I have always said I don't photograph boudoir sessions. I have seen both the ones done very well and the ones done, well, not so very well. The ones I did not like might have pushed the envelope towards being soft porn, or maybe they just seemed too contrived - but what they had in common was the fact that they sought to make the subject "sexy" instead of beautiful. There was a sense that the subject - and I confess, I have only seen female boudoir although I am told there is also "dude-doir" featuring men - was being objectified.
Now, in the past, I have shot pinup sessions. I love pinup for the simple fact that it is fun. You can dress up in cool vintage clothing and you can make silly poses - in fact, pinup allows you some sense of exaggeration because of its "less than subtle" nature. I think for a woman who may not feel comfortable in less than modest clothes would be happy to dress up in a World War II era uniform, or a 50's poodle skirt, or even a tropical sarong, straight out of some Hollywood movie. Cosplay is so popular now so why not have a shoot that incorporates that.
But what if you want something a little edgy while still retaining a sense of dignity?
I think the answer lies in fine art nudes.
Some call them bodyscapes but the idea is simple - less is more. It allows the use of light and shadows to bring out the lines of the body while "hiding" certain parts - perhaps out of modesty, perhaps out of having "less" than a model's figure, but still wanting to show the curves that make women so feminine.
I recently had a session with one of my favorite models to do this type of photography. Some things to keep in mind:
- It is all about the comfort of the subject. Let me repeat that - IT IS ALL ABOUT THE COMFORT OF THE SUBJECT. That means more than keeping the room warm for their physical comfort; it also about their psychological comfort. To this end, communication is key. I must know what type of pose the subject wants and what limitations there may be (whether breasts are visible, whether any area below the waist will be draped, etc.).
- In the same vein, the photographer must be comfortable, too. There may be poses or ideas that I am not comfortable pursuing. As an example, I would not do this type of image with a couple, nor would I want to do any image that the subject intends to create a sexual response from the viewer.
- Even if you choose to do so more "daring" poses, it is fine to discuss with me what will remain private and which I may use for my portfolio. All images, however, will be kept in an online gallery that is password protected.
- Keeping with the idea that less is more, any use of "props" is kept to a minimum. You will note my model is using only earrings and a necklace. It serves to enhance her, and not take away from her beauty. I would not photograph an image like this with any prop that is sexual, political, or religious in nature.
This is not for everyone. But I think you will agree that these images are far from being prurient in nature. Instead, the serve to glorify the subject and the beauty that exists in our humanity; nudes have been in art throughout the centuries for a good reason - they are lovely when done with that goal in mind.
You don't need to be "perfect" to have images like this. You are already beautiful - let's show that.