortable, fun, and sometimes sexy, but not often sexual. If you want to gawk at some live nude girls and maybe feel a little 'randy', you might as well just go to the strippers. Nude photo shoots are hard work and take a lot of concentration. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself lucky to be able to do what I do. But it's not the sexually charged, boner filled, drool-fest that some people imagine it to be. Which is probably just as well because I don't think my camera is waterproof and I don't like wearing steel underwear.