Welcome to the Beyond Boudoir Photo blog!
The Adventures of Beyond Boudoir!
My friends! Many of you have been telling me for a long time that I'm not charging enough for my private erotic photoshoots. I did appreciate all the nice things you said about me, including my ability to produce a large number of near-perfect photos within three days. I'm very proud of my technical skills.
But it's that other thing I had a hard time internalizing. You've all told me how I have a gift for making naked and nervous people feel comfortable and encouraging them to act out their fantasies. And you like the way I "interview" my clients before the shoot in order to understand what kind of style and poses will create images they will love. I guess I didn't understand how special that is until recently. Many of my clients have told me stories about other "erotic boudoir" photographers who wouldn't shoot what the client wanted, made them feel uncomfortable, or the finished images just weren't very good.
I recently did a hotel shoot for a really nice couple who had a great time and loved the large number of photos they received. By the time we finished the shoot we felt like old friends, so they told me about another erotic couple's shoot they'd done last year in Las Vegas. They described the young female photographer who came to their hotel room as being detached and not willing to interact with them. After the shoot, they received a relatively small number of photos that were not of the quality they wanted. To top it off, the photographer's fee was about $2,000. They said I need to be charging a LOT more for my services.
That's what started me thinking hard about my rates. So I began to look around at other photographer's websites and quickly realized that I should probably be charging more. I continued to think about this until I happened to watch a video by a wedding photographer I follow on YouTube, Katelyn James, who advises other photographers. I like her because she uses the same camera that I do and wedding photography is similar in many ways to my work.
Katelyn said two things that hit home for me. She said that if your rates are too low compared to other similar photographers, people will think there is something wrong and avoid you. She also said that if your clients tell you that you aren't charging enough, you need to listen. That is a very strong signal that your rates are too low.
So the evidence has finally piled up to the point where I am ready to raise my rates. I realize that I have a unique service to offer. The combination of my technical skills and easygoing, reassuring personality are very rare in this small niche market. Another thing to consider is that I've been keeping client's images private for over a decade. I don't know of anyone else in this field who can say that. It's time.
Thanks for all your support! If we have already talked about doing a shoot at my old rates, you are grandfathered in, so just remind me please.
Once upon a time, all models and photographers who did nude work could be found on a website called Model Mayhem. It was designed from the ground up to help these two groups find each other and arrange photoshoots that would benefit them both. Each subscriber filled out a profile that stated their location and what kind of work they were interested in. There were many boxes you could click, or not, to indicate your preferences for nude work, paid or trade work, artistic genres and other factors. Models could enter their age, measurements, hair color, eye color, ethnicity and lots more. Effective search functions allowed people to find each other.
If you were travelling to another area, you could post something called a "travel notice" that would alert subscribers in that area. If you were looking for gigs in your home area you could post something called an "availability notice" that would be visible to anyone who wished to check.
Both photographers and models could post lots of fully nude photos. Paying for a higher level subscription allowed you to post more as well as giving you more extensive search functions.
Model Mayhem gave a huge boost to the nude photography genre. It's appearance on the scene coincided with the rise of digital photography, so you no longer needed a photo lab to process your nude images. Most of the photographers on MM were hobbyists, I believe, but most models were paid to pose. MM also included lively discussion forums which allowed a nude photography culture to develop. This helped to standardize customs and useful terminology. A new species of model quickly evolved, the travelling nude model, who would go on tour around the country from paid gig to paid gig.
At this point you may be wondering why a blog post about Instagram starts with a description of Model Mayhem. Sadly, Model Mayhem has been slowly declining as a useful platform for several years, and most of the models have migrated to Instagram and other modern social media platforms. The reasons for the decline of MM are too complex for this discussion, so let me move on to Instagram, or IG as I will call it.
The biggest problem with IG is that it was never designed as a platform for models and photographers to mingle. When I as a photographer see a profile of someone who looks like they might be a model, I often can't tell for sure if they are interested in modeling or if they are just posting nice pix to impress their friends. Usually, I have to reach out and risk angering them by asking if they are a (nude) model or perhaps a nude dancer who might be interested in modeling as a side gig.
In some cases, a profile will make it clear that the individual is a model, but it will leave out other important information. Many models don't include their city, their age or their genre preferences. Very few include such things as their measurements, their nudity limits, their modeling rates and other important details that were commonly available on MM. IG offers only a very superficial look at potential models and the same is true when models are looking for photographers. It's up to you to strike up a conversation and ferret out the needed details. Of course most IG subscribers are using their phones, so long messages are unpopular. You need to keep them short and to the point. Even then, it's easy to have misunderstandings, especially when chatting with inexperienced models.
