“I once showed a woman the back of the camera, and we had to call makeup back into the shooting room because she was crying so hard just looking at the back of the camera,” said Marina LaBaff to us in an interview a while back. “She told me she had never liked a single photograph of herself before and had hated herself and the way she looked for years.” But Marina’s session instilled a level of confidence in her subject that changed her completely. Over the years we’ve approached boudoir photographers for interviews about their work. And we’ve tried to get the perspectives of female boudoir photographers instead of the industry’s partiality to the male gaze.
Make no mistake, we’re still not out of the pandemic. But it’s given the collective photo industry an opportunity to reset and think about the way we do things. Unfortunately, groups still exist that only care about the final image and a simple formula. They don’t try to add finesse or artistry. What’s worse is that images like those continue to gain traction on social media. Besides inclusivity, this is just one of the reasons why we’ve put more emphasis on female boudoir photographers.
The tips from these women don’t have to do with posing, lighting or gear. Instead, we’re focusing on the human element.
Kat Grudko’s Secret Is Being an Empath
Photographer Kat Grudko can surely talk about lighting and gear, but she also understands that we need to feel things out with clients. After all, they’re paying money for you to make them look fantastic on camera. So Kat discussed the idea of being an empath. She even talks about how it was a stigma for her previously.
In our interview with her, she stated:
“I have always known that I am a sensitive person. I think that most creatives are and need to be to tap into that part of themselves that lets them create from a deep and genuine place. Subconsciously I have known that I am a sensitive person most of my life. Consciously I have only started looking into what being an empath really means and how to live with the trait in relation to interacting with other people and having successful friendships and relationships the last few years. People who don’t understand what being an empath means can tell you that you are too sensitive, too emotional, too much. It is only now that I am aware of what it means to be an empath and how to manage it that I feel like I am truly starting to see the benefits of being this type of a person. Understanding my sensitivity and being open and vulnerable about it with people helps attract people to me who can relate to me, my brand and my vision and that vulnerability helps my clients to trust me with a very personal thing like boudoir photography.”
Yolandi Jacobsz Reinforces Body Positivity
I think lots of photographers these days don’t want to be in front of the lens, but also don’t realize how important it is that they are. It teaches photographers a much more human element to their art form and exactly what they’re doing. Yolandi Jacobz touches on this in our interview in a way.
In our interview with her, she states:
“I think it’s two-fold, I think positive reinforcement on the day of the shoot goes an extremely long way. If you know you’ve nailed a shot, show them the back of the camera. This cements confidence within them, and they begin to trust you. Your personality and smile can make or break their shoot, and it’s vital to keep that trust throughout by being excited with them, helping them with any small detail, such as adjusting tops or helping to secure suspenders for them.”
Marina LaBaff Matches Her Client’s Energy
Marina LaBaff is behind A Million Monarchs, and has done quite a bit to make people feel their very best as we talked about in the opening paragraph of this article.
In our interview with her, she states:
“Also, each boudoir experience is custom-tailored to each client, and we match the client’s energy. If someone is terrified, we support them. If the client is amped up, we dance with them. You can’t walk in and expect every client to dance when they’re holding back bursting into tears, but you can empower them by meeting them at their comfort level.”
The Humanity in Boudoir Photography
I live for the day when photographers won’t sit there and make boudoir photography about just cameras, lenses, lighting, and posing someone. But instead, make it about the human element of things. Lots of photographers know how to do all of these different technical things but never focus on elements like how to communicate and understand the energy in the room. More importantly, they don’t know what to do in those situations. But hopefully, that will change in time.
All images are by the respective photographers and used with permission in our interviews.