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Five Tips on Photographing a Model in a Hotel Room (NSFW)

I’ve been following former Sports Illustrated / HBO photographer Anthony Nestes’ transition from sports and entertainment to fashion and glamour photography. He has a unique way of adding simple elements to a scene to help bring the image to life. I took a day trip to Anthony’s home in Flagler Beach, Florida, and spent the day asking him questions that resulted in this article “Five tips on photographing a model in a hotel room.” Shooting this type of location has its challenges; but with Anthony’s basic tips, you can achieve some very different and interesting images.

Tip 1. Do Your Research

Scout the hotels in the area you plan on shooting in. Look for a style of architecture and decor of the rooms that will complement your subject. Pay attention to how the sun affects the light in the room at sunrise, during the day and at sunset. Try to book a room on the south side or the side where the best natural light will come into the room for the time of day you plan on shooting.

Tip 2. Bring Some Small Easy to Carry Props

A sheer white shower curtain works great on a bed or draped over the model. Scarfs, sunglasses or cool-looking jewelry take up very little room in your bag. I had a pair of Olympic swim goggles in my bag for six months until I gave them to Sammi to put on in the hotel shower.

Tip 3. Pack a Small Strobe (like Nikon SB) and a Shoot Through an Umbrella

Ambient light coming in through a window has always been a favorite, but sometimes you need to just fill in with a small amount of artificial light appearing to come in from another direction. After the daylight goes away, the strobe can be handy.

Tip 4. Don’t Forget the Practical Lighting in the Room

Think floor lamp, bedside lamps and ceiling lights. When I walk into a room, one of the first things I do is turn on all of the lights to see if there is something there I want to work with. Those lamps can make a nice background. It will make a warmer light, too, if you shoot with your camera set to daylight white balance.

Tip 5. Use the Furniture and Decor

Some hotels have upscale looks, others can have the look of a trashy roadside motel; it all works when you bring in the right element to complement the wardrobe and model. Whether you are shooting fashion, lingerie, or nude-art photography, it is still up to you to bring the viewer into the image and make it graphic and Interesting. Use chairs, tables, a headboard, curtains and the carpet. They all can have a look to make your image more interesting. Don’t forget the bathroom tiles and mirrors.

**Bonus Tips

Shoot with a fast lens, wide open. A favorite has always been the 70-200mm f/2.8. A fast 50 or 35 can work well, too. Stay away from variable-aperture lenses. These are good for outdoor and travel photos, but not ideal for this style. Don’t be afraid to go to a high ISO when shooting available light 800 is the new 200; keeping your shutter speed at 1/200 sec and above will help keep out-of-focus frames to a minimum.

Have fun finding the right room and model for a great hotel room shoot!

For more information on Anthony visit his website.

*Feature image 2015 Anthony Neste

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