One of the biggest challenges I hear from new boudoir photographers is how to move successfully and fluidly from one pose to the next during a session. Posing should not be stiff and rigid, or the end result will reflect the forced feeling. The last portion of all my boudoir sessions is on the floor. Quite frankly, that is where all the upsale images come from by maximizing the use of one pose into multiple selections.
Creating soft, natural looks may seem easy by looking at inspiration on Pinterest or forums. The challenge comes into play when you need to direct a client to move from one pose to another without losing her focus on body adjustments. During my eight years as a boudoir photographer, I have created a fluid movement to gain at least five images per set in less time simply by staying with her on the floor. When you and your client are both moving around, the shots in the album may tell less of a story and more of a posed session. The storyline is what I am always after while creating the album or wall art for my client. For example, when you look through a wedding photo album, you see the storyline, the progression throughout the day from pre-ceremony, to ceremony, and onto reception. It is viewed and treated as a way to retell the moments of the big day. The same goes for a boudoir album. Does your client want to remember her day by a few dozen wardrobe changes or does she want to remember how incredible the experience was? Multiple looks definitely give variety to the spreads; however, movement from one pose to the next gives her a sense of sensuality she may have felt left years behind.
The last set of posing I shoot with a client is at the end because of the arch in the back I am looking to see. By the time this pose comes along, she is fully relaxed from shooting all morning, muscles are not tense, and she has gained a trust in me that she believed this pose will be fantastic. As the photographer, being on the floor with your clients while shooting can aid not only in the impact of the image, but also in order to direct with actions and not just verbal communication.
The goal is to start with a full arch in the back. Keeping the feet staggered, and using the arms for balance, she will completely lift up shoulders and rest on the head. I shoot entirely laying down for this pose, with camera placed on the floor to create a full lead into the exposed area under her arch. I prefer to use body suits or even be entirely nude for this set of shots. Clothing that is loose fitting will remove the ability to see the arch or be a distraction in the final cut. A toe point is always key as it accents the incredible display of balance.
Placing the arm down for the next shot will give the viewer a sense of movement. Breathing techniques are given through the session, so by the point of this shot, she will know to breathe deeply in and exhale with lips open to fully bring up the chest. It is also important to try to incorporate a few triangles in the form as well in the use of elbows, knees, and neck line.
I work this pose last simply because it is not an arch most can hold for too long. I instruct her then to relax her shoulders back onto the floor and bring a soft gaze to the camera. The connection here brings the viewer and the subject back into one another. Most clients will naturally bring the back hand down to relax. Again, it brings a fluid movement that is natural and not forced.
The next shot is as simple for the client but needs to have special attention by the photographer. Have the client roll onto her side and rest her head on her arm. Take note here to make sure the hair is behind her and not covering her face. Make slight adjustments to make sure she is reaching the arm back as to not hide the face behind the triceps.
Make sure to keep this all lighthearted and carefree in order to get some genuine laughs is important not only for her to stay relaxed, but for the album as well.
Lastly, I have the client lift up for a final image. The back arm should always fall into the lines of her body as to complement the curves. I prefer to have the bottom leg extended out to bring length into the image, while the top leg falls over the top to bring a dramatic pop to the curves, again paying attention to make sure the toes are pointed to bring even more length into the frame. This shot is a perfect example of where you can get two shots in one. By directing the client to look up and close her eyes, you now have a wall art suggestion to add to the list as many clients prefer to hang images where they are not looking directly into the camera.
Creating this set of fluid posing not only tells a story, but also gives more options for image selections in her album. Showing this layout during the reveal allows her to see how the fluid movement works and complements itself. In the layout below, three shots followed by a full spread will enhance the album compared to just choosing one shot from this set.
Incorporating fluid movements is essential to creating more choices for album upgrades. Keeping it simple with the changing of hand placement, leg pops, or even closed eyes (versus open to connect with the camera) can all enhance the reveal stage of your client sessions.
Next week, I will be going over color grading I implement for the look. The floors are an orange hue with a grainy texture. While a white balance adjustment would work for the flooring, it would create an unfavorable skin tone. I prefer to work on the floor and skin independently and at a more localized level. The cooler, more haunting tones are where I am drawn as an artist, but you can apply the tools for any image style that works for you!