One thing you can count on is that models on IG who have an OnlyFans account will always include a link! That is good to know since I like to offer content-trade shoots to OnlyFans models. It also strongly suggests that they won't be horrified if I ask them about their possible interest in nude modeling.
Let's move on to the next reason that Instagram sucks. It's the way that IG forces people to post photos that conform to their limited choices of aspect ratios. The biggest complaint is with vertically cropped photos, which are a high percentage of nude images, like the example below:
IG has forced photographers to change their artistic style to conform to the demands of the platform. That sucks. Supposedly the 9x16 vertical format will be allowed soon and it will be a huge help. Long horizontal crops, like the one below, are displayed as very small images on most people's screens. You have to keep your images close to square for them to be seen as you intended.
Instagram also sucks compared to MM in the good old days, because models can't post nude pix. This is a very real problem for nude photographers, because you need to know what a model looks like nude before you agree to pay her for a shoot. If you have to ask a model to provide nude photos it tends to make you look like a creep - that is not fun.
The last reason I will mention is the very poorly managed censorship of photos. This task is performed by some kind of bot(s) governed by "The Algorithm." It's not unreasonable to expect a social media platform to censor images with nudity. The problem is that the definition of nudity is tricky and The Algorithm is unstable. I think the programmers tweak it whenever subscribers have figured out exactly what is allowed and what isn't. This has resulted in many viable IG accounts being terminated by The Algorithm. For reasons I don't fully understand, this affects nude models a lot more than photographers. Practically every model I work with mentions that her IG account got deleted at [tens of thousands] of followers.
All that being said, IG is currently an important way for me to find models. Sadly, it takes an insane amount of time and it forces me to distort my artistic style when I choose which photos to post. The fact that I have to trade messages with people who may not be comfortable with nude modeling creates stress. Trying to arrange a successful shoot with a model who doesn't know the relevant terminology is also time consuming and stressful.
Fortunately I still do some private shoots for paying clients and that helps keep me sane.
One of the ways I deal with the suck we call Instagram is to use the one and only link you are allowed to include in your profile. I have it pointing to my MM profile which is optimized for models coming from IG. They quickly get a good idea of my style and how I operate. If it weren't for that, IG would be unusable for me.
I will include a few photos here from my recent expedition to Tacoma where I did seven shoots with local models in an amazing house. The results will be showing up on my Bentbox page over the next few weeks.
According to an online dictionary, "catfishing" is when a person assumes a false identity online to deceive, manipulate or swindle another person. In my role as an erotic photographer, I've been catfished many times in the last decade or so. As my reputation expands, it's happening more often and is becoming a real problem.
To be clear, people aren't trying to swindle me, they are seeking erotic interactive entertainment or validation. There are also some real people (women) who are for a brief moment serious about scheduling a shoot. I've addressed those near the end of this post.
As you can imagine, I get a lot of emails from potential clients. Roughly a third are legitimate inquiries and the rest I broadly label as catfishing attempts. I used to find this fascinating and would engage in long email conversations that never resulted in a booked photoshoot, but helped me gain a bit more understanding of human sexual fantasies. After engaging in hundreds of these email exchanges, I've learned how the game works and I'm sharing what I've learned so that fellow erotic photographers can benefit from my experience. If there are any internet psychologists out there who find this post, feel free to quote from it.
Of course it always starts with an email from someone who says they want to arrange a private photoshoot. I have to take all inquiries seriously at first, but I don't want to waste time on unproductive messaging. If it's a catfishing attempt, the conversation will usually go two different ways, depending on the assumed gender of the person. Each way follows a fairly predictable path and I've wondered if perhaps the same handful of people have been emailing me the same fantasies for all these years.
If it's a man, he first asks if I'd do an erotic photoshoot that includes him and his wife, but spending most of the time shooting his wife, who is very attractive. Often he will send nude photos of a woman who is supposed to be his wife. Sometimes the photos look like a real person and sometimes they look like they've been ripped from the net. Real clients rarely send photos without being asked, so that alone is a yellow flag, but at this point it's hard to tell if the person is a legitimate potential client or a catfisher, so I must respond to get to the next step.
At this point, a male catfisher will start hinting that he wants someone else to have sex with his wife while he watches, or at least gets to see the pix later. Sometimes they want me to provide a male porn star to service the wife, but often they want to know if I'm willing to perform. They never ask about practical things like STD tests. If I play along, their fantasy gets more and more elaborate, typically evolving into a gangbang scenario.
