There are many details that go into a great boudoir photoshoot. One that doesn’t get enough consideration is the location of the shoot. Most commercial boudoir studios shoot in... wait for it... their studio! It’s a lot more cost effective and time efficient than shooting at an alternate location but if you ask me, it’s boring and stereotypical.
Sure, I have a nice studio, but I can only cram in so many props and backgrounds. After a while it starts to conflict with my artistic need to be creative, so I am always watching for alternatives.
In the past, I’ve done shoots in private homes, outdoors and in hotel rooms. Shooting in the client’s home often gives the best results, since that is where they are the most comfortable - a critical factor in an intimate photoshoot! But in many cases, doing a house call isn’t possible. The client may be from out of town or they may not want their housemates and neighbors to know that they have hired a naughty photographer.
Hotel rooms all look like, well... hotel rooms. Unless you are willing to spend the money for a luxury suite, which can be nice but expensive.
There is another option that is fairly new. I’m talking about online vacation rentals. Companies like Airbnb.com bring people with houses, apartments and rooms to rent together with travelers who want an alternative to traditional hotels. Airbnb was in the local news recently, because they are opening a large customer service center in Portland.
I’ve done three shoots for visiting clients in vacation rentals before, but I hadn’t rented one myself. It seemed like a good time to try out the online system and set up a shoot with a model friend I’ve been wanting to work with again.
This little apartment was carved out of a very unusual old house on Portland’s East side. It’s on the slopes of Portland’s friendly little volcano. I’m not going to give the address here, but if you like the look and want to try it yourself, drop me a note. I only paid sixty bucks for the rental, so I was not going to be heartbroken if it turned out to be less than a stellar photography location.
In most cases, photos posted on the web by the owner are going to give you the best possible impression of the property. In real life it might not be quite so magical. In this case the space was a lot smaller than I expected. The kitchen and bathroom were both the size of closets and the lovely french doors actually opened out onto a driveway with recycling bins. I had been hoping to use the incoming daylight, but the weather was dark and rainy so I just closed the drapes and set up my Alien Bees.
The real treasure in this little apartment turned out to be the huge mirror next to the bed. We had a lot of fun with that mirror, but I’m only going to post a few images here.
There was just enough room for my two light stands which both had to be positioned to camera right. Believe it or not, the ceiling was painted red, making a ceiling bounce problematic. I experimented with different lighting variations, but my options were limited by the confined space.
The shot below was taken with the Canon 40 mm pancake lens on my 5D3. All others were taken with the Sigma 50mm lens. Generally for indoor shoots in confined spaces like this, my favorite lenses are in the 35-50mm range.
These shots on the bed bring up an important point about shooting in a privately owned vacation rental. The owners often try to give the space some character by selecting linens and bedspreads with interesting colors. That's not always the best for a boudoir photoshoot. I suggest bringing your own white sheet and pillowcases.
After I got all the mirror shots I could possibly use, I decided to try using the dim daylight from the front window that looked out to the rainy street.
After shooting a few traditional window shots with available light, I switched on one of the strobes and aimed it at a butterscotch colored wall for a nice warm bounce effect.
To see more of Selene, you can visit her Model Mayhem profile.
If you would like a photoshoot of your own, please use the contact form to send me a note.
A sex-positive photographer serving your private photography needs.
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