Sometimes, it takes a job to nudge sensuality back into your bedroom. Take the matter of capturing nudes. What better model than your partner? When you treat nude photography as an assignment, you get to explore the sensual side of your partner that you long ignored. It’s the visual sensual massage doing the trick and bringing the couple together.

I realised this the hard way. Many moons ago, I wanted to be safe, but protection was ruining my performance. No, I am not talking about the ubiquitous condom, but the police ban on nude photo sessions. Which is what prompted me to explore the real estate of the flesh at a farmhouse outside Bangalore (before it became Bengaluru).

I wasn’t the only one. The moment I heard of a nude photography workshop, I signed up, and so did two dozen other shutter-happy folks. Most photographers in this genre don’t grow beyond the ‘shoot a babe in multiple poses’ frame. All they were looking for were hot women they could see with their clothes off, and some images to capture their nudity for posterity.

I wanted to push the envelope. But my instructor stuck to the straight and narrow. The first half of the day was consumed by theories, and the history of nude photography. The wait only grew longer and painful as the tutor started showing his own nudes. He explained to us about light and shadow, and how we should begin by photographing our partner, because finding a willing model would be hard to come by, and also cost a bomb.

The clock continued to tick. It was 4pm and no sign of practicals. Finally, the class got over, and we were asked to explore the decrepit farmhouse and its unkempt gardens while arrangements were made for the steamy photo session. After an hour, the class began, with only one person being allowed to go inside the room to take the shots. Finally, it was my turn. All this while, I was wondering how I should set the light and instruct the model. But the moment I took the stairs and stepped inside the room, I was blind, and left speechless.

The room was dark, dingy, and quiet as the forest. There was a marker. I had to stand ten feet away from the model to take my shot. A voice tells me to look to my right. I do. And there was a girl in the buff, save for a pink sarong covering her love triangle. With her face away from me, and her body illuminated by one light source against a blue-smoky background, I was straining my eyes to see more, but couldn’t.

Before I could soak it all in one breath, I heard a voice telling me to hurry up as I only have a minute and three shots. All the passion and emotion I felt a moment earlier rushed out the window, and a steady camera is soon pointed at the model who is already instructed on how to pose for me. I had no room to play with light and shadow. All I had to do was capture the composition, lighting and poise that the instructor had set for me. And I do. Without emotion. Three different poses. Three different shots. No longer did my basic instincts rule supreme, because I had to do the job double quick… there were many more anxious souls waiting to enter the room.

Today, I don’t have to go through any of that. My wife is my subject. After every session (photography, that is), I turn the images into black and white in Photoshop. And suddenly, my model comes alive in those visuals… she has a personality of her own and is not afraid of playing with the camera. My work feels like an ongoing experiment, a play with the visual possibilities of light and composition. Subtle and functional. Just providing a special moody atmosphere or making parts of the body stand on its own. And the same approach gets translated in bed. My wife loses her inhibitions and discovers a side to her she didn’t know existed. And chemistry happens. It’s not even conscious. It
just happens.

Agreed, nude photography is the most intimate and difficult style to master (and so is the bedroom). But using photography as a prop, you could spice up your love life, and take your relationship to the next level: becoming comfortable with each other in your own skin. Here are a few tips to
get started…

1. Take pictures of yourself using a self-timer and tripod, while your partner plays the spectator. While you are exploring different camera angles and shots, blood is rushing through their veins. Call it foreplay of sorts.

2. Now it’s time for your partner to model for you. And this time, it’s your time to stand up
to attention.

3. You don’t always have to capture the face or the most obvious body parts for nude photography. In fact, even silhouettes, shadows, or just sections of these body parts will make your work aesthetic and stand out. Hide your partner’s face with a veil or a shawl creatively and showcase the good and hide the not-so-good side. Call it creative camouflage. They will value your sensibility, and this should translate to some great action in bed.

4. Lighting is key to everything. And nothing like natural lighting. For example, your subject lying on a white bed sheet with sunlight streaming in from the window is the best way to make your photographs aesthetic and ‘wow’. That this could translate into late afternoon ‘pow-wow’ sex should only make you more ready for the day assignment.

5. In its purest form, nude photography is not supposed to be an exercise in pornography. But in your case, it is. No need to be apologetic. Just go ahead.

6. Wondering how to get your partner to pose? Just go to stock photography websites like Getty Images or Shutter Stock and see the other snappers at work. That should inspire you enough to come up with your own. Or replicate them. All’s fair in love, war, and capturing nudes.

Statutory warning: Remember to transfer all the photos from your phone/camera into an encrypted external hard drive that is out of bounds. You don’t want it to end up on some porn site, ending your relationship in one fell swoop. And remember the password; otherwise those images will not even be accessible to you.