My friend Dani asked me to set up a photography session with her before Valentine’s Day. After some discussion, I suggested making it a boudoir styled shoot because boudoir and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand, in my experience, for three reasons. Couples like to gift intimate photos to each other that are well above and beyond the typical smartphone centered photos they often engage in as play together. Single people like to indulge in self-empowerment and giving their confidence a little extra pampering. For other people, it is important for them to give a little push back against Valentine’s Day as a trite consumer holiday, for themselves, or as means to help purge emotions tied to a former partner.
I’ve shot boudoir for all three purposes and my personal opinions are irrelevant outside of how we can utilize those feelings to guide the shoot, and what their feelings are coming in to a session, and how they feel when the session is over and photos are delivered.
I don’t judge.
PRO TIP: Swap the hot-shoe trigger for an on-camera speedlight flagged with a black-foamie thing and you can easily leave your entire portrait light set up, while still getting flattering directional light in a different room. Swap the on-camera speedlight back to the trigger to change gears in seconds, everything is dialed in anyway, right?
As part of the pre-shoot discussion stage, we talked about what boudoir photography is all about and how the word “boudoir” itself comes from the French verb “to sulk or pout,” (bouder), or the adjective for “sulking,” (boudeur). It is literally, a room to sulk in or withdraw to, where one can fully exist and feel safe away from the world. We would utilize her apartment, and her bedroom, surrounded by things that mattered and felt she comfortable with (and that included her kitty, Noah). Backdrops would be created with her own tapestries and her own bedding, music she enjoyed played on her own speakers, and so on. Lighting was quick, portable, and mostly unobtrusive (small, gelled, remote-triggered, manual speedlights on thin lightstands, with minimal modifiers), and no camera tripod. We could easily move from one room to another as needed and everything was dialed in.
It also made sense to start off very slowly. Simple and basic headshots where we could laugh and have some comfortable prattle in order to keep spirits up.
Also helpful during a boudoir shoot, or any photoshoot really, is to have the full resources available of the RTMS2000 Photo Assistant. The RTMS2000 is a voice-activated, fully-articulated, remote-controlled, semiautonomous, firmware-upgradable Light-Stand and Model-Wrangler with Audio Bending Technology, Advanced Volume Control Slider (3 Algorithm Selected Presets: 0, 10, and 11), optional Flame Thrower Attachments, and Xtreme Integrated Sass Valve (there is an open support ticket for Sass Valve which is currently stuck wide open). So far, using the RTMS2000 has helped me to keep models well wrangled, light-stands aimed, hair slicked, papers organized, releases signed, music bumping (affiliate link), cattle-stampeded, 4th walls broken, and deserts combed.
I highly recommend one, once the testing phase is completed.
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). RTMS2000s are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. *
Finally, and most importantly, boudoir photography images are intended for the personal enjoyment of the model and the people they choose to share or gift them to. It’s very different from, say, producing commercial images for a client with the model serving as one of many props. It’s an opportunity to help someone feel confident and better about themselves through a photography session designed entirely around their comfort. The photographer helps to set the stage as works closely with the model to enables them to indulge in a little bit of fantasy and role-play.
It is in this light that I hope these images from our boudoir session, and the process to take them, fulfill their intended purpose for Dani. I am flattered to have been chosen to take them, happy to produce them, and am looking forward to future photo sessions with a good friend.