Posing Tips

Whether you’ve modeled before or not, I have specific things that I teach models. If you want a preview, here are some concepts and pointers that will help you.

  • “Doing” is more interesting than posing. Even something as simple as stretching your body can change the mood from posing to doing.
  • There are more places to look than directly into the lens. Some options: look at what you’re doing or imagine looking at something outside the scene.
  • Bring energy to your face. You want your expression to say that you are interested in what you are doing. Try to portray emotions such as curiosity, being pleased with yourself, or focused on an activity. If you’re used to runway modeling, take care not to appear bored.
  • Think of your whole body as beautiful. Don’t get stuck on facing the camera the whole time and portray pride, the pose should not apologize for being nude.
  • Arms and legs usually look best symmetrical or in unison. This means if one leg is stretched out, the other should be to.
  • If you are bending only one knee, bend it slightly and bend the knee that if farthest from the camera.
  • You can remove the crease at the top of your thighs by flattening your hips, turning one or both knees/feet outward.
  • In general, stretch your body tall. It’s okay to do some bending but don’t fold in on yourself or make yourself look short.

Figure Models and the Sun, Part 2


Part 2: Getting Rid of Lines

Once you have tan lines, getting rid of them is not easy. But try this trick: Go to the tanning salon, wearing sunscreen on your already tan parts. Leave your chest, butt, and bikini area exposed.


Too much UV isn't good for your skin, so don't get a dark tan. Lightly tan skin photographs just as well as a deep tan, anyways. Getting the same tone all over is the goal. Moreover, very dark tans just don't look natural.

If you spend a lot of time at the beach, there are some tricks to use. The first is a tan-through swimsuit. They don't cost much more than a nice swimsuit and they allow the UV rays to penetrate without being see-through. Remember to still apply  sunscreen to bare skin!

Whether you're at the beach or not, a favorite outfit can bring on crisp tan lines. Make sure to wear a different outfit each day with a variety of locations for shoulder straps, sleeves, and pant legs. This helps smooth out the transition between sun exposed and covered skin. Even wearing SPF 50, you're still getting some sun.

Avoid the sun when you have clothes on. When you want to tan, find a way to tan all over.

Figure Models and the Sun

Part 1: An All-Over Glow

As a figure model, you want an even skin tone without any tan lines. You may not think you have strap lines unless you accidentally lay out too long. But, most everyone who goes out in the sun has uneven skin tone, especially from shoulder straps. A little unevenness in unavoidable, but for the successful figure model, head-to-toe uniformity is the skincare holy grail. If you go around in a tank top without putting sunscreen on your shoulders, you probably have strap marks. Look closely in the mirror and you'll see them.


First you should understand what causes tanning. UV rays, which are present even on partly cloudy days or in winter, darken your skin. It sometimes takes up to two days for a tan to take full effect and several weeks for it to wear off. So whenever you're outside,exposed skin is getting darker. while the skin under your clothing is staying lighter.

This is why it's important to wear sunscreen on exposed skin. The sun is especially strong between 9:30AM and 2:30PM, even if its a little cloudy. The UV rays go right through thin cloud layers. I recommend staying indoors in the middle of the day and wearing SPF 50 sunscreen when outdoors. L'Oréal and Neutrogena both make good lightweight products, but just about any brand will do. Don't forget your legs and arms if you're wearing shorts or short sleeves. 

Read part 2

Ten Ideas That Pay Off for New Models

I’ve talked to a lot of models and worked with hundreds. Many ask me what they can do to improve the number of shoots they do. Here is a summary of ten at the top.

