Welcome to the Beyond Boudoir Photo blog!
Tales of an adventurous boudoir photographer in Portland, Oregon
Out of the 400+ images this couple received, we picked out eight that we feel are safe to reveal. I believe these will help give prospective clients a reasonably good idea of what a typical couple's shoot looks like in my new studio. As always, remember that these images are what this couple wanted and of course you don't have to do these same poses. Each shoot is different and is adapted to meet the needs of that particular couple.
As you can tell, this couple requested black and white. I enjoy working with B&W, even though it takes more time for post-processing. One fun thing about this shoot was that I switched between natural daylight from the windows and my studio strobe system. You really have to know your studio and your camera to make that work - it's a fun challenge for me!
If you are interested in having a photoshoot of your own, please use the contact page to send me a note. I usually reply within a few hours.
It's been a busy summer here at the Beyond Boudoir Photo studio! Word has gotten around among my kinky friends that my new studio has excellent overhead "hard points" suitable for doing rope bondage suspension scenes. In case you haven't heard, rope bondage in general, and rope suspension specifically, is all the rage among "kinksters" worldwide. No more do aspiring dominants spend big bucks for expensive leather and metal bondage gear. Now they spend money on rope, lots of rope, in many different colors and made with a bewildering variety of man made and (mostly) natural fibers.
Good bondage rope runs about a dollar a foot and most people start out with about a hundred feet. Often, people who dedicate themselves to the art of rope bondage have thousands of feet on hand. A thriving cottage industry now exists to fulfill the demand for high quality bondage rope in the BDSM community. If you are looking to buy some hiqh quality rope, Renaissancerope.com is the site of the friend who installed my hard points.
Rope artists gather in work groups to practice their skills and learn from more experienced artists. Some call themselves "riggers" but others dislike the term.
The amount of sexuality involved in a rope bondage encounter varies tremendously, according the wishes of the participants. The person who is being tied up can be described as a "rope bottom" or a "rope bunny" among other things. It is quite common to take photos of the rope session and post them on appropriate social media.
Sometimes the rope bottom is fully clothed, sometimes fully nude or something in between. When a rope session takes place in public, it's sexy, but there is rarely any sex. At most, the rope bottom may be granted an orgasm via something like the Hitachi Magic Wand. In private, it's a different story. Many rope instructors offer courses in bondage for sex. The couple below has done rope play together many times and enjoy being in front of the camera. They got a free photoshoot and you get to enjoy their pix! I plan to post more from this shoot later.
When someone is tied in this manner, it is a very sensual experience. Most people seem to go into an altered state of very relaxed consciousness. Terms for this include "subspace," being "rope stoned" and "flying," to name a few. When they reach this state, their pupils are often dilated and their gaze appears unfocused.
When suspending a person with rope, it is very important to have a reliable "hard point" above them to bear the load, as well as knowing the load ratings of all the various pieces of rope and metal connectors that are used for convenience. A good, sturdy hardpoint is said to be "rated for full suspension." Although a person may weigh less than, say, 250 pounds, the hardpoint is typically expected to hold perhaps five to ten times that weight to provide a margin of safety. The same goes for the rope and carabiners which always come with a weight rating.
I always make sure the rigger is skilled, knows all the safety rules, and follows them rigidly. I only allow expert riggers to do full suspension in my studio. Accidents do happen, but not here. If a rigger I don't know wants me to do a photoshoot for him and his partner, I ask to see photos of his past work and ask who he has studied under.
If you would like to schedule a Shibari photoshoot in my studio, but don't have a friend with excellent rope skills, I do have friends I can call on who will share their skills with you. Typically, you would meet with them in advance of the shoot so that they can ask safety-related questions and make sure you understand the simple safety rules. If you haven't been suspended before, it will most likely be an amazing new experience for you.
Photoshoots with these pro models often produce my best and most creative work, because I'm free to shoot the images I want, not those that a client has requested.
This blog post chronicles an outdoor shoot that I did with St. Merrique last week in the Columbia River Gorge. I love shooting in the Gorge, partly because I know of some secret spots where you can do nude photoshoots.
Shooting outdoors is a big change from my usual studio work and I really enjoy the challenge of working in uncontrolled conditions. I usually bring along one Alien Bees 400 studio light and a Vagabond Mini battery pack to power it. I find it to be a nice combination. You do get a little bit of light fluctuation if you shoot fast, but it's not a problem for me. I like to use a small (24 inch) umbrella outdoors. Anything larger risks being blown over by the wind, even though I have the weight of the Vagabond Mini on the light stand. For this shoot in a windy location, I also put a couple of fist sized rocks into a fabric "sandbag" and hung that on the base of the light stand. That did the trick, no toppled lights on this occasion.
These two images of St. Merrique on the red fabric were created with the Canon EF 100mm F/2 on my 5D3 at ISO 100, 1/200, F/2.5. This lens is not super-sharp wide open, but if you stop it down about 2/3 of a stop, it sharpens up nicely. The lighting on this shot was provided by the blue sky overhead with appropriate color balancing in Lightroom to keep her from looking blue.
For the photo below, I used my Alien Bee as a front light while the model was illuminated by the sun coming from camera left. The lens was my workhorse Canon EF 24-105 F/4 IS L. Exposure data: F/6.3, 1/60, ISO 100. I was able to balance the flash and daylight without using a neutral density filter, which made me happy enough to snap dozens of variations of this scene.
The next two photos show a completely different approach to lighting. Since the model is backlit, I had a choice of using my strobe to balance the light or simply let the background be washed out. I chose the latter, because I wanted to see the backlight coming through the pink fabric. I had to brighten the shadows a bit in Lightroom and adjust the color balance a lot.
