I recently hosted a mini-boudoir shoot at a local hotel and got some amazing images. After doing such a photo shoot, I usually get asked two questions from friends and family. I’m guessing just from this brief introduction, you have probably already voiced at least one of the questions in your head, if not both. So let’s delve into the questions, shall we?
Question 1: "Isn't it great taking pictures of beautiful and provocatively dressed women?"
Part question and part statement, it is most often asked by my male friends. The short answer to the question is, yes, just as great as a picture of a firewall or a lunar eclipse. I think the true sentiment behind the question goes something like this, 'It must be really hard work taking pictures of beautiful women', wink-wink. Although dripping with sarcasm, the statement is actually a fair representation of the truth.
I don’t think most people understand what goes into trying to create amazing images, especially of an individual. As with any shoot, I research the hell out of it, apply any knowledge and experience I already have, and come to the shoot as prepared as possible. When I walk into a room for a boudoir session, the last thing on my mind is ‘working with a beautiful model’, scantily dressed or not. I’m worried about which lens I want to use for which shots. I’m concerned about how much natural light is available and how I can best use it. I’m worried about any items that might appear in the background of my shots. I then have to consider the model. How tall are they? Will the window in the room frame them nicely? What colors are they wearing? What are the areas of the body they may want to accentuate or conceal? How can I make a connection with the model to get the best images in an incredibly short amount of time? I am too busy worrying about the technical aspects that I simply don’t have the time to sit back and enjoy the view of a beautiful model. This applies even if there is nudity or implied nudity. I’m at work and if I get distracted I honestly feel the images will suffer as a result. In essence, it is absolutely hard work.
Even after the shoot is complete and I’m home about to download the images from my camera, I’m still at work. Now I have to sift through dozens, if not hundreds, of images to select the ones that portray the models at their best. After selecting the images I like, which frankly tends to be more than I will ever publish or share, I begin the process of editing the images. In editing, I have to worry about cropping, sharpness (or a lack thereof), color balance, contrast, plus a myriad of other possible tweaks to get the best out of the image. After all of that comes the detailed editing; removing blemishes, scars, acne, possible teeth whitening, etc. Then after that image is complete, I move on to the next. And over and over again. It is only after editing the images, sometimes multiple times, that I start to look at the pictures for what they are – images of a beautiful model. An attorney friend of mine explained the same type of process that often happens during a trial. The attorney may deliver an amazing opening statement, or tear a witness to shreds on cross examination, and even if the client is thrilled with the performance in that instance, the attorney cannot revel in their success. They are preparing for the next possible witness, argument to the court, or closing remarks to the jury. It is typically only after the trial has concluded that the attorney can then reflect back on the trial and view it in a different light. The same holds true with photography.
Question 2: "What does your wife think about you taking 'those' kinds of pictures?"
This is the second question I get almost immediately following the first question. I continually talk to my wife about my photography and she has been nothing but supportive. Sometimes she will help me pick out the best images to edit. Sometimes she will assist on a shoot. She will help organize props or pick up supplies for my shoots, like getting the chocolates for my recent boudoir sessions. For some of what I would consider my most provocative images, bodyscapes, she has even been gracious enough to be my model. I think she realized very early on that I wasn’t trying to use my camera as an excuse to get images of half-naked women. She sees how much work and effort I put into my images and how much I enjoy the hobby of photography. I often find that the people that ask me this question are far more uncomfortable with some of my images than my wife has ever been. That’s completely okay. To each their own.
Aside from that, provocative female or male images are only a portion of what I enjoy doing. And yes, I specifically mention female AND male images as some photographers will only engage in provocative images of the opposite sex, which I personally find troublesome and have addressed in a previous blog. I honestly think I would get bored doing nothing but provocative and sexy images. Even when I do have a shoot that involves nudity or implied nudity, I try and find a unique way to compose the image. Nudity for nudity sake is overdone and frankly not my cup of tea unless the model specifically requests it. I’m more about what you can’t see than what you can. Nudity or implied nudity with latex, photographic projections, colored water, paint, milk, or silhouettes is far more appealing to me than an image of a naked or topless woman just for the sake of being naked or topless. Again, to each their own. Just my preference.
Yes, it is hard work trying to be a good photographer regardless of how much clothing the model has on or how gorgeous some may perceive them to be. I am far from being in a state of constant arousal during a boudoir or provocative session, quite the opposite. I am usually freaked out trying to get the best images possible while trying to account for tons of ever changing factors at the same time. And although it is none of anyone’s business what my wife thinks of my work, she has been one of my strongest advocates and supporters and continues to be to this day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more images to process and edit (that just so happen to be ‘sexy’, should it matter).
Keep the interesting parts of life in focus.