Monochrome Boudoir Photography

by | Apr 25, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

There’s more to black and white photography than just a lack of color. As a creative medium, traditionalists may call it “monochrome” while digital imagers prefer “grayscale” but to paraphrase Billy Joel, “it’s still black and white to me.”

Black and white is a wonderful media for making boudoir or intimate portraits because the lack of color immediately simplifies the image, causing you to focus on the true subject of the portrait—their face—instead of their clothing or surroundings. And sometimes the nature of the portrait subject demands the image be photographed in black and white.

There are also the trendy aspects associated with creating images in black and white. TV, movies and the remaining fashion magazines periodically rediscover black and white as a way to present images that are different from what’s currently being shown. Right now, many portrait and boudoir photographers tell me they’re seeing a higher than normal demand for monochrome images than was previously was the case.


How I made this shot: I photographed the indomitable Pam Simpson in my pre-flood home studio with an entry level Olympus E-M10 Mark I and an Olympus M.45mm f/1.8 lens. Lighting was a Paul C Buff DigiBee DB800 with Plume Wafer softbox mounted. Background was Savage’s Black Infinity vinyl backdrop. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/4.5 and ISO 200.

When making what would become monochrome images in the studio, I prefer to shoot the original image with the camera set in monochrome mode while using the camera’s RAW+JPEG option. This gives me two files: one color and one monochrome that I use to show the subject approximately what the final image will look like. Because there are so many more tones in the color (RAW) file it’s easier to use for retouching. And after retouching, I use different monochrome conversions tools including  Silver Efex Pro to convert the final image to black & white, as I did here.

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to buy Joe a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here. And if you do, thank you very much.

My book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography is full of tips, tools and techniques for glamour and boudoir photography with new copies available from Amazon for $27.48, as I write this. Used copies are selling for the hard-to-beat price price of $8.91 and the Kindle version is $11.99 for those who prefer a digital format.