January is an unusual month for many professional photographers, you’d think we’d have a chance to wind down a little and recharge our batteries ready for the season, but January is often frantic with activity. For a start, it sees the biggest event of the photographic calendar, the SWPP Convention in London – where top photographers from around the globe congregate to chair seminars and workshops, and equally importantly to attend the seminars of the many photographers they admire. I never miss the Convention, it never fails to leave me inspired. There are many ways to differentiate yourself from your less skilled competitors, and one of those ways is to keep your studio at the forefront of new styles and new techniques in your genre – this is one of the key differences between a trained professional and the many amateurs who are now charging for work which is often sub-standard. This might involve bringing your posing skills up to date, or getting to grips with the latest lighting equipment. In fact you can do both, if you’re able to attend some of the hands-on sessions at the Convention.
I was really looking forward to one particular Friday morning, when I had the chance to spend a few hours with top photographer John Denton from Yorkshire. John has reached the dizzy heights of gaining his Fellowship (a distinction that only a minute proportion of professionals can ever hope to achieve) and I am delighted to say that at the Awards ceremony on the Sunday evening I saw John receive as much deserved Masters distinction. Yet he remains the most down-to-earth fun guy you could ever meet. John is a portrait and wedding specialist, he’s also known for shooting model portfolios and more importantly for me, boudoir photography. This is a genre which has become really popular in the last couple of years, and it’s one I enjoy. There’s nothing more satisfying than meeting a confident woman who is at home in her skin and who wants to look fabulous in pictures. But boudoir is a demanding genre to shoot, the posing and lighting has to be absolutely right otherwise the image can go from being sensational to being a complete mess. I wanted to see how one of my favourite boudoir photographers does his stuff, and it was great to observe (and use) John’s favourite lighting techniques and equipment, as well as listening to the Master himself talk about how he manages his own boudoir sessions and his own clients.
John provided gorgeous model Vivienne who endlessly and patiently posed for us while we fulfilled our brief – to extract the best possible result from the blandest environment. We were in a meeting room in a large hotel, cluttered with chairs and desks, with pretty awful lighting. In fact this scenario is often reflected in the many homes that we work in (that is very much the case for me because I’m a location photographer) and no matter how lovely a house is, we have got to be able to work with whatever we find. Even the poshest domestic environments can be dark and cluttered, but we have to be able to find areas where we can take photographs. The morning was a full on exercise on how to do this in fast moving situations.
Many of the photographers I know feel that they shouldn’t put their boudoir photographs on their usual website or blog, mixed in with their family photography. And there are just as many photographers like myself who prefer that their clients see all of the work that they do in one place. Sadly there still seems to be an odd prudishness that images of beautiful women in lingerie makes for inappropriate viewing. Yet I would be surprised if those viewers prohibited themselves or their children from ever setting eyes on family members or the public in swimwear when they visit the beach, or their undies at bedtime. And to be frank, if such a viewer were offended by the boudoir images on my website, it’s very unlikely that those people represent the kind of clients I normally work with. But if you are one of them, look away now ….
You don’t have to look anything like Vivienne to look and feel fabulous. In fact the most popular age group for boudoir imagery are ladies (most of whom are mothers if not grandmothers) in the 35 to 65 age bracket, and as professional photographers we have seen clients of all shapes and sizes. Our job is to take great images for you to treasure, normally presented in one of our fine albums or as a dramatic wall piece. Telephone us to learn more about our service, and there is information about how we work under the Info tab on the top menu bar. We cover Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, and further afield.