A Guide to Taking Nudes

Words by Ashley Bardhan. Art by Sam Liacos.
Tips and tricks for mastering the art of nude-taking, whether it be for a partner or yourself.

I love sending nudes. There’s something about picking a setting, choosing an angle and creating a mood that’s endlessly  exciting to me–it lets me communicate with my body to others in the exact way I want to. Granted, living during an increasingly dangerous pandemic isn’t the sexiest time, and many people have already felt the unshakeable starvation of loneliness and intimacy. New York-based sex coach Julia Lepiochina has noticed this intimacy bottleneck in her own clientele. “For singles, it is harder to create opportunities for intimacy,” she says. “As for couples, they may struggle to keep intimacy going as stress increases, or as they experience difficulty spending so much time in the same space.”

I have also been having a difficult time satisfying my needs for intimacy. As someone whose primary love language is physical touch, the 20 mile distance between myself and my boyfriend has felt vast in a pandemic.

Luckily, the distance has played to my advantage in other ways. I’m using the time away from my boyfriend to cultivate my most ideally un-embarrassing, boobs-filled ability: taking nudes. I’ve thought about it, and although the road to peak nudes has not been one without its troubles, there are a few key concepts that I revisit that feel empowering when taking nudes and exciting when sending them. In fact, there are five key concepts: 

Wait Until the Mood Is Right (for All Parties)

Lepiochina says that there are different reasons why people send nudes. “Sometimes, we use it as part of our foreplay, to ignite the spark,” she says. “Sometimes, to feel better about ourselves. A picture speaks a thousand words.”

If you’re looking to get into it, establishing consent should always come first. It seems like a no-brainer, but being pressured into sending or receiving nudes happens too often, even between established partners. It’s always good to communicate what you do or don’t want. If you’re hoping to send someone a nude, don’t hesitate to ask. You can try explicitly and directly (“can I sext you?) or more subtly (“I’m trying on a new bra, do you want to see?”). Be sure to honor their boundaries and any limitations they may set. For example, I’m usually not trying to see anyone’s penis during dinner with my family, as much as I may love the person attached to the penis. 

The same goes for asking to receive nudes. Communicate what you want, especially if what you want is specific (“I miss your thighs, can you remind me what they look like?”), but never pressure or shame someone for being unwilling to provide it. When accompanied by clear and honest communication, sending nudes is a great way to explore your sexuality with someone else.

Set a Scene That Makes You Feel Hot

Now that it’s been established that all participating parties are eager and willing, here comes the most fun part–setting a scene. You can make this as low or high maintenance as you want. Since I’ve been sending nudes to just my boyfriend (note: in the nicest way possible, no one I have to impress), I tend to go the low-maintenance route. I often choose a tidy, aesthetically pleasing part of my room as backdrop, or if I’m lying down, I’ll whip out a neutral bedspread and crumple it until it has reached the ideal level of rumpled-but-in-a-sexy-way. 

Both are inoffensive to the eye and don’t detract from the photo’s real focus. When taking nudes in my room, I always keep an eye out for random items that would kill the vibe, like a pile of unfolded clothes or wide-eyed stuffed animals that stare right…into…your…soul.  

If you want to put a bit more effort into creating an atmospheric setting for your nudes, I recommend experimenting with concepts that excite you aesthetically. Lepiochina advises to “start with taking nudes for yourself. Instead of taking your first nude and sending it, have your own photoshoots. Get comfortable with making nudes, learn to play with filters and other photo tools. Make it fun. Create gifs out of it. Use it as an art project before you send it. Not all nudes need to be created the same minute you send them.”

Don’t be afraid to try out different lighting (warm natural light, candle light and colored lights are all personal favorites of mine), concepts (for a while, I only sent nudes that involved me either eating food or applying it to my body) or camera formats (you can use your phone’s camera, a Polaroid, your MacBook’s Photobooth). Props can be fun too, especially if you don’t know what to do with your hands. Sometimes, all someone wants to see or show is some flowers against their partner’s boobs.  

Decide What You’re Willing To Show

A photo can give you complete control over how much of you is seen and in what way, and that presents an exciting opportunity to explore what parts of your body make you feel hot. Although they are called “nudes,” you don’t necessarily have to be nude to take a good one. Sometimes, nipples under a wet t-shirt can be just as exhilarating as full-frontal.

Of course, unclothed parts are the go-to focuses of many nudes, but there are many other routes you can take. Try taking a photo with your cleavage looking great and your favorite lingerie high on your waist, or a shirtless photo wearing your world-renowned grey sweatpants low on your hips. You can use a small mirror to capture  the small of your back curving down towards your  butt, or lift your shirt just enough to reveal a tantalizing sliver of underboob and nipple. 

There is much debate about faces being a part of a nude photo, but like anything else, it’s completely up to you whether you want to include it. Revenge porn and privacy concerns continue to be huge issues, and how much that concerns you is personal. This is definitely worst-case scenario thinking, but my general rule is don’t include your face in a photo that you’re not OK with a stranger seeing. 

No matter how much or how little you choose to reveal, never feel obligated to photograph something you don’t want to. A good nudes recipient wants to see you feeling confident and comfortable and will be excited to receive any photo of you at all. 

Explore Your Angles

It’s all about angles, baby! Everyone has different ideal angles for nudes, like a sexy fingerprint. Keep in mind that putting a camera low makes something look bigger and placing a camera high makes it look smaller. Holding a camera close to something makes the subject a bit wider and longer, and of course, photographing something from farther away makes it look shorter and thinner. 

For some specific things to try, if you want to take a photo of your butt, try the classic pose of lying on your stomach with the camera aimed over your shoulder at your butt. If you want to make your butt look bigger and rounder, stand in front of a mirror from the side, with the leg farthest from the mirror behind the other while you arch your back. Taking a photo of your butt while sitting down also helps with this. 

Boobs are great in general, but using your arms to squish them up towards the camera can enhance cleavage and make them look plumper. Getting your hand involved in a self-timed dick pic can be nice, and if you have a full-length mirror, you are free to try as many experimental, explicit poses as your heart desires. Sit across from the mirror and open those legs, get on your hands and knees and conjure up memories of having sex from behind, or utilize the mirror’s full-body potential in a sultry standing pose, one leg slightly bent in front of the other to accentuate your curves. 

“Doing your own photoshoot and getting comfy with your own pictures actually can help with body image,” Lepiochina says. “Create pictures you like. Take pictures when you feel comfortable, when you see there is a good moment for a nice nude, and keep it until the opportunity to send it arises. Then, send it to people or the person you feel safe with.”

Send It off Safely

End-to-end encryption is key here. It ensures that the only people who can view your message are you and your recipient. There are plenty of secure apps offering this, such as Telegram and Viber, where you’ll have no problem finding a service that best suits your privacy concerns. Now, keep your mask on so you can go home and take your clothes off, safely and enjoyably.