Fine Art Figure Photography

Charlotte Gerber
Is figure photography for you?

Fine art figure photography is a type of photography where the subject is a model. There may be other elements in the photograph, but the human body is the focal point. Fine art figure photographers are always in demand; their photos are often seen in art galleries and upscale businesses.

What is Fine Art Figure Photography?

Fine art figure photography is often referred to as nude photography, though the photographs are not always of entirely nude bodies. A fine art photographer may take photos of specific body parts, such as the feet, the muscles on an arm, or a side view of a face. Fine art photographs are not sexually explicit photographs that would be seen in a skin magazine. Those photos are referred to as erotic photography. Instead, these photographs strive to show the beauty in the human body and rarely even show the faces of the subjects.

Subjects in figure photography are a study of the physical structure of a human. They are not portraits, but rather a composition. Bodies in these photographs are often shot using light extremes (very dark or very light) so as to highlight a specific part of the body. Often times the bodies are oiled to show subtleties in texture and form.

Learn Figure Photography

Even amateur photographers may master the art of photographing the human body. Though it may be easier to master the basics of photography before attempting this form of photography, anyone can learn it. The hardest part for most new photographers is getting over the embarrassment of photographing nude individuals. Most fine art models have already worked in the field and are used to being a subject for artists, usually through their work at local colleges.

If you'd like to take classes in fine art figure photography, many colleges offer it to their art students, as well as other interested photographers. The cost varies, depending upon the number of hours and the number of weeks it is taught. A typical class will cover the basics of photography and will eventually move towards working with live models. This will give interested photographers a chance to learn the techniques necessary to excel in this art form.

Finding Fine Art Models

Many photographers find their body models through local colleges and through ads in the newspaper. Once you've established yourself as a professional photographer, finding models won't be difficult. Models will speak highly of those photographers who have a professional demeanor.

Developing Fine Art Photographs

For most individuals who work in this field of photography, there are really only two options in developing the photos: either use a digital camera to take the pictures or develop the photos themselves. Many retail camera businesses will not develop nude photos and they may even destroy them. For those pursuing this line of work it is best to set up their own photo studio, then process or develop their own photographs to avoid prying eyes. Even the most skilled professional photographer would have trouble developing nude photographs at a Wal-Mart.

Selling Fine Art Photographs

There has always been a market for fine art photographs, beginning with the earliest daguerreotypes. While the earliest photographs may have been a little risqué, ones taken today often show great skill and are not considered "cheesecake photos."

There are many stock photo sites that will accept fine art photographs, especially those that focus on specific parts of the body. Photos that feature muscles especially can be sold to sports and health businesses. Many people are also collectors of fine art photographs of women.

Evaluating Your Income Potential

Many photographers dabble in selling fine art photographs to supplement their income from other types of photos. It is difficult to make a living by just selling these types of photos. However, if you become recognized as an exceptional photographer in this genre, there will be plenty of work sent your way.

Fine Art Figure Photography