Guide To Boudoir Photography
Boudoir is a French word that came to use in the 18th Century, referring to a lady’s bedroom. In the world of photography, the name has a slightly different meaning; a photography style in which women dress up partially or in lingerie when posing. It is from this word that the photography evolved in the 1940s and has gained popularity ever since.
In this article, we explore several aspects revolving around boudoir photography, camera lenses that work best, the need for proper lighting, communication and post-production. It will therefore serve as a guide for people who choose photography as a hobby, either as beginners or interested in sharpening their already developed photography skills.
What is Boudoir Photography?
Before delving into the other factors surrounding this kind of photography, it is first important to understand what boudoir photography is. Taking a glance at boudoir photography definition is key to photographers looking forward to developing vital boudoir photography ideas.
It is a branch of portrait photography that brings in details that constitute fashion, art and design, allure, sexually arousing photography and unique portraiture. The whole concept behind this kind of photography is to come up with tasteful photos that imply nudity without necessarily being explicit. This means that as much as you are not fully dressed, no body parts are seen.
The clients, mostly women, adopt a playful and provocative style to achieve the boudoir look. The model’s body, clothing and personality are important features that photography should focus on to come up with the most captivating shots.
Due to the erotic, sensual and intimate nature of this type of photography, many lovers who know what boudoir photography is preferred to gift each other their portraits either as anniversary and wedding gifts or for personal memories.
The photographers need to be creative enough to come up with boudoir photography ideas that accommodate and suit the client’s needs. It is crucial to select the right camera and lenses, choose a suitable location and direct clients to make the right poses that will depict a character of their preference.
Best Camera and Lenses to Use
When doing these shots, it is essential to settle on the right camera equipment that will enable you to take stunning photos. The set should at least consist of a zoom lens, a prime lens and a DSLR.
Digital DSLR cameras are considered the best for this kind of photography. The features that make them a preference for many photographers is the fact that they are easy to use, have great low-light ability and cycle many frames at a go. Even with a limited budget, photographers can purchase a mid-level performance DSLR camera, then invest in high definition lenses. This is a better option compared to going for an expensive camera then pairing it with cheap low-quality lenses. The DSLR you settle for can have a mirror less system or a frame that is full or cropped depending on your photography goals and budget.
The lenses are perhaps the most crucial aspect of this photography. The lens enables you to regulate the amount of light and exposure in the photos. Renowned photographers recommend three types of lens specifications. The 35mm, 50mm, and the 85mm with a low aperture like f/2.0 or lower.
In most shots, photographers go with the 50mm lens as the most standard type because of how versatile it is. The lens is great to use on nervous beginner clients who prefer posing in a wide and general setting in comparison to close-up shots. Another benefit of using the 50mm is how fast and uncomplicated it is to use. Photographers can easily adjust it depending on the amount of lighting and portrait composition, without affecting the quality of the image.
The 35mm lens is great for capturing wider scenes more quickly and effectively. A f-2.0 or lower aperture allows the lens to create sharpness and contrast in photos even when the lighting conditions are quite low, and there are no strobes. The lens is pretty quiet, thus enabling the photographer and client to remain free from any distractions during the shoot.
An 85mm f/1.8 lens is most appropriate for close-up photos and portraiture. It can capture specific body details such as the lips, breasts and eyes.
In any case, the type of lens you go for should have a zoom option so that you can effectively bring into reality the different photography ideas you have in mind. If you can afford only one lens at the moment, a 24 -70 mm f/2.8 is a good zoom lens choice since it allows you to concentrate on the model closely even when taking the shot from a little distance.
Perspective Control Lenses can also be used in such photography to focus on the model’s specific parts and concentrate the attention of the viewer onto these parts.
Camera settings for boudoir photography are not rocket science. You don’t need to freeze any movement or so. You just aim for a sharp picture. Keep the shutter speed roughly below 1/160 to avoid any blurred pictures from shaking hands or unstable holding. A rule of thumb says you should choose the shutter speed according to your focal length. For example: With a focal length of 50mm use 1/50 or faster. With 85mm use 1/85 or faster. You get the point.
A proper exposure is mostly done with aperture and ISO. You need to find the best balance between a fast shutter speed and a high ISO. It helps to know at which ISO the grain starts to kick in. This is different in every camera. Some deliver great pictures at ISO 6400 and above – some struggle at ISO 1600. Know your camera!
