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Boudoir Shots

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by the_traveler, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    I learned a lot about boudoir shots this last week.

    A long time good friend wanted me to do some shot as a present for her long time boy friend and she was a bit hesitant about going to a strange studio and she doesn't have a great deal of money to spend and she is in her 40's and not perfect.

    She was OK with me seeing her in close to the altogether and knew I had little practical experience with boudoir photography.
    We got together and went over some books on photography to look at what she liked and didn't like and to discuss what she wanted to show and didn't.

    Luckily she and I both thought that lots of lingerie shots looked too tacky and she wasn't slim and perfect enough to make most of them look good.
    So I had an idea and developed a concept.

    We did this shoot in a local B&B with a nice setting, etc.

    The shoot came out 'OK'; the light was too harsh (my inexperience coupled with some lighting problems) and I really needed a better assistant than her friend.

    The subject had some skin issues and some jowl issues and I didn't have enough experience to light those away.
    I did take about 140 well exposed, well focused shots.

    Next day, after loading the images, I spent an hour or so editing two of the shots that fit my ideas the best into what I thought looked good to me.
    Didn't show much skin, less than what would show in a bathing suit, just mood and pose but, tbh, by the time I toned down her flaws the processing looked a bit over the top.

    So I sent her three pictures, pose 1 both in color and BW, pose 2 in color.
    I expect to hear that the poses looked good but that the PSing was too much and she didn't look like that.
    What I got back was 'Oh My God, these are wonderful.'

    So I responded, 'good, glad you like them. I'll work on the rest as I have time and send them to you in one big lump.'

    I got back an immediate email that said. 'There's more? '

    I learned a few things
    • Most important, have a concept of how you want the shots to look
    • Being clear about what the client wants is crucial. Women, at least this woman and her friend who acted as an assistant, want to show her boyfriends/husbands/lovers shots that show them how they believe themselves to be at their best in reality. Not sexed up skin and lingerie porn but romantic, lush, moody. (The assistant wants some shots done also.)
    • Being comfortable about looking intently at a nude/semi-nude female who isn't your wife/girlfriend is important. Nudity is not particularly sexy.
    • Two or three really terrific shots may be really enough for the purpose Too many might diffuse the high.
    • Always have an assistant who can help with lights and reflectors.
    • Have clothing and venue that fit the idea. Review clothes in advance and bring a steamer. The most vital piece of clothing on this shoot was a large filmy white cloth that I ironed and brought.
    • Always have extra bulbs.

    This was an interesting experience.
    Learned a lot. Don't know if I'd do it as a steady diet but I might try some in-home portraiture to start.

    No, I can't post any shots here.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. It sounds like you treated her with complete respect and sincerity and you listened. Well done.
  3. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    The shock of a lot of skin wore off when I was wrestling with lights and reflectors and rooms that weren't configured for pictures.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  4. Lew, thanks for the interesting write up. It's a shame you can't share even some of the tame setup photos to give a better idea about your lighting "harshness", etc...

    I've not done this type of portraiture, but I've always been intrigued at the possibility. You raise some excellent points about client expectations and communication prior to the shoot. Were you able to check out the room before you booked the shoot? Perhaps you could have addressed some of your issues with a different room location.
  5. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    At first, or even second look, the rooms would have seem to have been great.
    Of course, more experience would have shown me potential problems.

    Large bed in a very shallow bay window setting up on a step with large windows and gauzy curtains on 3 sides.
    Sitting area with chandelier, ornate plush couch, other love seat and chair
    Large jacuzzi type bath up on platform with tile surround
    Separate make-up area with vanity mirrors, etc.

    We were due to start at 1:30 and she was to arrive all showered and made up with ironed clothes on a hangers.
    (we had met to look at clothes before)
    It went downhill when she texted that she couldn't get there until 3, then needed to shower and wash hair then make up.

    The room with Jacuzzi was good but, because it was on a platform I was limited as to angles to shoot but those shots were good. Not much room for shooting. I couldn't use anything as long as a 50 but shot with 24-70 at wide angles and was careful about perspective distortion.

    Because we started so late, 80-90% of the outside light to backlight curtains was gone.
    Bed was so big and are so tight in space and up on step that I really couldn't get softboxes as close as I wanted. (Using Alien Bees) She looked good in shots.

    Sitting area went well, once I put up a green screen to mask the background.

    Having only used the Bees and stands and reflector stands once before in a much more open venue, I didn't realize the awkwardness of managing/moving Alien Bees with large softbox on big stand around big heavy furniture.

    All in all, it was a stressful but good learning experience.

    If I had to do it over again, I'd insist on starting early, be adamant about time, prep and clothing.
    I'd think about one Bee with softbox and a reflector on a stand for the subject light, a smaller one for the background and, most importantly, an assistant with some experience or some strength. Her friend was small and tentative, couldn't be trusted to move something heavy like a light on stand with softbox without tripping over cords.

    I did have all the stands, electric cords and other stuff I needed so my basic toolkit was fine; it was my inexperience in assessing the room and being firm about time, readiness, clothing that hurt the most.

    I was doing this for expenses (she's a friend) and experience. She paid for room. I had borrowed most of the equipment from a friend and I contributed the extra bulbs as a thanks to him.
    She brought me a gift, a big bottle of Bulleit Bourbon, somehow thinking, erroneously, that I was a bourbon fancier. I'm not and I gave the bottle to a friend.

    Overall, good experience, learned a great deal. Hanging around in a room with a scantily clothed and attractive female for a few hours and intermittently staring though a lens at her
    can never be seen as the worst of times.

    It is amazing how un-sexy that situation is.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  6. Did you bring a step stool or a small ladder? I could envision that being very helpful for positioning over the tub or even giving you better angles with the raised platform bed.

    Sounds like you lost any hope of using natural light from the bay window when she arrived late. That would have been my preference with the gauzy curtains and soft window light with a reflector. (not my pic)
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    It wasn't your gear, but I use vagabond mini battery packs for my alien bees. I strap these to the light poles and they eliminate the need for power cords on the floor. Good for 300 full power shots. Makes it a lot easier to move lights around without concern for the electrical cords.

    Sounds like your "assistant" was really not much help to you. I suspect she was there more for moral support for her friend!
  7. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    I had a small ladder but the tub was large, the step surround was narrow and free area surrounding the tub was narrow. I couldn't get up on the ladder without being very precariously perched.
  8. Probably the better part of valor to avoid that if you could not safely climb the ladder.

    Newsflash: "Local man seriously injured in a fall off a ladder while trying to take photos of a scantily clad woman in a hotel bathtub. Interview with his wife coming up!"
  9. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    Newsflash: "Local man previously injured in a fall off a ladder beaten to death by wife wielding a tripod with heavy ball head.
    Altho the wife was taken into custody, she was released on her own recognizance by Judge Shirley Green.
    Her lawyer, Madalyn Price, states the wife will plead justifiable homicide and will counter-sue for emotional distress and a cut hand suffered by contact with the edge of the tripod. "
  10. Although I never did boudoir shoots, I will say that biting ones' tongue can come into play when dealing with those who see their image(s) as not as beautiful as they see themselves in a mirror.
  11. the_traveler


    Mar 22, 2007
    en route
    Well, that's the trick isn't it, making the image to look close or better than their mind sees?
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