I’ve been asked occasionally if I’d shoot a boudoir session. What an honor to be trusted that much! Only in April did I actually accept the challenge.

It was a challenge but in a personal way. This past year has been full of introspection and honesty with myself. Why don’t I make photographs of some subjects? I decided the reason that I had declined boudoir up until now was entirely me. I accepted with gratitude for the trust placed in me as a person and the belief that I could deliver. Here’s why I said yes.

When I stripped away all the reasons it came down to applying somebody else’s rules. I was asked to help create beautiful, expressive and intimate portraits, not to apply somebody else’s value system. It wasn’t stepping off a cliff. It was stepping off a curb.

Boudoir can be like any other portrait session

The rest was like any other outdoor portrait session. We talked about wardrobe, setting, and general style. I scouted the location, decided on lighting gear, set a day and time and rounded up a helper. Then it was creativity, communication, managing light, adapting and taking care of my subject.

A beautiful model framed in a relatively bright spot
I moved around Zayla to frame her face with a bright spot behind her. A shallow depth of field leaves no question that she’s the subject.

It was boudoir but it was also just like any other portrait session. I’m watching placement, body language, tension in her hands, expression in her eyes. We’re considering posing flow, camera angles, and using the scene to draw the viewer’s eye. There are so many combinations of small variations that make one base pose become dozens of unique photographs. We went to work and this boudoir session was no different.

Quality of light

We started about 11 a.m. on a sunny day in a forested area. That’s usually a nightmare combination of harsh and dappled light but it wasn’t impossible. In fact, the addition of my single studio light created a nice light on Zayla’s features while allowing the background to be just a bit darker.

The light would move which meant that I had to be very aware. I wanted a little ambient light to fall on her hair without also being a harsh highlight on her shoulders. We had to move every few minutes but so long as the distance between her and my main light remained the same then I didn’t need to meter all over again.

What was the real challenge?

Boudoir wan’t nearly the challenge I thought it would be once I realized what the challenge really was. The challenge was myself. Once I was honest with myself and came back to what I really believe in then it was shared creative expression. What I came back to was creativity, kindness and respect. When that was realized then the disconnect vanished.

The gear