It’s one of my most favorite sayings in the photography world. “Do you know the most important feature or quality on any camera? It’s the part of the camera that sits just a few inches behind the viewfinder… your brain.”
Most people think that you have to go out and spend thousands of dollars to get the kind of equipment needed to take good photos. Nothing could be further from the truth. People often ask me, “Michael, what is the best camera for me?” My answer is always the same: “The one you have with you.”
As a professional photographer, I own literally thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment. Do you know which camera I use the most? My cell phone. (Obviously not for my professional work.) I take literally thousands of photos using my cell phone… because it is always at my fingertips. Whenever we go out, whether it be for a hike, or out to dinner… I’m not going to pack my big heavy SLR camera with me. (I actually did take it hiking with me once, when we hiked up South Sister in Central Oregon; I nearly left it on the side of the trail it was so heavy after the first couple of miles.) Our cell phones take decent photos, and let’s face it… most of our photos never go anywhere but on social media anyway, so any resolution problems that might come up during printing really are not an issue.
On the flip side of this… if you decide to go out and spend $20k on equipment, you’ve got a hell of a learning curve coming before you will consistently get anything that even resembles a decent photo. SLR cameras are complicated pieces of equipment… some people go through years of schooling and training to fully understand how they work. To get to THIS level of quality, you’re going to need to understand how your camera works to create an image of this quality. How your camera “stops time” to capture the image you want, the way you want it without overexposing or underexposing the frame…
This series of articles is primarily aimed at the average non-monogamous person who is probably looking to improve their photo game for the many varied social networks where we can post sexy photos. This is where I’m here to help you.
Now you might be in the market to improve your camera game. While your cell phone takes decent photos, I will tell you that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get better quality than your average cell phone will get you… but I highly recommend learning the art of directing your “subject” and composing your photos… and learning how light works before you go out and spend a ton of money. You should learn a bit about taking photos, and learning what you need, and what you don’t need in a camera so that you can make sure you’re getting only the equipment you truly need.
I would encourage you to play photographer with whatever you have… whether it’s a point and shoot camera, or your cell phone, the same skills you will learn will directly apply to a more expensive camera down the road.
To demonstrate what I mean, Ellie and I decided to do a whole mini-shoot for you to show you what you can do with just your camera on your cell phone. For reference, I’m using a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which has a pretty decent camera… I did no editing other than to crop out some of the extraneous background elements… something easily done in-camera. So think of this as an example of what YOU can do with stuff you probably already have. We put almost no production into this… to show you that you can put together a fun photo shoot that you both will enjoy. We did have to keep the nudity mild, because we shot a companion video for our Patreon supporters. (no longer available)
As I’m shooting, I’m looking at my scene, and trying to visualize my shot in the camera… with a cell phone this is super easy because what you see is literally what you get. I’m always thinking about the light, how it is hitting her face, how it is hitting her body. Does the light accentuate her beauty? At one point I posed Ellie so she was laying on the bed in a way where the light was hitting her from below her chin. This causes what I call “Monster Lighting”… which is almost never desirable. Light coming from under our chins highlights all of the areas we would rather have in shadow so it makes our faces look puffy and misshapen… almost scary… like when we were kids and we used to hold the flashlight under our faces to make spooky faces… Monster Lighting.
With women, you always want the light to gently caress their skin… soft angles, usually from above their forehead shining down onto their face in gentle angles. If you’re seeing rough ruddy skin, consider a diffuser or check the angle of your lighting. Natural morning or late afternoon lighting is always the best… otherwise a diffuser of some kind is absolutely necessary. I will cover more about lighting in a future issue.
Here’s a little experiment you can try on yourself. Grab your cell phone and quick… Put in selfie mode and hold your camera at outstretched arms at about navel level, and take a selfie…. Then take another holding your camera at arms’ length about 6 inches above eye level. Which one is better? Humans just don’t look amazing from low angles, especially if they are carrying any weight at all. Why is this? Because — and this is your new composition rule you’re going to take with you for the rest of your life — the closer something is to your camera lens, the bigger it will appear. The further away it is from your camera lens the smaller it will appear comparatively. So in our experiment… your belly looks proportionally larger than your head in the upshot photo because it is closer to your camera lens. In your high angle shot, your body and torso look smaller than your head comparatively because they are further from the camera lens. This is the secret to beautiful selfies… but it is also the secret to better photography… it’s all about the angles. Avoid camera angles that are shot from a low angle in regard to the plane of the body. So if they are standing, you may want a ladder. If they are sitting, it’s easier… if they are lying prone on the bed, you have to rethink the plane… you’re shooting from above eye level relative to their position, so you should be standing near their head shooting toward their torso and feet… so their head is closer to the lens. Ellie is a plus sized woman, and we’ve done nothing to hide that… other than light angles and camera angles. I almost never shoot Ellie from a low angle… unless we’re shooting porn… and that is a conversation for another day…
Lastly, you have to think about angles and curves. I’ve talked a lot about shooting women… but if you’re shooting a man, you WANT that harsh light and those angular body planes. My go-to angle for shooting men is a straight-on shot that shows their muscle tones, and their angular bodies. Women are different. Women are curvy and what makes a woman sexy are her curves. Even the most thin of women want those curves, the hips, the breasts… you’d be amazed at what you can do with light and body pose that will make even the skinniest woman have curves… it’s all about popping those hips. Similarly but opposite with plus sized ladies… you want to stretch them out. Avoid shooting them straight on, it compacts their bodies and makes them look wide and blocky. Instead, angle them to the camera to expose those curves. Your woman subject will see those photos and LOVE how you’ve made them look… and the only thing you’ve done is avoided the harsh angles, and embraced the curve…
As you learn more and more about how to get better photos, you’re going to want to share them! Sadly most social media platforms are waging all-out war on our freedoms, so easy-to-use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc are not advisable to use to share your sexy pics. There are a few places you can share your photos that you may not know about.
SAF Social is a great place to share your sexy photos. Think of SAF Social as the ENM version of Facebook… where your sexy photos are not only allowed, they are encouraged! You can post your sexy photos on your own profile where you can control the privacy, or in various groups where you’re encouraged to participate and show off your best work!
Also in that “free to use” category is Fetlife… this is especially inviting if you live life on the kinkier side, although our swinger community is growing there too. For $60 per year you get access to video uploads and more sexy content!
Then there are other premium sites like Kasidie, Quiver, SLS, Adult Friend Finder and SDC to name a few of the more popular ones. They are set up exclusively for the non-monogamy community to meet other like-minded people in their area. They all offer private photo galleries and profiles that let you communicate exactly what you’re looking for to an audience who is of similar interest and who are looking for potential non-monogamous mates themselves.
If you’re really inspired to share your sexy work, you can use photo sites like OnlyFans, DeviantArt, Flickr, Smugmug and others that will let you show off your work and in some cases even make money off of it.