When winter hit and weddings and senior portraits weren't generating any income, Michael Sasser decided to expand his reach by adding boudoir style photography to his repertoire. If you're looking for a way to increase your business through the slow months, this might be just the thing for you. In this interview, Michael explains how his new sessions have been working out.
You might recognize some of Michael's work– he's a Denver based photographer that had a great behind the scenes video posted on fstoppers in May of 2012. His previous video is posted below:
I noticed a few weeks ago that he was now advertising for boudoir photography, something I knew he didn't always do, so I reached out to Michael and inquired how and why he came into this new line of work.
"I don’t really have any income over winter. I mostly shoot Weddings and Senior Portraits. It’s enough to let me have down time and travel over winter, but I wanted to continue shooting and stay creative in my normal off season. Petra Herrmann of Bella Boudoir came to Denver as the first of her Master Classes. I took it. It opened my eyes as to how powerful boudoir photography can be. After that I hit the ground running."
While being different in the approach to posing and getting "the shot" I could imagine that there would be a learning curve. I asked Michael if he naturally picked it up, or struggled at first, and he was quick to admit that at first he was terrible.
"I had played around with similar types of shoots before, but they sucked. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I find sexy. It’s different for everyone, and at first I was a little uncomfortable showing what I wanted. Men aren’t the only ones who want women to be sexy. Women want to be sexy. Don’t be embarrassed about it. Be supportive of it. Once I got that through my head, everything started to flow. I learned photography by looking at images that I liked and attempting to recreate them. I did the same here."
In order for this to be sustainable work, there has to be a market. Even in the off season for weddings and senior portraits, the time and effort that goes in to marketing and promotion needs to have some return. Michael told me plenty of women have been interested in these for special occasions, as gifts for their partners. Boudoir photos as a Valentine's Day gift is apparently very common.
"They also come in for themselves. Maybe they recently finished a workout program, maybe it’s their 30th birthday. From my experience, women have a hard time seeing anything in themselves besides their flaws. These shoots give them a chance to see how their husband sees them. They get a chance to see how beautiful they really are. They leave saying 'Thank you so much for making me feel beautiful!' and 'I haven’t felt that feminine in a long time.'"
So what about wardrobe? Having sexy clothes that compliment the model seems like a very important part of the equation for success. Additionally, Michael says that besides the clothing, having makeup and hair done are a great way to provide a more full experience.
"I recommend some lingerie of course, but 4 sets of lingerie doesn’t give you much variety. Oversized sweaters, tank tops, a nice pair of jeans, teddies, slips, stockings and more help tell a story, give options, and make it easier to fill up an album. I also have a few tank tops, sheer tops and other things I’ve picked up in case their selection isn’t very good. All of my shoots include makeup and hair. They get pampered and love it. As a bonus it gives us time to chat and laugh and get comfortable with each other before we start shooting."
So in closing, I asked Michael what he would say to someone who was looking to get into that style of photography, or add it to their existing business. His response:
"I would say go for it! This is definitely not for everyone but it’s been extremely rewarding to hear the responses of the women that I have shot. It’s been awesome to hear what the husbands are saying after they are surprised by this type of gift. If you are going to do it. Go at it 100%. Get the legal stuff like contracts and model releases out of the way first. These are intimate photos and should be handled delicately. Make sure everything is inline before you get out there and start shooting. Good luck!"