Female-presenting catfishers follow a path that goes like this: Sometimes they say they are an aspiring novice model and sometimes they say they are a successful single woman who wants sexy photos for their own enjoyment and empowerment. Unlike legitimate female clients, they don't seek sexy photos for online dating or self-promotion.
Early in the conversation, they briefly mention that they'd like some rather erotic photos in addition to the usual boudoir theme. As the email exchange goes on, they start adding more erotic and more complex elements. They want to know if one of the male models in my photos would be available to have sex with them. One of the most blatant red flags is that they ask if I get aroused while doing photoshoots and hint that it's OK if I do. In general, the female-presenting catfishers play a more sophisticated game and have more writing skill compared to the cruder efforts of the males. They are also more likely to offer me a lot of money.
Often they want to know if I will order them to assume naughty positions or engage in lascivious acts, which indicates submissive preferences. If I stay with the conversation long enough it usually morphs into a gangbang fantasy, sometimes with a very large number of men involved and an elaborate story line.
Since both the male and female-presenting paths go to roughly the same endpoint, I think there is a good chance that both groups are mostly male. Some just pretend to be female. I assume they are not happy with their sex life and like so many other people, they turned to the internet to build an easy fantasy world that pushes their erotic buttons. It's a lot less trouble than trying to build real life relationships. The apparent fact that so many catfishers are male is interesting. My thought is that we should not judge them too harshly. It's a very confusing time to be a man. I just wish they wouldn't waste so much of my time.
It gets old providing free services in this manner. Maybe I should monetize this by soliciting money for each hot fantasy message I respond to? Then I could hire someone to pretend to be me and that would complete the circle of deception! What a strange world we live in.
To be complete, I should mention that there are some real women who waste my time building a sexual fantasy around what it would feel like to be nude in front of my camera. They usually send nude selfies and insist that I comment on their bodies. Fishing for compliments, obviously. Eventually, they ask if I can provide someone to do naughty things to them. Some of these conversations are via text message, which makes it easy to impulsively send nude selfies to a stranger. Recently, women have started sending disappearing pictures to my phone. What will they think of next? LOL
These conversations with real women usually play out in a couple of hours and often alcohol is involved. Sometimes, they are sober, just horny and lonely. They vanish as rapidly as they appeared. It's sad in a way, because I'd be happy to do a private shoot for them with no risk of the pix escaping into the wild. I know that posing for a nude shoot can be a very erotic experience for many women. I encourage that in almost all my shoots that have an erotic theme.
That's all for now. I may add to this post later. I usually include some sexy photos in my blog posts and I briefly considered using some that have been sent to me by various catfishers. Perhaps I should create a gallery on my site? That might be something I will do in the future, but not right now.
Thanks for reading!
Although I have a pretty nice home studio, I’ve done quite a few shoots in the homes of models or clients. This post is based on my in-home shoots with professional models. So far, most of these shoots have been somewhere in the Portland region. I like to call them “house calls.”
House call shoots have some major positive aspects:
Of course there are also some notable negative aspects:
There are lots of other factors that might affect your decision to shoot at a model’s home. For example, you might not have a studio of your own. For me, I like getting out of the studio and working on location. Shooting in an unfamiliar space is a technical challenge that sharpens my skills.
Hopefully you found this blog post interesting and a bit helpful. The photos you see here were all taken at the model’s place.
Thanks for reading! If you want to see more photos of these models, you can scroll through the photosets I’ve posted for sale on Bentbox at this location: Bentbox - Beyond Boudoir Photo
I've done a lot of private erotic photoshoots for people over the last decade or so, but the one I did a couple of weeks ago has got to be the most rewarding. That is almost entirely due to the nature of the client.
She contacted me through my website and explained her situation. She has been blind since birth and is unable to take naughty selfies to send to her boyfriend. He is currently trapped in another country by Covid and they have been apart for some time.
Since she doesn't drive, I did the shoot in her small apartment. I used my wonderful portable studio strobes for some poses and used some rather dim Winter windowlight for others. My Canon R6 did what I asked of it in low light, as expected. I always enjoy putting my skills to the test in challenging situations.
I told her she could have a friend present, but she decided to go solo. As we got started, I was thankful for my long experience putting people at ease. We quickly established a good working flow.
