Boudoir Photography. Once upon a time, those two diminutive words would conjure up specters of semi-porn; unsuspecting urchins with their stilettos firmly ensnared in their g-strings, mouths agape, bare bottoms thrust eagerly to the sky gods, whilst looking like they just escaped from an American day time soapie’s hair and make-up team. Not a pretty picture, let’s be honest. Early forms of boudoir (which indeed are still being “committed” today) tend to fall into a void which could only be described as “1980s Men’s Magazine” style. It is shot specifically for men, some of it may be lewd in its presentation, all of it leaves little to the imagination. Personally, I believe very little is sensual about it; it’s cold, it’s in your face and you’d probably have a hard time looking at it if it were your mum in those photos.
These overtly sexualised images, depicting woman as little more than erotic slabs of flesh left me detached from the idea of boudoir photography; cold and uninspired to say the very least. To me, these photos did nothing to empower the female movement towards equality but slapped it back a step or two. Hell, they may as well have said “bitch, make me a sandwich”.
Boudoir Photography is not new. It can be traced throughout history; classically posed nudes on vintage postcards (circa 1900) which were sold secretly “under the counter” through to the “pin ups” during the war years and the soft-focus glamour portraits of the 1980s, the female form has been celebrated and adored for an eternity. Even before photography, artists immortalised femme fatales century after century through their preferred mediums.
When I was asked by a beloved client to photograph her in “boudoir style”, despite my obvious aversion to it, I was loathe to turn her away. This was one of my favourite people to photograph and the eternal people-pleaser in me just didn’t want to let her down. So I said yes. And then suffered days of the most catastrophic of conundrums, the kind that plagues your every waking moment with riddles and a billion questions (kind of like a two year old really); questions like “how do I approach this and maintain a sense of dignity and poise about the photographs? How do I invoke a sense of beauty and passion while upholding a polished sophistication?” And most importantly, “how do I not make her look like a cheap two-bit hooker?”
The answer, I soon found out was glaringly obvious.
It was not so long ago, an enchanted world existed, where the thrill of the imagination was enough to spiral you into an erotic tizz, where an air of mystery was the biggest aphrodisiac of all, where men felt all hot and bothered by the glimpse of a silk stocking. As a society, over the last four or five decades, we have become immune to the seductive qualities of the human form, for the simple fact that too much of a good thing cloys the appetite. Take a look around at the current media. If MTV hasn’t got someone rubbing their half clad bottom on another’s in an attempt to call it a dance move, then you’ve got poppets like Miley Cyrus giving themselves camel toes in the name of “art”. And we all know about those Kardashians and their blatant self promotion via social media… Where is the mystery, girls? It seems they’re all in a hurry to “come in like a wrecking ball” and be about as subtle as sledge hammers with overdrawn eyebrows.
Heading into my first boudoir shoot, I took my inspiration from the bygone eras of innocence. My aim was to give a glimpse; a delicate taste which would leave the viewer wondering and wanting to know more. Taking this approach fueled my creativity and I was surprised when I absolutely loved it. I rushed home, bursting to share the news with my husband that I had found my calling: I was going to take photos of half naked women for a living! Given his close proximity to my desk space whilst I edit, this news was taken very, very well indeed. Jokes aside, once I decided on reinventing boudoir for my clients, I found that it was the most satisfying genre of photography I had done!
I once heard a quote “hunger is the best spice” and I believe this 100%. Give someone a little taste of something and they crave more. Give them too much and that which was desired becomes mundane. And this is now my motto when I approach a boudoir shoot. Given the brain is the most potent sexual organ, it makes sense to create a sense of anticipation, to leave room for the mind to wonder what happens next, to ache for more. It is the key, I believe to beautiful, sensual images. Imagination. Wasn’t it Einstein who once quoted “Imagination is more important than knowledge”? The man knew his stuff.
You will not see more in my photos than you see everyday on the beach. In fact, here on the Gold Coast and in Byron Bay you’d probably see a whole lot more on the sand! And my boudoir portraits are not just shot for men; they are also for you. It’s a win/win: a teasing tempter for your spouse, and an ego boost for your good self!
Whilst they are not overtly sexual, I still will guarantee you that my boudoir photos will turn your man into animal mode. I gave my original boudoir client strict instructions along with her digital files: I told her to show her partner by texting him one image on the hour, every hour, whilst he was at work. Let’s just say he was very happy to see her when he got home. Very.
ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT BOUDOIR PORTRAITS FOR YOURSELF?