First and foremost we should stress that this article is not a discussion of the specific mechanics of lightning with respect to boudoir photography, nor is it a discussion of equipment, cameras or flash models. This is a discussion of the ways that lighting is used in order to capture the types of shots that are typically involved in boudoir photography shots. The actual elements that make something a “boudoir photo shoot” as opposed to a different kind of photography are difficult to describe, and are probably best left to a technical discussion as well. Boudoir is an art form, a combination of elements designed to create a mood and tell as story, as opposed to being a process by which to generate images consistently. There is no real guide to what is and what is not a boudoir photograph, and instead it represents the relationship between the model, the photographer, the setting and props, the post-production and the lighting. The boudoir photographer is attempting to use these elements to tell the story that the model wants to tell, whether that is a dreamy visual of softness and sensuality or the stark contrasts of erotica. Generally, the only consistent in a boudoir photography session is the existence of a model in various stages of undress…..but that is not a rule either.
Boudoir photographs are generally trying to capture the beauty of a natural scene, and to wrap the elements around the model in order to tell his or her story, even if that story is fantasy. The photographer will discuss what the model is trying to achieve, and the look and feel that they want to see in their photographs. The boudoir photographer will bring their own ideas to the table, and mix the elements that are desired with the elements that they have to work with in order to create the visual scene that is desired. For example, if the photographs are going to be a gift from you to your boyfriend who is in the military, you may wish to have the session be military themed, where you are wearing parts of his uniform in a seductive way. You may want the session to take place in your bedroom or in some more public place, or we may use our studio and props that convey the message. This way, we are able to produce the scene that you want as a model, instead of the scene that we have in mind. Our job as a boudoir photographer is to create your fantasy scene using our skills.
Lighting is generally used in a boudoir shoot to produce a moodiness that cannot be achieved with harsh direct lighting or even a flash, unless it is necessary. Natural lighting is used to wrap the model and highlight specific body or face parts while casting shadows over other parts. This produces an effect of roundness and curve that are flattering to the human body. It gives the photographer the ability to accentuate certain aspects while hiding others. There are no rules with regards to lighting, but you will find that most boudoir photographers prefer natural light settings so that they can use a shorter focal length and keep backgrounds more out of focus than the subject. This brings the visual of the subject into the mind;s eye and allows for a more intense concentration on the subject, without the distraction of the background. In other circumstances the photographer will want the background in focus and will use a wider focal length in order to achieve that goal. The boudoir photographer is an artist, and his or her paints are the model, the setting and the lighting.