Dixie Stockwell's picture

This was my first time doing boudoir-style photography. Any suggestions for me? =)

I was shooting this for an Etsy shop called Caresse LLC, she needed models for her lingerie, so I shot the lingerie on Chelsea for her. What do you guys think?

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23 Comments

Dixie Stockwell's picture

So what? She's beautiful either way. =)

I think the two of you have done well but that the images look a little pale. You might want to try out some film emulations in post to get a richer look. If you want something free then download Gimp with the GMIC plugin, select GMIC under filters, and start playing around with the film emulations. Kodak Portra would probably be a good start.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

I have Photoshop and Lightroom, I wasn't sure about what tone I should go for, a lot of people seem to go really dark, or really light. These were also being used as pictures for products in an etsy shop (caresse llc) so I wanted to also match what product images tend to look like color-wise!

Restraint is a good thing. But if you stick to decent emulations of classic films of the sort that would have been used for this sort of job, you *will* get a restrained, tasteful result!

Try the various Kodak and Fuji negative simulations and see if you can find one that you like. Remember that the results of a shoot will always vary with the exact light, camera settings, film or sensor, lenses, etc - as long as you stay in this range of variation, you'll be fine.

Scott Spellman's picture

The photography here is solid, but this person doesn't convey the image of a high quality model. Her face, piercings, terrible makeup, and very pale skin are not up to the standards of professional models and it brings down the perceived value of product and your photography. It's essential to coordinate talent choices with the client that will boost the perception of quality.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

I did ask my.client if she wanted yhe piercings edited out, but she said she likef them! But that's all a matter of opinion.

HOWEVER, I would like to know what you would've done differently with the makeup. =)

>> Her face, piercings, terrible makeup, and very pale skin are not up to the standards of professional models

These are not things a real professional photographer would say.

Firstly, he wouldn't blame the model for her make-up. It's either the MUA's responsibility, or if the client doesn't provide budget for a MUA, then the client has to put up with what he or she gets.

There are other things - eg a pro wouldn't assume that the model was especially pale! But most of all, a real pro would have better damn manners than to talk about a model this way. He'd say "I'm not sure that her etc are right for this shoot" rather than leave googleable evidence that he unnecessarily criticizes models - it's not great for getting trade shoots or impressing agencies, Scott. Modelling takes a lot of skill and courage, and real pros rather than dabblers upping themselves on the net, appreciate this. Or if they don't, they at least pretend to, because the alternative is career suicide. Models HATE male photographers who talk the way you do, Scott.

Mike Smith's picture

Hello all. I just discovered Fstoppers, haven't even done a proper profile yet, but since I've done some boudoir/glamour photography, I came here first. As to the lingerie, one thing I've found is that details make the shot: In the first pose, the bows holding the garment closed are messy. I think it would improve the photo to arrange them carefully, so the bows show symmetrically. A stylist would help here, someone very detail oriented -- maybe the person who made the lingerie.

Same with the shot of her kneeling on the red chair -- the garment would look better without the wrinkles, even though it's hard to get them out, and involves some intiimate touching of the model -- another reason to have a stylist the model is comfortable with.

Nice work with the mirror in the front/back shot.

Anyway, just my opinion, and probably worth exactly what you paid for it.

Mike Smith
>> bows show symmetrically. A stylist would help here, someone very detail oriented -- maybe the person who made the lingerie.

That's an excellent point. I hate shooting complicated lingerie for this reason. The creasing in the rear kneeling shot is also distracting but that could be cloned out.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

I was thinking about cloning out the creasing, but if it's what it looks like, it's what it looks like! I personally don't like editing out too much because it starts to look unrealistic to me.

I'm still fairly new to "professional" editing. I have used editing software forever, but I'm still not sure when to edit or not in some instances. I don't want to improperly advertise the lingerie! =p

Well, if you'd had a stylist there, she would have pinned the garment. And your client's big competitors will have stylists on their shoots - that's the standard everyone is used to. Cloning in this case is just a cheap way of evening up the odds against Victoria's Secret a little.

Because Mike is right, shooting this type of thing without a stylist is hell! And big commercial client is going to have a stylist watching and pinning the clothes, a MUA touching up faces, a separate person for hair, and an art director. And the shoot with be tethered...

People are sophisticated. They now that shoots show garments at their most perfect. So as long as you stay within the realms of the possible, you really are being fair.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

Well at this moment, I'm a one man team! But I will definitely try to keep this in mind for my future shoots, even if I'm the stylist, photograher, and MUA!

Tom Moroz's picture

As a set the colour temp changes, which is not ideal - even between the first and the last image. To some extent this will be a by-product of shooting with AWB, but also mixing different lights (outdoor vs strobe or flourescent).
As mentioned below, a stylist would be helpful, selling a product, yes, you are representing what the product looks like, but also the BEST way it looks.
I like the last photo with the red sheet for artistic value (it doesn't really show the lingerie but the warm color temp, the red sheet, window and pose all work well).
Also, I generally like the poses here.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

I'm trying to work on keeping my temp consistent. The shoot took a few hours, so the sun definitely changed throughout the shoot.

Are there any easy ways to do that that you can suggest?

