New gear is always fun to work with, however a new piece of glass is not going to make you a better photographer. Many new photographers feel the urge to buy the latest gear thinking it will improve their skills. Learning how to work with what you have, learning new techniques, or even changing directions for a new desired genre is far more important than that latest camera announcement.
Sue Bruce of Courtier Boudoir in Lexington, Massachusetts has been a photographer for over 15 years. She knows the ins and outs of the industry and where to put her money. It took her most of those years to understand her strengths in the business. "I am curiously drawn to subjects and styles that scare me because they seem too difficult to learn, let alone master to some degree," she said. Photographing couples and men where one of those that fit the category, as she received inquires for this genre but fear got in the way letting those leads fall through.
In 2017 she decided to put her investment into a workshop class held in Vegas by Jen Swedhin on male portraiture and boudoir. "I learned a great deal from this class," said Bruce. "Most importantly it made me step back for a while to cogitate all this new information about posing the male form singularly and as a couple. I did, however, create some great content that got the ball rolling to the extent that I had something to show new inquirers. Jen has remained a great mentor for me to this day."
Fast forward a couple of years and 40 percent of her inquiries are now for couples or men. She attributes this to learning to realize where she wanted to be and how she wanted to shoot. She plans out her session with mini drawings to act as prompts and ideas for the session. She stays fluid and will often change things up if the couples are willing to create something different. Her style evolved to become sensual and maybe even a bit risky as Bruce explained. She enjoys creating images that will trigger an emotion in the viewer before they even consider the composition. "I have moved away from the goal of creating a nice photo to stirring strong emotions in people who view my work which often makes them seek out more of what I do," Bruce said.
In the past year her work has won more awards than it had in the previous 15. Her new work was also published and she was voted photographer of the year 2018 with the Association of International Boudoir Photographers. Taking a leap into a new direction did not have to be about purchasing thousands of dollars of new gear. It was simply about learning a new way to see your company and where you want to be. Learning whether online, in workshops, or one-on-one mentoring has proven to change photographers work countless times.
All images by Sue Bruce and used with permission.