Glamour photography isn’t solely about nudity. The best glamour photographers still look to show the beauty of a subject, but it will look sexually orientated.
Glamour photography isn’t normally an outdoor pursuit, unless the photographer and model feel confident. You’ll find shooting at home, in a hotel room or in a studio will give you privacy and more control over the shoot.
When you are shooting glamour, you should always keep in mind ways of beautifying the model’s face, skin and body language through the correct posing, lighting and makeup, if necessary.
Glamour photography isn’t a career for a shy and reserved photographer. It takes a personality that is confident, outgoing and bold with their ideas. The art of shooting glamour isn’t solely about working with nude female models, though that is the majority of the photoshoots you may encounter. There are many fantastic male glamour models available for hire too.
Glamour shots, in many cases, may also require a pro portrait retoucher to make those blemishes and skin tones look incredible. This could be done by the original photographer if you have advanced skills in Photoshop.
As an art, glamour photography highlights the human form through good control of lighting to bring out the model’s best features. It’s not always the case that the model it totally nude in glamour photography.
There are different types of boudoir photography that feature nude models so it’s not exclusive to glamour. With that said the Hollywood glamour photography we’re used to seeing is a lot more suggestive, sexual and raunchy overall.
One of the best ways to become a confident glamour photographer is to take a portrait photography course. Mastering portrait photography will teach you how to light the face and body of a subject or a group of subjects. It doesn’t matter how they’re dressed at this stage.
A good portrait photography course will also show you how to pose a subject. Our iPhotography online portrait course gives you full explanations on how to pose individual parts of the body and what these poses do to the overall body language.
When you feel confident about working with live models and how to direct them you can start to concentrate more on the glamour aspect of the work. Look online for experienced glamour models to collaborate with on a shoot and build up your portfolio.
A more experienced model will know how to pose so you can concentrate on lighting, but it’s important to pay attention to how they hold their body and what works well. You can transfer these ideas when working with newer glamour models.
Try sites such as Purple Port and Model Mayhem for glamour models.
Are glamour, boudoir, fine art nude and pin-up all the same?
No, but they do share similar approaches but the subtle differences make each an individual art form. Boudoir style photography is something we discuss in-depth during this iPhotography tutorial.
Pin Up portraiture harks back to the 1920s and 30’s where the use of pretty female models to promote products and services was becoming very popular. This has been taken to another level in more recent times.
Models will generally dress up as a character. It may be a housewife, maid, soldier, burlesque dancer or sailor for example. Their outfits may look skimpy and revealing but with an innocent, yet cheeky expression. The images are soft in colour but aren’t explicit in the content as the models aren’t fully or semi-nude.
Boudoir photoshoots often include lingerie and other revealing items, perhaps including suggestive nudity.
The models that feature in boudoir shoots may not be pro or aspiring models. They could be regular citizens looking for a confidence boost, empowering memory or a private gift for a partner. With that in mind, you need to consider your subject.
Boudoir poses that hide stomachs, amongst others poses, are important to learn as your model may not be a size 0. Flattering your model is key to capturing personal and empowering portraits.
While it can be extremely sensuous, eroticism is not the primary intent with boudoir photography. Romance is usually the overall feeling more than sexuality.
With Fine Art Nude photography, the message of the image is rarely anything sexual or suggestive. A nude model may only be part of the overall story and their appearance is there to further the narrative of the photograph rather than being central to the shot.
Fine art nudes will also less be about the model and more about their body. You may not even see their face in the shot, it could be their back, chest or legs.
When it comes to choosing the right equipment, you need to make sure your kit geared is geared up for general portrait photography. This means you can cast your net wider and try out other areas of intimate photography in the future.
A good performing APS-C or Full-Frame DSLR or Mirrorless camera will give you adequate manual controls and features for glamour photography. It’s not so much about the camera; lenses and lighting will have a greater effect on your final image but it’s still important to have a camera that will shoot RAW files.
Get yourself a couple of different lenses for starting out in glamour photography.
Pack a nifty fifty in your kit bag to act as a fast prime lens that opens up to at least F/2. A shallower depth of field will make the background appear softer and the skin will look more flattering.
It’s not all intimate close-ups in glamour photography as full-length shots are great for showing off more of the figure of your model. It’s also useful to have a wide-angle lens if you are shooting in confined spaces like a hotel room.
Remember the effects of using a wide-angle lens close up on a subject; it will distort the perspective of the model and look unflattering. If you use a wide-angle lens, only use it for full-length shots.
The type of wide-angle distortion can be used to your advantage though. For models wanting to make their legs look longer bringing their legs closer to the lens will make them appear stretched and slimmer at anything shorter than 35mm.
Longer focal lengths can be useful in a couple of instances of glamour photography. Firstly, if your model is new to glamour they may feel uncomfortable about a photographer being up close when they are in their underwear, or less. To give them a comfortable working space a short telephoto lens will allow you to work at a distance and still capture closer shots.
The second benefit of a short telephoto is if you are doing outdoor glamour photography – though we said earlier it is very rare you can use a longer zoom lens to compress the background and cut out and distracting elements that make your shot look messy or distracting.
There are a couple more items we’d recommend picking up to make your glamour photography a little easier.
When it comes to lighting pro glamour photographers use natural light. If you’re shooting outside, it’s best to avoid the hard light from midday. Seek photographic refuge under a tree or any other shade to cast softer shadows.
