Boudoir - tactic for insecurity
/forum/topic/1171000/0



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

First of all, thanks for reading,

I have a separate business for my boudoir photography, and I really enjoy it. I do much more with portraits (mostly family), but love doing the boudoir when I have the opportunity.

So...

Had a client, who seemed really excited over the past 4-6 weeks, but recently let me know she was panicking a bit and reconsidering, she had some concerns about her weight (even though she's only barely over 100lbs). I spoke to her, and after talking about what was REALLY important to her husband (he was getting this as a surprise gift), and post-processing, posing, angles, etc., she felt much better about it all. In subsequent followups, she was very excited about the shoot.

So I show up to the gorgeous booked boutique inn, with my hair/MUA, and the client proceeded to firmly let me know right off the bat that she would NOT be doing "any of those sultry expressions" because she couldn't do them, so she'd rather avoid her face as much as possible. I tried to be upbeat and confident, asking her to trust me, but she repeatedly would get very skittish about her legs, her face, her arms, her backside, etc. (basically, most of her). I REALLY, REALLY tried, and I think I did a good job capturing what little of her I could. I have to say that at times, my mind was spinning through ideas, 80% of which weren't within her parameters. It was just a case of her being very insecure with her appearance (unwarranted IMO, but to each their own).

At the end of the shoot, she thanked me repeatedly, and let me know she was glad she did this, rather than put it off or cancel it.

But I can't help wondering what other approaches I could have taken, other than upbeat/confident, and viewing it as a challenge. I think/hope she'll enjoy the images after I process them, but just felt like I could have gotten such a wider range of poses/scenes if I could have found a way to incorporate more of 'her' into the photographs. Thoughts?



ChiShutter
Registered: Mar 08, 2010
Total Posts: 951
Country: United States

I, too, am really interested to hear responses on this. I've done very little of this sort of work, and haven't run into big problems. But this is what I've done in the past:

I usually tell boudoir subjects up front something along the lines of the following:

1. People are nervous and self conscious in front of the camera.
2. When you wear fewer clothes, that nervousness and self-consciousness is bound to go up. Knowing what you're feeling is important.
3. You and I are going to work carefully and thoughtfully to present you in a flattering, beautiful way. There is zero chance that we will simply be unable to accomplish that. I promise. You'll see.
4. Even supermodels take bad photos. We just don't get to see those! We're not going to share any photos that don't work, and you'll be able to veto any that you don't like!

Tends to work. I still find that MOST of a subject's tension and anxiety show up in the mouth and eyes. That's really what I work on minimizing -- both with goofy Tyra-inspired facial exercises, a bit of goofiness/joking around, and I also generally have music playing OF THE CLIENT'S CHOOSING.



jczl7
Registered: Nov 06, 2008
Total Posts: 2
Country: United States

Any way you could have talked her into just trying one your way (not pushing her too much) that you would show her in camera, or on a larger screen if possible, and delete immediately if she didn't like it? If so you would need to have in mind one pose that was a sure winner unless there was no way to please her. If she did like it, then you try another.

Did you have a portfolio of photographs that she could look through and decide what poses to try? It would be better if they were 'real' women and not size 0 models.

Alcohol?



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

+1 regarding the music...



ChiShutter
Registered: Mar 08, 2010
Total Posts: 951
Country: United States

jczl7 wrote:
Alcohol?


You may be joking, but I'll note: in my experience, that's a bad plan. It usually results in some pretty crappy facial expressions, sloppy posing, and flushed skin to boot.

However, I got a request from a close friend to do some marketing head shots for him over Thanksgiving weekend, when I was back home (where he resides). The only time we got was at about midnight after an evening of serious imbibing. Friday night, he was saying to me "asshole, my headshots will all be of me drunk off my ass!" and I slurred back "maymbe we'll good them."

They turned out awesome, and are now on his linked in, his website, and his marketing materials. Just got lucky and gooded them I guess.



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

jczl7 wrote:
Any way you could have talked her into just trying one your way (not pushing her too much) that you would show her in camera, or on a larger screen if possible, and delete immediately if she didn't like it? If so you would need to have in mind one pose that was a sure winner unless there was no way to please her. If she did like it, then you try another.

Did you have a portfolio of photographs that she could look through and decide what poses to try? It would be better if they were 'real' women and not size 0 models.

Alcohol?


! I thought about alcohol, lol. Yeah, I brought an iPad with a ton of sample poses, from different models, most all the same size as her (she was really tiny, but had trouble seeing that as she had been heavier in the past).

Regarding showing her one in-camera, or on-screen...I had brought my laptop with me as well, and had offered her that I could take a photograph, and even post-process it on the spot (just 1 photo) to make her feel better, but she didn't take me up on that, but nor did I reinforce that she had that option. I have to admit, she was skittish enough that I was worried she might 'wig out' if I showed her something on the LCD and she didn't like it. But I see where you're going with that, and I did consider it. Maybe I could have padded the session an hour, and specified the first hour was just trial shots, post processing and reviewing a handful of samples? Hmmm...



