Let's make it clear, your art does not have to be NSFW (not safe for work) to post it here.
I know from the Forest Girl thread that we have artists among our members. I'm a photographer and writer, so I'll start off with some of my own images. (I've done a lot of nudes, so I'm hoping tasteful nudes aren't beyond the pale.)
Here's a photo I particularly like because it may look like it was done as a complicated and expensive setup in a photo studio but, no, it was shot on the sidewalk next to Portland, Oregon's Chinese Garden. I was just taking advantage of what photographers call "The Magic Hour," which is the hour before the sun goes down.
This is Anne-Simone, a very pretty gothic girl, shot against a bronze statue of an elephant in Portland's park blocks. A number of Photoshop filters were used.
I have done many portraits of which the above two are examples, but I do them at locations rather than in a photographer's studio. I like meeting the challenges of location work. In a studio, you can fall into the habit of using very formulaic lighting setups, but outdoors or even indoors you constantly run into nonstandard situations. I bore easily.
Finally, one of my nudes, topless only, which I hope is acceptable to the powers that be.
Good photography can be done with almost any decent camera. Generally speaking a $100-$300 point and shoot is capable of taking a great photo. Modern DSLR's do have some major advantages, though, probably the most important being the instantaneous tripping of the shutter. Many good shots are lost using cheap cameras because of a half-second or second lag between clicking the shutter release button and the time the shutter actually opens, and the crucial moment is lost forever.
A photographer friend of mine once said "The difference between a good photographer and a bad one is recognizing when the energy of the scene is at its maximum." Now, that's a little New Agey for me, but I agree that knowing when to trip the shutter is the difference between a real photographer and someone who is simply taking a picture, especially when the subject is human.
The world is full of hobby photographers with no talent. They own $15K of cameras, lenses, lighting and other accessories and may even have a home studio, but their photos are junk. They couldn't take a great photo except by pure accident if their life depended on it. On the other hand, I know amateur photographers—my sister being one—who are extremely talented and take exceptional photos with no more than a $400 DSLR mounted with a cheap package lens. A talented photographer will take good photos with a cheap point-and-shoot, though mostly with inactive subjects.
While if you want to be a photographer who isn't specialized and wants to be able to do anything, becoming highly technical is important, if you're specialized like me (girls, portraits, pinups), you may just learn what you need to know to do the work you want to do. One day I discovered that Skip Williams—who is a very accomplished black and white photographer of women in the performing arts or, as he puts it, "on the fringe" ("alt" to you)—was working with barely any technical knowledge of the relationship holding between shutter speed and aperture that controls depth of field. He had been winging it for decades with great success!
I don't regard myself as a technician. I have learned just enough to do what I do. Away from pictures of girls in various stages of dress and undress and I'm soon out of my depth. If I'm at a party and the other photographers start asking questions like "Do you remember what settings you were using when you took that shot?" I will wander back to the shrimp bowl.
Naturally, if you're going to shoot nudes of girls, it helps to be someone they feel comfortable being nude with. You can be a great photographer in every other way but if you seem creepy at all, it will show up in the girls' faces. That is often true when the subject isn't nude. No girl likes to work with a photographer who seems to be working with a hard-on, whether physical or mental. When you look at porn, to take the most extreme case, it's pretty easy to tell which girls are really into it and which ones are in it "just for the money" or because someone else is forcing them to be there.
My models are almost always amateurs. Even the ones who count themselves as professionals aren't getting that much work and I have only worked with 3 or 4 out of the 300 or so girls I've worked with over my career who actually made a living modeling and/or performing. And the first two who come to mind worked in the BDSM fetish area where their main talent consisted of allowing themselves to tied up and then giving expressions resembling extreme distress or terror. But when doing video, a modicum of acting talent actually is required, too. And, to be sure, not every model can make it in the BDSM field if they are not into it at least somewhat. I have only rarely done bondage work, and not because I wanted it, but because the model wanted to see herself that way, or thought she could use the shots to market herself to the BDSM market.
Except in the portrait area, all of the girls I worked with were exhibitionists to some degree. They were willing to do pinups but really wanted to challened to explore their naughty side. While a few might suggest naughty poses, the real fun for most of them was having a man ask them to exhibit themselves in a naughty way. Porn gets lumped together with prostitution and escorting which suffer from human trafficking issues, but the girls I worked with were mostly either college coeds or girls of that age wanting to supplement their day job's income doing something exciting. Almost all were willing to do softcore (no sex) porn, which is how I made my living for about a decade.
My brother was visiting with me once and hung out for a while. A model I knew came by to pick up some clothing she had left behind a few days earlier and we roped her into spending some time with us. We took her to dinner and to a movie after that (no photos, no sex) and she actually proposed we work again, soon. My brother, who didn't totally approve, said "She probably needs the money to pay her rent." My reply was, "And so she will be able to pay her rent. You know, I'm not a loan shark or a charity." She had modeled before and would model again. In fact, when we did the shoot she had proposed, she donated her time so she could have nude photos of herself, so there's a little narcissism involved, too.
Anyway, here are some outdoor portraits. Seven of them have been treated with Photoshop filters, the rest are pretty much straight out of the camera. You can probably figure out which ones look totally real and which ones may look a little dreamy. I'll discuss them a little bit, numbering them in the same order you'd read.
The first shot is of a musician who was willing to pay me for a cover shot for a CD she'd sell at her gigs. She didn't have a lot of money to offer, so I said "Why don't you keep your cash and give me an afternoon of walking around doing three or four wardrobe changes. If you're willing to give me some casual upskirts and panty shots, I'll also take photos you can use for your album." She was cool with that. She was a little bit goth, so shooting her with some graffiti behind her worked quite well. This was the cover shot for her CD.
Five of the shots are of the same redhead. One of my favorite models, not just because she's an uncommon beauty, but because she's also quite smart. She was in her mid-20's and working on her doctorate in Chemistry. She did these shots unpaid, but she also did softcore for money.
I never paid much when I was shooting softcore for myself. Anywhere from $35 when I first started out (and that was not per hour, but per shoot) to never more than $150 per shoot, even after I was earning my entire living mostly by shooting softcore for major web destinations. There will always be exhibitiionistic girls 18+ who will be glad to have some naked fun and for whom the money is just gravy.