  1. Hit the gym. The good news is that much of your competition spends less than two hours a week at the gym. Your goal is to beat these girls, not tie them. The models who succeed spend an average of four to six hours a week with vigorous exercise. Walking to class or work is a good start, next hit the hard workouts.
  2. Cut out the sugar. Next time you down a Chocolate Frappuccino, just remember you’re consuming an extra 500 calories. One a week and you’ll gain 50 pounds in a year.
  3. Look for work. The work isn’t going to come to you. Scour the casting calls for work that you can do.
  4. Build your portfolio. Shoot as much as you can until you have a great looking portfolio
  5. Show what you look like. Does your portfolio show everything but you? Bulky jackets, seated poses, hidden face? A simple shot that shows what your body looks like (doesn’t have to be nude) goes a very long way.
  6. Be prompt. Replying within two business days is considered professional. If you’re going to be away, let people know with an autoresponder or note on your web site.
  7. Be honest and upfront. Mention any scars, tattoos, or other information that is relevant.
  8. Only apply to castings where you are qualified. Read the whole casting and make sure it is a good fit. This will save you a lot of time.
  9. Ask for referrals. After a successful shoot ask for a referral to other opportunities.
  10. Be honest with yourself. Do you have the drive to be a model? Are you ready to workout almost every day? Can you give up most of the fatty and sugary foods? Modeling can be fun and rewarding, with some hard work and lucky genetics you can go to unimaginable heights.
Amber, nude model Charleston SC gymnastic floor pose

Hard work in the gym pays off

Nude photography studio art modeling jobs

Tips on Compiling a Modeling Portfolio

I’ve talked about it dozens of times, but lately I’ve been dispensing a lot of tips on how to compile an effective modeling portfolio. So what does effective mean? Let’s go back to the purpose of the portfolio: get hired for modeling jobs! That’s its only purpose. It’s not to show off your latest shoes or impress friends. Follow the advice below and you’ll be on your way.

  1. Use a specific album for your portfolio. If you have an account on a site, make sure your portfolio is the first thing people see. Keep non-portfolio images elsewhere.
  2. Use recent photos. It doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite photo. Nobody hires you based on what you looked like a year ago, it’s what you look like now. And don’t think you’re unchanged for the last two years. Even if it’s for the better, the camera can see the difference.
  3. You don’t need professional photos! The photos just need to be clear and well-lit. I prefer a snapshot where I can see the model over a dramatic masterpiece that shows me nothing of her bone structure, skin, and eyes.
  4. Don’t pose for your primary shots. Include a shot of your face and one of your body. You can show off your posing ability in a few shots but also show the raw materials.
  5. No Photoshop! Don’t include retouched images without declaring them. That is false advertising. If you want to include a couple finished images you can, but better to post them on Flickr than in your portfolio.
  6. Don’t be afraid to delete. Old images can be nice to look at and you may want to save them for the comments, but move them somewhere outside your portfolio.


Experience That Helps You Be a Nude Model

A variety of experience can help you be a better nude model:

  • Gymnastics, dance, and yoga for flexibility, balance and posing ideas
  • Drama/theatre/acting for facial expression and body language
  • Cheering for on-camera presence and facial expression
  • Athletics for general physical conditioning. I’ve photographed body builders, soccer players, softball players, etc.
  • Swimming for physical conditioning and aquatic shots
  • Pole dancing, not the kind that people may think of, but those who do it for exercise
Nude with red cloth

Countdown to a Nude Shoot – a Model’s Guide

Here is the general advice that I give models to prepare for a shoot. I’m posting it here since it may be helpful to other models and photographers. It is in chronological order from about a week before the shoot. Models should read the whole list before beginning the schedule because the order of some steps will vary based on particular situations.

7 Days before the Shoot

  • Confirm all details of the shoot and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to call and ask for clarification.
  • Know what makeup (if any) you are expected to do before arriving to the shoot.
  • Don’t experiment with hair or skin treatments. There’s not enough time to recover from a mishap.
  • Don’t change your hair style unless requested.
  • Cut back on tanning, this can dry skin. Use sun screen.

3 Days before the shoot

  • Do your nails. Unless you’ve discussed otherwise, I suggest trim nails with a neutral color (e.g. French manicure).
    Take care of your skin. Avoid sun exposure, tanning salons. Avoid getting paint, ink or bruises on your skin. Stay moisturized.

