We were gifted a book a while ago and I finally got around to read it! It's Sensual Nude by Andreas Jorns and it's a great introduction to black and white nude photography and you get to tag along on his journey for a while.
The book both takes a look at the technical side of photography and has EXIF data next to every shot, explains light, poses and retouch, but mostly it focuses on how to communicate and how to make your model comfortable.
Personally black and white photography probably is the one I love most. It emphasizes shapes instead of all the differences in all sorts of weird colours. It removes the trends of time, the fashion of the year and the flavour of the month and makes the images a bit more timeless.
This book is the flaming opposite of the one recently exposed to a shitstorm because it was about How to get Models to sleep with you, because it takes an incredibly respectful approach, that should be natural to everybody. I love that part about the book, because it underlines the professionalism and the mindset behind having a great nude shoot.
For Andreas both the affinity for black and white photography and taking pictures of people while they're (mostly) undressed are concious choices and the removal of clothes is just another removal of distraction like the colour is stripped from a shot to really focus on the subject.
His attitude towards models is (freely summed up):
Models are humans and should be treated as such, when in doubt you should be positive, professional and make sure everybody on your set is ok.
If this sounds like common sense to you, believe me, not every photographer is concerned with this too much. Especially the professional and positive attitude often lacks, when you have a grumpy perfectionist on set that didn't get a shot and then feels like they're not doing their job, shifting the blame on everybody else. During a shoot there is no time for that and especially no place for dragging everybody down.
One of the things I really liked is that a couple of interviews with models were included, that basically answered the same questions in their unique way. It adds a lot to the book to understand why they got into modelling or why they wanted to stand in front of the camera and hear of their positive and negative experiences.
Also other photographers and sources are quoted and it's really in the spirit of the blogging culture to give credit and to add references, which is a big plus.
The Technical Parts
Light has a big emphasis in the book and the light sources are described very frequently. Even when a lot of it is natural light in a hotel room or an apartment, the author spends time on explaining how far the window was away, how the curtain was modeled to highlight certain parts of the model and constantly encourages to experiment and try to adjust the possibilities you have to make your photography better.
The retouch part is not very elaborate, because mostly the image should come as much straight from the camera as possible. The author even suggests to switch your display to black / white (or the picture style, if you prefer) in order to focus on the light and exposure better.
What I liked the most about the technical explanations was that there were a lot of pictures illustrating different light setups or crops with the same model, so you can see how the picture changes with the light hitting the body in different degrees or a detailed walk-through of the editing. This stuff is really so much better than to see a couple of unrelated pictures explaining this.
It's so much better to show just one component change instead of having a different person and location at the same time.
The book is absolutely worth its price. If this wasn't one of the authors first books, this would likely have a different price tag, but you can see on most pages that he's trying to make it worth your while!
The typography has a perfect line length and leaves space for plenty of images next to it.
The tone is light hearted and easy to read. The only thing I didn't like along the way was that it was a little too full of sayings and phrases, but it wasn't overly distracting.
Where to buy?
Note: It's in German ;)