I am a Toronto Boudoir Photographer. When I shoot Boudoir Photography, I try to get the original images as perfect as possible. This is to save time in post processing. To do this, I invest in the necessary equipment. Having the proper photo gear is all about having the tools to produce better results faster.
Below is a list of the boudoir photography equipment I use. Some of these items have more impact than others, but all are important. This list in not ordered by matter of importance. If any of these items are not available, it diminishes my creative freedom and potentially, my image quality.
I have tested plenty of junk and at this point, I have short listed my “must have” list for boudoir photography equipment:
Here is the Equipment I use to produce Boudoir Photography:
- Light Meter
- Gray Card
- Strip Lights (with Strobes)
- Tethered Laptop
- A Good Camera with a back flip view finder
- White Paper and Black Cloth Muslin (back drop)
- Props (Fun Fur, Satin Sheets)
- Photoshop CS5
- File Format: RAW
- A Large Room
- A Good Lens
1. Light Meter
It is difficult to estimate your ideal camera settings in a given light situation. You can figure it out via test shots, but that method is really a hit and miss approach. A light meter tells you exactly what your camera’s aperture and shutter settings need to be for a proper exposure.
Moreover, it is also difficult to gauge if your Client has even light distribution across her body. As some shots may require equal illumination from head to toe, a light meter is an efficient way to check for this.
2. Gray Card
Different light sources have different light colour. Light hue may range from yellow, to white, to bluish. Units called Kelvin’s measure this light colour. White balancing is the act of balancing light colour to neutral white. You can guess the light colour of a room with camera pre-sets, or you can measure it. I use a Gray Card to accurately white balance my images.
At the beginning of my boudoir photo shoot, I will get my Client to hold the gray card. Then I will photograph her with it. This will help me easily white balance my photos in post processing. Doing this will help me achieve natural skin tones. The Colours will be based on neutral white light by default. If I choose to warm or cool the colours up later in post, this is my creative choice.
Many of the better imaging processing applications have the functionality to use gray cards.
3. Strip Lights and Strobes
Off camera strobes are the only way to shoot boudoir. I suppose you can use a camera flash but the results will be average. Off camera strobes give photographers much more flexibility in terms of where and how much light is applied to the subject. When I use off-camera strobes for boudoir, I prefer to use strip lights.
Strip lights for Boudoir photography are great. When shooting nudes, accentuating curves is everything. These luminaries control light distribution very well to define highlights. With a strip light, you can easily target the specific areas you want to illuminate. Strip lights also help to reduce light spill. This means that you can direct light with accuracy. Moreover, you will not get light in areas you do not want illuminated.
4. A Tethered Laptop
I always shoot tethered. When I do this, I can look at my images as soon as they are shot. Connecting my camera to a laptop helps me scrutinize for exposure, composition, and focus. For my Clients, to see their image right away gives them feedback on their performance.
Nearly all camera makers have a software solution for tethered shooting. Shooting connected is a fabulous way for instant feedback, and to gauge your photo quality.
5. A Camera with a Back Flip View
One of my most popular boudoir shots is getting the women to lie on her back. In turn, I shoot from above as I stand on a chair. This is a difficult shot. To get it, I take the highest possible elevation; then I outreach my arms to hold the camera high. I use the flip viewfinder to frame the shot.
Canon and Nikon do not have a flip viewfinder as far as I know; Olympus does. I use an Olympus E-5 because of the flip view. This feature helps me get this tough shot under these constraints.
You do not need a backdrop to photograph boudoir but my experience shows that it really helps. Often my Client’s environments do not make for interesting or glamorous backgrounds. This is why I use backdrops. I like white paper rolls as backdrops because they do not crease like cloth.
Conversely, I prefer black cloth for backdrops as they are easier to carry and install. Moreover, they do not show crease marks. My Clients also consistently prefer the black background to white.
To vary my boudoir images, I use props. I like using fun fur (white and deep brown) and satin sheets. I can use these as covers, wraps, carpets, backdrops, etc. Soft fabrics accentuate femininity. My Clients always love the results produced by these items.
8. Photoshop CS5 or later
I love Photoshop CS5 and I prefer it to Lightroom. Photoshop allows me to clear skin blemishes, enlarge, or reduce curves, batch file process, and it is simple to automate many tasks. It also allows me to elongate my Clients legs (usually by about 3%). You will not find all of these functions in another application!
9. File Format
I classify file format as a tool because it is an integral part of my boudoir photography process. I deliver my Client’s finals as high resolution JPEGS, but I always shoot RAW. RAW images have much more flexibility for editing than JPEGS do.
When editing images, JPEGS pixels have about 256 shades of gray per pixel; whereas RAW pixels have about 4096 shades of gray. If you edit with JPEG images, you may have banding in your images. RAW images are much more resilient to edits than JPEGS.
10. Room Size
A large room gives you more flexibility to shoot your subject from different points of perspective. Moreover, light diffuses better the further it is away from a subject. Having a big room gives you more creative flexibility.
In addition, if your backdrop is further back from your strobes, you will have less light spill onto it. This is especially relevant if you want to keep your backdrop perfectly black. If you want better images, shoot in a larger room. I prefer to shoot in rooms sized at least 20’x20′ or larger.
11. A Good Lens
Better lenses produce better images. Cheap lenses are blurry and fray light (Chromatic Abrasion). Depending on the camera you are using, spend the money to get a good lens. The Canon 24-70mm L series lens is a popular reference point. I use the 14-35mm f2.0 Olympus. Both are great. For lenses, you often get what you pay for. A point and shoot camera with a fixed attached lens will produce point and shoot grade images.
Also, always keep the lens hood on. This will reduce weird light image artefacts.
The right tools for the job.
Like in any vocation, you need the proper equipment to get the job done properly. If you do boudoir photography, get the proper tools of the trade. I highly recommend that you look into these suggested items. They may help you improve the quality of your work.
For more information visit: http://www.product-photography-toronto.com/