boston boudoir photographer: young burlesque performer in lingerie posing on a chair

Boudoir Photography Near Boston with Friends

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So even though we started out improvising a portrait photography session, there was an eventual boudoir photography component to this photo shoot.

My primary goals were to keep things lighthearted, have fun, be spontaneous, exercise our creative muscles, and (most importantly) spend quality time with friends whose company I greatly enjoy.

Basically, keep things “good for the soul,” as the cliche goes.

At the same time, my secondary goal was to build on some of the lessons learned from the most recent portrait and headshot photography sessions that I’ve been writing about lately. This time, I thought it was best to slowwwww down a little.

If you’ve never spent time around Kitsune and Shayna, you’re missing out. They’re creative, full of life, and radiate some of the most positive energy I’ve ever been around!

Kitsune and I started out by turning the kitchen into a functional portrait photography studio space. Clutter was not a huge concern, I was intending to use low angles, removing all ambient light via camera settings, and lighting in layers for effect.

Lighting equipment was my usual haul of LumoPro collapsible light-stands and ProMaster light-stands, AD200s, TT600s as needed, Rogue color correction gels, Bowens S-Brackets, Bowens mountable snoots, and a couple of black-backed shoot-through umbrellas. Nothing unusual or super fancy.

I think I prefer umbrellas to soft-boxes for one simple reason. They’re much faster to set up, easier to deploy, and can give a really beautiful quality of light when used effectively.

Generally, settings all around were intended to kill all ambient and fill about 2 stops below the CTOed key with tungsten on camera. Camera settings ranged between something like an aperture somewhere between F2.8 – F5.6, shutter speeds between 1/160th – 1/200th, and keeping the ISO at 200. Flashes were set accordingly on manual.

Portrait Photography Session with Kitsune

Kitsune and I began with some simple headshots, just to warm up. If you look closely, you can see that she is lit with just a kicker. The blue curtain behind her has mostly been hidden away by the camera’s settings with just a touch of detail visible. For this series, camera white balance was set to Daylight and there were no gels added.

We added a key, once the kicker light was dialed in and, eventually, the background light. All of the lights had snoots on them so I could really control the light spill within such a narrow space.

One of Kitsune’s favorite flow-arts toys is her LED pixel-whip. The most challenging aspect of pixel-whips is how very little light each fiber-optic strand puts out. Either stand very still (use a tripod, duh) and use a longer exposure so they light up well or, like the next two photos show, expose for the main subject with a key-light to freeze any possible camera / subject movement and get nice hints of LED color.

Of course, me being me, I decided to mix the two together. Combine longer exposure for the LED lights, add camera flash for Kitsune, and have Shayna spin the lights behind Kitsune and you’ll get a headshot with a colorful halo effect!

Finally, for the last batch of photos for Kitsune’s portrait session, I swapped out the snoot on the fill light for an umbrella, added a 1/4 CTB gel, and shifted white balance to Tungsten. I wanted just a hint of blue to cool the shadows. Can you tell that I am really starting to like that look, a lot?

Look more closely and you can see the effect the umbrella was having by how much softer all of the shadows look, even with the harsh spot of light you get with a snooted key-light.

Boudoir Photography Session with Shayna

Lately, Shayna is killing it as a burlesque performer! We thought it would be fun to have some portraits taken with a slightly boudoir photography feel to them.

As usual, Shayna’s portrait session began with some simple headshots using snooted lights.

Once we got some headshots down, we shifted gears to have a portrait and boudoir styled photography session. Again, we went with softening and cooling the shadows with a 1/4 CTB behind an umbrella and setting the camera to Tungsten with a CTOed and snooted key because, yeahhhhhh, I definitely like the look.

Oh, speaking off softening shadows with an umbrella and then cooling them, I wanted a couple of behind-the-scenes shots so you can better see what the kitchen actually looked like in these two photos. All I did was adjust the shutter and shifted angles so that the ambient light showed more of the background.

From here, the challenge was having Shayna get lower to the ground while controlling light spill. Yeah, it was a hard wooden floor so we used her boa to add a little visual softness.

I like to sometimes incorporate my lighting gear for visual interest, as long as they add to the scene rather than distract from the subject.

To be fair, the background was easily removed for the second shot of Shayna once I re-positioned and re-composed to get the light out of frame. Mask Shayna, reverse selection, and drop exposure down -4.0 in Lightroom. Quick, easy, and still no Photoshop!

For the last two photos, we re-composed again, after swapping out the umbrella for a snoot. I wanted to highlight Shayna’s naturally elvish features with her shoulders and back so I moved to her back, positioned the key to be directly 90 degrees from her to the right, and kept the kicker, now more of a backlight to her 10 o’clock, and had her turn her head to face the key light, head on.

Of course, what would any good boudoir photography session be without some tastefully highlighted undies? Because that’s what the best boudoir photography is all about, am I right?..

All I did was put a snoot on the fill light and re-position it so it was directly behind me, lowered it, and then aimed it carefully. You can see how all the lights combined in layers to make this a visually interesting photo by restricting spill wherever possible and opening shadow areas up for color and contrast. I really love the hardwood floor in their kitchen!

So there you have it, a fun portrait photography get together near Boston, MA that turned into a spontaneous mini boudoir photography session with good friends! Nothing complicated with no pressure to perform on their part and no client pressure to deliver on my end.

Most of my non-client based photo shoots evolve in this manner, very organically. Generally, we start off with some general idea of what we have in mind, fine tune composition based on what the environment is giving us, and then light it up!

The main takeaway, for me, is this: Sometimes it is good to take a break from client work in order to spend some quality camera time with friends. It doesn’t happen as often as I would like so I am grateful whenever it does because it’s a way to remind myself why I love photography so much.

Oh, you haven’t seen photos from the summer picnic and photo shoot we all had, yet, right?

Maybe that’ll be my next post. 😀

Shameless Boston boudoir photographer self-promotion

If you’re near Boston, MA and are interested in setting up a boudoir photography session, please drop me a message and let’s get together!

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