It’s a total cliché that the most important thing is having fun, but in this case, it’s particularly true. (Photo: Alba Vitta/Stocksy)
Tough Love

A Newbie’s Guide to Taking Sexy Photos Outside

Whether they’re for yourself or for someone else, here are some tips for taking NSFW photos in nature


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Welcome to Tough Love. We’re answering your questions about dating, breakups, and everything in between. Our advice giver is Blair Braverman, dogsled racer and author of Small Game and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Have a question of your own? Write to us at

Lately my boyfriend has been into following influencers who post a certain kind of sporty outdoors pic, i.e. they’re practically naked. Picture your standard sexy photos, but on top of a mountain with wind in their hair. It doesn’t bother me at all, and in fact, I like looking at them too. So for his birthday coming up, I thought I would surprise him by taking some photos like that of myself and giving them to him. However, I don’t have a lot of outdoor experience—or sexy photo experience—and I suspect this is probably more complicated than I’m realizing. How do I find a place where people won’t walk up on me while I’m taking photos? Is there anything else I should be considering?

Sounds like a fun project! I’m sure this will be a dream gift for your boyfriend, and it’s totally doable, although it might take some logistics on your part.

If you can get permission to take photos in a friend’s yard, or some other contained and secluded environment, you won’t need to plan much nature-wise. But if you want to head out on a trail or to a more remote destination, plan as you would for a hike. Tell someone where you’re going, stay on the marked path, and bring water, snacks, bug dope, sunscreen, and a flashlight—especially if you’ll be out in the evening, getting those gorgeous sunset shots. (Plus a power bank, of course; the last thing you want is to run out of battery on your phone!)

Ideally, you could bring a friend along, or even two: one person to take the photos, and another to watch for anyone approaching, so you can have some privacy and also make sure you’re not revealing too much to, say, families with kids who just want to go on a nice picnic. When in doubt, check local nudity laws, just in case. You could consider going somewhere like hot springs or a nude beach, where it’s totally acceptable to be in very little clothing. You might also want to think, in advance, about how explicit you want your photos to be, even if you 100 percent trust your boyfriend to keep things private. If you have any hesitations, remember that you can still look drop-dead sexy while remaining a bit more covered up. It’s all about what makes you feel confident.

As for how to take the photos themselves—well, that’s beyond my expertise, so I reached out to Caleb Thomas, a feminist, body-positive boudoir photographer in Bend, Oregon, who specializes in outdoor shoots. If you’re nervous and could use some coaching, or want your photos to be high-quality keepsakes, you can hire a professional, like him—but he was also more than happy to share some tips for taking photos on your own.

Thomas’s first piece of advice: put your phone on a tripod and set it to videotape in slow motion. (Or, if your friend is filming, tell them to do the same.) Then try a bunch of poses—making sure you get some distance from the camera, so your features aren’t distorted by the wide angle—come back, and stop the tape. “You can go back frame by frame in slow motion, see which images you like, and screenshot them,” Thomas explains. “Slow motion makes the shutter speed a lot slower, so the pictures are sharper and crisper, and you’ll have a whole bunch more options than if you try to use a timer and hurry into position.” These screenshots won’t be quite as crisp as those taken with a selfie timer, but they’ll still look great.

As for posing, Thomas recommends thinking about your posture, keeping your back long and your shoulders slightly down and back. “We want to think in triangles with our arms,” he says, “which will make a nice space around your body. Try putting your hand in your hair, so you have a triangle with your elbow, your hand, and your shoulder. Turn your body to the side a little, like how people stand in choirs.” Lifting one of your heels, or “popping your toes,” is also a good bet, Thomas adds, “because it makes a triangle and it activates your calf, giving you nice lines.”

You can bring a selection of clothing, lingerie, and accessories, but sometimes simpler options look best. One of Thomas’s favorite tricks, particularly for outdoor photos, is to bring a white sheet or slightly-transparent cloth, like a curtain, and drape it around yourself. “Then you don’t have to figure out anything complicated in nature, and you still look really spicy, really beautiful,” he says. “It’s almost a little ethereal.”

It’s a total cliché that the most important thing is having fun, but in this case, it’s particularly true. Don’t be afraid of cracking up laughing, or trying something weird. Those might end up being your favorite shots. After all, you’re gorgeous, you’re sexy, and you’re in a beautiful place, taking pictures for someone you care about. It’s a little silly—most good things are—but it’s wonderful, too. Your mood will shine through in the photos you take, but just as importantly, you’ll be having a good time for you.

Lead Photo: Alba Vitta/Stocksy