You’ve photographed plenty of clients, a handful of models, and you’ve even traded photo shoots with other photographer friends. But any self-respecting photographer wants to be constantly advancing their craft, right!? Right.
Enter boudoir selfies.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your photography career, regardless of whether you are a male or female photographer, and regardless of your self-confidence level: they need to be a part of your shoot regime. Here’s why:
1. So you aren’t a hypocrite.
How often do you preach that clients should love themselves as they are right now? How often do you reassure nervous clients that you will showcase their beauty/make their insecurities melt away/that they can trust you to make them feel and look beautiful? Don’t be a hypocrite. Get in front of your own camera.
2. To learn.
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.
3. For social media/blog material.
When my mentor program students are complaining about a lack of posting material, I always encourage them to do a selfie session. Make sure to throw in lots of anonymous ones (so you aren’t necessarily advertising that you are photographing yourself to your following!), and use them on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
4. To experiment with new poses, lighting, compositions, etc etc.
Who better to practice on than yourself?! I’ve found that doing boudoir selfies helped me push the boundaries of what I thought was my style. Through experimentation with selfies, I discovered that I adored darker + grittier imagery … which is the polar opposite of my bright, clean, airy style that I originally started with.
5. To learn.
Did I say that already!? Well, I mean it. You will be blown away by how much you learn. Pinky swear.
Now that I have you convinced to make boudoir selfies a regular practice (I hope!), let’s chat about how to make that happen. The process does not have to be intimidating or fancy at all (TRUST ME, my methods are SO not fancy!).
First thing’s first: brainstorm, even if only briefly, about what you want to accomplish with this set of selfies. Are you going for anonymous material? Are you going for dark and sensual? Working on capturing different emotions? Set your intention for this shoot and stick to it.
Next, put yourself together. You do not need to set up an entire photo shoot experience for yourself. In fact, the majority of my selfies were taken in-between clients and on a whim. Most of my favorites involve little-to-no makeup and minimal wardrobe, if any.
My selfie sessions tend to last bout 30-40 minutes tops. I don’t want to burn myself out. Selfie-ing is exhausting, people!
Get your gear set up. Like I said, the majority of my selfie sessions were extremely last-minute and unplanned. My gear set-up followed suit. Often times I didn’t feel like/have enough time to dig through my equipment closet for my tripod. I’d decide where I would be shooting, throw my camera on a stool or desk, and get right down to it. I almost always shoot exclusively natural light, but if you are a friend of flash, you’ll obviously want to determine your light set up.
Take a test shot and determine your settings. If I’m aiming to fill the frame, I will literally (no joke) stick my foot out in front of me in the round-about area I’ll be posing to get a proper exposure. I told you this wasn’t going to be fancy.
If I’m shooting further away, I determine my settings based on a stand-in item that has a similar color to my skin. For me, that’s the whitest pillow available in stores (Irish.).
Given the margin of error in this type of photo, I tend to shoot at a slightly wider aperture than typical for me to help ensure proper focus. This is unless, of course, I’m shooting an out-of-focus image intentionally! Those can be fun too.
You’ll always want to set your focus point based on that stand-in item (chair/stool/teddy bear!) in the spot you’ll be posing.
Set your interval timer. I find this much more efficient than using a remote. ONE: because it frees up my hands. TWO: because it allows me to work on flow posing and take a series of images in a short period of time without having to shift mental gears from photographer to looking pretty(ish). If your camera doesn’t have a built-in interval timer, you can buy one really inexpensively online! Using a remote is an option, you’ll just have to be more strategic about posing your hands.
I set my timer to fire off 1 shot every 3 seconds for 15 or 20 actuations. That’s enough time for me to change up my pose a bit in between shots, enough actuations that I can get into a flow, but not so many that I will waste a tremendous amount of time if I totally missed the mark on that series of images.
Flow away. Be conscious of your body, your chin, your facial expressions. Visualize yourself on the other side of the camera directing your client. When that series of shots is done, study the back of your camera. Check out your exposure, your posing, what looks good and what needs fixed. Use this opportunity to determine exactly what you need to do differently in your next set. Then do that.
This HERE? This was a FAIL. I was obviously extending my pose beyond the frame. And I was twisted funny, making my torso look weird.
Wasn’t a huge fan of the “crease” in my side. Adjust accordingly, and repeat again.
Pick a completely different concept. Repeat repeat repeat.
You will get frustrated. How is it that you can look so awful when you can make your clients look so good? At some point, you will never want to step foot in front of your own camera ever again. But you need to. It will be difficult. The images will not be perfect. But aren’t those the best kind? You will get better. Not just at selfie-ing, but at photography in general.
Now GO. Brainstorm. Conceptualize. Make a project out of it. Make it recurring. Get your freaking selfie on! (This is me challenging you!)
Have you tried photographing yourself in the boudoir capacity? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, how has it helped you?
Share in the comments!