I was happy to give up some technical image quality to get the artistic look I wanted. If you would like to see more photos from this shoot, click here to see a gallery of selected shots.
You can find our lovely model, St. Merrique on Model Mayhem. She's great to work with and travels to many areas.
Thanks for reading!
I mentioned the effects of "Fifty Shades of Gray" in a blog post about two and a half years ago. Since then, the demand for BDSM themed photoshoots has dramatically increased. As you can see from my portfolio, a good deal of my work has a BDSM theme. This comes as no surprise to my many friends in the Portland BDSM community, which I've been a part of for over two decades.
It's been interesting to see the changes in what women and couples wish to include in their kinky photoshoots. If you take a look at the 2014 blog post mentioned above, you'll note that it's a pretty soft version of BDSM. As time has passed, I'm getting more frequent requests for what you might call serious BDSM shoots. These often involve rope bondage and some degree of sensation play, which includes things like spanking, clamps and various impact toys.
It's almost always a woman who contacts me seeking a BDSM photoshoot. Sometimes she wants to pose with her man, sometimes she wants to shoot solo and give the images to her man as a gift.
My new studio has overhead hard points which were installed specifically for doing rope suspension play. This is generally known as Shibari or Kinbaku.
My own rope skills are minimal, so when a client requests a rope bondage photoshoot, I rely on a few friends who are talented rope experts or riggers, as I like to call them. They love what they do and will usually help out in exchange for gas money, a microbrew or some fancy Portland coffee.
Sometimes a client will request a BDSM shoot in a real dungeon, complete with crosses, spanking benches and other fine articles of sexy debauchery. In that case, my first option is to rent a sex-positive club in Portland called Catalyst, a Sex Positive Place.
I've organized a number of group photoshoot events at Catalyst, so I have a good understanding of how it can be used photographically. You can see some of my photos of this venue here.
Two of my kinky friends came to my new studio a few days ago to perform a fairly advanced rope suspension scene. It was the first rope shoot in the new studio, which is an auspicious occasion! As I mentioned above, the new studio has special hardpoints installed about 11 feet above the floor specifically for rope suspension.
On a funny side note, there are now rope bondage experts in Portland who specialize in the installation of safe hardpoints for suspension play. A lot more thinking goes into this task than you might expect, so don't try this at home unless you really know what you're doing. But I digress...
This couple had great chemistry and high level rope skills, it was an honor to watch and photograph them at play.
You can see a gallery of their photos here if you like. These 289 images are un-retouched so please excuse any small imperfections and send my friends a mental thank you for allowing me to share their intimate images with you.
I hope to have many more rope shoots in the new studio. If you are involved in Shibari/Kinbaku and would like to have some photos of you and your partner in action, please contact me and we can discuss the details. I believe the gallery mentioned above is a pretty typical representation of what you can expect to receive.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to the studio!
First Photoshoot In My New Studio
A New Camera
A Lovely Model From Arizona
Three things came together for this photoshoot. I just moved into a new home and since my studio is in my home, that meant getting a new studio set up and learning how to use it to best effect.
Two days before this shoot, I received a new camera that I intend to use a lightweight backup to my trusty Canon 5D Mark 3 and as a travel camera.
Moving is always hectic and I put my photography on hold for a month, so I didn't have any shoots lined up when I was ready to try out the new studio. Luckily, I ran into Tori on Model Mayhem and she agreed to drop in for a studio shoot. I don't think it's fair to do a lot of experimenting when I'm working for paying clients, so I have no problem paying experienced pro models to pose for me while I tinker with new gear or a new concept.
The new studio has several large windows that allow daylight to enter at various angles as the sun moves throughout the day. I've always loved simple window light, so I was looking forward to experimenting with it.
The walls go up about eleven feet to the ceiling and are painted a kind of yellowish tan. I was very curious about how that would effect the color balance of my photos when the daylight bounced off the warm-toned walls. As it turned out, the color balance looked fairly similar to standard daylight. I think the bluish light from the blue sky was warmed up a bit by the warm walls. A handy coincidence!
I was loving the soft window light, but I wasn't thrilled by the yellow/tan walls as a backdrop for portraits. I quickly put up a white backdrop.
I like that background color a lot better! However, you can now see the reflection of a large window in Tori's eyes. These are called "catch lights" and are an important topic of discussion among portrait photographers. I think these catch lights are too large and make her eyes look glassy or something. What do you think?
It was now around 6 PM and a large beam of sunlight offered itself for our artistic pleasure...
Overcome with a burst of artistic creativity, Tori and I moved the white backdrop into a location where it was illuminated from the rear by the strong, direct sunlight. Tori was front-lit by the large window, which gave us the high-key effect that required 5 or 6 strobe lights to create in my old studio. The shot below was done entirely with natural sunlight.
Time to take some "sitting on the hardwood floor" shots that are popular these days. Tori had some fun imitating one of my photos that was propped against the wall.
One of my complaints about the old studio was the low ceiling, so I wanted to try using an overhead strobe. This was a 4 foot strip light, directly above the model, aimed down at her. The strobe mixes with the natural daylight in interesting ways that will require more experiments in the future.
Then of course we had to have some fun with my trusty mirror...
Tori is on Model Mayhem, but the best place to contact her is her Facebook page. Take it from me, she's a delight to work with and very professional. Treat her well and don't try to haggle over her fee, she's worth every penny!
Now about that new camera... I picked up the new Canon EOS 77D to use as a travel camera and as a backup for my trusty 5D3. I wanted a smaller, lighter camera body that would provide image quality close enough to that of my bigger pro camera that nobody would know the difference. The photos above are a mix of shots from the two cameras with various lenses. I can't tell the difference without going back into Lightroom and looking at the data for each shot. I'm betting you can't tell the difference either!
A sex-positive photographer serving your private photography needs.
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