So you want to be a boudoir photographer?
I am, and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, you can not become a great boudoir photographer overnight. You have to start somewhere and finding that starting point can be a difficult task if you do not know where to look. So to help out, I created my best 7 tips on how to become a great boudoir photographer and how to take amazing boudoir photos.
The photos in this blog post were taken at a boudoir workshop that I attended in 2010. Some of the photos were edited using my editing skills (or lack of) back then, while some are not edited at all. These photos are an example of what to avoid when shooting boudoir as well as a look back at some of my work when I first started. Hopefully you will find these seven boudoir tips beneficial and help you become a successful boudoir photographer!
Tip #1- Attend a boudoir photography workshop
This is what gave me that extra push into a career of boudoir photography. I was attending college in pursuit of a commercial photography degree when I attended my first boudoir workshop back in 2010. The workshop cost about $250 and it included two days of learning about boudoir photography, lighting, photographing a nude model, a few in lingerie, and hands on shooting with established boudoir photographers.
It was quite an experience photographing my first nude mode and other women in lingerie. However, looking back, this workshop was really not that impressive. The students only got a few minutes each to photograph the models. Most of instructors sat back and just said to take pictures of the models in the rooms instead of actually “teaching” us anything. To makes things worse, one of the instructors was behind all of the students snapping away pictures at the model too.
Workshops are great, but now a days it seems like anyone with a camera has one. My advice, do your research before spending a lot of money attending a boudoir workshop. Make sure that the instructors are knowledgeable and have a style that you can relate to.
Tip #2- Learn your camera
It is very difficult to take a good photograph if you do not know how to work your camera. At the boudoir workshop we were shooting in a room with two different lighting setups. One setup used hot lights, while the other used strobes. The class was split in half. One half of the class shot with the hot lights first, while the other half shot with the strobes. I was in the half that started with the strobes.
We were told by the instructor to set our cameras to ISO 100, f8, at 1/125 for our exposure. A fellow classmate had no idea how to set her camera to this. I was shocked. The camera she was using cost nearly four times as much as the DSLR camera I had and she had absolutely no idea how to work it. I felt embarrassed for her watching her fumble around with the camera and pressing random buttons. I asked if she needed help, and she handed the camera to me. After moving the camera from fully auto into manual mode, I made the adjustments for the proper exposure and showed her how to change the settings. Know how to work your camera inside and out. Auto mode will not cut it.
Tip #3- Having an expensive camera does not make you a great photographer
When I first started going to college for photography I had a Canon Rebel XT DSLR. It is an 8 megapixel camera that had a very small preview screen on the back of it. I purchased this used camera from ebay for $300. It included two lenses and a camera bag. This was a great starter camera and it took amazing pictures. Since then, I have purchased better and more expensive cameras because my skill and knowledge of photography grew. I get asked by friends that are not photographers and even some new photographers about what kind of camera to get. My advice, start with something basic and then invest in something better once your skill has outgrown the camera.
Tip #4- So I am ready to be a boudoir photographer, but where do I find nude or lingerie models?
This was a question that I asked myself a lot. It is hard to become a boudoir photographer when your portfolio has zero boudoir photos in it. Family portraits, landscape, and flower pictures will definitely not help you.
Attending the boudoir workshop helped me capture a few images to get my portfolio started, but if you do not plan on attending one, simply use your available resources. I asked my wife to model for me, but you can ask your girlfriend, best friend, sister, mother, or even a random woman you meet while walking your dog. There are women everywhere. All you have to do is open your mouth and ask.
You can also try Model Mayhem. This is a site that helps model, photographers, and other creatives meet to create photo shoots. To join, simply create a profile and upload four of your best photos. You can search for models that have the specific look you want, or you can create your own casting call and have the models come to you. New models always need need pictures, so set up a trade shoot and offer your photos for their modeling. This is a fast and easy way to build your portfolio.
Tip #5- Alright, now I have models for my boudoir photo shoot, but where do I photograph them?
This is a popular question that I always see asked in the boudoir Facebook groups I belong in. The answer is quite simple. Anywhere you can. Photograph them in your home or at theirs. If that will not work out, rent a hotel room and do your photo shoot there.
And no, you do not need to inform the hotel staff that you are a photographer and plan on using their hotel room for a boudoir photo shoot. Just pay for your room, get your key, drag all your gear to the room, set up, and start shooting. Besides, lots of crazy things happen in hotel rooms and taking a few pictures is no need for alarm.
Tip #6- I have a hotel room to do my boudoir photo shoot, but the room looks horrible
No worries. Living in Las Vegas, I have done boudoir photo shoots in many hotel rooms and about 75% of them all look the same. The room you get usually has ugly furniture, artwork, carpet, drapes, and a comforter that has not been changed since the mid 80's. This is what you do. HIDE EVERYTHING!
Take down the distracting artwork from the walls. Stick the telephone under the bed. Hide the room service menu, phone book, alarm clock, ice bucket, and glasses. You may even need to move a lamp or two. Definitely remove the comforter from the bed. Those things are absolutely hideous. Just use the white sheets and pillows.
Some hotels try to be cute and bolt down everything. If you are faced with this problem, simply work your angles and shoot tight. That way no one will ever know your photos were taken in a hotel room and not in a fancy boudoir studio.
A word of caution. Lighting in hotel rooms suck! If you are planning on doing a shoot in one, I recommend doing it in the afternoon and let in some window light. If not, you will definitely want to bring some extra lighting.
Tip #7- Practice, practice, practice
This is the most important tip of them all. Practice photographing women of different size and race. Practice your boudoir posing with models and then use the poses that looks best with your clients. Do not be afraid to try new things and do not be afraid to fail. This is the only way to become a better boudoir photographer.
Thank you for reading my 7 for boudoir photographers. If you found this helpful, please share with others or leave a comment below.