Kara Marie Trombetta Explains Why All Boudoir Photographers Must Take Selfies

Kara Marie Trombetta Explains Why All Boudoir Photographers Must Take Selfies

In today's carnival of conceit known as social media, the term selfie has come to be defined as a snapshot of oneself, almost always shot with a smartphone. Selfies have become synonymous with the millennial generation, and have been described as everything from harmless fun to wanton narcissism. But boudoir photographer Kara Marie Trombetta of Kara Marie Boudoir (formerly known as Click Chick Boudoir) has proposed a proper business purpose for selfies in her Business of Boudoir article entitled Selfies: Yes You Have To

And no, not with your smartphone.

Trombetta immediately goes for the jugular and states that shooting a boudoir selfie session, as it were, keeps you from being a boudoir hypocrite. And, frankly, that makes perfect sense. After all, if your goal is to help clients become comfortable being the subject of intimate photography, but you've never been said subject, you are quite literally incapable of knowing what they will be going through in their session with you.

Image copyright Kara Marie Boudoir

That's a cut and dry case, already.

However, she goes on to discuss the multiple benefits of doing boudoir selfies - specifically selfies, mind you, and not a session shot by an associate photographer. As Trombetta puts it:

Putting yourself in total control of the lighting, posing, shooting, and editing will be the ultimate boudoir learning experience.  You’ll be relying solely on yourself to create beautiful images.  The trial and error involved in boudoir selfies is incredibly frustrating, I’ll admit.  But putting yourself in front of your camera will allow you to examine each shot and immediately see what needs to be corrected in the next one.

Anyone who has ever tried a self portrait knows this challenge. Taking it a step further and trying to take an intimate and emotionally profound self portrait - well, that's an entirely different matter. She continues onto to many brilliant points about why everyone needs to do a selfie session, and in my opinion this article is a must-read for all boudoir photographers.

Image copyright Kara Marie Boudoir

Be sure to check out the full article, as well as her website and Facebook page.

[Via The Business of Boudoir, images copyright Kara Marie Boudoir, used with permission]

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Brad Barton's picture

There is an interesting assumption here that if you are a boudoir photographer, you are female.

I thought so as well.

Good thing Nino does glamour and not boudoir?! ;)

I was just thinking: *IF* Nino or any other glamour guy photographer did a Glamour Selfie Shoot... it would surely go viral if he could show his humorous side.

So who's looking to boost their subs on FB, YT, Twit and Co... ? :)

Brad Barton's picture

Honestly, I've thought about it.. But not sure how to pull it off without making fun of the genre I love.

Yes... tactfully and tastefully with humor more pointed at yourself being a guy and the awkwardness many might feel in that situation, rather than making fun of the models or women... that would take some planning.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

She makes a good argument, but she's also a very good looking female photographer. I'm fairly sure nobody is going to benefit from seeing my fat sweaty hairy ass in a boudoir shoot.

David Vaughn's picture

Heh, I wouldn't be able to distinguish which poses and compositions look good because I'd look bad in all of them. Although it would be a cheap way to determine how light falls on the body and how best to frame your subject to get a sense of space and what lenses work for which poses. P

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Yep I can believe there may be a benefit to it, but I don't think its a necessity. The base logic behind what shes saying is you need to actually be the subject before you can truly understand what its like to be in front of the camera in a session like that. While that might be true of understanding what its like, I don't think you actually need to understand what its like to be the subject in order to take a good shot. It certainly wouldn't do any harm, but apply that same logic to other styles of photography and it soon seems pretty unnecessary.

I guess it's similar to the old "the photographer must be a god model" in order to direct correctly the talent...

Except not every photographer that does boudoir, would look good doing boudoir...

Oh yeah, it's so professional to show your genitals on your business website. Best put it right next to the contact form!