The photos came out amazingly well, considering the location I had to work with. My client had a great body and was not hesitant to follow my posing instructions. In my past health care career, I worked with quite a few blind or partially-sighted patients, so I had a pretty good idea of how to communicate smoothly. Fortunately, she had excellent computer skills, so I was able to deliver the images via Google Drive as usual.
My biggest concern was helping her decide which of the 300+ images to send to her boyfriend. I thought I might have to give each photo a descriptive filename or something along those lines. It could have been rather awkward. Fortunately, she had a wonderful girlfriend who was able to help with that.
I got a note from her saying that her boyfriend loved the pix and thought she looked like a model, which she did, for sure. My clients always put a lot of trust in me when I do a private shoot, but in this case the level of trust was off the charts. That's even more important to me than making boyfriends happy.
Obviously, I can't share any pix with you from this shoot. It feels strange not to include at least one sexy photo, but I'm sure you understand. Private means private!
Thanks for reading,
The most common error couples make when they are planning a private erotic photoshoot is to keep adding more and more elements to the plan until it becomes impractical. Then they often just give up in frustration. Here are some of the things people add to their shoots which increase the complexity, the cost, and the chances for things to go wrong.
1. VIDEO - adding video recording to a still photo session causes several problems. To start with, the two techniques require different lighting systems if you want both to look good. Video also brings with it the need for a quiet shooting area, since all sounds will be recorded. Then you need to ask how the photographer is going to direct the clients without his voice being on the video. You probably don't want your naughty video to include his voice saying, "move your bootie to the left a little." To do video and stills together requires a team of two or preferably three skilled people, so the expense mounts quickly and the intimate atmosphere of the shoot is lost.
2. MULTIPLE LOCATIONS - Doing a shoot in a hotel room or the studio is pretty straightforward. Doing a shoot in one place, then transporting everyone and the equipment to another place tends to be stressful and increases the chances of unexpected problems. It's not impossible, but once again, it adds cost and complexity. It's fun to think about doing a romantic outdoor shoot on a beach at sunset, then moving to a hotel room for more intimate action, but it's not the best idea.
3. ADDING ADDITIONAL ACTORS - Many potential clients I talk with get caught up in the dream of planning an erotic photoshoot. The most common element they want to add is another person, or maybe more than one. In addition to legal and safe sex issues, this adds another failure point to the plan. The odds of them showing up for the shoot are poor. If you don't already know them well, the odds of them being compatible with your fantasy are poor. It's just a bad idea.
4. TOO MANY SCENES OR POSES - It's pretty common for clients to create a list of all the erotic scenes or poses they'd like to squeeze into the time available. It's actually good to have a list, but you need to be flexible and willing to call a halt when you start to get tired or don't feel sexy any more. In my view, erotic photoshoots are supposed to be fun, not hard work.
5. WANTING TO SHOOT OUTDOORS WHEN OR WHERE IT ISN'T PRACTICAL - Finding places where you can do a nude or erotic photoshoot outdoors is very tricky. The best place is during warm weather, on private property, where neighbors can't see. It's true that I've done many outdoor nude shoots with pro models, but I only use experienced professionals who are OK with the risks involved. We always shoot on weekdays when the woods and rivers aren't crowded and we are ready to pack up and leave at a moment's notice.
I hope you found these words of wisdom helpful in planning your own private erotic photoshoot. If you have questions, feel free to contact me using the contact option at the top of every page.
About six months ago, I made the big switch to a mirrorless camera body, the brand new Canon EOS R6. My previous camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV was working fine, but mirrorless cameras offered some advantages that I felt would potentially make my work easier and better. Both features are related to the auto-focus system.
The first improvement is that the mirrorless autofocus almost always achieves perfect focus with any lens you put on the body. With the older DSLR bodies, the system had different autofocus errors with different lenses. To get accurate focus, you had to perform a task called "micro-focus adjustment" with each lens you owned.
Even when adjusted, some lenses would exhibit different amounts of focus error at various distances and even at different zoom settings. While it was annoying, it was just part of being a professional photographer. You dialed in the adjustment as well as you could, then shot extra images to allow for deletion of poorly focused shots.
Even if your autofocus system is perfectly adjusted, you still have to make sure you place the viewfinder autofocus point exactly where you want it, which takes attention and practice. It's not always easy to do if you and your model are moving.
The second autofocus feature I really wanted to try was the eye tracking function. The EOS R6 and many other mirrorless cameras will continuously track a particular subject that moves around within your view and it will keep the lens focused on that object. This is obviously a great thing for sports photography or working with moving children, just to name two genres, but I find it very helpful when shooting with models.
