Why Boudoir Photography
Why Would A Woman Do a Boudoir Photo Shoot and Why Are They So Expensive?
First questions first - Why would a woman do a Boudoir Shoot? It's complicated - but let me pass on what scores of women who have done a Boudoir Shoot with me have said.
1) it's FUN!
Many women DO feel that they look good, and are happy with their bodies. For many it's been a long hard journey - maybe getting back into shape after childbirth, maybe simply reaching a target weight after a two year diet and for a few (yes they DO exist) they are just naturally gorgeous. For these women a Boudoir Photo Shoot is a celebration of who they are or who they have become. For others it's the icing on the cake - a way to mark the achievement of a goal. And because of their approach to the boudoir shoot IT'S FUN. They're happy, confident and looking forward to it. During the photo shoot they are relaxed and enjoy being the film star or top model they secretly see themselves as. It's an enactment of their beliefs about themselves.
2) It's a CHALLENGE Everyday life is just that - everyday - mundane and mostly the same routine. Which is why so many of us look for a CHALLENGE. For me it's been running a sub 3hr marathon, building a house, building a successful business and winning competitions. Many women see Boudoir Photography as a challenge. They'd love to see themselves as beautiful, glamorous and sexy. But the everyday them argues that they're ordinary, they could never look that good and they'd never be brave enough to strip off in front of the camera. So it's a Challenge - something at some point flips a switch and they DECIDE they WILL do it. They WILL have photos of themselves looking beautiful, glamorous and sexy no matter how awkward or like a fish out of water they feel.
3) As a GIFT Many brides before their wedding want to give their to be husband a gift they'll love and treasure. There's not many husbands who wouldn't want to see their new wife in Boudoir Photos that show their more secret side - the side their husband is the only one to see. A side that says no matter what happens and how much life gets in the way in future THIS is who I can be.
4) As a Re-Building Therapy I'm not for one moment suggesting I have any abilities as a counsellor or therapist but the act of doing a Boudoir Photo Session for many women is very therapeutic. It enables them to move on. It defines a new beginning. It draws a line under an episode they want to escape from. Unfortunately many women suffer - not always through a deliberate act by another but more often simply thoughtless behaviour, selfishness by a loved one, sometimes simply a single word at the wrong moment. And of course they are sadly more serious cases that require years to get over and often, that "getting over it" NEEDS a physical act. Boudoir Photography can be that act. It's physical and challenging but the most confidence building thing these women can do. It's not uncommon for a women when we're doing the shoot and she starts to really relax and gain confidence, to open up her reason why she's doing this boudoir shoot. I've heard many sad stories and that from this day she'll put these problems behind her. TODAY SHE BECOMES A NEW PERSON
WHY IS BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY SO EXPENSIVE?
It would be easy to simply try and justify what on the face of it maybe outrageous prices some Boudoir Photographers charge.And I do agree that some seem crazy expensive but let's break it down and see how I arrive at MY pricing.
I first need to explain what, for me, Boudoir Photography is. It's the artful expression of the beauty of a woman.
What it's NOT! A sexy photo of a woman in her underwear!
You might ask, "what's the difference?" Go to Instagram or Pinterest and search for "boudoir photo" Here you'll see what Boudoir Photography IS NOT! (well mostly - maybe 5% are boudoir photos)
A Boudoir photo has nothing to do with the age of the woman, her size, even her physical beauty. For good boudoir photography is about art. It's about light and shadow, about the setting and composition and of course about the woman showing her true beauty which comes from within.
So it doesn't matter your age, your size or anything physical but rather finding your true inner beauty - that always shines through
SKILL and EXPERIENCE
So the point here is that there are few photographers who have the ability to create such photos. Most (and including me when I first started!) photographers, even established Boudoir Photographers, give photos that are "women in their underwear". The impact on COST is scarcity - few photographers can actually do Boudoir.
