Getting Started in Boudoir Photography (Part 1)

Boudoir photography is one of the fastest growing markets in photography these days.  There are many different styles and each photographer has their own take on how they prefer to shoot their sessions.  But how do you get started in this business?

The easiest way to get started is by photographing a friend who is up for a “trial and error” shoot who does not mind if you use their picture on your website.  The whole idea behind this shoot is to explore different ideas, some may work and some will definitely not work.  But since it’s a friend who is a volunteer there is no pressure to get every shot right!

If you are just getting started and you do not have all of the professional lighting that some studios have here are some things to consider to use for lighting your first boudoir session.  These are also ideas to think of even if you are a seasoned pro!

Home improvement stores sell halogen and LED worklights for as little as $14.00!  The 600 watt and higher power lights are probably the better ones to use as they give out enough power to where you do not have to have them so close to your subject.  Just remember, the  halogen lights do get hot!  Do not get them too close to your subject and be careful when touching and adjusting them, they can burn you or your client!  LED lights do not generate heat like a halogen light and do give off a cooler tone, so you may have to play with your white balance to get a skin tone you desire.  A good trick is to write your settings on a piece of tape and stick it to the side of the light, this way you will always remember what you were shooting at.

Window light is always the easiest and most available lighting for boudoir photography.  Play around by moving your subject closer and further away from the window.  Adding lamps, just regular house lamps, in the back ground can add great ambient light.  These same house lamps can be used for a dramatic effect as well.  A good scenario is imagine your subject/client sitting on a bed next to the night stand with just the lamp on, you will get dramatic shadows, it may be a little dark but it makes for great black and white photography!

Reflectors are a great source for bringing more light into any situation.  Positioned correctly, on the shadow side of subject, you can move the reflector back and forth, closer and further from your subject for the desired effect.  If you do not have a reflector and just do not have the $50+ it costs to buy one, you can get a 3 pack of 20″x30″ white foam core from your local office supply store for under $20.00!  These are great reflectors and can be taped, clamped and really be used anywhere!

Speaking of clamps, when you go to your home improvement store be sure to pick up some “A” clamps, these are inexpensive and very versatile.  The smaller ones can be used for clamping wardrobe to holding back curtains in a hotel room and the medium to larger ones can be used to hold up backdrops, reflectors and even the halogen or LED lights.

Getting started in this business will take a little bit of work, but if you put the time and effort in it can turn into a nice little extra income!  In Part 2 we will discuss how to get clients!

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