2 Days before the shoot

  • Get some moderate exercise.
  • Get rid of any unwanted hair in your normal fashion. Do this more than two days before the shoot if it normally takes you longer to recover. Don’t experiment with a new method; you won’t know the recovery time.
  • Exfoliate dry skin, don’t forget your feet.
  • Exfoliate lips if needed.
  • If this is your first nude shoot get a restful sleep tonight. You may be too excited the night before the shoot to get enough rest.

The day before the shoot

  • Pack your kit. Bring moisturizer, a snack, makeup, robe/cover-up. (see my post: Nude Model’s Survival Kit)
  • Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol. Eat sensibly.
  • Stretch. Stay limber. Stay active enough to burn off any excess energy before bedtime, but don’t do any marathon workouts today. Stay hydrated.
  • Get a full night’s rest if you can.

The day of the shoot

  • Wake up early enough that you don’t feel rushed.
  • If you’ve been asked to have your hair and makeup a certain way, allow preparation time.
  • Don’t put on any tight clothes or anything with elastic in it. We want to avoid elastic lines on your skin.
  • Don’t tie your hair tightly, that can also leave a mark.
  • Avoid anything that will stain your teeth: tea, coffee, cigarettes; they all show up on the image.
  • Moisturize everywhere from the neck down. You don’t want anything close to dry skin.
  • Directions to the shoot: Don’t forget to bring them with you. Call if you’re lost, don’t be embarrassed, just call and ask. If you’re going to be late or can’t make it, call ASAP. Don’t be a no-show without calling.
  • Once at the shoot keep cell phone use to a minimum.
  • Be friendly and professional

After and between shoots

  • Take care of skin. Bug bites and tan lines can last a long time. A model’s body is her income, protect it.
  • Eat healthy foods. Stay away from sweets, fatty meats, and junk food.
  • Exercise vigorously five days a week. Perform a mix of strength, flexibility, endurance, and fat burning exercises.
  • Practice posing and posture.

Nude with red cloth

Nude Model’s Survival Kit

I’ve compiled this list after working with many models. If you’re a model planning to do a lot of shoots, you may want acquire these items over time. If you’re a photographer, a list like this is a great thing to show models. A savvy photographer will stock many of these items in the studio. Certain cosmetic items like mascara shouldn’t be shared, so no sense stocking them unless it’s intended for a single use. Discuss specific cosmetic preferences well in advance (e.g. neutral vs. bright lip color, light vs. dramatic makeup.) Many models won’t be able to carry all these items due to space or cost considerations.

  • Bikini (for doing body makeup)
  • Lint brush
  • Loose fitting clothing for the way over to the shoot (no elastic lines)
  • Jewelry
  • Hiking or athletic shoes and socks (if needed for certain outdoor locations)
  • Sandals (if a beach location)
  • Hat for sun protection (outdoor shoots)
  • Accessories and props
  • Robe or cover-up garment
  • Warm-up outfit to shoot in
  • Clear brow gel
  • Concealer
  • Cotton swabs, balls
  • Eye drops
  • Eye shadow
  • Flushable wipes
  • Lip balm/petroleum jelly
  • Lip color
  • Lotion/moisturizer
  • Makeup remover
  • Makeup sponge
  • Mascara
  • Mirror (small)
  • Tissues
  • Translucent powder
  • Comb/brush
  • Disposable razor
  • Hair ties or pins that are attractive or hide easily in hair
  • Shaving cream
  • Smoothing serum or light gel
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file and buffer
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail polish for touch ups
  • A curling iron (if required)
  • Straightener (if required)
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Bag for kit items
  • Cell phone
  • Drinking water
  • Eye drops
  • Government-issued photo ID showing birth date
  • Second form of ID
  • GPS
  • Lip balm
  • Oil blotting papers
  • Snack that doesn’t stain teeth
  • Sweater, robe or other warm cover up
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Sunglasses (if outdoors)
  • Insect repellent (If outdoors. Test first to make sure it’s invisible)
Photographer Provided
  • Contact information
  • Directions
  • Shot list

Glossary of Modeling Terms and Definitions

Artistic Nude
Artistic nudity is a form of nudity that is intended to showcase the body as art. Artistic nudes are typically suitable for framing and exhibition.

