How I Approach a Boudoir/Glamour Session

by | May 7, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

At presentations or workshops the next most popular question, after “where do I find models,” I’m asked is how I approach boudoir or glamour sessions with a new model. The answer: Even if I’ve previously photographed a model I use the same method, although time spent on each section might go a little faster.

Sign the Release: After a friendly greeting, we head to the workroom containing my paper and digital image archives. We go over the model release and I make sure she signs it before shooting, because it’s easy to forget in the excitement of the shoot. If the model release concept is new to you, Jason Anderson has written posts on this topic and it’s the first place you should check. I use a different release for each type of shoot, for example paid vs. TFP, and to minimize legalese it’s written in as much plain English as possible and have it legally binding.

Wardrobe: I typically don’t know what wardrobe choices I might have to work with. Even though I may ask the model to bring certain things she might not own them and their choice of wardrobe is always a surprise to me, most times it’s a pleasant one. Together we look at the wardrobe choices in the workroom.

While discussing wardrobe options, I think about what background and lighting choices I might use. We also discuss jewelry and make-up. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I prefer dramatic makeup and big jewelry. Before we moved to Daisy Hill, I had a wonderful makeup artist but now it’s too long of a drive for her, so I’m looking for someone located closer. (Any affordable recommendations?) Here’s a tip: Having an artist do a model’s makeup produces better results than what most models can accomplish, although there are exceptions, as well as minimizing the amount of retouching needed in post production.

Lighting/Background: While the model is changing and doing her make up, I’m setting up the background and lighting tools I plan to use. One of Silverlake Photo’s Colorsmacks was used for the image above. These days, my studio lighting gear consists of Paul C Buff’s Alien Bees B800 and DigiBee DB 800 monolights. The monolights are synced with a Pocket Wizard Plus X on the main light with another Plus X on the camera, which more often than not (as is the case here) is a Panasonic Lumix GH4—be sure to read this Wednesday’s post about my recent experiences with this camera.

When the model walks into the studio, I place her approximately where I want her to stand, make some tweaks to the placement of the lights and make a few test shots adjusting exposure by checking the image’s histogram. I may go through this process a few times before I’m ready to shoot as part of the warm up procedures I do with all models, regardless of whether we’ve worked together before.

For this series of shots of Bella Fire I mounted a 37×27-inch Plume Wafer Hexoval 100 Softbox softbox using a Balcar speed ring to the DigiBee. Lens was the G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/13 and ISO 200.

More to come in Part 2


My book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography is full of tips, tools and techniques for glamour and boudoir photography and includes information on all of the cameras and lenses used as well as the complete exposure data for each image. New copies are available from Amazon for $26.53 with used copies starting at $8.91, as I write this. The Kindle version is $11.99 for those preferring a digital format.