The Business of Boudoir »

“You Have No Idea How This Feels!”

Each and every one of us as photographers are trained to coach and instruct our clients on how to look and move in front of the lens. We notice the small details, a head tilt here or a shift of weight there, all while telling our clients, “Trust me. It will look amazing!” We twist them into unnatural and at times uncomfortable positions. They listen and at the same time, they curse us out, then move their body into the pose for us to get the shot. All the while, they’re probably reciting the phrase uttered by all clients.

“You have no idea how this feels!”

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You’re right, I didn’t know how it feels

I have been shooting boudoir for a little over three years now, and I have heard “You don’t know how it feels!” repeated over and over again in every session. In the beginning it never really fazed me. I, like most all of us, have joked about arching your back till it hurts then arch some more and that’s when you know you’ve hit the pose.

As time went by I started to realize I wasn’t hearing it just during the session itself in regards to posing. I’d hear it in a pre-session consult as they discussed the leap they took in booking a session. I’d hear it the day of their shoot with respect to the nerves and fear of being in front of the camera. And lastly, I’d hear it at the end of their session or at their image reveal as an expression of joy or accomplishment.

This statement had begun to help shape how I crafted my client experience, asking more questions before the session, after the session and during the session. That’s when it hit me, “I have no idea how this feels.” I’ve been coaching these women, building confidence, creating beautiful images they are proud of, but I’d never put myself in their position. How the hell could I truly know what it feels like?

First, I found a photographer

Now to say I don’t like being in front of the camera would be an understatement, more like despise, hate, detest … OK F’n loathe having my picture taken. That being said I never run from a challenge, even if it is my own aversion to having to say cheese!

I now had a goal, but I wondered how to go about achieving it. Step One for me: Get in better shape and lose some weight.  Yes I did the clichéd thing we tell all our clients they don’t need to do before a session. Step Two: Find a photographer.

Here is where I hit a problem; there are no photographers in Boston who shoot male boudoir and whose style was what I wanted. Luckily a solution presented itself. I would be attending the Association of International Boudoir Photographers Retreat in Nov. 2015, and surely I could find someone there to work with.

And then, I got naked in front of the camera

At the end of the retreat, it was time to put my money where my mouth was. Not only did I find a photographer, I was lucky enough to have it be one of our contributors, the lovely Cate Scaglione of Life as Fine Art.

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Let me set the scene for you: Western-style saloon, alpacas looking on, and me in jeans, a tank and more anxiety than I’m used to. I may have even uttered, “You have no idea how this feels!”

Cate shot away and moved me around, the whole time reassuring me just as I do my clients. I still felt a little stiff and uncomfortable and was unsure of myself. We moved to our next location, a bedroom, and something strange happened at this point. I was on the bed in little to no clothing, and she had showed me one of the shots on the camera. My confidence went through the roof because I finally had that Holy Shit moment all our clients have when they realize what they really look like.

My wife got some sexy pictures, and I got a new perspective

We finished up the session and I flew back to Boston feeling really good from a great educational experience and I’m not even referring to the retreat. I had now done it, I’d gotten in front of the camera, stripped away my fear, inhibitions, and clothes. Several weeks later, Cate delivered my images and DAMN, I’m not a bad looking guy if I say so myself.

Aside from some pretty sexy pics to give my wife, I had a new perspective on how I would approach my sessions going forward. No longer can a client tell me , “You have no idea how this feels!” Yes I do! It feels terrifying and exhilarating all in one. Most important it definitely leaves you seeing and feeling differently about yourself. So, if you haven’t gotten in front of the camera yourself, what are you waiting for? Because until that moment, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW THIS FEELS!”

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  • May 25, 2016 - 4:23 PM

    Leslie - Awesome. It’s such an experience to be in front of the camera. We are comfortable behind them. I think for a man, it’s even more unusual to do this. I’m sure you’re a better (certainly more empathetic) photographer because of it.

    Great pics by the way!ReplyCancel

    • May 26, 2016 - 10:18 PM

      Shawn Black - Thanks Leslie, it was definitely an experience I knew I had to go through to gain a better understanding of my clients fears and to speak to them authentically. I can definitely say it has changed my process leading up to and during my client’s sessions. Aside from that it was a blast once I got over the initial nerves. So glad you like the pics!ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2016 - 1:46 AM

    Cate Scaglione - Shawn,

    Love the post. You did a great job and boy did we laugh together during this session!!! So fun.ReplyCancel

  • November 2, 2017 - 3:15 PM

    Lana Kirtley - Well Done! This article is enlightening. I commend you for accepting your own challenge. You won in SOOO many ways. And Thank You! ps – smack ! your Mrs got some sizzling images. You look TerrificReplyCancel

    • November 2, 2017 - 4:03 PM

      Shawn Black - Thank you so much Lana! Winning is definitely a great description as there was so much that I gained from the whole experience aside from some amazing images.ReplyCancel

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