Real. Sexy. Photography: The Art and Business of Boudoir

by Jim Cornfield

All photos courtesy Amherst Media


August 22, 2016

Amherst praises accomplished boudoir and wedding shooter Dani Klein-Williams for her “chic, flirty, and feminine boudoir portrait style and ability to showcase each woman’s best assets.” We would expect nothing less from a photographer whose team of associates, she recently told an interviewer, coordinate roughly 300 boudoir sessions each year. As you will see in the excerpt below, the book offers bulletpoint advice on planning for the session, lighting and exposure strategies, flattering posing, post-production and sale, among other topics. The author’s exceptional imagery with an eclectic clientele supports her guiding personal philosophy that “every woman has a beauty all her own.” 

The following is excerpted with permission from Amherst Media.

Welcome to the Penthouse

These images were produced as part of a styled shoot we did in collaboration with several businesses at a stunning, historic seaside venue. Our model was a dream to work with. She has a diverse background in professional modeling, pageantry, and marketing. She thoroughly understood how to capitalize on her best assets and knew how to represent herself well on camera. The beautiful pose shown in the featured the top image is delicate, feminine, and conveys shyness, with her leg turned in. I always try to tell a story with my photography. In this image, I wanted to create the impression that this was the first morning of the bride’s honeymoon, or perhaps the morning of her wedding day, with the bride soaking in the sunlight, as she is about to prepare for her big day.

We had been working in the elegant foyer of this pristine and opulent penthouse suite that faced a hallway. At the end of the hallway, the suite opened up into two adjacent living rooms. Beyond that, there was a private deck complete with a separate dining and lounge area, clubhouse, and Jacuzzi, all overlooking the ocean.

I envisioned a striking scene in the foyer: our model framed by the archway and pillars. Posing her here created a feeling of depth, provided a level of drama, and exquisitely highlighted her sheer lingerie. I had her place her right hand in her hair and turn her left leg inward with a slight bend, gracefully spreading out her slip with her left hand to allow more light through the garment to hint at what was underneath.

With a great deal of light flooding in from camera right and behind our model from the French doors and banquet windows off-camera, the scene seems to convey her purity and feminine charm, while still feeling quite bridal. I captured this image with a Nikon D800 and a 28–75mm lens set at 35mm. My exposure was 1/160 second at f/2.8 and ISO 800.

Trimmed in Ribbon

Many of our boudoir clients have images made as a gift for their significant other, and this was the case for the woman shown here. A woman photographed unlacing her bustier or adjusting her thigh highs creates an alluring image.

I thought it an interesting parallel that my client’s husband would unwrap a boudoir album as a gift, and my client is seen here unwrapping something as well: she is unlacing her own lingerie, which is very sexy indeed. To emphasize this fact, I cropped in tight to focus attention on the delicate placement of her fingers grasping the spiraled ribbon. This creates visual tension, as the viewer is aware that this is the moment before action—the untying of the ribbon—will take place. 

When focused tightly like this, it is important to try to incorporate other interesting visual elements so the overall image, even if it is simple, remains alluring. 

This was photographed in early afternoon. I had the client lie diagonally across the foot of the bed. There was strong sunlight coming through the window behind her. This ethereal light added soft shadows across her body that helped to create a sense of depth and dimension. A standing reflector on camera left added light on the front of her body. I made this image with a Nikon D800 and a 50mm lens. My exposure was 1/250 second at f/1.8 and ISO 400.

Let’s Get Down to Business

The impetus for this boudoir session was twofold: to develop content for an article on The Huffington Post and to create product photography for a popular lingerie company. This session was another in which I was able to leverage my time and effort to deliver more value. I developed content for marketing boudoir for the studio, enhanced this model’s professional portfolio, delivered product photography for a notable lingerie company, and teamed up with a stylist. Also, my work was to be featured and credited on The Huffington Post, so our studio would get free advertising. I photograph every project or client with the aim of making connections, creating symbiotic working relationships, and drumming up future business.

For the featured image, I placed our model in a classic boudoir pose. I asked her to lay diagonally across the bed with the upper half of her body close to me. I had her place her right leg across her left to further accentuate her hips. The neutral-toned bedding served as a perfect canvas against which to draw attention to the pop of color in the lacy, flirty, lingerie.

I deviated from my natural inclination toward black & white photography for boudoir. I felt that the image was much more striking in color, and a color presentation allowed me to highlight the subject’s pink, smooth skin and lovely auburn locks. My subject was illuminated with light that came from a large window on camera left. I used a reflector on camera right to fill in the shadows. The image was made with a Nikon D800 and a 50mm lens. My exposure was 1/320 second at f/1.4 and ISO 640.

CreativeLive Vdieo Tutorial: Boudoir Photography Bootcamp

Related: Boudoir Digest: The Latest Trends in a Burgeoning Genre

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