Lenses for Boudoir & Glamour Photography

“Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock in trade.”— Marlene Dietrich

One of the many things I’ve learned in writing this blog is that many photographers would like to make glamour or boudoir photographs but think they lack the necessary equipment. Nothing could farther from the truth. All you really need to produce professional quality glamour images is a camera with interchangeable lenses, a few simple accessories, and models willing to pose. (See my series of post on Finding Glamour Models that ran last year.)

The lenses I choose to use are for a specific photograph are determined by where I’m shooting. Even in my home studio, where it seems like there’s there’s never enough space to shoot and I often find myself pressed up against the opposite wall when making glamour images. This translates into using shorter lenses than I might otherwise prefer.

The corollary to this dilemma is that there is never enough light to shoot available light indoors, which translates into faster lenses or high ISO’s or both. As I’ve written before about high ISO settings, sometimes you need them with lighting systems such as LED.

Indoors, when using DSLRs I prefer using an 85mm or 135mm lens but don’t discount the 50mm lens that used to be bundled with a camera. Even an inexpensive normal lens can make great shots. Depending on the multiplication factor of your particular APS-C camera, a 135mm lens can be tight fit for some indoor locations but if you have the space you will love the perspective this lens produces.

Which lenses do I use where? It depends on the particular camera. If I was shooting  in my kitchen, or in my former dining room where the above available light image was, I would use—and did use—a EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. I think this particular lens is the most versatile and at $369 is also the best value available as a lens for portrait or glamour photography. The perspective provided by any 85mm lens, especially a relatively fast one like the one I used to photograph Dusty, makes it ideal for indoor boudoir images no matter what kind of camera you use. Exposure for this shot was 1/250 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 400 with no supplementary fill from either speedlight or reflector.

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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