Today I’m excited to kick off a week of talking about boudoir photography! Boudoir photography (sometimes called pin-up photography) has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I figured there was no time like right now to start some discussions about it, as well as to share my own recent personal experience.
People can choose to take boudoir photographs for a whole host of reasons, but in general the photographs feel intimate and sensual, designed to capture a subject’s sultrier side. Some people get them as presents for their partners, others to build up modeling portfolios, and still others as an act of self-love. Lingerie models are exceptionally beautiful people under any circumstances, but when it comes time to shoot a seasonal campaign, they have the added benefit of makeup artists, hair stylists, lighting and art directors, and talented photographers to help create an image of perfection and fantasy. It can be hard for some of us to look at a model shot, and then at ourselves in the mirror wearing the same set, without hearing a judgmental inner voice. Boudoir photography can give all of us access to heightened glamour that might otherwise feel unattainable, and it can help to reclaim the inner dialogue and allow us to see our beauty anew. I’ve seen great photos that show off merely a curve of the hip, and I’ve seen great photos that tell an elaborate, fully-staged story: the possibilities are endless!
I’ve been interested in boudoir photography for a while, but it wasn’t until late in 2013 that I finally took the plunge. I’m going to take this week to talk about some of the different parts of the experience, from styling and preparation to some tips for relaxation during the shoot, but today’s let’s begin with some notes on choosing a photographer.
****All of the images in this series feature some of my beautiful fellow lingerie bloggers.****
There are several ways to go about choosing your boudoir photographer. Many photographers have active, engaging, body-positive social media presences (I’m thinking specifically of My Boudoir in the UK), many participate in flash sales on sites like Gilt City or Groupon, and many also work in the professional headshot or wedding photography fields. I chose my photographer because she was a friend first, and then I hired her to do some professional headshots for my media kit, and then we decided to collaborate on some pin-up and boudoir images for our mutual benefit. Choosing a photographer from a pool of strangers, however, can be hard or nerve-wracking, so here are some tips I’ve gleaned, both from my years as an actor and as a boudoir-photography-newbie:
Above all, listen to your gut if it responds uncomfortably to someone. One time when I was headshot-photographer-shopping for acting headshots, I took a long train ride out to Brooklyn, walked many, many blocks away from a train station, climbed a narrow winding staircase, went into a nearly-abandoned warehouse, and had an interview in a loft with a popular, highly recommended headshot photographer who charged $1500/session and treated me like a country bumpkin who was wasting his time. His pictures were absolutely gorgeous, and he did not get my money. I did not trust him to make me feel good or confident during the shoot, first of all, and secondly I didn’t particularly trust him to respect my wishes about the use of my images.
Also trust your gut when it comes to price and quality. If you see a deal for boudoir photography on a flash sale site and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. I’ve seen stunning boudoir photos used to advertise a Groupon sale, only to navigate to the photographer’s website and realize that they weren’t actually her images– SHADY. Do a bit of research and familiarize yourself with the photographer’s style, google for reviews to see who’s had a good experience with whom, ask friends who have had portraits or wedding photographs what their experiences were like, and make sure you trust that the price you’ve been quoted will yield the results you expect.
Think about the style of pictures you want. Are they a gift for someone? Are they for your own pleasure? Are they for a portfolio or publication? Are you looking to share something private and intimate with a small group of people, or do you want to create a fun fantasy-fulfilling image of yourself for your eyes only? Are they to mark a special occasion, like an anniversary, or a pregnancy, or a birthday? Are you interested in a setting a scene with a background and props and costumes, or do you want something simple and sleek? See you if you can find a photographer who seems in tune with your vision.
Do try to meet, or at least correspond with, your photographer before making your decision. Some of you may be exhibitionists who love taking your clothes off, and some of you may feel intimidated by the prospect of having your picture taken at all, let alone in your undies (or less). Check in with yourself– you don’t have to find a soul mate, but you should feel a sense of rapport and trust with your photographer. You’ll be spending at least two hours with this person, so it’s totally fine to want to find someone you’ll ENJOY spending two hours with, you know?
Finally, make sure you review the fine print of any package you want to purchase. Make sure you know exactly how much money you’ll be charged, whether hair and makeup are included (many photographers (rightly) encourage this, as makeup for the camera can differ from everyday makeup, especially if you want a stylized, specific look), how many images you’ll receive, when you’ll receive them, how many looks you should plan for, where you’ll be shooting, and approximately how long it will take. Be sure you have these details in writing– it’s in both your and your photographer’s best interests if everyone is on the same page.
Tomorrow we’ll talk a little bit about how to prepare for your shoot once you’ve booked your photographer. If anyone else has done a boudoir or pin-up session, I’d love to hear about your experiences this week! Any photographers you love, or any tips you’d like to share? Share away!