- Sony a7R II
- Sigma ART E-mount 50mm f/1.4
- Backdrop: Click Props Backdrops Cracked Concrete Brick (Large)
- Floor: Click Props Backdrops Factory Floor (Large)
- Lighting: Westcott IceLight to light her face; My vanity lights in the background - 4ft LED shop lights at 4000 lumens
- Camera Settings: 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 640
Getting started in portrait photography requires a lot of practice, patience, and skill.
Of course, there are many other factors involved as well.
Sometimes, in order to get over the hump and really be successful, you just need a little encouragement and a few tips to help you refine your approach.
That's where this tutorial comes in...
We reached out to our good friend Kat Armendariz, a published studio photographer in Las Vegas, to provide a few must-have tips for aspiring portrait photographers.
More specifically, Kat is an incredible boudoir and glamour photographer whose work has a unique, beautiful, and gritty vibe to it.
Without further ado, let's get started!
How to Start a Boudoir Photo Shoot
"Typically, my boudoir and glamour clients don’t know what they want. It’s my job to “interview” them to find out who they are, what they like, and what their personality is like.
I seldom get to plan...well, never get to plan as if it’s a well orchestrated product shoot. So you can toss ALL OF THAT out the window!
You’ve got to think on your feet and plan to scratch ideas that you spent all night preparing.
It doesn’t mean you come unprepared - it means you come prepared with your ideas, but with a plan to troubleshoot and pull ideas out of your ass!"
Top Tip: Get to know your clients! Spend at least one hour with them just chatting about their life. Do this a few weeks before the photo shoot.
Get to the Heart of the Client
Go beyond just talking with the client and asking them a million questions. It's important to get to the essence of who they are and what they want.
When asked how the look for the image above came about, Kat noted:
"Emilia came to me in cute, funky clothes and had a vision to capture her many fashion styles. She wanted to capture her sexy looks in her 40s before they were gone.
She's a successful entrepreneur, and is what I call a "Boss Babe." She's kickin' ass and takin' names!
She had many, MANY outfits, and I knew she loved the grungy, gritty, sexy, goth look with some glam sprinkled on top."
Really getting to know your clients, what drives them, and makes them who they are can inform you as to the direction the photo shoot goes.
Kat’s studio manager and lead hair stylist, Vanessa Witholt, often “tag-team” during hair and makeup to fill each other in on the client. Knowing her vulnerabilities helps us diffuse any potential situations, sometimes referred to as “melt-downs” lol!
In this case, since Emilia has an edge to her, Kat went in an edgy direction with the photo shoot.
Be Prepared to Spend a LOT of Time Shooting
Creating gorgeous, detailed portraits takes time. In that regard, this isn't like getting your school photos taken for the yearbook...
Instead, be prepared to invest a few hours into the photo shoot and many more hours in post-processing.
In fact, the image above is just one of 12 full sets, ACTUAL SCENES, that were accomplished over the course of 5 1/2 hours of shooting alone. Even though that is a long period, it is record time! That does not include consultations, setting up, hair and makeup, post processing, client reveal and album preparation.
Don't Be Afraid to Accessorize
Using props and special effects in portrait photography can go wrong real fast, but when they're used in a way that's thoughtful and purposeful, they can really add a lot of depth and visual interest to the shot.
"When shooting my back alley scenes in my studio, I love to use my fog machine, ladders and place old crates and random studio equipment in the shot. I prefer to use constant lights, as if street lights are cutting through the fog on a dark night.
I like to tell a story, maybe a secret story...
A bartender taking a cigarette break out back? Maybe. I let the viewer decide why she's there.
Some things don't make sense, but I like it that way!"
And when it comes down to it, creating epic portraits really is all about the client and you and the bond you create.
Sometimes you'll break the rules. Other times you'll adhere to them. But what you should always do is get to know the client, listen to their needs and wants, and prepare a photo shoot that allows you to highlight who the person is and what they are about.
If you can do that, you'll be ahead of the game!
Gear Used for This Image:
Kat Armendariz is a published studio photographer in Las Vegas. She has a passion to create out-of-the-box portraiture and to give women an experience that will be a stepping stone to new found confidence.
Her photo studio sits in the heart of Las Vegas where she gets to work with incredible clients from all over the globe. Her studio, hushXpose, is a compilation of her two studio names: Hush Hush Shoot (boudoir photography), and Pose Las Vegas (glamour photography).
hushXpose offers an all-inclusive Hollywood experience where Kat and her all-female team work with clients one-on-one to create custom sets and scenes tailored to their clients.
Kat and her husband, Ephraim Armendariz, also own the US District for Click Props Backdrops, which specializes in professional-grade heavy-duty vinyl studio backdrops. Click Props Backdrops let you choose from an extensive and exclusive range of multi-award-winning backgrounds and floorgrounds to give you the opportunity of offering clients a multi-set portrait experience.