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BEYOND THE DICK PIC: A GUIDE TO TAKING ARTFUL NUDES

Taking nudes allows you to explore your body; to fall in love with what you see reflected on the other side of the flash; to see your body in ecstasy.

By Sherronda J. Brown, Lara Witt, and Da’Shaun Harrison

Humans have appreciated nude art for centuries, as well as nude photography and recordings for as long as film has existed. The sharing of nude photos is far from novel, nor is it particular to any given generation. Modern technology has merely afforded us the ability to participate in the practice with greater access and ease. Now, instead of sitting long hours for sketches and paintings, or exporting files from a digital camera, or waiting for Polaroids to develop, we can simply snap photos with our phones and disseminate them immediately. 

The reasons we choose to share our nakedness with others vary, of course. They can help bolster our confidence, facilitate self-discovery, bring us comfort, and function as avenues of erotic expression, transparency, intimacy, and more between us—whether sent to trusted friends, love interests, committed partners, sexual prospects, or clientele. These photos are not always a preamble to sex, not always sent with the expectation of reciprocity, and sometimes come with no significant meaning attached to them at all. Regardless, it’s not just about sharing your naked form with someone; it’s about sharing yourself with them, too. We truly do believe that taking nudes is an art. It allows you to explore your body; to fall in love with what you see reflected on the other side of the flash; to see your body in ecstasy.

Based on our own experiences and the testimony of others, we know that there exists a disparity within the culture of sending nudes. Namely, the market is oversaturated with badly-composed, derivative, unimaginative dick pics with very little care afforded to the rest of the body or the space around it. 

Even though nudes are fun and affirming, their creation is still a form of labor. It takes time and effort to make them look good. Sharing sexy boudoir photos is a communicative act and it’s important that the person(s) you are sharing them with are able to see that you put forth real effort to create something for their viewing pleasure. It matters, and we can all commit to putting care into this practice, regardless of gender or genitalia. 

We could write an entire dissertation on why certain people are expected to put more effort into photographing ourselves—examining the connections to gender cultivation and the implications thereof; being socialized to offer ourselves up in service/for the pleasure of others while performing for their gaze—but that’s an essay for another time.

RECOMMENDED: The Ritual of Taking Nude Photos For Myself Helped Me Reclaim My Body

Our hope is that we can all stop being restricted by heteronormative ideas of nudity. Gender performance often means that people constricted by the gender performance of traditional masculinity don’t feel comfortable enough to explore esthetically adventurous or pleasing compositions for their nudes. This often results in pictures of erect penises taken from their most advantageous angle with cargo shorts pushed down to the thighs. There are more alluring, interesting, and even arousing possibilities for this to not have to remain the status quo of nudes.

Firstly, we believe that it is necessary to always center enthusiastic consent in the sharing of nudes. Unsolicited photographs of genitalia in anyone’s DMs, text messages, etc. is a form of sexual harassment. Always get someone’s consent before sending these types of photos and communicate clearly when trying to establish or broaden a relationship with someone to include sharing nudity. 

While the following ideas can be utilized by anyone interested in nude photography, we do have a specific demographic in mind. As connoisseurs of nudes, here’s what we want to see people take into account instead of giving us the same, basic dick pics over and over again: 

Set The Mood

Think about what makes you feel sexy. Is it a specific kind of music? Is it the lighting in your room? Is it soft sheets? A self-indulgence routine? A certain pair of underwear? A hot shower and freshly moisturized skin? Being wrapped in a fresh, clean towel? Set the ideal mood for yourself to feel comfortable and sexy. Everyone is different, so do what makes you feel your sexiest and if you don’t know what that is quite yet, give yourself permission to explore and learn more about yourself.   

Background & Foreground 

We cannot stress enough how the setting you are in is just as important as you feeling yourself. Look around and figure out what needs to be tidied up. That pile of clothes on your favorite chair? Throw it into the laundry basket. Vacuum that rug. Get rid of the three mugs and two empty water bottles by your nightstand. You aren’t required to clean your entire space just for a few pics, but do recipients the courtesy of at least removing the trash and clutter from the shot. 

