The topless glamour image above was done as part of job a couple years ago using my 1DsII and a Tamron 28-75 zoom. The photo was taken in a narrow hallway, so space was pretty tight. According to the Exif data for that image I still managed to work at 75mm though, which is a very reasonable focal length for glamour.
At a push you could get away with a 50mm lens most of the time, however, be warned that trying to do something like this with a wider focal length could get pretty ugly with unflattering distortion to the model’s body. You definitely don’t want that with glamour or nudes.
The lighting for this glamour image couldn’t be easier because it was simply my Canon 580EX flashgun bounced off a wall behind me and mixed with the natural daylight coming through the windows of the apartment. Although I am a great advocate of doing things the old fashioned way with manual readings it has to be said that modern TTL flash metering is generally very reliable 99% of the time nowadays and in this case it was able to quickly adjust as the outdoor conditions changed.
The off white cream coloured walls helped to remove any coldness from the light and boost the model’s natural tan, which I invariably prefer when shooting nudes and glamour images. A nice warm appearance to the model’s skin looks healthier and also works wonders for hiding many skin defects. Remember the whole point of a glamour image is that it should be attractive.
On a practical level it would have been really awkward to set studio lighting in such a small space, so using a small flash unit like this which automatically balances it’s output against the changing natural light was a wonderful solution. It also shows that you don’t always need a huge selection of complicated lighting to shoot effective and flattering glamour images with models.
I worked on 1/60th at F5.6 to blur the background and still try to maintain reasonable depth of field on the subject. This image was done hand held which was pushing my luck at that shutter speed. The Canon 24-105L I use now would have been a safer bet though because it has built in image stabilisation. A zoom lens definitely makes life easier in small spaces like this for nudes and glamour photography.
N.B It goes without saying that having a professional glamour model will make your shoot much easier.
Edit: Update – if you are interested in learning more about portrait photography using small flash units like the 580EX I used for the shot above check out Phil Steele’s online course.