Interpretations of boudoir photography

To summarize the meaning, it’s a French verb for changing room, boutique, bedroom setting where women got ready in their dresses, lingerie, etc. to feel beautiful, glamourous, and sexy. Inspired by the Renaissance era and it’s furniture. There are several photographers in the Nashville area specializing in boudoir photography and have furniture setups in their studio. Their version of boudoir is more traditional in the sense the subjects can be wearing dresses or lingerie but seldom more nude than that. Definitely a good market for this, but how do I stand out from the already formed studio rooms and makeup, outfits, etc.? I offer my own style that appeals more to the artsy taste of clients as opposed to glamour and tradition.

I like chicken, but lots of chicken restaurants around…..I prefer spicy chicken, so this is what makes me stand out with few competitors in my realm in my area. I believe in spicing up the mood and photography, through lighting and overall tone. My style is mystique, dramatic lighting, and focusing on the woman’s face, body shape, and individual regions of the body, in an artistic and tasteful style….and less about accessorizing. Less about the setting. More about the subject, that’s where where I can stand alone for glamorous female photography, implied nude photography, and artistic nude photography, right here in Nashville. The best compliment I can receive is customers coming from 100 plus miles away to have me photograph them for their milestone in life….new marriage, anniversary, a memoir for the overseas military husband, etc. That and when they tell me they feel comfortable working with me and don’t feel “naked” . It’s my job to be good at what I do, know and use flattering angles, and make it fun and comfortable to work with me. My version of boudoir is the spicy variety, even for clothed subjects which are always welcome too.

Nashville boudoir photography

It’s all about respect

Many people may wonder what this topic has to do with photography, especially as it pertains to photography of the nude female body and photographing women as a whole. But there is definitely a connection. I will share with you a rather embarrassing story of when I was maybe 16 years old, but it turned out to be a valuable lesson. One day I was driving my yellow 1971 Chevelle which I bought from money saved up from cutting lawns for neighborhood homeowners. It wasn’t perfect but I loved it because it was mine, and my first car….a huge moment in a young man’s life, LOL! One day I was driving down one of the main drags in Albany, NY where I attended high school and lived. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I’m thinking this lady cut me off and was driving a little crazily, and I hadn’t been driving all that long, so it took me by surprise and I quickly gave her the finger or something. What did I know, I was 16? I quickly learned that’s not the way to handle it, lol.

She sped up like a lunatic and got beside me, my windows were down and I remember she was maybe mid 40’s and looked like the type of mom who didn’t take a lot of crap. And she told me she was married to a cop and could make my life miserable, and I better not ever do that to her again….or something to that effect. I just nodded and wanted to get away from her. Not sure how much time had passed since then….but I was working at a local grocery store after school and on weekends. I still remember I was cleaning the floors in the produce section and I see this same lady walk in and just my luck, she recognized me. I was like…..oh shit. She asked me if I was the kid who drive the yellow Chevy. I said yes, I remember you, and said so humbly. She proceeded to warn me of doing that ever again and I better show her some respect. I told her I was very sorry for doing that, it wasn’t my style and it was a knee jerk reaction probably from not even having my drivers license all that long. And it turned out her son was with her, who was a year or 2 ahead of me in school. She sort of reluctantly accepted my apology.

I saw her check out, I got this brilliant idea to offer her help getting her groceries to her car. She looked at me, like ok……but are you out of your mind? LOL! I loaded her groceries, VERY carefully. I saw a lawnmower blade in her trunk, which made my mind go in even weirder directions and I asked if she had lawnmower problems….she said she had to go to the hardware store to order a new one but they didn’t have it in store and their grass was getting tall. I said, let me mow it for you, that’s what I do when I’m not working here or in school. The look on her face, LOL! She said, well alright. Be there Sunday 3 PM. I was thinking that’s weird, why would it matter what day and time? But I went along with it. I do it, and I told her thanks for not staying pissed at me, have a great rest of the day. No, come in now. Um….ok? So I did, there was this huge spread on the table with lasagna, salad, Italian bread and olive oil, and bakery canoli’s and the house smelled great! They said to sit down and eat with them. Which in an Italian family is a privilege, they don’t open up their home to just anybody for Sunday dinner. She told me in front of her sons, she appreciated me being man enough to admit I was wrong, and going above and beyond to make it right, so that’s why they wanted me to stay for dinner. We were friends ever since then, LOL!

Not that intimidation and fear should be the motivation to be respectful towards female clients, but it’s what they expect and deserve. Women doing intimate photoshoots feel vulnerable, and need a discreet and respectful, yet fun photographer to capture their best moods and make their experience the best. Photography is a very personal service, especially as it pertains to nude or boudoir photography. If clients have a fun and comfortable experience, they will tell others. If not, it can be damaging to their self esteem….and we all know a dissatisfied customer tells more people than a happy one. Not only are proper angles and lighting important, but so it personality, character, and respect.

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With or without a face?

Not one of those “To be or not to be” propositions, because everyone has a face. But when I create fine nude works of art, or implied nude, part of the draw is mystique and the unknown. Part of which the viewer is left with some imagination to accompany their gratification of the photograph. My particular approach is to utilize shadows and highlights as a way to create an interesting contrast with my nude photography. As well as more dramatic mood.

Sometimes, to showcase a certain area of the body, I will use bodyscapes which do not show the face or all of the body. The trick is to be careful in composition, so it doesn’t look like a body part is being lopped off (a detailed discussion for another article) and so that the focal point is it’s intended feature. So, really the answer is BOTH! lol. There is a place for her face for sure…..but when I don’t show it, it’s not because of butterface (nice body but her face needs help) but to draw the viewers’ eye elsewhere. Or sometimes I will cut off part of the face so the viewers’ eye goes to the dominant feature of the body or face I want it to. Examples. The top one, the viewers’ eye is on her jaw, and shoulders / collarbone area. The tendril of hair and soft lips create the mystery. The other focuses more on her shoulder blades than her face, but enough of her face shows the beauty of it, but if all of her face and top of her head was in the photo….the intended subject area wouldn’t have been as pronounced. Enjoy!

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