She's not saying you have to bust out your telephoto to try and take a dick pic. It's about putting yourself in the same vulnerable position as your client- which, for boudoir, is really important. It's about experimenting and it's actually super difficult to take this type of self portrait. I have been photographing boudoir for over 10 years and think this exercise has validity. Does it apply to other genres of photography? Maybe not. But for boudoir? Definitely.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

I don't mean to be pedantic Stephanie, but can you explain to me exactly why is it that you think the photographer having been the subject of a Boudoir shoot is important? Do you think this applies to both male and female photographers? From your photo on here you appear to be a good looking woman, but do you think you'd have that same opinion if you were a balding overweight not particularly good looking male photographer (but still with the same skillset and able to capture the same images).

Yeah Dave, i do think it applies. I have been photographed by both male and female photographers, and the photographers who had been in a similar shoot were a lot easier for me (as the client) to connect with. They understood how scary and uncomfortable it can be to be in front of the camera, and put me at ease a lot quicker than the non-boudoir photographers. Knowing that the person shooting me had been there made me relax, because I felt a bond with the photographer- like "oh they've been here too, they aren't judging me." The client experience was elevated. I definitely think having your own session before (or after, if that ship has sailed) has merit.

And thanks for calling me good looking. I like you already haha

My post was a reference to Pervertographer Terry R. posting photos of his erect penis on his blog.

Jon Wolding's picture

Easy PR opp for the first male photographer to respond in kind.

Anonymous's picture

Extending the "logic" of her argument, should one be married or have been married and had their wedding photographed to be a non-hypocritical wedding photographer? Should videographers and directors also be actors? Should sound engineers be proficient in the instruments they are recording?

No, one "must" not have been the subject of a particular kind of composition in order to skillfully create that kind of composition. Could it help? No more or less than giving you another session to practice your craft, but I see no inherent advantage to making oneself the subject of the photograph. I have the ability to make people comfortable, period. Understanding exactly what it feels like to be in their shoes is unnecessary to that end.

Let me repeat: you don't need to experience something yourself to understand how an experience will positively or negatively impact someone, my ability to understand and empathize with what a client is going through is not limited only to circumstances I have experienced, and - perhaps most importantly - how I react to being the subject of a boudoir shoot will only teach me how I would react. To think that my reaction teaches me how it feels for others to be a subject is to assume a certain homogenization amongst people that simply doesn't exist. Reactions will vary...wildly. So, it's rather far from "...a cut and dry case, already."

I do have to wonder if she'd insist this is necessary if she weren't a rather photogenic woman herself rather than someone more average in the looks department.

Nino Batista's picture

In fairness, Kara's article really is more about women, for women. In further fairness, I didn't exactly make that clear in my posting of said article. Keeping the fairness train rolling, there are no rules on gender when it comes to boudoir, and yes lots of men are boudoir clients, albeit a tiny percentage. One last drop of fairness, Kara's article (to me) does not *demand* that you do a selfie session or else you're totally worthless or a fraud - it's more of a challenge she is issuing (yes, mostly towards women photographers) that she feels [correctly] will be an eye-opening experience.

Chelsey Rogers's picture

I like the idea behind it. I think it would be very helpful to put yourself in the subjects shoes, regardless of if you're shooting boudoir or commercial.
The argument a lot of the guys are making is valid. I do not want to see your hairy butts (although that could be a pretty funny photo series!). But I digress; in most situations with boudoir photography, the "model" most likely won't be a super model, and it may be the first time in front of a camera in this way... I still think it's important for men to be able to pose themselves in a way they would pose their models, it might help make the model more comfortable, and it's pretty hilarious if you can make fun of yourself.
As far as the comment of the "genitals on a professional site" c'mon... No one is saying that.
Self Portraits are always a good exercise, even old guys like Leonardo and Raphael thought so...

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Well if it's good enough for the ninja turtles!!!

Chelsey Rogers's picture

Haha I was hoping someone would say that ;)

Anonymous's picture

Using the same rationale if you don't go to war, you can't cover a war as a photojournalist without being a war-time-photographer-hypocrite. You can't truly shoot corporate headshots because you've never been a CEO of a major corporation. The list goes on and on.

Self indulgent, social justice nonsense. She's welcome to show off her body if she wants to...but shouldn't pretend it's some noble cause.

