Home > non-fiction > True Confessions Of Nude Photography: A K Nicholas

True Confessions Of Nude Photography: A K Nicholas

January 27, 2011

This review also appears on my bigger blog, How Publishing Really Works. Comments there are closed so if you’d like to discuss this book or my review, you have to do it here. Please do!


Learn and Master the Techniques of Nude Photography

Spark Your Creativity with 100 Inspiring Poses

Composition and Visual Pathway

Control Light to Scupt the Figure

Recruit and Interact with Models

Market Your Work

The human body has been an inspiration for artists since before the invention of photography. Naturally, nudes were one of the first subjects of photography as well.

This illustrated how-to guide can be enjoyed by anyone, but is written for two main audiences: the accomplished photographer who wants insight from a peer into the genre of nude photography, and the serious amateur who wants a guided introduction to the field.

The processes are arranged step-by-step. You’ll find more than just a selection of photos and a dissection of each; you’ll see full lighting diagrams as well as a frank discussion of the techniques and pitfalls in the days and weeks leading up to making a nude image. From finding your first nude model to selling your first nude photo, the guide will take you through lighting, posing, and-post processing with Photoshop.

You’ll learn from the author’s twenty years of experience photographing hundreds of nude models.

True Confessions of Nude Photography has fallen foul of the usual problems which trouble most self published books I’ve seen: slapdash punctuation, run-on sentences, jumbled sentences, missing or extra words, and claims which are not be supported by logic. I read just seven of its one hundred and twenty-two pages despite doing my best to be generous: it’s a jerky read made all the more irritating by its frequent repetitions.

I found both its title and the author’s references to “the beauty of the human body” misleading: these terms imply—to me at least—that the book discusses photographing the human body in all its forms; but the only pictures the book contains are of over-skinny, pouting young women. While I can understand that these women might well appeal to the book’s author/photographer, some of the pictures included are quite remarkably unappealing. Some of the poses he’s chosen look extremely uncomfortable; despite this, the two young women who appear together in some of his shots (both of them fit young women, of course) seem very enthusiastic about posing together. I also found some of the advice given on how to find models just a little disturbing: call me prudish, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone to ask young women to pose for them without explaining right from the start that they’ll be expected to strip off their scanties. It reeks of predatory, manipulative behaviour to me, and although that might not be the author’s intention it is a tactic that I find abusive.

If you want to know how to photograph naked people, there have to be better books than this for you to learn from; but if all you want is a poorly-written, poorly-edited book featuring a few competent photos of naked young women, then this is the book for you.

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  1. Ella
    January 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Here’s a timely New York Times article.

    Prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Alcala would approach young women and ask to take their picture as a way to lure them.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/nyregion/27unsolved.html?ref=nyregion&pagewanted=all

  2. January 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    ‘True Confessions’ seems a bit out of place in the title of a how-to. Might lead to confusion as to content. If you get not enough instruction in your how-to, or not enough heavy breathing in your true confessions, somebody’s bound to be disappointed.

  3. February 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I have not read the book, so I cannot comment on its contents. I can, however–and do–raise the possibility that its title may be misleading, and improper English as well. It implies that Nude Photography, a personification, has confessed, in the pages of the book, to at least two, and perhaps more, things. While that is perfectly possible, and literarily quite acceptable–and I don’t doubt that Nude Photography has a lot to get off its chest (pun intended)–the review seems to indicate that such is not the case here.

    The author appears to be attempting to create a mildly titillating title (sorry) for the purpose of attracting the potential buyer’s attention, and perhaps appealing to his/her baser instincts, as well. This is a time-honored strategem, as the author undoubtedly knows, having selected the venerable “Confessions of a(n) [Insert Type of Person, Thing, or Personification Here]” format. In that spirit, I suggest changing the title to something like “Confessions of a Nude Photographer.” The double entendre is, of course, intentional, and has the advantage of being both mildly provocative and, I think, rather humorous.

    Other advantages could proceed naturally from this revision: a comical cover, for example, in which the photographer himself is shown naked, thus introducing something other than the nubile-young-lady body type to the proceedings. The writing itself might, and should really–and may actually–contain an element of levity as well.

    Having not read the book, I feel unqualified to comment further, but I do hope my modest suggestions may prove helpful.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Colonel Farrell

  4. Jenna White
    February 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I own this book and have read every page of it.
    The author tells photographers to have a portfolio that shows what intend to shoot. He says he’s always sure the model has seen the portfolio before booking a shoot.
    In the section on approaching a stranger, at the end of that paragraph, he says that it’s best to let your images speak for themselves rather than trying to describe your work in words. He also says that approaching someone in public is not his preferred method of finding models.
    In the book he talks about making sure the model is comfortable and treated with respect.

  5. John Plummer
    February 19, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I don’t understand why you seem to have a prudish attitude towards this book, but not towards your friend’s book: “Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet”.

    Okay, so it’s a trashy book about a trashy subject. But why the difference in attitude?

  6. February 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    John, that one’s easy to answer.

    Stacia Kane’s book is open, honest and forthright in tone, and I’m pleased to support that sort of attitude. This book seemed sneaky and manipulative in tone, and I really don’t like that at all.

    On top of that, Stacia’s book is well-written and beautifully structured, whereas this one is clumsy and confusing.

    It’s not a case of prudishness at all: just that I recognise good writing when I read it, and honesty too. And while Stacia’s book has both and more besides, this book has neither.

    And yes, before you ask, I have given a couple of my friends’ books negative reviews. They know me too well to expect me to be less than honest about their work.

  7. Allen Parker
    February 22, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I think the subject of both books are just fine. Stacia is a fine writer and most likely is deserving of a good review. I do not know the other author, his writing abilities, or the book, so I am at odds to make a statement about the book itself. I do think the subject of his book needs to be covered.

    I agree with Jane Smith that all body types need to be covered. As a nudist, I can tell you that the human body comes in all shapes and sizes, and that there is beauty in each of them. Having a book that details the process in finding and capturing that beauty is a book I think needs to be written.

    As an odd sort of coincidence, I do have a friend who is a photographer that often works in the nude. The ladies and men he photographs seem more at ease when there is a give and take. But most of his subjects are nudists as well, and this might account for that phenomena.

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