You ideally want to avoid using flash for glamour photos. Off-Camera flashes produce hard light (unless diffused) and aren’t as flattening to the skin. You don’t want heavy drop shadows and the detail of skin texture (including rashes, blemishes etc) being visible. Softer light will help smooth over this.
If you are using an off-camera flash then buy a softbox, umbrella or beauty dish modifier to help spread the light leave fewer shadows.
You can alternatively use LED light panels for your shoots. They are brightness-adjustable, colour temperature changeable and allow diffusers to be placed over the front. LED panels are rapidly becoming the replacement for off-camera flash for beauty and glamour photographers.
An old trusty tripod is helpful if you are having to slow down shutter speeds and want to avoid camera shake. It’s also good to use for consistency.
Having a camera mounted on a tripod means you can step away, help the model pose, adjust lighting etc without the composition falling out of sync with other shots. There’s no specific tripod we’re recommending any that fits your camera will be fine.
To mix things up we’ve got a range of inspiring glamour photography images, DIY boudoir photos and boudoir photography outfit ideas that you can adapt to your photoshoot. It’s good to make yourself a mood board of images that you can share with your model so you both know what you’re trying to achieve.
When you are planning your ideas consider what style of image you’d like to capture. Are you looking capture;
● Vintage styles? – Glamour shots 90’s, 80’s or even earlier decades
● Something recognisable? Do you want your model to dress up as a character?
● Full or semi-nude? It’s important that you don’t get distracted by a nude model, and staying professional in the presence of glamour models is paramount.
● Explicit or suggestive? Are your shots looking to tease the audience or be full-frontal? (make sure your model is 200% comfortable with your requirements beforehand)
● Fantasy or Reality? Lighting can make images look more realistic or with extra editing, it can be more conceptual.
Write down the answers to these questions to give yourself a clear plan of what you’re aiming to achieve.
Given that there isn’t one set of poses you can use every time with all models, it’s more important to know how to pose individual parts of the body and how that creates a message, emotion or atmosphere. You can adapt the ideas we’ll share with you for a single person or even a glamour photo for couples too.
Whether you want to create boudoir silhouette photography or something more sexual for example you need to know how to pose different parts of the body to achieve those looks
To express your subject’s true personality and communicate it to the audience, it helps to know which body parts and features your subject likes the best about themselves; this will naturally intensify their confidence. Draw attention to these key features; your subject’s personality will start to shine through and present itself.
In the next section, we are going to take a look 18 ways to pose different parts of the body that you can focus on within posed portrait shots for a female model to help release her personality.
● Holding the head high or slightly raised presents an air of confidence.
● Tilting the head to one shoulder (or looking over the shoulder), with the chin lowered, and eyes looking up towards the lens, can look flirtatious and seductive.
● The head lowered at an angle, with eyes looking down, presents a certain vulnerability and shyness.
● Strong, squared shoulders help express strength and confidence.
● Shoulders bent back slightly (with an arched back, chest forwards, arms behind) also give the impression of confidence and self-assertion.
● For relaxed confidence tilt the shoulders slightly at different levels; this provides a more natural-looking position. One-shoulder should be at a slightly lower angle than the other – but not slouching.
● Arms folded give the sense of someone being cold, guarded or closed-off.
● Straight arms can appear formal (or sometimes stiff and uncomfortable).
● Bent arms provide a sense of comfort and a more natural, casual, relaxed look.
● Bending one arm across the chest or over the head can be used to frame the body or face; this also adds interest within the picture.
● Focus on long, delicate, elegant fingers; this adds a certain femininity.
● Fingers entwined can add a childish innocence or slight vulnerability e.g. feeling of exposure or the desire to cover up and hide.
● Hands slightly fisted and showing roughened skin introduce masculine qualities.
● If your subject is anxious, place something in their hand so they don’t fidget; they will become more relaxed if they have something else to focus on.
● If you are looking for boudoir photo ideas for plus size models that are empowering then try this. Pose their hands across areas of their body they might be conscious about to make them feel reassured.
● A leg elongated and stretched out behind can introduce strength along with femininity (and even romance); consider a dancer or ballerina for example.
● Legs spread apart in a strong stance and posture can signify strength and confidence.
● Bare legs: One leg bent at an angle (revealing defined muscles) introduces fitness, strength and health; this can also be sexual alluring, enticing and attractive.
To summarise our glamour photography tutorial, we’ve got 6 essential boudoir and beautifying tips to make your glamour photoshoots incredible for models and photographers!
1. Hire a makeup artist – Give your model the full makeover photography experience and invest in a pro makeup artist to touch up the skin ready for the shoot.
2. Concentrate on the face and eyes – Regardless if your subject is nude or not audiences will firstly look at the expression and eyes; it’s human nature. Make sure you get a catchlight in the eyes and the expression matches the tone of the pose.
3. Avoid busy outfits – If you’re using lingerie as part of your glamour shoot ask your model to leave the big prints, patterned prints and other similar designs at home. Busy prints can detract attention away from the model. Keep it simple with plain colours ideally.
4. Keep backgrounds simple – the same principle applies to backgrounds as with outfits. Choose plain walls or get some large material backdrops if you’re shooting indoors and consider the background when shooting outdoors too.
5. Use soft light – if you want to use an off-camera flash then make sure the light is bounced or diffused. Use an umbrella, softbox, beauty dish or even a reflector to spread the light and soften shadows on the skin.
6. Be prepared to edit – Photoshop and Lightroom is just another step in the process of creating glamour photos. You’ll need good retouching skills to remove blemishes from the skin that the model is happy with. Learn how to retouch skin using frequency separation here.