As a seasoned travel photographer, my genre is quite the antithesis of this one: I shoot primarily outdoors rather than in-studio, I rely solely on natural lighting, I profoundly prefer candid shots over posed, and next to never do I digitally manipulate my images.
The upside to constantly traveling across the world is I know probably better than anyone which cities and countries are home to the most lovely ladies (Tokyo tops the list). I have always envied photogs who work in the comfortable confines of a studio, interact with a bevy of beautiful women and certainly get paid far better for their work than I. Why, then, shouldn't I give it a try?
But before actually delving into nude photography, I first have been flipping through numerous volumes of photo technique guides to see if it is indeed a genre I could easily convert to (i.e. teaching an old dog new tricks), but thus far I have been put off by what I have seen: guides that are either excruciatingly technical or out-dated to the point of uselessness.
And then comes along True Confessions, a brand-spanking-new book that blessedly incorporates pretty much every up-to-date aspect of the nude photography profession into a refreshingly fun instructional manual for amateurs and pros alike.
With over 20 years nude photography experience ("hundreds" of naked girls, by his last count, lucky devil) combined with proper schooling, I can't think of a better teacher than A.K. Nicholas. But even more important than his own experience and credentials is Nicholas' talent as an author for being able to convey a highly-technical skill such as studio photography into easy-to-follow text and diagrams that will immediately put the reader at ease. "You'll learn from my successes AND from my mistakes," writes Nicholas. As a photographer who is entirely self-taught and has limited technical background, I appreciated this most about True Confessions.
At a 120+ pages, True Confessions is comprehensive. 20 of those pages are dedicated to the most challenging aspect of the job: recruiting and shooting models. Our Savior Nicholas plots it all out for us in hip lingo akin to the rules of dating ("I never call after a third `no'"; "concentrate on booking a specific day, not a specific model"). He then moves on to studio etiquette, such as how (not) to physically handle a model's fun-parts, tips to make a new nude feel relaxed, and chatting a model up. "My goal is to make images, not to make friends," states Nicholas. Elliot DiMauro from `Just Shoot Me' would be so disappointed.
A sheer quarter of the book is on the art of lighting. Due to my personal jones for natural light, I was admittedly was initially loath to read this chapter. But Nicholas' cool reasoning ("the key to background light is not a lot of light, but a lot of lightS") complimented by helpful illustrated diagrams, example images and informational text - and even a token few pages on outdoor lighting - those 30 pages were, well, illuminating.
Arguable the most useful section of this book is on posing and composition. Nicholas dips into the "pin-up versus art" debate and critiques the mythical "Golden Mean" method, encouraging us to "depart from the formulaic," though ultimately the author suggests a combination of classic and experimental composition to create new poses. The chapter closes (read: rewards us) with a whopping 100 (!) different sample poses ranging from traditional to avant-garde that are sure to give Playboy a run for its money.
Post-processing is covered in-depth (he suggests "a day of post-processing for every hour of shooting"), including instructional screen-captures of the most up-to-date computer software tips. Advice on shooting for microstock and making/selling 3D reference photos follows. A helpful glossary and sample model release forms close out the appendix.
While the author gets quite specific about lighting, he avoids suggesting specific lenses or gear, which may frustrate newbie photogs who prefer to have their hands held on such matters. And with the exception of the un-credited oriental beauty on page 60, I would have liked to see more exotic models (Latina, Asian, African American, Indian) instead of a purely-Anglo cast, as ethnic skin tones photograph far differently. However, Nicholas can consider such suggestions for a "True Confessions Part 2: International Nudes."
This is one of the most complete books to come along in recent years for everyone wanting to jump into photographing nudes. It's also very succinct and accessible and written in a clear, easy-to-follow manner. Herein lies its strength - everything one needs to know is provided but the author does not overwhelm the reader with excess information. All the essentials are here - recruiting models, interacting with them like a professional, posing them, and so forth. Lighting, lighting equipment, indoors and outdoors, photo composition, post-production (Photoshop) - it's all here. Nicholas concludes by providing some very useful information about selling and marketing ones work.
Each section of this book contains numerous nuggets of valuable information. The chapter on POSING covers almost every aspect of this art form, including a thorough discussion on pin-up vs art photography, but Nicholas doesn't end it there - he provides a handy reference to this subject by providing examples of 100 poses - that's 100 photos of nude models in 100 different poses - very useful. The book is also packed with full-size nude photos (shot by A. K. Nicholas, of course), lighting diagrams, and various diagrams, charts, and the like.
This is an exceptional instructional that's a must have for beginners and mid-level amateurs. Even advanced users and professionals will find things in here they can use.
A comprehensive step by step visual guide to understanding the dynamics involved. Packed with visual diagrams and practical advice. The Confessions of a nude photographer takes the reader from the initial thoughts of organizing a nude photo shoot right up to post processing of the final image. This book fills in a lot of the blank areas a lot of photography course generally leave out. If you are apprehensive about doing your first nude photo shoot and are some what in the dark about what is entailed. I would highly recommend the purchase of these book as it break down the barriers of what to expect and what will be required in order to achieve stunning images. A.K. Nicholas simplifies the concepts behind the procedures needed to produce and sustain success as a nude photographer.
When the book arrived, I was a little worried that I had wasted my money on a budget book from the 80's but I was pleasantly surprised. The book gives a very good introduction to getting started with nude photography and is a good place to start, if that is a photographic field that you want to enter. I'm not too impressed with the photos and the quality of the images, but that does not take away form the fact that the contents is valuable. In any case, the book could benefit from a graphical update.