**Disclaimer: While the images in this post are very tasteful, they’re probably NSFW (Not Safe For Work) due to partial nudity.**
Lately, I’ve had a number of maternity sessions, including a few semi-nude maternity shoots. I’m asked about these sessions frequently, though not everyone decides to do one. I thought I’d take the time to outline some questions to ask of yourself and your photographer before deciding to book a semi-nude maternity session. This coming Friday, I’ll continue with more information on this topic, with suggestions on how to prepare for a semi-nude maternity session.
Before I dive in, let’s clarify what “semi-nude” means. Semi-nude photography involves tasteful photos of subjects in little to no clothing or covering, typically posing in ways that may fully or partially expose the breasts, but that generally do not reveal all. While the subject may be fully nude for the poses, in the photos there is no explicit or “full-frontal” nudity.
So would you want to do a semi-nude photography session? Ask yourself these questions first….
1. Do I actually want to be nude?
First things first, you should know your comfort zone when it comes to your body. Maternity photos should be beautiful, and semi-nude maternity photos in particular can be a great way to celebrate the female form. But these photos are also about celebrating YOU. Would semi-nude photos represent a part of your personality, or is it just an art form you can appreciate?
While the pregnant body is beautiful, being pregnant doesn’t necessarily alter your closely-held personal feelings about your appearance. Some women feel more self-conscious about their bodies when they’re pregnant, and that’s perfectly fine and normal. Don’t try to force yourself into doing something you think you should do, just because you can appreciate its beauty when someone else does it. Semi-nude maternity photos can be an empowering and uplifting experience for many women, but a fully-clothed maternity session can be too. Especially if you have a photographer who knows how to make you feel comfortable, and look great.
Remember that you can always go for something in-between. Many of my clients like to have a several different, fully-clothed looks, and a few shots with an open top, or negligee for something a little sexier – while still having everything “covered up.” Be very clear with your photographer about what you want, and the level of undress that you’re comfortable with.
Here are some related questions to ask yourself: Would you be comfortable being nude in front of another person, even if they’re a professional? How would you feel looking at pictures of your naked body? Who else will be seeing the photos when they’re done – are they for you and your partner, or would you want to show them to your family and friends as well? How are you intending to display them, and who will be able to see them? Ask yourself these questions, and be very honest with yourself.
2. Has your photographer done a semi-nude photo shoot before?
While first-timers to semi-nude photography can still take great pictures (even I was a beginner once!), experience can make a huge difference in many ways.
A photographer who has done a semi-nude session before knows how light will work on different curves and parts of the body that are normally covered by clothing. They’ll also know the best way to work with draping fabrics, and can utilize certain poses and positions that are more flattering when working with naked bodies.
Most importantly, an experienced photographer (and any assistants) will know how to make you comfortable. This applies to your physical comfort, like keeping you warm, and also your emotional comfort and sense of safety and security. They will never rush you or make you do anything you don’t want to do. Any photographer should be professional, but for shoots involving any degree of nudity, professionalism throughout the entire process should be a given.
Hopefully, your photographer will have a portfolio with several examples of their work. Even if they don’t have particularly “showy” photos displayed, you’ll probably be able to figure out the ones that were part of a semi-nude session based on the types of shots, poses, and clothing (or lack thereof). The set in this blog post is a good example. Each series of “scenes” has multiple shots with varying degrees of nudity.
3. Where will the shoot take place?
Some photographers rent or share their studio space, so you’ll want to know beforehand if there is any possibility of other people, even accidentally, walking in on your session. Be sure to ask about outside access to these spaces – can the doors be locked, will any windows be covered, etc.
Doing a semi-nude photo shoot in your own home is also a possibility, though your home’s style and natural lighting should be taken into account. Most photographers won’t be able to travel with all of the necessary lighting equipment needed to set up studio conditions in a house. Some looks might be impossible to recreate in these different spaces. If you really want the comfort of your own home for your session, be sure to discuss the different looks your photographer will be able to shoot in that space. You may need to set up a walk-through beforehand, or send photos of your home.
A private studio will have all the photographer’s equipment and can provide the maximum amount of privacy for a semi-nude shoot. It will also ensure that you don’t have to pay any travel fees to your photographer, as you would if you shot in-home. My studio is located on a lot I own, is set back from the road and surrounded by an 8 foot locking fence so there is no chance of being interrupted by accident.
4. Who will be in the room?
Ask your photographer beforehand if they have any assistants who will be in the room with you. You do NOT want to be surprised to discover that you’re going to be undressing for two or three people instead of just one.
If gender is an issue for you, be sure to ask. It’s completely ok if you don’t want to undress in front of a male assistant. Ask your photographer if they might have a female available. If not, ask if you could bring a friend you feel comfortable with who could perform some of those assisting duties.
Even if no assistants are needed, you can still ask if you’re allowed to bring your partner or a friend with you, especially if it will make you feel more at ease. Many photographers will appreciate you checking on this beforehand, and not just arriving with an unexpected guest in tow, particularly for smaller studios.
5. Will the photos include touch-ups or editing?
Most professional photographers provide some degree of photo editing for any or all of their shoots, mostly to fix minor things like fly-away hairs, adjust lighting or shadows, and convert images into black and white. For semi-nude photography, these edits can be a little more intensive, to do things like smooth out skin tones and remove blemishes. Clarify the extent of these edits with your photographer and spell out any particular requests you may have, like removing stretch marks.
Keep in mind that most photographers only provide touch-ups, and not extreme edits like reducing the size of your thighs. By talking with your photographer in advance about any areas you’re less fond of, they can pose and style you in ways that provide cover for or draw attention away from those areas, limiting the chance that you may feel the need for more detailed editing.
Depending on your photographer, and the extent to which you’re requesting edits, this may incur an additional cost. My photo sessions for maternity include what I call “beauty editing” which is a more extensive editing than what is typically offered for a portrait session. I am almost never asked to do additional edits beyond these as my clients like the quality and appreciate that the edits are not overdone.
If you have any questions about maternity photos, whether fully-clothed or not, please feel free to drop me a line at info(AT)miettephotography.com. Come back Friday for more info about how to prepare for a semi-nude maternity session!