Miss A. was the first woman I ever officially asked to pose for me for a film boudoir session. She was originally a paying client at the boudoir studio where I work, and I just loved her bubbly personality and adorable smile. I also loved the fact that she booked her boudoir session as a reward to herself for losing about 50 pounds and accomplishing some other personal goals. When I found out that she is also a Taurus (like me!) who enjoys hiking and dogs (also, like me!), it became very clear why I was drawn to photograph this girl. 🙂
The main purpose of this shoot was to test out the Canon EF 35mm camera that belonged to my father-in-law, which he gave me at Christmas when I mentioned wanting to get back into film photography. I was also experimenting with film processing. I shot Miss A.’s session on Kodak Portra160 with my camera set to ISO 400, and then I asked the lab to push the film two stops. I was hoping that would make the photos less grainy, but I honestly don’t see much difference between the grain in these shots and others photos I’ve taken with Portra400.
Anyway, with this shoot I also wanted to try my hand at photographing a more “natural,” or less posed, type of boudoir session. I really wanted it to look like I was capturing Miss A. just sitting around the house, which is a slight change of pace from how I usually photograph boudoir sessions. Typically, we coach our clients into more Victoria’s Secret-esque types of poses because that’s the style of boudoir photography our studio is known for. I LOVE the work our studio does because I get to prove to regular, everyday women that, yes, they CAN look just as beautiful and sexy as those VS models! (It’s an incredible honor being able to help so many women find or even regain their self-confidence this way.)
However, as much as I love the style of boudoir photography that I shoot professionally, the whole reason why I got back into film photography is so I could start shooting for myself again, just for fun and for the challenge of it. Hence, my desire to try something new with Miss A.’s shoot.
I’m not really sure if “unposed” is the best way to describe this style of boudoir photography, but that’s how it feels to me, and I have been admiring this style boudoir photography for quite some time. I’m just so used to posing women from head-to-toe that I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I mean, how does one instruct their model to just look naturally sexy without trying???
I explained my general idea for the shoot to Miss A., as well as my concerns about how to shoot it, but she assured me that we would figure it out together. Of course, as soon as I got out my camera, my brain went straight into “professional” mode and I started posing Miss A., asking her to point her toes and telling her what to do with her hands. I caught myself immediately, though, and told her to forget everything I just said. I then asked her to just sit and lean back against the wall like she would if she was just hanging out at home. Well, the problem with that direction is the fact that Miss A. WASN’T just hanging out at home. She was sitting half-naked in a boudoir studio trying to look as “natural” as possible, which, of course, resulted in her looking kind of nervous and uncomfortable. So, I asked her to make a few little tweaks to her natural sitting position, which did help with the overall pose, but then I felt like I was posing her too much again.
For the first 15 minutes or so, I really struggled with figuring out how to get “unposed poses” out of Miss A. Finally, out of pure frustration with myself, I just said, “Fuck it,” and went back to doing what I do best – posing my subject. However, rather than coaching Miss A. into the same positions that I usually photograph during boudoir sessions, I decided to try recreating some of the more natural-looking, “unposed” poses that I’ve admired on other boudoir photographers’ websites. To my great relief, this strategy actually kind of worked! Even though I WAS technically still posing Miss A., she went into these new poses so easily that she made them look effortless. In other words, she didn’t look like she was posing!
As it got later in the day, the bright afternoon sun started beaming through the back door of the studio and into the kitchen. We don’t typically shoot clients at the studio that late in the afternoon, so I had never really gotten to play in this type of light before. So, Miss A. and I spent the rest of the session chasing that gorgeous beam of light as it moved from one side of the studio to the other. It actually made for a really fun little challenge for the both of us! We were also both feeling much more comfortable by that point, so much so that Miss A. actually volunteered to do a couple of artistic nude poses for me, which totally made my day! Not only do I love shooting artistic nudes, but I felt so happy and flattered that Miss A. trusted me enough to photograph her in such a vulnerable state.
All in all, I learned SO MUCH from my first film boudoir shoot with Miss A. I learned that the “unposed” boudoir photos that I’ve been admiring for so long may not actually be as unposed as they seem. I could be wrong about that, but I now find it hard to believe that the photographers of those sessions didn’t give at least SOME direction to their models. And that’s totally okay! In fact, I now feel challenged to get better at coaching my subjects into positions that LOOK natural and effortless, even if they actually aren’t.
I also learned that I need to work on my manual focusing skills, and I learned from some of my underexposed shots that whenever my subject is backlit, I need move in to get a meter reading of my subject’s skin and be careful not to just meter for the entire scene. I’ve always been able to just check the exposure of my shots immediately on the back of my DSLR screen and then correct those settings before continuing to take photos. I’m not used to having to actually think about getting that exposure correct BEFORE I press the shutter release button, which actually feels embarrassing to admit right now, but lessons like these are exactly why I’m so glad to be shooting film again. I know it’s going to make me a better photographer overall.
Thank you so much for being patient with me, Miss A., and for being just as enthusiastic about this shoot as I was. Taurus girls RULE!!!!!