Glamour Shots

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Glamour shots are sexy, sultry photos that may or may not include nude shots. The pin-up girls of the 1940s were the first subjects of glamour shots.

Glamour shots are suggestive and erotic but not explicitly pornographic. True glamour shots produce an air of romance and sexiness without crossing the boundaries of good taste.

Equipment for Taking Glamour Shots
A professional glamour photographer may have a studio filled with expensive cameras, backdrops and props. Keep in mind that beautiful glamour shots can be achieved without such equipment. In fact, a glamour photographer
may prefer to work outside the studio with a minimum of equipment. The exotic locations freely available in nature (such as the sands of Jamaica or the Amazon rainforests) may provide a beautiful background for many glamour shots.

For the amateur glamour photographer, a good quality digital camera with adjustable light settings is sufficient for taking glamour shots.

Vertical Glamour Shots

Since the 1940s, glamour shot subjects are more often photographed with the camera held vertically rather than horizontally. A quick examination of glamour shots in today's advertising reveals how this trend persists today.

Because people are accustomed to seeing horizontal pictures, they tend to associate the horizontal variety with their everyday family snapshots. Taking vertical glamour shots simply means that the photographer turns the camera on its side to take the shot. While professional glamour photographers consider this to be a simple technique, amateur photographers often feel uncomfortable turning the camera.

When glamour shots are taken vertically, the glamour photographer can add a few unique dynamics to his shots.

Vertical pictures grab the viewer's attention because they're out of the ordinary, adding a daring, dynamic element to the picture. Similarly, taking glamour shots vertically reduces the wasted space on either side of the model, so she (or he) immediately catches the viewer’s eye and isn’t lost in the background.

The Importance of Backgrounds

A glamour photographer handles backgrounds with care because glamour shots are focused on the model, not the background. Cluttered, busy backgrounds detract from the allure and sultry mystery of the model. Plain backgrounds are more appropriate for glamour shots.

Sometimes a glamour photographer will use a background to frame glamour shots. Posing the model in a door frame or archway provides opportunities for intriguing poses.

When choosing a background, a glamour photographer must bear in mind the model's clothing. In general, background colors should contrast with the model's clothes. Avoid backgrounds with similar colors or colors that clash jarringly with the model’s clothing.

While they aren't essential, props can be put to good use in a glamour shot. The props should add to glamour shots without drawing attention away from the model. For example, a bikini-clad model at the beach might use a spear-gun or surfboard as a prop, while such props would be out of place in a shoot at a swimming pool.

Sometimes large props can double as framing tools or backgrounds. In the example given above, a surfboard placed upright in the sand might provide a background for the model.

Essentially, any prop is useable as long as it adds to the photo's story. Even props that seem out of place can work in glamour shots. A single rose in glamour shots of a leather-clad motorcyclist could make a statement about the sultry, "rough and ready" biker the model portrays.

Props that overpower the model, such as a number of flowering bushes, should be avoided in glamour shots to eliminate distractions.

Glamour Shots and Lighting
Photographers must be cautious when choosing the lighting for their glamour shots. While the right lighting can give glamour shots an air of romance and mystery, the wrong lighting can completely ruin the feel of a photo. A play of shadows across the model's face may provide either an air of mystery or a blurred face depending on the time of day the photo is taken.

A digital camera's lighting settings can be a powerful aid to glamour photographers. Use different light settings for the same pose: compare them to find out which setting works best for the desired effect under specific conditions.

Posing Glamour Models
Posing glamour shots takes practice, like any other form of photography. Elements of basic composition are as important to the glamour photographer as they are to other photographers.

Shooting models along imaginary diagonal lines that extend from opposite corners of the photo can produce dynamic glamour shots. Experiment with shooting the model from different directions. A slight turn of the head often makes the difference between average and exceptional glamour shots.

Also, a photographer with an intimate knowledge of how the human body extends and moves will be able to more effectively capture different poses. For example, the glamour photographer who is aware of the S shape of the human spine or how individual joints bend can take advantage of more dynamic poses.

Think for instance of the 1940s pin-up models who hyper-extended their backs to emphasize this “S” shape. This intensified pose of the back not only draws the viewer’s eye to the voluptuous curves of the model, but also adds a sense of movement, bounce and vitality to it.

Inspiring Your Model
If the photographer is trying to capture a specific mood (such as sultry, angry, morose or ecstatic), he may have to inspire his model with words to get her (or him) in the right state of mind to express the specific mood. Think of the sexy poses in lingerie ads or the intense stares in a glamour layout. To get the models to be inspired with these feelings (so they can express them in their demeanor), a photographer needs to be adept at inspiring emotion and drawing a feeling out of his models.

Eyes and Smile
When shooting glamour shots, focus on the eyes. Auto focus cameras tend to focus on the nose or chin, so if you're shooting with such a camera, be sure to accommodate appropriately. By making the eyes the main focus of glamour shots, a photographer will capture the most expressive features of his model’s face.

Most glamour shots feature smiling models. The "ideal" glamour shots capture the smile without showing the teeth. Instead, the mouth's corners and the eyes capture the smile.

However, not all glamour shots feature smiling subjects. More serious and intense shots tend to have pointed stares with the mouth betraying nothing.

Hair and Make-up
For most glamour shots, make-up and hair styles should look as natural as possible. Rather than becoming the focus of glamour shots, hair and make-up should be a part of the whole.

Exceptions occur when the goal of glamour photographers is to reproduce a specific era or feel. A shoot capturing the big hair and exaggerated make-up of eighties pop stars obviously needs a specific type of make-up, as do glamour shots paying tribute to 1940s pin-up stars.

As you're taking your photos, remember that glamour shots are sexy, romantic photos intended to titillate without being pornographic. Experiment with lighting, backgrounds and clothing colors to alter the effects of your glamour photos.*