If you’re a boudoir photographer, it’s crossed your mind that you need to get in front of the camera. And it’s likely that you’ve been in front of the camera, whether you’re doing boudoir selfies, you modeled for a budding photographer friend, or you added on a session to a workshop.
But how many times have you done it? And when was the last time? I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t getting in front of the camera regularly, and by that I mean every couple of years, you’re doing your clients and your business a disservice. When you get in front of the camera naked:
You build your clients’ trust
Every client I book tells me how nervous she is, and how she’s never done this before. If you’re reliving a distant memory of how uncomfortable the poses are, how hard it is to show genuine emotions and expressions without feeling like an idiot, and how much you really, really need that champagne before your photographer points the camera at you? (Or maybe that’s just me.) You forget how instantly your mind goes to your imperfections.
When you can conjure up “your recent experience” for a client, you put yourself on her same playing field. In my mind, that helps build trust. By sharing your experience and empathizing, and showing her how to overcome those discomforts (because you did it too), she’ll open up to you.
You gain insight into the client experience
I am not talking about secretly booking a boudoir session to get free education. I’m talking about having the full experience to see how it feels to you.
For example: consider my second boudoir session in 2011. The photographer didn’t like my outfit choices when I arrived, and I watched him struggle to work around the one we settled on. He also struggled posing my size 14 body. During the hour I was in front of the camera, I felt fat because he was so awkward with me.
I purchased 5 digital photos for $500—they’re gorgeous, especially the exemplary retouching. Ah, another thing—when he delivered the photos he told me I have big pores. NEVER tell a girl she has big pores. It made me feel horrible about myself. The beauty of the photos is eclipsed by my memory of the session. That experience showed me that I absolutely must have a repertoire of poses for girls of all sizes, and that I have to offer guidance in order to have clients bring in outfits that work for both of us.
You learn how other photographers shoot
Like most of the photographers I know, I did not go to photography school. I’ve learned by osmosis, watching other photographers work and, of course, by doing. I’ve learned the most by being in front of the camera.
For example, the time I modeled for Craig LaMere and Bri Anderson-Jackson at WPPI in 2013. I didn’t plan on modeling for them, but I overheard them talking about how their model dropped out at the last minute. So, I volunteered. I have never seen anyone shoot like Craig. He is meticulous and does not push the shutter until every. single. element of the photograph is perfect. Once he has what he wants, he moves on. I watched him teaching Bri, too, and the way he described the light patterns falling on me was an education in itself. Remember? No photography school.
You’ll learn how other photographers interact with clients
In 2012 Petra Herrmann (The Business of Boudoir co-founder) photographed me. Her personality in general is much different than mine, but especially during a shoot. She gets quiet. She uses physical direction more than verbal direction. She also does not move clients in and out of poses like I do. She gets as much or more variety because she is constantly moving herself and angling her camera. In fact, she seems to hover over her clients at times. At the time, I would stand in one place and maybe move closer from the same position. Once I saw my photos, I understood how that practice makes a difference in the end result, and the quality of my work grew exponentially.
Overcome your own objections
We’re really no different than our clients. We say:
- I need to lose 10 pounds first
- I don’t have the money
- I’m not comfortable in front of the camera
- Lose the weight. Schedule a session, pay the fee, and reach your goal before your session date. Nothing like having money on the line to push you to the gym.
- Put aside a little money from every sale into your session fund. And then expense it. My shoots come out of my education fund. See this photo? That’s $500 in cash toward my session, tentatively scheduled for January 2015, with Stacie Frazier. By that time, I hope to have $1500 saved. I’m working down a bucket list of photographers I want to shoot me. Or, work a trade. Or model during a workshop.
- Suck it up. Your clients probably aren’t comfortable either. Feel what it feels like, and then figure out to make yourself comfortable. Your clients will thank you.
Do something with your photos
I put Craig’s portrait of me on a 32×48 canvas above my bathtub. I made an album and a folio with Petra’s images. How can you encourage a client to purchase more than digital files and put the flash drive in a drawer if you didn’t do anything with your photos either?
Finally, a word about ethics
I strongly suggest telling your selected photographer that you are a boudoir photographer before you book. She’ll shoot you or she won’t. With that info on the table, you won’t feel sneaky and she won’t be pissed when she finds out (because she will). When you book a shoot with a boudoir photographer, you’re probably going to see everything: her client emails, her price list, her products, and more. If you’re itching to adapt them, first ask permission and then pay her for her hard work. Do not steal. Anything. Ever.