I have been a photographer for most of my life and just recently have entered into the world of adult websites. Always having had a passion for taking a lens to the naked female form, I kept most of those for my private enjoyment.
Part of my duties, working for a medium sized publisher of adult sites, include the scouring of our content database and online suppliers for images that would be useful in the creation of a tour. This is not as easy as you might think and I would like to dedicate this primer to any photographers out there who shoot models for a living. Being involved with the creation of tours has changed the way I shoot. It is my hope that by reading this you will open yourselves to a market you are currently ignoring.
1) Neutral or simple backgrounds
The whole point of lifting a model out of the environment that she was photographed in is to create a custom scene that is germane to the niche that you are trying to sell into. Many times you will see a model that is perfect for your tour but, for the sake of an example, she is standing on a staircase, instead of being in a lush jungle scene. Dropping the hard, contrasting horizontal lines of the steps from behind the model is an arduous task, which will add many hours to the production of the tour.
If I were to set about shooting a model for this tour I would want her on a plain green backdrop as close to the green that my foliage is going to have. This way, I have less of an issue with the antialiasing of the boundary between model and foliage.
2) Eye Contact
Even though is it important to convey a sense of passion between two models it is more important to draw a viewer into the act that is being portrayed. I have gone through thousands of pictures, entire sets sometimes, where the models had their eyes closed or looking at each other the whole time. I even came across one model that looked just off camera in every shot: one of the most uncomfortable sets I ever saw. Eye contact is what brings the viewer into the fantasy that we are selling. The psychology behind the tour is that we want the user to impulse buy. We want to catch his eye, get him interested, get him horny and then ask him for the credit card for the big payoff and the promise of more to come.
Most sites shy away from hardcore content in the tours, some cover it up with cute little stars or glow effects. This is more of a corporate requirement for us, all of our tours have explicit hardcore in them. Using hardcore in a tour is a personal choice and the folks I work for tell me from their experience that a hardcore tour sells better than a softcore one. I don't have data to the contrary.
4) Do NOT under ANY circumstances crop the model
This got stuck in the middle for no reason yet it is the single most important point I can convey. I am the one creating the tour, allow me the freedom to crop the model as I see fit. I have run into absolutely perfect pictures that had to be discarded because of 5 missing toes or a cropped off elbow. It takes very little effort to step back a bit and shoot the whole model or to make sure that there is nothing in front of her that is obscuring her body. This is something that is going to take a while to train to do. When shooting at a hectic pace it is easy to ignore the frame boundary when focusing on face, position, focus and lighting. If your product is hi resolution digital, there should be plenty of crop room there. Make the raw file available to those who want it.
5) Pleasant Disposition
Model disposition is a little more subjective but lets not forget that she needs to be compelling to the viewer. I have seen many shots where the model looked bored silly, angry or just not having a very good time. Take the time to make her comfortable and make the shoot enjoyable. Don't forget that you are the lead man on set, if you are stressed out for whatever reason, that stress will infect the others around you. I have seen many shots where the model looked bored silly, angry or just not having a very good time.
Some personal peeves not necessarily related to tours:
1) Fake cum
I have no idea why people resort to this, it looks fake. Some photographers have used heavy cream, some use this chalky looking stuff that God knows where it's from. Faking cum is about as dishonest as you can get in this biz. Why do you think it's called the "money shot"?
2) Pee is yellow, not clear
Most of this kind of stuff comes from Europe, at least the stuff I have seen. They slide a catheter into the model and keep filling her with water so she can spout on command. If you are going to inject fluids into the model to get the shot just right ("set up for take 13") find a coloring that will look correct and not give the model a bladder infection. Healthy urine should have a pale yellow color. It should not look like tap water.
3) Spanking scenes done by people who have no clue
Improperly done fetishes just drive me to despair. It is a total waste of time to get models together to perform spanking or flogging scenes that do not understand the kink. Anybody who is turned on by such will switch off faster than you can imagine.
In closing I would like to thank you for having invested the time and I hope that your photos will have a wider appeal as a result. I also hope that from now on my job will get easier.