An interview with a photographer, casting director, etc., to evaluate the model’s suitability for a specific job. At an audition you may be asked to show a portfolio or dress in a certain style.

Book (noun)
See portfolio.

Book (verb)
To arrange a shoot.

A modeling shoot, also see Gig.

Boudoir Nude
A style of nude glamour shot in an indoor, bedroom setting.

Call Back
An additional interview held to make further determinations as to which model(s) will be hired.

Casting Call
An advertisement for models. The casting call will contain details about the work requirements and, after an inquiry, usually is followed by auditions or interviews.

Comp Card
A card containing a composite of a model’s photos and information. This term is often applied to the digital version of the same.

Figure Modeling
Another term for nude modeling; more commonly used with art modeling than with glamour.

A modeling job

Glamour Nude (or Glamor nude)
Nude photography with a sensual mood. The emphasis is on the model, not on any product or clothing.

Model Release
An agreement between the model and photographer, granting the photographer rights to use the photos from a shoot, in exchange for compensation paid to the model. Sample model release for use with nude models.

Open Call
A casting call that may be attended without an appointment.

Petite Model
In runway modeling, petite is any model 5’8″ or shorter; in glamour modeling petite could be 5’5″ or shorter.

A form of modeling suitable for calendars, posters, and other glamorous displays of attractive models.

Playboy Style Nude
A style of nude typically seen in Playboy publications; used as a common way to explain the degree of explicit nudity required. Means non-pornographic nude work. This term is sometimes used to distinguish soft-core nudity from harder core styles found in other magazines such as Hustler Magazine or Penthouse Magazine.

A showcase of a model’s best photographs, intended to win additional work.

Runway Modeling
Clothing modeling performed at a live show, usually on an elevated runway. Runway models are typically female, 5’9″ to 5’11” in height.

Statistics, or measurements, of a model. Usually bra size (or bust measurement), waist measurement at its smallest, and hips at their largest. Also height, weight, age, and dress size. You’ll be asked to provide your stats before or during an interview. For example: My stats are 34C-24-34, 5’8″ 110 lbs, 19 years old, size 0.

Time For Photos: Payment given to the model in the form of photographs that can be used in her portfolio. Also TFCD, Time for (photo) CD. Also TF*, Time For *some form of photos.

ZED card
A three panel card containing a model’s photos and information. This term is often applied to the digital version of the same

Even more general and nude photography terms


Top 10 Nude Modeling Myths

  1. Myth: To become a model, you first need to pay a photographer.
    There are a lot of scams out there. Modeling is a job you get paid to do. If you have to pay, you’re not modeling. No major modeling agency requires that you hire a photographer before interviewing and they often state this on their web sites.
  2. Myth: Modeling is easy glamorous work.
    Modeling can be fun, but it requires effort.
  3. Myth: Anyone can be a model; it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, skinny or heavier.
    Modeling is competitive — you need to look better than the competition or you won’t get the work. True, there are lifestyle models and plus sized models, but these fields are no less competitive.
  4. Myth: You have to look like a runway model to find work.
    Not all modeling is runway modeling. Print models under 5′8″ appear all the time in pin-up and nude shots in Playboy, on posters, advertisements, etc.
  5. Myth: Models have to be skinny.
    Models need to be healthy, if you’re doing glamour or nude modeling some curves are helpful.
  6. Myth: Models are dumb.
    Successful models are smart. Dumb models don’t get work — modeling is competitive and smart models know they have to exercise, eat right, and get as much practice as possible.
  7. Myth: You need to take a class to learn to model.
    You can shell out a ton of money on modeling schools (or scams) and it won’t help you as much as getting real experience or advice from experts.
  8. Myth: Models shouldn’t smile in photos; the expressions should always be blank.
    Sometimes a smile is called for; sometimes it’s not. Being able to show a range of expressions and moods is important.
  9. Myth: Modeling is like what you see on reality TV.
    Get real!
  10. Myth: Always look right at the camera.
    A variety of looks and poses is better.