A location with a source of natural light is preferable when having a shoot. This way, you do not need to worry about any other form of artificial light set up. The location should be filled with natural lighting and some bright coloured curtain fabric to complement the entire space. Sunsets also provide beautiful lighting perfect for carrying out this kind of photography.
Avoid settling for shooting studios with fluorescent bulbs as a source of lighting as they mess the appearance of photos.
Clients prefer photos that bring out their beauty in the most natural way. It is, therefore, important for photographers to select mild and soft lighting instead of direct lighting. To achieve this, you can use different light modifiers such as beauty dish, umbrella or a softbox. A softbox is a convenient light modifier used by most photographers.
Strip Lights and Strobes
Strip lights are great for the shots since they highlight the most interesting areas of the model’s body. They give accurate results and are a great option for photographers who are willing to add an artistic touch to their shots.
Off-camera strobes provide the best kind of artificial light to create the best shots instead of the usual camera flashlight. You can easily adjust the amount of lighting to apply to the model; thus, the creativity that enhances good photography results.
In some settings there are both, artificial and natural, sources of lighting. Shooting in such an environment can tamper with the quality of the photos since they could have unpleasant contrasting colours like warm ambient light and cold LED lamps. In such situations, it helps to use a white piece of paper or a grey card and do the white balance before you start with the shooting. If you shoot in RAW format you can always change the white balance in post.
Communication is an important factor in photography. As vital as it is, it is also admirable for photographers to remain professional while guiding their clients throughout the photo sessions. For clients to feel comfortable around you, it is important to build trust between both of you beginning from the initial conversation.
Several days before, contact the model and discuss where he or she prefers to take the photos. Please do not force your preference onto them; instead, offer guidance on the location you feel would bring out their best. Most importantly, let your subject make the final decision on the location they want.
Before your client comes in for the shoot, make sure you have had a conversation with them regarding the ideas they have regarding the shoot. It will enable you to understand the model’s needs and expectations from the photography.
Have a discussion on the outfits they will wear during the session. Advise them to try different types of clothes before the shoot so that they can settle on those they are most comfortable wearing. They can try the clothes on in front of a mirror or have a friend to give their opinion.
Make sure you understand the kind of appearance your client is most comfortable. Do they like minimal makeup, heavy or none at all? Based on this, either of you can arrange for the services of a makeup artist. Clients may also need to wax some areas that may be highlighted during the shoot. Remind the model to relax, get enough rest and hydrate before the boudoir shoot.
The final and most important point is to discuss the pricing of the entire shoot and the post-production costs too. Inform the client on the packages you offer and what each of them entails. Discuss whether the payment should be made fully or partly, before or after the shoot. Doing this ensures there is no misunderstanding when it comes to making payments.
This is a very broad topic which may be addressed in a separate blogpost. You can subscribe to our newsletter on the right side and get instant notification when we publish a new blogpost.
In the meantime we highly recommend this book:
Lindsey Adler: Photographer s Guide to Posing, the: Techniques to Flatter Everyone
Post-production refers to the stages of production that take place after the photography session, video production or filmmaking. Highlighted below are some of the post-production activities you should prioritise after a shoot.
First of all you want to sort your pictures. Get rid of all pictures that are not sharp or where posing or expression was bad. Delete them. They just waste your storage space.
If you use Adobe Lightroom you can now rate them from 1-5. Give pics you really love a 3. Now you have maybe 30-50 pics? Do it again and rate them with 4. Now you have maybe 20 pics? Do a quick basic retouching and show them to your model.
Now she should pic the amount of pictures you agreed upon to finish to a final look.
Worth noting is that when retouching the photos, you should always consider the model’s interests. The client should look impressed with the final look.
You can present them some portraits in black and white too. So that they can decide which suits them best.
Also ask if you can add them to your online portfolio. This is a great way of attracting potential clients. It is very important to ask your clients if they are comfortable with the idea of their photos on your website before uploading them!Some people will agree to that, while others will choose their privacy. Don’t forget they paid you – the pictures are theirs. Never upload pictures to the public if you have no permission!
This Guide To Boudoir Photography brings in all the crucial information that would be of use by every boudoir photographer. We hope we could give you a small insight into boudoir photography. By knowing the boudoir photography definition and applying all the essential tips discussed, you will undoubtedly be able to create the most incredible boudoir photo shots out there!
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