Nino Batista's picture

It's true. If you go to do photojournalism coverage in a war zone with a camera, you're totally and completely safe from any possible harm and therefore have no idea what its like to be a soldier fearing for his or her life. In fact, it's often relaxing for photojournalists; a vacation in foreign lands, really.

Kara is a boudoir photographer. She is not telling wedding photographers that they have to be married in order to be good, or that a photojournalist would have to go to war. It seems that this criticism towards this successful boudoir photographer feels a little misplaced. At what point... Do we as photographers stop growing? I think it's when we become close minded, and say that what we are doing is working fine so why bother something new? Especially if you're a woman... You don't think you might grow as a photographer by putting yourself in that position? The excuse that you may not like the way you look in front of the camera... Isn't that a contradiction of what you are telling these women to do?? "Hey... Strip down and be vulnerable in front of me... But heck no if I would ever do that!" Finding your best strength, reaching past your insecurities while taking your self portrait... That sounds like a powerful tool... Especially when dealing with women and their insecurities. It's not just about "empathizing" with the women as one of you said... But it's about actually being able to literally relate to them. Again... This is boudoir. Not wedding photography. Not photojournalism. Have you seen Kara's work? I have... And her passion comes through in it. She is successful, and creates stunning photos... Not just self portraits. I can guarantee she has insecurities too even though she seems flawless. What she does by taking self portraits takes guts... And maybe some of us just don't have the chops to.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Nobody is commenting on the standard of her work, but surely you can see why this article would get peoples backs up. Its not saying "this could be a good idea to get some extra insight", its saying "you must do this or you can't possibly relate".....thats a very different tone. My whole point is, why is it actually important that a photographer can relate to their subject? They're two different roles. I don't need my subjects to relate to my role as a photographer so why the other way around? Completely aside from the lighting and photography and retouching skill level required to shoot a good Boudoir shoot there's also a huge human factor required from the photographer, to be able to put your model at ease, give good direction, create a relaxed enjoyable atmosphere while still being professional. All of those are very important, however specifically being able to relate to being the subject of a Boudoir shoot does not seem like a necessity to me. Nobody is saying it wouldn't be an interesting insight, but her position that you absolutely must do this is whats getting people on the defensive.

Ramon Acosta's picture

Am I the only one that is bothered by the fact that the author called "selfie" what is obviously a self portrait?
A selfie is a a style of self portrait, I know that, just as an SUV is a type of vehicle, you wouldn't call all vehicles SUV. End of rant.

Chelsey Rogers's picture

she's probably just trying to be trendy... but yes, that's the one thing I didn't really like

John Mansfield's picture

I love this! I think it's a lot more than just showing some skin in front of your camera. From her website, Kara doesn't take boudoir photos for anyone other than the woman who is in the photo. I love her philosophy of empowering women by showing them that they are beautiful. And to break that fear of getting in front of the lens, I think taking some boudoir "selfies" is a great way to relate to those women. I know that if I were a boudoir photographer I would do the same. Even though I'm not going to be a "good looking" model, it would still relate with the client and make them feel more at ease.

I think that what Kara is doing is great and I think it's great that she is showing her clients that even she had to overcome anxiety about getting in front of the camera.

Kara Marie Trombetta's picture

Much appreciated, John! Thank you.

Some of the comments on here are a bit ridiculous.

She's not advocating that if you do a session with yourself you then share it with the world; nobody really has to see that. If you're fat, balding, and insecure about how you look, that's kind of the point. So many of your subjects won't be super model-types, and they'll be dealing with their own set of insecurities that aren't too dissimilar from your own. The objective of the exercise is to put your set of insecurities in the same situation your subject's would be in; that's all. Doing the exercise could only HELP you as a photographer, and if you really care about your art, you'll do whatever you can to get better.

Secondly, can we stop with the false equivalency junk about "taking the same rationale" and applying it to an outrageous situation—i.e. war photojournalism? Really? C'mon.

Take the advice or don't. Finding silly things to disagree with is a waste of your time; sort of like me taking the two minutes out of my day to respond to this.

Kara Marie Trombetta's picture

Preach! (and thank you!)

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