Some of the changes I had to make to become (imho) a good Boudoir photographer was to find a suitable place for the shoot. I'd usually done the shoot at clients homes - these ranged from 5 bed perfect show houses to cluttered flats with kids toys everywhere. I needed consistency by having a "studio" - I'd done a couple of shoots at a photographic studio and hated it. Cold, spartan, unwelcoming and simply not the right atmosphere. So I searched for 6 months to find a suitable place - the right size, in the right location, with privacy, with the right furniture and amenities and the biggy - the RIGHT LIGHT. I found a few but the owners were not happy for it to be used for photography (and I still don't understand why) I finally found The Willows where the owner was really accommodating and helpful and it was perfect. This is now my base for Boudoir Photo Shoots - but it's not cheap to rent for the day. Cost number one!
Do you really care what camera I use? No - but a cheap camera and lens simply won't do. I already owned and still use my Sony A7iii for weddings and it's perfect for Boudoir photography due to it's amazing focus system where I don't need lots of light - many of my photos are in quite dark conditions and I know my previous Nikon cameras would have struggled. But the big issue here is LENSES. I now have 3 lenses for Boudoir all costing around £1000. And they're not optional - I simply couldn't create the images I do with cheaper alternatives.
For me a Boudoir Shoot should be a relaxed, truly enjoyable experience for the woman. She should Look and Feel amazing - that way we get the best photos possible. Part of that is using a professional H&MU artist - check them out - good ones don't come cheap! The whole shoot from arrival to leaving is at least 5 hours - I'm there the whole time so is longer than many weddings I photograph! And you know how much they cost!
BUT that's just the beginning
The photos captured during the shoots are for me the "raw material" from which I create the photographs I offer to the client. For a photograph to become "art" it needs to go beyond reality.
To achieve that I spend at least 15 minutes per image altering the lighting, colour hues and tones, the sharpness and clarity. I add shadows and lift darkness. I personally love the look of film back in the days I used Kodachrome and many of my images are have that look. BUT the client always comes first and if they want all black and white, or high key then that's what I create.
Fourty images takes me an entire day to create.
There's then the 2nd Meeting where I'll show the Client the Images and they can order what they want.
That's another few hours.....
I used to provide my clients with the digital images in an online gallery and leave them to decide what they wanted and arrange it all themselves. What a waste! I discovered that almost no one ever got round to getting an album, or prints or even photo enlargements. They just popped a few on their phone!
A women doing a Boudoir Shoot has a special reason for doing it - a few images on her phone doesn't do justice to the whole endeavour.
I determined to find products that would match the level of effort and commitment that went into the actual shoot. Given the huge selection available it took a while but I narrowed it down to the things I believe most suit the images.
Acrylic prints - super glossy and perfect for dark moody photos.
Canvas - personally I'm not a fan of these for Boudoir - however the customer is always right and it's my job to give the customer what they want! But not your "ordinary" PhotoBox version - a top quality handmade version on German canvas where I've created a special image with the photo pre-stretched to fit around the frame.
Mounted Photo Enlargements - these are ready for framing should the client have a frame already or if I can't offer one they want. But not ordinary photo enlargements! I found a printing technique called "Giclee" which is a technique used to print Fine Art paintings. When printed onto German Hahnemühle paper it gives images a softness and amazing depth that takes a great image on a computer screen and simply makes it fantastic. But definitely not cheap! Then permanently mounted onto acid free 3mm card
The Ultimate Boudoir Photo!
Framed Boudoir Photos - take the above mounted print and put into a frame that compliments both the photo and where it'll be hung and you have an heirloom. Something to look at everyday and be inspired.
A permanent reminder that you are a beautiful work of art.
Photo Album - in my view the only way to view multiple photos. To match the quality of the photos the album is very good quality from a professional photographic supply company. All hand made with velvet leather covers and boxed to last a lifetime. I do also offer a "top" quality album on request - Italian leather, special paper, gold embossed - you get the idea!
Digital Images on USB - obviously there is a requirement for digital - from a screen saver to sending to your sister in Australia so I offer this for any images bought as in a printed format.
Hopefully it's apparent that creating the "product" that is my Boudoir Photography has taken a lot of time, effort and creativity. It's not just a quick photo shoot and a few digital photos.
It's ART - where YOU are the subject ...
So yes it's expensive but do you want some snap shots of you in your underwear or are you worthy of art?