"I think all of us have buried in us a secret desire to see ourselves (and our loved ones) in an erotic and artistic light in photos."
Not all of us have a partner to take photos for us or are brave enough to have someone else take them for us, so there are alternatives for those wanting something more than a hand held phone pic of themselves in lingerie, nude or in the act of self-love. While it is fun to be photographed in different states of undress by someone else or to be the one behind the camera, it is also fun to do this solo.
First off you need a camera. For the sake of this lesson, I am using a digital camera. You will want some kind of software to edit the photos after the shoot, if you do not already have some and a tripod, a reflector, and any props you want to add. If you do not have a tripod, you can improvise using a bean bag and a table or something similar. A DSLR is ideal, but a regular point and shoot can work too.
Lighting is everything in photography, so you will want something to set the mood right and captures as much or as little as you want to show. Natural light is usually the best, so that means you will want to shoot during the daytime, preferably near as large and bright a window(s), as you have available. If you are a more advanced user, you can use or add a flash too. But for now let’s just use the KISS method (Keep it Simple Stupid). If you live in a private more rural area, you can certainly do this outdoors too.
As a photographer, many of my best portraits were done using simple natural lighting from a window. This is often the best type of light you can have. It gives a soft and romantic feel, preserves some shadows, texture and allows hand held shutter speeds.
You can experiment using side lighting, back lighting, clam shell lighting, etc. If you want to fill in the shadows you can use a reflector. For those newbies out there, you can use one of those foldable foil car windshield shades, a big white foam-core board from a craft store or make your own putting foil or white reflective material on a piece of cardboard. If the light is too harsh, you can put a semi sheer curtain or sheet over the window to soften up the light. If you brainstorm, you can find all kinds of household items that can be used as light modifiers. Want light patterns on your body? Put a plant between the light and your body and see the shadows it creates. You can do the same with a fishbowl full of water, some sticks, honeycomb light covers, a cooling rack from the kitchen and the like. Window blinds do wonders to emphasize curves and set a mood. Also, mirrors can be very useful, not just as reflectors, but within the image showing two sides of the same person, a reflective image of a body part(s) or whatever else your mind can come up with.
Ok, I don't want to get too technical. Some of my cameras have an infrared remote control, so you can click the shutter, which is ideal, and they are pretty cheap to get if you camera is compatible. Otherwise, most cameras have a timer, so you can set it to go off after 2-12 seconds from pressing the shutter. The remote allows instant or delayed shutter response. This gives you a chance to frame the shot from a tripod, check the focus and exposure press the shutter and get your body in position for the photos. It is slightly more hit or miss. You will have to check that the focus is where you want it to be, because you are not in the shot at the time of setting the exposure. You can always put an object or stuffed animal in the intended spot, focus on it and swap it out with yourself after pressing the shutter (brilliant, I just thought of that, but never actually tried it). The focus will greatly depend on the focal length and type of lens you are using. A wider angle will keep you in focus at various distances, but a 50mm+ lens is going to have a shallower depth of field. You will have to try different poses and many different exposures to get the look you are hoping for, but it’s a fun process, when you get into it. The great thing about digital photography is that you can learn, so much faster having immediate results and you don't have to worry about taking risqué photos to some creepy photo-mat guy afterwards.
If you have never done this before, it is very much a trial and error process. You have to just experiment and see what poses look best, what light positions, focal lengths etc. and so on. If you are standing near a window you can place your reflector at the opposite side, from below or even above, depending on how you want to light your scene. A 45 degree angle from the facing direction is ideal, but not set in stone. A reflector isn't required either, but is just another option to enhance your photography.
From there you can upload your pictures to your software of choice and edit as needed. Delete the bad ones, rate the keepers 1-5 (keepers will only be 4-5 though) and edit exposure to taste, crop as needed and experiment with the various enhancements available to you. You can make them Black/white, soft focus, sepia and all kinds of limitless possibilities. If you don't have photo editing software, a great program to get started on is Picasa 3 and best of all, it is FREE and easy to upload to or email pictures, if you need to. There are more advanced programs like Lightroom from Adobe, but they are geared towards more advanced photographers and professionals. For the novice, Picasa 3 can do quite a bit and save a lot of time.
Most programs have a feature to soften the focus. This gives a romantic, glowing quality to photos and is similar to what Playboy does (now they airbrush, but I digress). It's a great way to cover up imperfections like freckles, stretch marks and blemishes or to blur distracting backgrounds. Alternatively, you can use a sheer stocking and stretch it over the lens to get a similar effect. Secure it with a rubber band. If you have a clear UV type filter over your lens you can smudge it with a thin layer of Vaseline, but this is not something I would do.
If you get brave enough and want to share your work, you can join another free photo sharing site like Flickr, which is kind of a social site for photographers. There are groups you can join to learn the basics of photography or even your brand specific model. There are many other sites you could use as well, if you chose to go that route.
Photography is a lot of fun and even more fun without any clothes on. The human body is beautiful and everyone is somewhat unique. You don't have to be a supermodel to look good or enjoy it either, but I think all of us have buried in us a secret desire to see ourselves (and our loved ones) in an erotic and artistic light in photos. If you don't like the results, you can always delete them and they are gone forever and at least you tried and had fun in the process. Personally, I find it very arousing taking self nude and erotic photos. I enjoy photographing others too, but I am often too wrapped up in the technical aspects, to really enjoy the moment as much as when I am shooting solo.