Focus on finding soft, cozy, sexy, comfy things to set the tone. That could be plush cushions, fresh bedsheets, a beautiful blanket. It could be as simple as a well-lit minimalist space with you as the focus. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with what works for you. 

Body Composition & Posing 

You can be a tease here. In fact, nudes do not require you to lay everything bare. Instead, you can highlight your favorite feature(s). Hide your face if it makes you more comfortable. Turn your back. Create movement with your poses with strategic hand placement, flexed muscles, or shifting your weight in between shots. You can adjust the settings on your camera to use shot bursts to snap multiple photos in quick succession. With this, you’re bound to get at least one really good shot. Or, if it takes you a little bit longer to choose which poses work best for you, turn your video on, play with different poses, and then take screenshots from that video for stills. There are so many possibilities to consider. 

Nudes are not only about your genitals. Not good ones, anyway. So focus less on getting the perfect “dick pic” and more on showing off the body that belongs to you. This could require some creative direction; be imaginative. Show off your thighs, show off your stomach—even or especially if you don’t have defined abs—do something with your hands besides gripping your penis, and have fun! 

Photo Credit: Da’Shaun L. Harrison
Light & Shadow

Use your imagination here and think about how you would like for lighting to look on someone’s body in nudes sent to you! For example, natural lighting is excellent. If you don’t have access to it at the time, though, artificial lighting can be just as great. Create a spotlight with lamps; dim your lights if you are going for a more seductive feel; use colored lights if you have them to add some flare. 

Channel old noir films and think about how light falls across people’s faces to bring up the drama, how shadows are used to throw parts of the body into obscurity to create some mystery. Stand next to a bright light and only photograph the shadow of your body that gets cast onto the wall. Yes, especially if there’s an erection you want to feature. There’s a lot of fun and creativity to be explored here. 

RECOMMENDED: Nude Photo Series Explores Boundaries, Vulnerability, and Consent
Angles 

Consider your angles! Your body looks different when shot from above, below, or straight on. We recommend you use your phone’s camera timer and a (makeshift) tripod to achieve angles that aren’t possible to get with using only your arms. Practice your poses in front of the mirror beforehand if you feel a bit unsure of what to do off-hand. Mirrors and reflective surfaces can also offer exciting and creative ways to capture new angles and play with light, composition, and artistry. 

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, explore other people’s nudes for inspiration on creative and alluring angles.

Photo credit: Christopher Marrs
Attitude

There is no one way to be in your nudes. You can be silly, serious, 100 percent sensuous. Your personality is a big facet of your sexiness, you can and should feel free to let that shine through your nudes. You’re also free to explore cosplaying (if that’s something you already love and do) and tapping into another attitude entirely. You can bring out your inner D’Angelo a la the “How Does It Feel” music video. Or make it fun and try to re-create your favorite nude(s) you’ve received. Send a side-by-side back to the person(s) you initially received it from so you can laugh about it together. You can replicate famous works of nude art! The sources of inspiration are endless.

Enhancements 

You are art. Your body is art. As such, there is no reason not to use editing apps to rack focus, add a vignette or lens flare, or even add fun stickers over your intimate parts. There are plenty of filters that will automatically intensify light and shadows or make them more muted, or add a hint of color or gradient, or take the photo to classic black and white. Rotate and/or flip the photo to see which orientation looks more flattering. Play with contrast, saturation, sharpness, exposure, hue, and more. 

Security

Safely securing your nudes and the nudes people share with you is crucial! There isn’t any way to ensure the complete and total safety of digital images sent to someone, but you can at least maximize your digital security by downloading a private vault, locking the photos app on your phone, and leaving your face and other identifiable parts of your body out of the shot (i.e tattoos, birthmarks). Ultimately, though, there is no way to 100% guarantee the security of your nudes once they have been sent. So send them only to someone you trust, or be wise about whichever ones you send to those you don’t.

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