Getting Started with Boudoir and Glamour Photography

by | Sep 4, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Today’s post wraps up Studio Week on the blog. Each day I tries to offer some tips, trick, and techniques for making your next shoot easier and maybe even fun while creating great portraits at the same time. In a post, Wrap Your Brain Around Portrait Lighting, I wrote, “If you’re wondering how someone who was originally an architectural and product photographer came to wander down this path, it will be the subject of a future post.” This is that post.

So how did I get started in boudoir and glamour photography?

It was an indirect route and worth mentioning only because it might also describe you. When Mary and I opened our studio in 1982, we divided the workload based on the kind of photography we were best at: She photographed people and I photographed things, products but mostly architecture. Because of scheduling conflicts sometimes I would have to shoot a few business portraits but people were really Mary’s forte. When we sold the studio things changed.

I’d always admired and respected the work of Peter Gowland and late in his life, I was fortunate to have struck up a friendship with him. My book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography, is dedicated to Peter and Alice Gowland, although sadly it was published after he passed away.

In the 1980’s, I began avidly collecting and reading Gowland’s glamour photography books. Then in the late 1990’s when looking at some of the new glamour images that began appearing on the Web, I became interested in working in the genre. When Mary and I sold the studio because of my health problems, we also sold along all of the lighting equipment, so I had to start building a lighting kit from scratch because before that time I honestly believed that “I wasn’t ever going to photograph people.”

That’s when I learned you can never say never or “ever” and started learning how to make glamour images with little or no equipment. If you’re interested in that topic, you can check out this post or poke around this and my old blog for posts on that subject. I had pitched many book publishers with the topic of “No Frills Glamour Photography” and while I came close to it with Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography it wasn’t quite the same because of the exigencies of the real world of book [publishing. Based on the trauma of trying to get my business book, On Photography*, published I am guessing this concept is dead in the water.

You may be interested in trying boudoir photography but think that it’s difficult, you need lots of expensive equipment or models are hard to find. It’s going to much less difficult if you’ve been interested in photography for a while and are familiar with the basics including focus, composition and exposure. If that description fits, you’ll be ready to make your first glamour photograph.

How I Made this Shot: For the featured intimate portrait of Erin Valakari, the backdrop used was a Photo Gray Savage Infinity vinyl background hanging from my still falling-apart JTL background stands. Lighting was from a single Paul C Buff DigiBee with a Plume Wafer HexOval 100 (37.5 x 27.5 by 12 inches deep) attached and placed at camera right with a 32-inch reflector located at camera left. The camera used was my former go-to Panasonic Lumix GH4 with G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 31mm and an exposure of 1/160 sec and f/6.3 and ISO 200.

It was shot with my now-standard RAW+JPEG format, with copies of the JPEGs given to the model for her use and the RAW files used to create images for the blog and any other use. The RAW file was retouched with Imagenomic’s Portraiture, then tweaked using Vivenza and Color Efex Pro to produce the image you see here.

*Next Saturday I plan to announce that my book On Photography will be a free PDF download for anyone interested in having it. At that time, I will offering the book to a small group of beta testers to check it out before offering it as a straight download from this site.

My out-of-print film-based book Part-Time Glamour Photography: Full-Time Income, is available new for $15.30 with used copies selling for $4.00 as I write this. Yes, it’s about shooting with film cameras but there’s still lots of useful information and that price is hard to beat! The newer, digital oriented Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography, is available new for $20.99 or starting at $6.09 used. The Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.