A good implied nude photograph is harder to capture than a plain nude shoot. Hiding the right amount of skin is more difficult than showing everything.
Of course one of the most important thing to say is what an implied nude shot is. As the name “implied nude” clearly says, it is a shoot where the nudity is not visible, but just implied. Now, you will find two currents of thoughts here; the first one will tell you that you photograph a clothed subject, making her look naked; the second will say that none of the intimate parts (nipples, sex) is visible, despite the subject being naked in front of the photographer.
We believe that an implied nude shoot is a shoot where the intimate parts of your subject are not visible. She can be dressed or nude in front of us, this does not matter much. What matters is that the implied nude shoots should imply the nudity, leaving the rest to the imagination.
The next big question is: how can you achieve good implied nude shoots? The answer is double, as it should look at the technical aspect, which is the simpler, and at the psychological part, which is much more complex.
How to deal with a woman for an implied nude shoot
Being the subject of an implied nude shoot may mean that your subject does not want to have her private parts exposed. Or maybe it is a part of the session just before posing nude. In both cases, it your responsibility to photograph your subject elegantly.
What you have to remember is that photographing a woman is more about the connection you have with her than anything else. In an implied nude shoot, the trust relationship between subject and photographer is even more important. Your subject needs to understand, and trust, that you are going to hide what is to be hidden. But how can you do it?
The easiest thing to do is to be straightforward about it.
“I will use your arms and legs to visually cover certain areas, while I will use certain angles to hide others”
This is already a good start. Let your subject know what to expect, to understand that your goal is to take fabulous images while respecting the boundaries of an implied nude shoot.
If the woman in front of you is partially dressed and you have to hide the garment, your life is going to be technically more challenging. Covering a piece of clothing is more difficult than hiding a nipple; however, having a woman naked in front of you is more challenging from a relational perspective. A naked woman is generally more vulnerable, and vulnerability rarely looks good for an implied nude image. You have to work hard on gaining your subject’s trust, being professional, connecting with her and making her feel at ease.
Avoid focussing on an implied nude image in the first part of the shoot, as long as this is not the preamble to an art nude.
The technical challenges of an implied nude shoot
If you are worried that the technical part of an implied nude shoot is the hardest, think back. Go back to the previous part of this post and focus on the trust relation you can establish with your subject; however, even the technical side of shooting an implied nude may have some difficulties.
The only difference between shooting a dressed woman or an implied nude is that you have to be careful to what not to show. Mainly, we are talking about two areas: nipples and sex.
The sex is fairly easy to cover: just have your subject facing 45 degree away from the camera and use the leg in front to cover the rest. Crossing one leg in front of the other works wonders even if your subject is lying on the side or down. More importantly is how not to cover the sex: with her hands! Hands are pointers, and if you cover the sex with one or both of your subject’s hands, you will attract the viewers’ attention just there. From my perspective, that does not work.
Nipples may be a little bit more difficult to hide, or for saying it more clearly, more difficult to hide while maintaining the beauty of the forms. You cannot stretch and push with the arms too much, as the risk is to push the breast and the arms too tightly together, ruining the shape of the breast and enlarging the apparent size of the arm. You have to make sure that the arms are slightly detached from the body; this covers the nipples while keeping the right breast shape and making the arms look thinner.
As in the case of the lower nudity, we tend to avoid using hands to create the implied nude feeling, even if we are less strict on that. We generally use them at the beginning of the implied nude part of shoot, just because women feel more in control of their nakedness using their hands to cover themselves, and this plays an important role in having them relaxed.
Make the session enjoyable!
In the end, our point is always the same: make sure that the photo session is enjoyable for your subject. The more they are going to have fun, being allowed to be themselves in front of the camera, the more you will lay down the foundation for a trust relationship.
Remember, the challenges of an implied nude in a shoot are 90% psychological. The more you are able to be the trustworthy photographer, the more your most difficult task would be the technical side which, let’s be honest, is no rocket science!