Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

Glamour is a photographic genre that has its roots in the pin-up or “cheesecake” photography of the 1940’s. Over time it has evolved. While early glamour photography was studio bound and many photographers still prefer that style, it doesn’t mean your photographs can’t include some of the model’s surrounding environment.

At one end of the spectrum there’s boudoir photography which is practiced by many portrait photographers and includes the kind of sexy photographs that wives and girlfriends give their significant others for Valentines Day. On the other hand, there is nude photography that varies from explicit to fine art nudes. In between there are photographs of models posing in lingerie or the so-called “implied” nude image where the model is naked but not nude. Deciphering the nuances sometimes means that you’re dancing on the razor edge between portrait or figure photography genres but as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Any successful glamour photography can include most of the following elements.

Sexiness. Glamour photography focuses on the depiction of a subject with a strong emphasis on sensuality and trends today lean toward a more natural look at the same time.

Nudity: Not always. There are many ways to portray sensuality, sometime with nudity, partial nudity, or no nudity. Much depends on the subject and pose, including the use of “implied nudity” where the model is actually nude, but because of the pose and where she places her hands is not fully, uncovered naked in the photograph.

Technique: In pursuit of the ultimate glamour image photographers use make-up, camera and lighting techniques to produce an appealing and sometimes romanticized vision of the model. While some photographers prefer gritty realism, put me in the idealized camp.

Sharp focus or not? Some glamour photographers such as the late Peter Gowland – preferred crisply rendered images. Others, like me, like to add touch of softness and retouching to the image in the digital darkroom.

Subject: Casting the right subject and having rapport with her helps create the uniquely collaborative effort involved in glamour photography. She must be comfortable being photographed naked or nearly so and it’s the photographer’s job to make sure the subject is relaxed.  It will make the session go smoothly and let both of you create the best possible glamour images.

Joe is author of “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography” the first book in a trilogy on portrait and glamour photography from Amherst Media. It’s available on


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