How to get beyond a woman's insecurity about her body? It's easy if you're single. Once she takes her clothes off, say, "Wow!" and ask her to marry you.

This has been an interesting discussion, with some of the responses on-topic and others straying a bit. What often gets confused in discussions like this is the objective behind the work. Are the images to be "nudes" in the classical sense, nudes in the glamour sense, or portraits in which the subject happens to be nude? While this question also seems to stray from Brad's original question, I'll get around to it. Trust me. (lol)

In most cases, I think most photographers who have the objective of doing "classical nudes" book models who fit the classical mold, including all of the societal expectations of a near-perfect body. Posing and lighting is less of an issue here, as there are fewer so-called imperfections that need to be dealt with or "corrected" in some manner. While the genre has certainly been overdone, it never loses its interest, even though the resulting work reflects little of the real character or personality of the model.

Glamour nudes are again about the perceived beauty and sexuality of the model. While near-perfect bodies are common, there's also room for the less-than-perfect body - if the model can project enough sexuality and sensuality so as to make any of the "standard" imperfections moot. Although I've not seen any nudes of her, Tina Turner in her post-prime years is a good example. Even though she was really a bit on the homely side, she just oozed so much sexiness that no one cared. Even Paris Hilton would say, "That's hot!"

Finally, I get to portraits in which the subject is nude, the category that probably best fits Brad's situation and his question. Here, I think the objective is to portray the subject's character and personality as strongly as possible, and use posing and lighting to enhance physical traits. Tricks like turning the hips away from the camera, stretching the neck and spine and then relaxing the shoulders down, help to minimize distracting folds and creases common to a more normal body in certain positions.

Lighting techniques commonly used with portraiture also work here. For example "short" and "broad" lighting* are commonly to make round faces look thinner, or thin faces look more robust. The same lighting can be used on the whole body, as well. And, as mentioned, drapes or other props can be used in concert with this, as well. Break up areas that might be less flattering with the light or drapes that create longer lines. And, as also mentioned, foreshortening can be made to work advantageously, as in the use of a lower camera position to make the legs seem longer. (Here, a camera position slightly below the waist of a standing subject often works best.)

I believe it's good to think through the process, and plan both poses and lighting in advance. That way, the mechanics don't get in the way of the communication during the shoot. It's the involved chatter that is essential to bringing out the character and personality of the subject. And, I believe it is character and personality that are the primary ingredients to a woman's beauty. Physical attributes are a distant third.

*short lighting - where the side of the face away from the camera is lit more strongly, and the camera side falls into shadow.

*broad lighting - where the side of the face closest to the camera gets the main light.