Across the board boudoir photographers have seen an increase in the number of inquiries for couples boudoir sessions. While boudoir photographer was generally more known as a more intimate session for a female to either reconnect with her own sensual side, or perhaps to give as a gift to a significant other, the trend is now becoming for these couples to capture these moments together. So how do you coach and pose for emotions during a session if the inquires start to roll in?
The moment you get your inquires rolling in for couples boudoir, there needs to be certain questions in place to ask as it can be a tricky balance. Sometimes the calls are significant others looking for a genuinely artistic intimate experience together. However there are calls where you can sense it is part of a sexual fantasy to be photographed in a more explicit way.
Cate Scaglione of Life as Fine Art, located in Red Bank N.J., feels these more explicit ways of shooting are not her style. "That is not my work, and so I am happy to refer them to someone who does photograph that style." Knowing ahead of time what the client is looking for in the end product will help the photographer and client find the perfect match. "I actually think with the proficiency and frequencies of selfies people are able to take now, I feel it is very easy to get sexually charged photos" she wrote. In the photography community, there is a huge trend in boudoir right now to try and capture the pure sexual side of the session. The poses, the tone, mood, and storyline of the shoot is entirely sexual. Scaglione feels and she admits she is not interested in that. She gravitates more towards being the observer. "I want to find what makes the couples chemistry unique. I find those observations, and I direct them to draw that out of them."
Scaglione has photographed a handful of couples this year alone and every session she writes was entirely different. Some are are passionate, some tender and some entranced. She uses different considerations as a result of these observations. Anything from the storylines, the props or even down to the colors of the bed sheets involved.
Separating Yourself from the Story
It is a unique dynamic to essentially watch two people go through the motions of being together and yet setting boundaries for these moments. The photographer must ask these couples to channel the emotions as they watch for the precise moment of true emotions. Scaglione asks her clients the questions needed prior to the shoot to get a sense of who they are as well as for her own safety and comfort. This is done during the consultation so make sure all involved are comfortable in this setting. In her studio, the priority is professionalism as she treats each one of her clients as actors on a movie set. Explanation of the storyline is key to having the clients or models understand where the photographer sees the mood moving towards. Scaglione writes that she will even even yell cut when she is done with the set. This gives the clients time to pause through the emotionally and mentally charged moments as well as letting Scaglione reframe or even turn the storyline a bit.
As with any professional, she knows there is a line. "I am an observer, but I am separated by it all as I am in any session. I have to pay attention to the technical. It does not leave room for me to be involved in the heat of these moments. That is for them. It is hot for them, I cannot lie and I understand that I help them build a degree of sensuality they might enjoy that later in their private time," she writes.
Coaching for Emotion
Scaglione writes that she draws some of the emotion from the client and some from within herself. She watches how they interact with one another, how they talk to each other and how they engage before she even picks up her camera to begin shooting. This results in her understanding of each of their personalities so she can coach them on exploring something that is much more rare "and their own unique formula of passion."
It would be way easier coaching people to move or behave sensually but I don't do that. Instead, I am coaching them on feelings and making them feel something so they are inspired to move or behave in their own unique way as a couple. So it isn't about love in general, it is about their love. That is where the art happens.
In many of her sessions, the couples come to either solidify the passion and intimacy they already recognize, or to regain it back into their relationships. For many, wall art and album sales are a way to look back on their experience.
Coaching Strangers First
Sometimes when you are first starting out, or even in this particular set of images, models are brought in to test out techniques. For Scaglione, this session was an assignment to herself to truly test out her coaching skills on a set of model participants who had never met before this moment. "Though they are two of the most gorgeous people I know, they were actually not sexually attracted to one another in the least possible bit (for undisclosed reasons)," Scaglione wrote.
She observed them together for sometime to watch the initial interactions and what made them connect as people. Her job thereafter was to create a storyline helping them form an emotional bond and to channel emotions the way a real couple would behave towards one another. She says that setting up this fantasy allowed them to method act their way through it and resulted in truly emotional work. While going through the same process as usual this experiment helped prove to Scaglione that her coaching skills were indeed effective.
She prefers her 50mm 1.4 Sigma art lens as her choice as it "allows me to be the most voyeuristic." A more intimate lens she also utilizes is the 85mm that brings the viewer in closer. She is primarily a natural light shooter, as she feels she is more of a documentary and voyeuristic style this type of light lends itself to this look. Her studio is east view diffused side window light and is her favorite way to work with them in her environment. The most important aspect of her work is the true nature of the story telling style that can be shown in the flow of her images.
All images courtesy of and used with permission of Cate Scaglione.