By this point, you’ve probably had a camera phone for close to two decades and have almost certainly taken steamy photos of yourself, either to share or keep for your own confidence-building. Sure, you’ve probably got lots of experience in this department, but there’s always room for improvement, so if you want to know how to elevate your nudes to the next level, read on before you open that front-facing camera again.
Know why you’re snapping the pic
Like anything else, the reasons someone might want to take a nude—or two, or 200—are varied. Maybe you’re talking to a new potential partner, reminding an established partner how lucky they are, advertising yourself on a camming site, or just looking to appreciate your own body.
“Our clients seek out boudoir photography for a number of reasons,” said Ayla Quellhorst, who owns a boudoir photography studio in Tacoma, WA, that works with about 200 women per year. “As a gift for a significant other, to find themselves after a major life event, to celebrate accomplishments or, most importantly, to do something for themselves.”
Katelyn Guild, who operates her own studio in Raleigh, NC, agreed, adding that clients come to her body-inclusive company seeking spicy shots “for a million different reasons,” but often “to normalize their bodies to themselves in the hope that they start to feel valid and worthy of the love that they deserve.”
Of course, it’s OK if you’re taking pictures to send to someone else, too. Don’t feel pressured to turn every self-photoshoot into a big, empowering celebration if you’re really just hoping to accomplish some good old sexting. Just remember to only do what you want to do, as no one has the right to make you take or send a photo you don’t want to send.
Prep yourself to feel good naked
Wear something you feel attractive in, whether it’s lingerie or nothing at all. Don’t try out a brand-new look if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. Stick with your usual presentation and even consider taking your pics when you’re dolled up for an impending event. Shave or don’t shave. Go full glam or bare-faced. This is your party and don’t you forget it.
“We give clients so much information before a shoot. It’s 15 emails worth of prep information. But physically, stretch. We do a lot of bending and toe pointing,” said Quellhorst, who added that a full shoot is like a workout in itself. “There are no straight lines in boudoir.”
Look in the mirror and test out some poses. Have fun! While rehearsing, don’t worry about getting every body part in the shot. A picture that accentuates just one bit of your physique can be less distracting and more natural. Quellhorst’s go-to posing tips are these:
- Think of curves: Don’t keep your legs straight, be sure to arch your back, and “push those boobs to the sky” (if you happen to have a pair).
- Give your hands something to do, like “put one in your hair and grab a boob with the other” or “hug yourself to bring the girls closer together.”
- Frame your booty with your hands.
- “Also, push your chin forward (like a turtle) in images” for a more flattering neckline.
Consider, too, giving yourself “grace,” as Guild put it: “The first thing I encourage clients to do before they even pick up their camera is to curate their social media feeds. Unfollow accounts that make you feel crappy in your body, and [instead] flood your feed with beautiful bodies of all sizes. This will help them start to recognize that their body is sexy, worthy, and valid of dope images.”
The more you accept and love your body, the better you’ll look, to both yourself and anyone lucky enough to receive your pics.
Make sure to set the scene
“The simpler the better for environment,” advised Guild, who recommended plain white sheets and decluttering, along with being selective about which household items, if any, are visible. A sexy selfie doesn’t have to always be the same full-monty-in-the-mirror picture. Read a book. Sip a drink. Using a lingerie costume? Select some theme-appropriate props. Be playful and creative in your space.
As for lighting, Quellhorst recommends not even bothering to take your photos at night and avoid using your home’s harsh lights. Instead, she said, try to work in the daytime and get natural sunlight from your windows.
If you have a tripod for your phone, use it, and set it up high for the most flattering angle.
All that said, she added, “don’t overthink it.”
Get down to business
Don’t forget that not only are you the star of the show here, but in most cases, you’re the producer and director, too. Be kind to yourself and have some patience. Go slowly. No one has to know that one perfect shot took you 15 minutes to achieve.
Quellhorst noted, “When taking your own nudes at home, remember that you can always delete an image. I take 300-400 images of a client in a traditional shoot, yet we only show 75-100 of those images. Even a professional takes multiple shots to get it right, so don’t give up on yourself if the first image isn’t perfect. Look at it closely and figure out what you don’t like. Are you not arching your back enough and it’s creating rolls in areas you don’t want? Take it again with a better arch.”
Guild offered up a pretty expert tip here: “Set your phone to record and take screenshots from the recording. This allows you to have the freedom to move around and be yourself without the restriction of running back and forth with a timer. The best way to do that is to use the back camera on your phone and pause the recording before you take the screenshot.”
Bonus option: Press ‘send’ with confidence
Once you’ve amassed some great shots, you can keep them for yourself or share the wealth—provided the other party is interested and consents.
Jimmy, a 28-year-old in San Diego, explained that as a bisexual man in the dating scene, he’s received all manner of nudes from all manner of people, so he has a few observations. Women, he said, tend to put a lot of thought into what they share, and typically send previously-shot photos they’ve taken time to curate, edit, and even filter. Men, on the other hand, take their photos in the heat of the texting action, in his experience, “which is sometimes disconcerting” if they seem too eager to move from pic-swapping to real-life meetups.
Women, he added, typically try to show off their whole body in one mirror selfie while men will just zoom right in on the goods. Both strategies have their pros and cons, though Jimmy admitted, “I’m actually a little more old school and prefer no nudes, but if I had to pick, then a frontal mirror pic, no face necessary.”
He cited “privacy” as a key issue. We don’t need to remind you, but there is no guarantee any photo you send to someone will remain private. Crop your face and hide your identifying tattoos if that’s a concern for you.
Emily, a 23-year-old woman in Canada, agreed that nudes aren’t necessary for her when she’s sexting with a man, though she does appreciate those real-time snaps Jimmy described because they help her gauge whether her virtual partner is still turned on as they go, “not just faking it.”
That affirmation, she said, is sexy, so don’t feel nervous about putting yourself out there if your partner is into it. What matters more than lighting, poses, props, or costumes is how confident and content with the photos you are. To that end, we’ll leave you with a final piece of advice from Guild: “Just have fun and enjoy the experience.”