Scott Spellman's picture

I shoot 25+ commercial projects with paid model talent every year. I have to communicate bluntly with the client about models because it's essential to the image of quality for the brand. While these discussions are usually private, they happen every time we pick talent. Even as a model, if you are not ready to hear others talk about you this way-then you are not ready for paid work. Good models know that they are getting paid for a specific look, and if they do not have what the client wants, they will be replaced. The flipside of this is when the client picks a photographer for their projects, their analysis and bluntness will be the same. Maybe in fantasy land everybody gets a participation award but that's not how professionals work.

Specifically on the makeup-the winged eyeliner, lack of eye color, and lack of lip definition does nothing to help the model. You will not get good model/boudoir/commercial photos without a dedicated makeup artist. I'm not blaming the model for the bad makeup because the photographer has responsibility for the end result.

Shooting RAW with easy control over the white balance will help you handle changing sunlight better. You can even use a grey card or color card to dial in WB perfectly.

Dixie Stockwell's picture

Thank you for the input! As I said, I'd never shot boudoir before, and I like "natural" looks. =p It was just me and her, in the future, I do have a makeup artist lined up. Overall, what would you rate these photos then, personally?

Scott Spellman's picture

Photographically, this is a very good start. With better talent and styling, you should be able to create images that help you attract better model talent for trade and commercial shoots.

I think the fourth and sixth picture draw the viewers eye to the lingerie (the true subject of the photo) better than some of the others. I start with the caveat that I am by no means a professional. I just think that in some of the others, in an attempt to capture the model, or to use the mirror to capture her backside. The lingerie gets lost as second fiddle to the model herself. You could have done photo number one (top to bottom) in a sitting/reclined pose so that her long legs lead the eye from a bottom corner of the frame to the lingerie.

I also understand your desire for restraint in color because you can go overboard but you may have wished for one or two to go in one of those directions you mention below (really bright = high key, really dark = low key). This is also something that your client could have ideas on. I have to assume for this piece that its the sex appeal (I don't see the buyer wearing this around the house just for fun) so perhaps one photo where you go for the dark sexy vibe and smoke out her eyes and go bright with lipgloss. Again just my opinion.

Eric Thomas's picture

Forgive my English, I'm French. May be you should work on lights to bring up what is the subject of your photos: lingerie. I'm not a boudoir photographer but if I was, I would consider my model much more as a frame is to a painting. May be I'm wrong, may be flattening atmosphere can be an artistic choice, but for lingerie? Here is the question...

Here-under a very fast (13mn) Photoshop editing on one on your photos, just a 72 def from the website so no miracle but an idea of what I'm thinking about lights. I put it B&W not to get influenced by colors.
Anyway, you did a good job, really, you obviously have the sense of art. My advice, test as many things as you want to find out your own style but it seems you are pretty close.
Pharaonic Regards, (I'm in Cairo)

Dixie Stockwell's picture

Thank you for the input! I actually used mostly natural light for this shoot, but I really want to use regular lights more effectively!

When I try to "frame" a picture, I get worried that I don't include enough background, many people have criticized this part of my art. So I'm still playing around, trying to find a good medium and good ways to make the right parts of tje picture pop.

Eric Thomas's picture

Don't get influenced by people. They have their own approach of art and you have yours. Now, if you want to copy a style, it's another story.
Background talking, the background is only here to help you to show your subject, if the background is just a bokeh, it's fine. For example, in a movie, when actors have to say something crucial, the director of the photography doesn't want any disturbing background, everything around the actors is or neutral (a flat wall for instance) or blurry. The more people pay attention to the background, the less they look at what you wanted to show. Look at your last photo, 95% of it is not lingerie. And almost 70% is background. The pose is nice but it's not a photo for lingerie. If I may, reconsider working on your subject first, not the background. And forget what others say about backgrounds, you are the master of your style and the backgrounds you want in.
Talking about lights, the natural light is boring. Everybody is attracted by sunsets, or golden hours, etc. not a photo at noon when nothing happens. Look at the great painters, none of them use natural light, (except Hockney maybe...) but remember Rembrandt, even Monet and the impressionists worked on fantastic contrasts of lights and shadows. Forget the natural light, create your own light, enlighten us!

I pretty much echo what others have said. It seems the model could have used a little more coaching to look the part a little better. Also, because the model has a pale skin tone, warming the whole scene up would do wonders. The only other thing I would suggest is also doing a wardrobe change. A little change could go a long way. Great job and keep it up!

Timothy Daniel's picture

I really have an interest in seeing what female photographers do with Boudoir (I know this subject has gone around a few times on fstoppers with much discussion) it's cool to see another viewpoint on how people percieve humans and the human form.

I agree with a lot of the comments already here, the colour could use some work; but that's part of finding your voice as an artist as well as your vision for the shoot. The longer your do this the more solid both those things become.

Using something like 3DLut creator (the free version) is an easy way of messing around with colours and seeing how a scene can colour grade in different ways. Also, the skin tone vector is a lifeline. Once you find what you like you can find ways of emulating in PS/LR ... or just get 3DLUT creator if you have the $$

Regardless, you and the model did a great job for your first time