It’s not the fancy camera. It’s not the high-tech lights. It’s not the makeup, jewelry or wardrobe. It’s not the set. It’s not even the photographer’s skill and technique. While each of these elements is certainly important, the most important element that makes a boudoir photograph truly special is less obvious but, fortunately, one of the easiest to incorporate.
When considering boudoir photography, most of my clients are initially nervous, intimidated by the images they may have seen on TV of a fast-paced commercial photo shoot where the photographer barks commands and the model dutifully complies. My clients are immediately apologetic, explaining that they’ve never done a photo shoot before, let alone a boudoir shoot, and many express their concern about getting the poses “right.”
I comfort them by explaining that boudoir is something entirely different, for it is the client, not the photographer, who ultimately controls the process and each shoot is built around what they want to create and what they want to share of themselves. Most important, we capture a different side of you while not forcing you to be someone else in the process. Successful boudoir photography creates a unique reflection of your own distinctiveness, and the result should appear natural, organic and true to whom you are, though you may be crossing boundaries you haven’t explored before.
You can easily spot boudoir photographs that don’t possess the effortless authenticity that comes from a photographer understanding who their client is and working with her to create something that she truly feels represents her essence. The camera can easily see a subject’s discomfort and where she has been directed through a standard series of rote, cookie-cutter and uncreative poses, resulting in imagery that can look staged, over-posed, less natural and uninspired.
We work with our clients before the photo shoot and encourage them to submit “inspiration shots” to give us an idea of what they’re seeking in their shoot. During the shoot itself, we work together as creative partners, building on the inspiration shots, but not bound by them, ultimately finding what truly expresses who they are, bringing out their best qualities. When done this way, the art of boudoir helps women naturally explore the sensual side of themselves, to feel beautiful, glamorous and confident.
So what’s the secret element? What makes boudoir so unique — and the simple secret of its success — is you. Boudoir photography is ultimately about celebrating you and it’s therefore important to be true to whom you are during the photo shoot. I coach my clients gently. I’ll suggest poses but encourage each client to “make it her own,” to let poses evolve until they feel authentic and natural. I also remind them not to forget to express themselves and let their personality shine through. One of my favorite shots was for a recent client where, for the very last shot of the evening, she stood up on her knees, placed her hands in her hair, crossed her eyes and defiantly stuck out her tongue. It turned out to be one of the best shots of the evening — sexy and silly at the same time– and magic because it brought out her true personality.
One of the most gratifying and meaningful compliments I receive from clients in our reviews is that they not only ended up loving the experience of the photo shoot, but that they left the studio feeling empowered. That’s the ultimate measure of a successful collaboration that honors a client’s individuality. One of our prospective clients said it best: “I want to show another side of myself. I want to get out of my comfort zone but still be me.”