I never thought I’d be shooting couples in the fashion I am doing now.
First of all, it never appealed to me for several reasons.
I wasn’t that interested in capturing couples simulating sex acts, which is what a lot of boudoir photographers end up doing in their sessions.
The guys always looked somewhat awkward in their boxer briefs, almost as if they’d been convinced to do the shoot and weren’t really into it.
There was no strong masculine presence, which I think is key to pulling off one of these shoots successfully (and which I’ll go into much greater detail a bit later).
The men look to me almost as if they’re props in an expanded version of a boudoir shoot for the woman. I guess what I’m getting at is that most “couples boudoir” shoots are from a female-centric perspective… which makes sense since most photographers who shoot boudoir and couples are women.
Being a male boudoir photographer, that just didn’t appeal to me.
I Had To Really Think About This
It wasn’t until a past boudoir client of mine inquired if I shot couples that changed everything for me.
You see, I really wanted to accommodate her and her significant other so I paused before automatically saying, “No, I don’t do that.”
I had been thinking about this topic for some time before she called and began formulating in my brain how I would do an intimate couples session if given free rein of expression.
So, by the time she called I already had a pretty good idea of how I would approach things.
What I Discussed With My Client Before Saying “Yes”
I scheduled a phone appointment to share my ideas with her (and then later together during a FaceTime call with her partner) and it was the first time I verbalized the ideas I had in my head to anyone.
Here’s basically what I said.
I believe in a strong masculine-feminine polarity and that the sexes compliment each other and I see a lack of that in most shoots of this nature. The men, to me, always look a bit awkward in their boxer briefs and I’m not interested in shooting two people pretending to have sex and grinding up on one another.
I would have the man in a suit with a collared shirt, no tie, with shiny dress shoes, but keep the woman in lingerie (or possibly even nude).
I would mix in female fantasy elements (just read Nancy Friday’s book “My Secret Garden” as well as “Fifty Shades of Gray” or any number of immensely popular female-fantasy orientated “romance” novels).
(By the way, romance is just the publicly acceptable word for sex.)
I would borrow the attitude from “50 Shades of Gray” and introduce elements of submission and domination, such as a riding crop, binding the woman’s hands with a tie, or blindfolding her with it as well.
I would also borrow from the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” and use masquerade masks and the theme of a dark mysterious anonymous male lover taking control of the woman as a sexual object. (Yes, women do like to be objectified by men as sexual objects in certain circumstances, but you won’t hear much about that today publicly. Just take a look at what women post on Instagram if you have any doubt.)
The problem I see with most intimate couples shoots is that they hit the same beat over and over in every image, and that beat is “we’re in love”… and I get that, but this gets boring real fast. It’s like coloring a coloring book with just one color.
I also explained how I would shoot more intimate moments (of love and affection) as well to add variety to the shoot. I wouldn’t want it to be all just one thing, so there would be an assortment of moods, themes, emotions, and looks.
This would all be done in a dark and moody style with lots of shadows and selected highlights to amp up the drama and mystique, and provide the appropriate mood and tone for the images.
Their Reaction To My Intimate Couples Shoot Ideas
After explaining all this to my former client (and then later to her significant other), and telling them that’s really the only way I would agree to do a couples shoot — they loved it and agreed!
Great, we’re all on the same page… woman, man, photographer… and that’s important.
Now everyone is an integral part of the equation, and everyone knows their role and what will be expected of them.
I also encouraged any ideas they had they might want to contribute as well.
What’s In It For Me
I have to be creative in my shoots or I start to get bored. That’s probably why I have a more elaborate lighting set up than most other boudoir photographers, and why I’m constantly trying new things and introducing new elements into my photography.
Boudoir for me is an art form first — business second. What that means is that I cater and style each shoot according to the needs and personalities of the people I’m shooting. I don’t have a set-in-stone routine of poses I run every client through. Peoples bodies are different and their comfort level is different with regard to expressing themselves sexually and that has to be taken into consideration.
Tell Me A Story
Having two people in the frame of your camera automatically introduces storytelling into your images.
You can’t have two people in a shot without it expressing some type of relationship. That immediately elevates the image because it’s no longer just about what someone looks like, there’s also a “who, what, when, where, why” element to it as well.
Add to that a prop or two and the appropriate wardrobe and your story expands exponentially.
How It All Went Down
The shoot turned out better than I imagined… however, I was apprehensive going into the session attempting to do something I’ve never done before.
Thank god I’m a big pre-planner, especially with the posing. I spent a lot of time researching poses that would work for this type of shoot. I knew we wouldn’t have any time to waste so I had to have all my set ups, wardrobe choices, and poses set and ready to go.
I plan for an ambitious shot list with a lot of different set ups and wardrobe changes… and I’m able to accomplish about 85% of that list most of the time.
I find you can’t go longer than an hour and forty-five minutes tops. After that, I start to see a drop in energy, or model fatigue as I like to call it. They start to get that glazed look in their eyes.
My problem is that I like to shoot. I could go for three or four hours easy if unrestrained.
What’s In It For You
If this type of approach appeals to you for an intimate couples shoot, then feel free to reach out to me. We can discuss ideas for your own couples shoot experience.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you shortly or fill out my contact form on my website at Bella Mitri Boudoir.
Thanks for your time!