Being behind the camera for a boudoir session can be just as exhilarating for the photographer as it is for the client. You are capturing the confidence being displayed right before your eyes. Add in another subject and the room becomes intoxicating when you think about the final images you will be editing. However, understanding how to gain that moody light or that intensity needed for a couples boudoir shoot is just what one photographer explains to us all.
While there are many reasons a client may come to you for a couples boudoir session, the key to getting that killer shot will be in understanding the reasoning behind their specific desire to shoot. Whether it is an anniversary, a milestone or simply to reconnect with the bond they share, a couples boudoir session is one of the most intimate types of portraiture a photographer can take on.
I met Agnes Fohn of True Muse Boudoir through the Association of International Photographers. Fohn is a boudoir specialist based in NYC and CT. Posing her clients depends a lot on the reasoning behind their session to understand whether to help guide them, or allow them to embrace the moment they are in. "I generally don't do too much coaching with my couples. I let them have their moments and capture them how they naturally are with each other. When two people love and want each other, they don't need much direction and the intensity can be maintained because there isn't as much disruption to the flow of the shoot. I just capture that fire!" she wrote over this past weekend.
Fohn is primarily a natural light shooter and works with all kinds of lighting throughout the day as each give a separate intensity or mood for shooting. She reveals that in her studio the intense midday light gives a special fashion inspired shoot, whereas towards the end of the day she can grab those rich shadows. "It always depends on the mood of the couple too. I'm an empath so I just follow their lead and we make gorgeous art together!" she explained. Creating the connection between the couple will make much more of an impact versus during a single session when we ask our clients to engage with the camera for the viewer.
When the time comes that she does indeed guide a couple into a pose, she starts off with a pose that works specifically for the shot. A simple connection close to one another. She allows the couple from this placement to flow with one another with the idea that Fohn is not there. While this takes some time for the couple to relax, after a few moments together the mood of the studio changes.
I will generally let them go for 30 seconds to a minute at a time (I know I am so cruel, but hey, anticipation is the mother of entertainment) and it’s in these moments where I get the most intimate shots. I can always move around them while shooting, so the pose doesn’t have to be on point. When they are lost in one another, it’s spectacular the way even the most nervous or stiff clients can flow and be so graceful! The connection between two lovers really is so beautiful and poetic! I want my couple’s images to convey truth and passion and I’ve always found that this is the best approach. I give them permission to be “free!”
When Fohn is posing models, she can be a little more strict with how the session will flow. She explains that sometimes the most intense model shoots are the ones with two complete strangers thrown into an intense moment for the first time. In the image below, the two models were shooting on top of a Manhattan high-rise deck off of an apartment that was overlooking the east river. This was an in between shot when the male model needed a smoke break. Fohn explained that the moment she saw the female model approach him she started shooting again. A simple brush of the hair from a windy day is all she needed for this killer shot.
She prefers to work with natural light as much as possible, however she will use a light wand, reflector, or a video light to give a little more drama. She is also no stranger on how to improvise if those items are not on hand. "You have to keep the mood and sensuality going in these types of shoots, so for me stopping to fiddle with a light to get it perfect is just not an option," Fohn told me. She says the most important factor for keeping the mood flowing and the connection between the couple on high is to not let them be distracted by the photographer.
Being outdoors in public may be tricky in some locations for boudoir. Removing the elements of the need or desire for lingerie in the wardrobe you can put the emphases into the connection. The intensity that is given by the hand placement, open lips, and the peaking through the tree line gives this image a whole other look from just a woman and a man in formal clothing.
Sometimes having the couple looking straight onto camera will bring a powerful aspect to the image. This is especially true in an session such as the one below where the couple can take their hobbies, or careers and put them into the image to create a connection back to their everyday lives.
Wall art can be a major sale for couples boudoir for their bedrooms. Many prefer the artistic nature of the detailed shots for the wall art.
Using all available light as well as the backdrop of this kitchen gave Fohn a more light and airy storyline being told. An intimate moment between this couple without being overly sexual in nature.
On the opposite end of the light and airy mood she created a more voyeuristic look into the lives of the couple brought a story line that might not be able to be captured with a simple straight on shot.
In the end, Fohn believes that shooting couples has to be somewhat of an organic nature to be believable whether it is a married couple of 20 years, or two complete strangers. Allowing yourself to pull away from the control of posing to shoot what is happening in real life will not only make your clients elated to hang them on their walls but also allow you as the artist to truly take in the intimate nature of your art.
All Images Courtesy of Agnes Fohn