Gabe McClintock is an internationally known award-winning wedding and boudoir photographer based out of Alberta, Canada. His work carries an incredible amount of intimate nuances with a tonality that shifts towards dark and atmospheric. With so much emphasis out there about his wedding work, I took a bit of time to talk with McClintock in regards to his absolutely beautiful boudoir photography in hopes to better understand his approach and workflow.
McClintock has a background in photojournalism and he began photographing weddings full-time seven years ago. He mentions that his transition into boudoir photography held a few reasons. He did not agree with the idea of selling empowerment while offering hair and makeup and then applying skin smoothing and Photoshop to make the client look like nothing they actually look like in their daily lives. Another reason McClintock notes for his transition is due to boudoir being such a change of pace from weddings. "There is no pressure to be somewhere. No timelines, and because I shoot all of these sessions in my clients' homes, I am unable to scout for light and environment," said McClintock. In regards to not being able to scout for light, he mentions that it forces him to take a more creative approach to dealing with what is more often than not less perfect lighting scenarios.
McClintock approaches all of his sessions with the idea that he wants to capture the real beauty of his client. The first step he takes is shooting in the client's home and in their bedroom so that it is a familiar place for them. He wants his images to be as they really are, therefore he makes sure his clients know that he does not offer hair and makeup nor does he allow or offer props. He truly wants them to be who they are in their day-to-day lives without the need to pretend for an hour or two. "My goal is to show them that they are beautiful just as they are," said McClintock.
In terms of equipment, McClintock shoots his boudoir photography solely with a Leica M along with his Leica 35mm and 50mm Summilux. The unobtrusiveness of the Leica allows for his client to relax and feel much more comfortable. He also makes note that the limitations of high ISO on the Leica makes him look for and use light more creatively.
I always start off really slow and simple in terms of clothing and the area of the room. I usually start with a tank top and on the bed or couch with a sheet covering them and then once they release more, we go from there.
A Shift in Perspective
McClintock's look and tonality comes from wanting to make his work look less professional. He felt many of the boudoir images he was seeing were all too perfectly lit with flat, even light across the bodies which hid imperfections within the light. He wanted his work to be a little darker in order to highlight specific areas of the client. He mentions shooting boudoir has been a great way to push himself creatively and see light much differently. "It has definitely had an impact on the way I shoot weddings, specifically portraits," said McClintock.
Upon asking McClintock whether he will continue to pursue boudoir photography more aggressively, he mentioned that he will keep shooting only for the right clients. Boudoir, for him, is a change of pace to help keep the creative thought process moving forward; a separate creative outlet from wedding days.
My wedding clients allow me 100 percent creative freedom on their wedding day, but we are usually still restricted somewhat to the day's timeline. Where with boudoir sessions, I have all the creative freedom plus no timelines to worry about.
It is important as a full-time photographer to have another creative outlet. As a full-time wedding photographer myself, I find that photographing something other than weddings is a very good way to break the mold when the demands of the season are in full swing. Whether it is boudoir photography, lifestyle shoots, street photography, or landscapes, a change of pace is always welcomed. McClintock takes a fantastic approach to the way he sees and interacts with the world, as well as the way he overcomes obstacles to cut through the norm. His work stands out drastically from the majority of others and with his mindset and approach, it is no wonder that he is recognized with such a high level of respect in the photographic world.
Where do you find your change of pace and how do you create a working environment to excel with your photography? I would love to see your comments below!
All images are copyright of Gabe McClintock 2015 and used with permission.