Shooting Naked: The Nitty Gritty
On Saturday, I did a naked shoot. I’ve only done one before, with my friend Madeleine Morlet in my flat, and I absolutely love the pictures. But it was also in my home, with a lady friend, who used to go out with my housemate when I lived in a shared flat, so she’s seen me in all manner of states. I think the pics reflect the intimacy:
Picture by Madeleine Morlet
Saturday, however, was with a man I’d never met, in his flat-cum-studio, so it was a bit of a different feeling. He’s shot quite a few ladies at my agency and I had double-checked with them that he was legit and not dodgy in any way, and told my agency that I was doing the shoot. I’ve spoken before about testing with photographers and checking that the situation is safe and I definitely felt comfortable and secure in this case.
Anyway, because I’ve not done many naked shoots as it was previously one of my no-nos along with fur, I was quite unprepared for how to actually go about preparing and DOING a naked shoot, so I learned fairly rapidly so that my mistakes can become your preparedness. Here we go…
Prepping Your Skin
You want baby-smooth skin, hairless as Gollum (obviously this is ultimately down to you and if you want a 70s-style bush and hair armpits it’s your body and image – it works for Charlotte Free!)
The night before, I had a bath with Ameliorate, which I’ve waxed lyrical about before and helps gently exfoliate your skin so it’s lovely and velvety. It really worked – you just want to give the photographer as little retouch requirements as possible!
I was enthusiastic with the moisturiser on the day, too – Herb Farmacy’s is great as it properly sank in and gave my skin a slight sheen on the day.
Prepping Your Body
Everyone’s body is different, so this isn’t one size fits all (literally). Some people fast the day before and on the day, not even imbibing water. Others (Emily Vickers-Willis) can eat a burger every day, do no exercise and still earn the nickname ‘The Body of the Agency.’
Annoyingly I had a small op that meant I couldn’t do ‘vigorous exercise’ for two weeks, as usually I’ve have hit the HIIT hard in the run up. You just want to feel toned, light and confident as possible without going crazy or doing any harm to yourself.
I just ate a bit lighter for two weeks, avoided too much cake, too many late, heavy meals and drank lots of hot water to stop myself snacking on entire jars of peanut butter. I still had pizza and cake if I’m honest, and I had a couple of boozy nights out – I guess I was just a bit more mindful overall though.
On the actual day I chose small snacks until we were done shooting – I know my body is fine with this and it even helps my energy levels. Then I had a hearty meal afterwards.
In the end it’s doing whatever is going to make YOU feel best on the day, just learn what gives you a belly and what doesn’t, what gives you optimal energy, health and self-confidence.
How Does Shooting Nude Feel?
Total disclosure here. In a new relationship, I’m that lady who waits for the guy to look away so I can run to my knickers and put them on whilst sheltering behind the bedsheets and hop out of the room in the hope that he doesn’t catch full sight of my bum. For a good few months. I’m not a naked person. For starters, I’m too cold all the time.
So what’s weird is that on the few naked shoots I’ve done, I’ve felt weirdly liberated. Look at me! I’m naked! I feel a breeze on my fanny! My boobs are free of their nude bra prison!
The fact is that if you’re with a professional photographer, it’s their job to put you at ease and if you’ve said you’ll shoot in the buff, you’ve kind of let yourself in for it so you’d better deal with the nerves quick sharp (though you are completely in the right if, at any time, you decide it’s not for you and you want to cover up. No one should force you. Call your agent if you’re unsure and never do anything that feels wrong).
So basically, I felt relaxed and confident, because I was shooting with someone who put me at ease and looked away & fiddled with his camera whenever I ‘rearranged’. All my worries about having a belly/wonky boobs/visible vagina dissipated, and I’d say that’s pretty common but down to how the team treat you too.
What Do You Do with Your Vagina?
Yeah, good question, and one that lots of people will worry about but not want to ask anyone advice on. That’s why I’m here.
Firstly, waxing. Like I say, if you want to go for The Joy Of Sex in the 70s, go for it, it’s your body and I salute you. I plumped for a Brazilian cos I just didn’t want someone zooming in on and retouching my pubes. Get a wax two days before so it’s nice and calm. Ingrowns? Leave!
I instantly started fretting that I’d get my period early because our bodies do let us down sometimes…So I asked my friend advice on the matter. She said she used a tampon and just ‘tucked the string up in there’ but do be careful not to lose it! You might also consider a Mooncup as there’s no strings attached. Not an option for me after ‘my incident‘.
Essentially you just shouldn’t worry about any of this stuff as everyone in the room is an adult, everyone is familiar with the human body and just remember the mantra: many of those in the team came out of a vagina so it’s not a big deal.
How to Cover Yourself Up
Yep, following on from vagina upkeep: how can you make sure it’s not out there in the pics? Easy! Just make sure you’re sitting on it. It’s better anyway as you’ll get a straighter back with a curve (I’ll be debuting my pics soon and you can see better). Then you want the leg that’s facing camera to be slightly raised at all times, which gives an aesthetically pleasing shape anyway. Folding your shin underneath also makes sure you’re covered up down there, a la the supers in the PETA campaign.
You also want to ask the photographer to tell you if anything’s visible.
As for boobs, if you’re wanting them covered (I did) then there are loads of different ways to do so, each giving a different vibe.
The best way, I think, is to cross your arms and delicately cover your nipples with your hands. It’s quite romantic and soft and subtle. If you cover your boobs with your hands uncrossed, it CAN look nice (and I have done that – see below).
Pic by Madeleine Morlet…love this shoot.
Whilst that can look excellent, the risk is also that it can be a tad ‘Sam Fox on Page 3’ if you get me.
Another way to go is to face away from the photographer and turn around, so you only get a bit of side boob but no nipple. And if you face sideways on to the camera and rest your hands on your lap, you get some side boob but no nipple as your upper arm covers it up.
Lastly, you can hug yourself like the lady on the left in the PETA campaign.
The way you move your back can completely change what your body language says. If you’re leaning forward this can look androgynous and sometimes quite defensive, so you get quite an artsy, vulnerable, twisted shape that’s editorial and beautiful in it’s own way. And if you arch your back it’s more ‘shampoo ad being kissed by lily petals’.
Lastly, careful about squashing your boobs up and together to make them feel bigger. I know it’s tempting but it can look a bit awkward. Lara gets away with it here, but not everyone can…
How to Feel Confident
The thing about a topless or naked shoot is that it can be quite a vulnerable place to be, and if you go with that feeling it can give the picture real depth. Now I want to be very clear here: when I say vulnerable I don’t mean defenseless and scared. Dear God if you feel that way then PLEASE go put a jumper on. I just mean that there is no item of clothing to play with, no sassy costume to give you an act, it’s just you and the lens and the suit you were born in. Go with it. If how you’re feeling is sexy or sexual then feel it, if it’s something more attitude-y or melancholic or even self-protective then feel that too – it’s raw and real.
But in terms of body confidence, remember that whatever you have is individual to you. I have a big bum and skinny ribby chest and rather than try and conceal that, I work it in to my poses. I don’t have big boobs, I don’t have perfectly toned thighs but once I’m in front of the camera I just move freely because that’s what will get the right pic. It’s all in the mind!
The biggest tip of all: DON’T DO ANYTHING YOU DON’T WANT TO DO. IT IS UP TO YOU AT ANY TIME AND ON ANY SHOOT TO STOP AND SAY YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE BECAUSE YOU OWN YOUR OWN BODY AND SHOULD HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER IT. Capitals for emphasis.
Hope this helps and if you have any questions or helpful tips then please feel free to share below, I would love to hear from you!