I had a client come to see me the other day and this was the story that she told. She had wanted to book in with me ages ago but decided to go a cheaper route and got a Grabone boudoir photo-session. She went with a friend who was a bit slimmer than her to keep her company while she did the shoot. The photographer told her to sit on the bed but didn't give her any guidance as to how she should do that and present well. He spent most of the session focusing on her friend because the images seemed to be coming out better. My client was absolutely deflated and triggered by the end of it and just wanted to go home. When she eventually went back and saw the images she cried. Not from tears of joy and delicious recognition as often happens in our studio but tears of anguish instead at how unattractive she felt. He had also decided he didn't like her nose and photoshopped it to be a slimmer version of what it was without asking her permission.
I wanted his name. I was torn between wanting to give him a scissor kick to the nether regions or a full on photographic posing coaching session and photographic ethics class.
Photographers are like lovers - there is that crappy lay that you wish you never met and then there is the one that makes you tingle down to your toes.
Find the toe tingler.
Skip the crappy lays at all costs. Do your research before you get your kit off for just anyone.
Here is a guide for how to do that.
Do your homework:
1. Professionals are masters of their craft. Think of them like the Kundalini masters of making you look amazing.
Is your photographer a master in their industry? Think 10000 hours of posing and lighting practice. Award winning, compassionate, fine detail, excellent coach...
There is a fine art to posing a woman and the more luscious you are they more skills are needed to showcase your beautiful assets. Sizism exists among photographers primarily for the reason that leaner women are easier to make the photographer look good. The photographer needs a much greater developed skill set to beautifully showcase a woman who has curves or more years on the planet than a 17 year old who wears size six clothing. Is there a variation of sizes and ages of women on their site that feel like they could do a good job showcasing you?
Buyer beware. I have heard far to many horror stories of women who went for a bargain option only to discover that it cost them some of their self respect and it took a while to recover.
Check their professional association. Most actual professional photographers have joined their professional body. In New Zealand that is the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers. Each country will have a version of that that is the regulating body and will be there to ensure a professional standard. (there are levels of excellence in each body...find a Master or Grand Master if you can.)
2. Know what is happening to your files.
Is the post production and printing done in house? If not just know that your images will be whipping around in cyber space. Many photographers contract out their post production to India and the Philippines. Find out what their process is for protecting your files.
3. Male gaze vs. Female Gaze.
This is going to make generalities but I am going there any way. Check out your potential photographers work. Does it tell a sensual or a sexual story? The male gaze tends to feel more objectified, overtly sexual. The female gaze will feel more sensual, more ethereal and romantic. Figure out what sort of style you want representing you and find one that reflects your specific tastes.
Why you should do it and who should it be for?
I am a huge huge huge advocate of getting a boudoir session done. Age does not matter. I have photographed 18-80 year olds and each of them rocked it. The most import thing though is to make sure you are doing it for only one person...Yourself. Only yourself. Forget your partner or future partner they may get the benefits later but the best benefit they will get, if you have chosen your photographer well, is that you have so much more confidence in yourself.
Most of my boudoir clients have come for a beauty shoot and become so relaxed that they decided to take the plunge and do a boudoir session. 99% of the time...if they welled up the courage to do a boudoir session when they sat down to look at the images 90% of their favourites would be the ones where they had on less clothes. Their confidence in themselves shot through the roof. The woo woo among my readers will understand that by taking this step it went a long way to unblocking their sacral chaka. For the more mainstream... their sensuality simply became something to be reconed with. It is a beautiful thing to behold.
It is and it isn't decadent to do a boudoir photoshoot.
Life tends to send our sensual natures packing in its frantic pace. Our sacral chakra, the energetic aspect of yourself that controls our sensual desires, and our sexuality often can get blocked and repressed in the endless chores, work and family commitments.
This session is a beautiful moment for you to stop, and slip out of your head, and slide down into your body. Think of it like a warm luscious bath for your sensual soul.
It is a moment to learn to honour yourself with a greater level of compassion, and to feel, really feel the gift that your body is.
Getting a boudoir shoot isn't narcissistic it is compassionate. It is simply a moment to stop and honour yourself. And honestly how often are we doing that...rarely enough. So you are due my dear.
The key things to look for in a boudoir photographer
1. They are body positive and accepting of all sizes and shapes and ages
2. They are compassionate and kind
3. They are masters of their craft - Make sure they belong to a professional body like New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers or AIPA
4. Their portfolio feels respectful and like it represents your desired style.
5. They have consistent 5 start ratings and testimonials of their work.
(my first boudoir selfie...was going for Luscious here...was quite chuffed with it in the end).