Like most wedding photographers I’m always looking for new ways to keep a steady income during the off-season. I’ve been especially inspired lately by the boudoir photographers in our community and realized it’s a genre that I really want to pursue.
Unfortunately, building a boudoir portfolio is a daunting task. After delaying the process for a while, a few weeks ago I finally put my foot down and decided I was going to build my boudoir portfolio in one day for under $100.
I did. Here’s what I learned in the process.
Getting the Team – I found a group of three local photographers that were also interested in expanding or building their boudoir portfolio. Having a group of other photographers not only helped with finding resources, models, and props, but as a group we were also able to learn from each other and get ideas for posing. I suggest 3-4 photographers total and to split up so that two of photographers shooting at a time.
Getting the Right “Models” – I started looking for models on Craigslist and Model Mayhem, but it was tricky to find models to commit without a portfolio to gain their trust. I soon realized that I interact with amazing women every day – my existing clients. I emailed a few that I thought would be interested and they were not only grateful but were beyond flattered. Using real clients ended up being a great choice. They knew me so they were much more comfortable, and we all learned a lot more than when using models because they are real women (and so are our future clients!).
Getting the Room – At first this was a bit intimidating…”Hi can I please get a room for an hour or two? I’m a photographer and am doing a shoot with a bunch of girls in lingerie.” Yeah, it just doesn’t sound right. Luckily more and more hotels are becoming familiar with the term boudoir so I called a few places and ask about their day rate for a boudoir shoot. If you don’t feel comfortable with the word boudoir or don’t even want to explain, don’t. Most hotels (especially high-end ones) have day rates for shoots of all kinds. My client also found a thread on the Knot forums that had a list of hotels that offered inexpensive day rates in the area. We were lucky to find an amazing boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach for $75 for half a day!
In three hours (and for less than $100) we were all able to get several portfolio shots of each model. We also got a great view into our future shoots – how to prepare, how to make a client feel comfortable, what to say and what not to say. Most of all, we had a blast.
Do you have suggestions for those trying to build their boudoir portfolio?
Written by Emily E.
Emily E. is the Community Development Manager at Pictage and runs a Los Angeles area Wedding and Portrait Photography business, Emily Photo.