Once I switch on the autofocus system with the button on the back of the camera, the powerful computer inside the R6 goes to work analyzing the scene. A focus box appears in the viewfinder and quickly starts moving. It first finds the head of the model, then places a very small focus box on one of her eyes. It does a pretty good job of tracking that eye as long as it is visible and there is enough light in the studio. If it loses the eye, it will default to head tracking. If the model moves so that her head is no longer visible, the camera struggles to find something else to focus on. At that point, I press another button and the autofocus system changes to a small spot that I can place wherever I like.
It is now extremely rare for me to reject an image due to imperfect focus!
Most people assume that you always want to buy a camera that will record the largest possible number of megapixels. In many genres, such as landscape photography with the goal of making large prints, that is surely correct. But when photographing people, I believe that is not the case. Very few people make prints any more, especially when the images are erotic. My photos are generally shared electronically and posted to online sites with limited resolution. Beyond a certain point, additional megapixels are wasted.
My previous camera had a 30 megapixel sensor. When viewing those photos at full resolution, skin and makeup imperfections are very distracting. You can spend a huge amount of time retouching skin and throwing away much of the detail you recorded with your high-megapixel sensor.
The current generation of Canon mirrorless full frame cameras includes the R6 and it's more expensive brother, the R5. The R5 has a 40 megapixel sensor - I knew that was more than I needed so I chose the R6 with a 20 megapixel sensor. This is the first time I've stepped down to a lower resolution body, so I was a bit nervous. But I was pretty happy with that resolution in my old 5D III and even with the 12 Mp sensor in my very old 5D Classic.
After six months of photoshoots, I can say the reduction in sensor resolution was a good decision. I feel the images have a smoother, more flattering skin texture and I've never wished for higher res images. As a big bonus, the smaller RAW files are noticeably faster to process and store. I had been thinking it was time to build a new desktop computer, but it looks like my last build will be adequate for a few more years.
The sharpness of an image is not the same as resolution. It is determined by many things, but in this case I'm only discussing the effect of the lens. I've read articles stating that a mirrorless camera body has a sharpness advantage over an old DSLR body because the back of the lens can be closer to the sensor. Perhaps this is true, since the mid-priced 24-105 lens I bought with the new camera is extremely sharp, on a par with earlier expensive professional lenses. It is so good and so convenient to use that I don't have a lot of experience using other lenses on this new body.
Overall, I am very pleased with the R6. I think it is a great choice for photographers who work with human models and distribute their work for viewing on video screens.
There isn’t much to do these days with the cold weather and so many businesses locked down. It makes me want to look back through my image archives.
Way back in 2015 I had a chance to do a very cool photoshoot that produced some of my best work. There were four factors that came together to make this such a great shoot: A beautiful pro model, a cavernous old artist's studio, lots of natural daylight coming through large windows, and a nice set of professional camera gear that I had been using long enough to be comfortable with.
The model was Chrissy Marie from Model Mayhem, who has been published in Playboy and Penthouse. You can see her own site here: https://www.captivechrissymarie.com
She is and was a very professional model, proud of her natural body and not afraid to show it off with great skill.
The artist’s studio was located in a historic multi-story brick building in downtown Portland on W. Burnside St. My artist friend was able to rent an entire floor from the owner who was an admirer of his paintings. Half of the huge space was a room lit by huge windows, obviously designed before interior lighting became cheap and bright. This is where my friend created his paintings and had room to display dozens of them for potential buyers.
The remainder of the floor was dark, dirty and partly filled with junk. There was just enough light coming in from a couple of small windows to allow some dramatic backlighting, but I realized it was time to set up a studio strobe with an umbrella reflector. These images have a completely different feel from those taken in the art studio.
My camera was the workhorse Canon 5D Mark III, which was the first camera I’d owned with reliable autofocus. I used two lenses for this shoot that are standards for wedding photographers, the EF 24-70 F/2.8 L and the EF 50mm F/1.2 L. These large aperture lenses allowed me to create some lovely artistic background blur.
This shoot produced over 1,000 usable images. When I prepared this collection for sale, I split it into two sections. If you are interested in owning this photoshoot for your private collection, you can purchase it most easily on Bentbox at these two links:
If Bentbox doesn’t work for you, I can sell you both boxes via PayPal and Google Drive for $60. Just drop me a note at: [email protected]
Thanks for reading! You know where to find me if you are interested in modeling or in hiring me for a private photoshoot.
A sex-positive photographer serving your private photography needs.
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