Naturist Photography

Michele Wanke
topless women

Naturist photography is a genre that has not been embraced by society nearly as much as traditional landscape, portrait or fashion photography. However, that should not deter you from pursuing a career as a naturalist photographer. If you appreciate the human form and desire to document it in unique ways, then nude photography might be the niche you’ve been looking for.

Principles of Naturist Photography

Naturist photography is rooted in naturism, not pornography. While many lump these together since both feature nudes, the two genres are quite different. Naturist photography focuses on documenting individuals who shun clothing and prefer to live life au naturel. These advocates of social nudity are by no means subjects of pornography, which is a genre that features sexually explicit images intended to cause physical arousal. Taking pictures of naturists requires a different set of skills and yields completely different results than pornography.

Naturist Photography Goal

The goal of a naturist photographer is to capture nude subjects in everyday situations. What’s more, the images should reflect a respect and admiration for the human body in all its glory, regardless of shape, size or color. This is easier to accomplish if you shoot exclusively in naturist communities. These secluded resorts embrace nudity and make it legal to exist without the stares and criticism that come with this controversial lifestyle.

Tips for Taking Natural Shots

Clothing optional facilities are located around the world, which gives up-and-coming naturist photographers ample opportunity to hone their craft. When you are first breaking into the business, it’s a good idea to obtain permission to photograph at a nude resort. After all, naturist photography focuses on candid shots, not posed portraits. Being able to capture nudes playing volleyball, swimming, cooking, reading or taking part in other everyday tasks is preferable to gathering naked subjects for arranged group shots.

Other tips to consider when shooting nudes at work and play include:

Get Permission

Budding photographers should never leave home without photo release forms. These written permission slips don’t have to be elaborate, as long as they contain basic information about copyright laws. Whether or not you are shooting on public property, it’s a good idea to obtain permission from nude subjects with one of these forms. This will make it easier for your to notify photo subjects should your images be approved for publication. It will also help you start a contact list should you desire to use the same subjects for a future session.

Be Creative

Whereas nude beaches and naturism facilities offer the widest selection of models, there might be times when you want to stage a shoot at non-naturist environments. For example, world-famous naturist photographer Leif Heilberg is known for taking pictures of nude females at unique locales, ranging from the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal, Canada to the Victoria Railway Station in Melbourne, Australia and in front of City Hall in San Francisco, California. This type of bold photo shoots require quick thinking and even faster reflexes since you could be approached by authorities who want to confiscate your images and potentially cite you for being a public nuisance.

Get the Right Equipment

Most naturist photos are taken outdoors, which means you should be adept at using natural light rather than artificial sources. You'll want to invest in reflectors and upscale tripods that can withstand inclement weather and a variety of different shooting conditions. In addition, you should consider purchasing a photo vest. Higher quality vests feature 20 or more pockets that range in size, but typically feature large ones for lenses and smaller ones for extra batteries, lens cloths and bungee cords.

Making Money from Naturist Photos

There is a small demand for naturist photos; however, you can still make a profit from your passion by selling your best work to online stock photo agencies, such as Other sources include naturist photography catalogs, brochures and flyers. These outlets are always on the lookout for unique naturist shots that depict the lifestyle in a positive and inviting way. You may also want to check out The Naturist Society website for possible job openings for photographers and writers for their quarterly magazine.

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Naturist Photography