Getting Started in Boudoir and Glamour Photography

“When you think of lighting, try to forget if it is sun, incandescent, electronic flash or even candlelight. Instead consider the direction from which the sun hots the subject and how many sources are involved.”— Peter Gowland

During this two-week run of portrait How did I get started in boudoir and glamour photography?

It turns out that it was an indirect route and worth mentioning only because it might also describe you. When Mary and I opened our studio in 1982, we divided the workload: She photographed people and I photographed things, mostly architecture. Every now and then because of scheduling and availability I would make a few business portraits or headshots but people were really Mary’s game. When we sold the studio—a saga covered in my forthcoming book, A Life in Photography— things changed.

I’d always loved the work of Peter Gowland but began avidly reading and collecting his glamour books in the 1980’s. In the late 1990’s when looking at some of the new glamour images appearing on the Internet I became interested in working in the genre but had to start from scratch after selling all of the studio’s lighting equipment because “I wasn’t ever going to photograph people again.” That was when I learned you can never say never or “ever” and started learning how to make glamour images with little or no lighting equipment.

You may be interested in trying boudoir photography too but think that it’s too difficult, you need lots of expensive equipment, or that models are hard to find. As Señor Wences once famously said, “Is difficult for me, is easy for you.” This could apply to glamour photography too if you don’t know an f-stop from a shortstop but it’s going to much less difficult if you’ve been interested in photography a while and are familiar the  basics including focus and exposure. If that latter description fits, you’re ready to make your first glamour photograph.

When shooting boudoir or intimate portraits I prefer working in black & white to produce a quietly, pensive look. For this image of Pamela Simpson, backdrop is a black Savage Infinity vinyl background. Camera was a Olympus E-M10 Mark 1 with Olympus M.45mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec and f/4.5 and ISO 200. You can hear more about my favorite lenses to use in the studio in a blog post/podcast on our sister blog Mirrorless Photo Tips.

Joe is the author of the out-of-print film-based book Part-Time Glamour Photography: Full-Time Income, which you can get for less than five bucks on Amazon and more recently, Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography,” which is available from your friendly neighborhood camera store or Amazon.

Author: Joe Farace

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