Connecting with female clients and providing them invaluable memories in form of photographs has always fascinated me on a personal level. Actually, ever since I started following a new photography career path 15 years ago.
In order to turn my personal preferences into a business case, I am considering opening a neat, specialized boutique portrait studio here in Prague. Entering a very weak economic situation here, it certainly will be a challenge. But I am very confident that I will be able to succeed, mostly because quality photography that serves a purpose will always be sought after and make good money.
In my case, I am planning to fully concentrate my service on offering specific women photography “only”. No families, no maternity, no weddings – pure, attractive portrayal in clearly defined, various styles and looks. I want to have a real-world outlet for private client assignments, complementing my business in the glam/nude industry.
I am currently preparing all necessary components to start such an adventure soon.
Knowing Styles Is Crucial
A few of you participated in my last two webinars (live photo shoots, actually) where I explored and showcased Contemporary Allure and Artistic Nudes. Those two projects offered me the framework to delve deeper into a wide range of aspects regarding the respective topic. Not only the image look and style itself, but also all facets that come along with the business side of things.
In fact, I started to examine and explain the business aspects (spending vs. earning money) a while ago. For example, in the training SMOOTH Portfolio Building where I showcase various styles and how they need to be implemented properly. Or in Creative Nudes On A Budget where I created and follow along the formula/matrix of Time vs. Money and Private Shoots vs. Models vs. Business.
But until now I haven’t had the real desire to gift and apply those styles to private clients. This definitely changed during this year when I started to feel that I need to get more real with my daily photography routine. So, instead of shooting for a self-owned adult website (for example), I decided to make the venue of private assignments my path to be.
Boudoir As Part Of A Service Portfolio
I am planning to offer a few selected styles. However, one that will go strong for sure, have its very own branding and receive special marketing attention is Classic Boudoir.
Yes, “Boudoir” has been pushed (and abused) hard as a marketing term. Quite a lot of photographers declare just anything as being Boudoir only to lure some (uneducated) clients into their studios for making a quick buck. While I am very open in the belief that everybody should do their own thing, I would just like to add that women actually have quite a clear sense and opinion of what Boudoir Photography is meant to be. Sometimes it seems more like the photographers don’t get what it really is about.
So if you are up for mixing styles (always assuming you shoot for a private client who pays you), you better discuss style and look variations with your client before you shoot. But first things first…:
Boudoir IS A STYLE
Some say Boudoir is a genre or an approach . I disagree. Boudoir is a style. Let’s look at the bigger picture: You might hire a model to shoot with (= you pay) or you get to shoot for a private assignment (= you get paid). For both occasions you are planning a look or – as I define it in a broader sense – a style.
Boudoir shots range from lingerie to implied nudes utilizing soft lighting, sensual observation, romanticizing the moment, following subtle “posing”. It is all about the “Essence of a Woman (in Lingerie)”. It is a “Soul Business”.
(Read more basics about Boudoir Photography in my 101 Jumpstart article.)
Glamour style, however, feels frisky, uses catchier lighting design, and is all about connection as well as interaction with the camera/viewer, striking poses, creating a suggestive sexually aroused atmosphere. It is all about the “Essence of Suggestive Play”. It is a “Body Business”.
Both Glamour and Boudoir styles can be shot with/applied to models, your partner or a private client. Meaning in terms of money: you pay, you do it for free or – in a business case – you get paid.
That’s why I am defining Boudoir as a style and not as an approach (at all).
Male Photographer + Boudoir?!?
Isn’t Boudoir Photography a female business? Do we stand a chance as male photographers? Aren’t female clients loathing the thought of getting intimately portrayed by a male stranger?
Those are all perfectly legitimate questions because it does not only feel like the Boudoir Business is led by women in general – it actually is the case.
But – and this is the surprising fact – it’s not because the female clients are (too) hesitant in front of male photographers per se, no, it’s because we, the male photographers, feel rather uncomfortable with this style – we think we don’t understand it thoroughly. This might be true in a few cases such as:
- We, the straight (alpha) males, love (and understand) the view through our glamour glasses. The sense for female attraction was instilled into us since the day we were born.
- We interpret the artistic aspects of a nude female body conveying curves and shapes the way that our spirits get lifted into unchartered heights.
- We blatantly stick to Pinup or Cosplay styles in which we can fling our clichéd fantasies from the one and only perspective we have: our male one.
Of course, they are creations like “Wonder Woman”, “Superwoman”, “Captain Marvel”, “Batgirl” (“girl”, sic!) and so forth. But the sketchy characteristics are turning us on, right? Because after all it is (literally) about a well-shaped Body Business.
Whereas Boudoir underlies a completely different component: the psychological aspect and sense of a woman – and not the one of a man (in case you missed that part until now).
For us male photographers, it is all about understanding the internal “soul business” a woman is living with. As male it’s hard to get that, no doubt. And make no mistake: Of course it is (also) about your client’s body, shapes and painting attractive curves.
But it is her body, her inner confidence, her pairing of feeling strong and looking beautiful. Hers! Not your view of the World of Women. It’s neither connected to the realms of Playboy’s playground nor to Marvel’s/DC’s comic universe.
On a practical note, shortly and abstract… – the tricks are:
- Act like a gentleman (be gallant, schmooze a wee bit, lead the shoot like you would lead a dance)
- Feel like a woman (styling, mood, light, atmosphere, psychology)
- Have a female assistant on location (for example, MUHA/Stylist)
Yup. That’s the whole “secret”. Doesn’t look like much but for most of us it means hard work to get there – especially regarding #2.
I will extensively elaborate the above notes (1-3) in upcoming articles/videos once my “Portrait Studio Adventure” starts to get off the ground. At that point in time, I will have hard proof and thousands of side notes to share with you. These topics will accompany me – and you if you are up to the task – over the next few years.
- Concept Description & How To-Video by Dan on SWP: “Soft & Sensual Photography: Boudoir Style Involved”
- Rex Jones wrote on Fstopper about practicing Boudoir Photography as a male in Utah (USA), an ultra conservative region: “Setting Out to Shoot Boudoir as a Male Photographer”