Getting More Out of Your Photography by Changing Directions

Getting More Out of Your Photography by Changing Directions

This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.

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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.

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9 Comments

Rob Davis's picture

Even for a photography site that headline image is pretty risqué to use without any kind of opportunity to avoid. If it doesn't pass the boss or child over the shoulder test, it's probably not a good idea to use in the headline on a site that is usually 90% hardware reviews.

David Love's picture

Loses the click bait factor then.

Rob Davis's picture

It’s also a good way to get your site blocked on managed networks that use “mature content” blacklists.

user-156929's picture

New gear isn't going to make me a better photographer? Why is this the first time I've heard this??? :-/

Ivan Lantsov's picture

ring makes this not porn?

That auto-loading lead image isn't boudoir, it's soft core porn.

You guys really need to pay way more attention to what's happening on your website, at least such that a completely inappropriate image is selected for an auto-loading lead image, with each of the following NSFW images (that require you to sign into your account) being far less NSFW than the auto-loading lead image.

I'm no prude ... but this is an utter fail.

Yan Pekar's picture

“a new piece of glass is not going to make you a better photographer.”

Really?
How about photographers who are getting new (not always “new” as in “the latest”) gear in order to be able to get jobs and get better? If one wants to become an event photographer, they have to have a set of lens to be able to create results meeting clients’ requirements.
How about learning to work with different lens, to understand the difference in results you can create?
Or did you start as a photographer having all the knowledge and experience?:)

“Learning how to work with what you have”

How about new starters who have just one or two cheap lens when they start, and now have to invest in a pro gear in order to deliver pro results and be able to meet the clients requirements?
Or did you start having a full set of pro equipment?:)
Of course, you should know how to work with what you have, but in most cases we start with having basic equipment, and have to invest in what would help us to create better results, and become better.

Jennifer Tallerico's picture

Without a doubt there is always a need for new gear. As an underwater photographer I upgraded many times. The point here was about the idea that some photographers buy into the concept that you NEED new gear in order to make major changes in their company. Just one side of it. Not meant to say it is the end all.

Yan Pekar's picture

Your point was not clear, and the statements were very generic. And yes, sometimes you do need to buy gear to make major changes. Especially when ones starts out, and does not have the equipment to meet clients' requirements. Consider being more specific regarding cases you write about. Generic statements lead to misunderstanding.