ChiShutter
Registered: Mar 08, 2010
Total Posts: 951
Country: United States

brianclary wrote:
jczl7 wrote:
Any way you could have talked her into just trying one your way (not pushing her too much) that you would show her in camera, or on a larger screen if possible, and delete immediately if she didn't like it? If so you would need to have in mind one pose that was a sure winner unless there was no way to please her. If she did like it, then you try another.

Did you have a portfolio of photographs that she could look through and decide what poses to try? It would be better if they were 'real' women and not size 0 models.

Alcohol?


! I thought about alcohol, lol. Yeah, I brought an iPad with a ton of sample poses, from different models, most all the same size as her (she was really tiny, but had trouble seeing that as she had been heavier in the past).

Regarding showing her one in-camera, or on-screen...I had brought my laptop with me as well, and had offered her that I could take a photograph, and even post-process it on the spot (just 1 photo) to make her feel better, but she didn't take me up on that, but nor did I reinforce that she had that option. I have to admit, she was skittish enough that I was worried she might 'wig out' if I showed her something on the LCD and she didn't like it. But I see where you're going with that, and I did consider it. Maybe I could have padded the session an hour, and specified the first hour was just trial shots, post processing and reviewing a handful of samples? Hmmm...


I treat my wife as my in-home model, and she's super skittish and insecure about it, ESPECIALLY when I convince her to let me do some boudoir shots. But I just remind her that everyone takes some bad pictures, that I'll be thinking hard about the technical how of taking GOOD pictures, and that only the good will survive. That's usually the line of reasoning that wins out.



formula4speed
Registered: May 08, 2005
Total Posts: 1677
Country: United States

Something that can help with insecurity (this can apply to any people photography) is to get them to focus on what they consider positive. For example, ask what they think their best feature is i.e. their eyes, legs, or whatever. In your case you could ask what her husband thinks her best feature(s) is. That gives you somewhere to start, as you work on this re-enforce that the subject is doing well and looks great (don't go overboard during a boudoir shoot and sound like a creeper obviously). Engaging the subject in a positive way I find helps a lot in general, I like to keep a conversation going when I'm shooting people. Hope that helps.



Ghache.Photog
Registered: Jun 24, 2011
Total Posts: 100
Country: Canada

Music, don't make her feel like you are rushing the shoot and make her feel relaxed.
Show her some good shots on you're camera will also make her feel better as she probably doesn't know she look that good on photo. this is our jobs right? that will ger her a little boost and your session will be better as she is going to get into it.

One thing I do with my boudoir is to reassure that the pictures are safe with me and that nobody is going to see them and that privacy is my #1 concern with boudoirs (and this should be true as these images are for her husband or whoever she making these for). Advise her that nothing will be release without her approval and that only picture she chosen will be processed (this is the contract i have with them) and that the only person to view the photos are HER, and your team before you deliver photos to her. This will make her feel a bit more comfortable about the whole process as her #1 fear is probably that not so good photos of her will be seen.

Get enthusiastic when you get a good shot and show it to her! compliment her without crossing any lines, just something to pump up her confidence and you will have another happy client that had a great boudoir session!



Miker2
Registered: May 13, 2012
Total Posts: 121
Country: United States

Yeah boudoir is tough, my problem is they book and then disappear at the last minute. If I can get them in the studio don't seem to have any problem with insecurity....get them away from their friends, if friends watch it makes them much more insecure.
Show them some pictures right away and how good they look, don't be creep. Give them time to relax....don't jump into taking a lot of pictures right away....at first talk more shoot less....think of it as photographic foreplay .



Steve Wan
Registered: Nov 19, 2006
Total Posts: 573
Country: United States

Take the pictures she wants, make those look amazing, and then offer a re-shoot. I find that the second time I shoot the model is way more comfortable and since they know the drill and are sure they are safe will generally throw caution to the wind.



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

Thanks everyone, I believe I already did most of what was mentioned, but there were some good additional options mentioned, such as Steve Wan's comments. Thanks!



sandman22
Registered: Dec 26, 2011
Total Posts: 552
Country: United States

any way we can see these pictures my interest is really peaked.



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

Sorry sandman, my boudoir brand is heavily based on privacy...I don't even blog any images from sessions unless they give me explicit permission, and most want to keep their photographs private.

I'm almost done processing the session, though, and will follow up in this thread once I get feedback from the client.



misty23
Registered: Nov 15, 2012
Total Posts: 155
Country: United States

Most female clients are usually nervous. Comes with the territory. Your reputation, body or work and personality will overcome that. I continuously show my clients the images we are creating, and by the time we're into the second change, they're relaxed and excited about the results.



donrisi
Registered: Mar 17, 2005
Total Posts: 398
Country: United States

she was really tiny, but had trouble seeing that as she had been heavier in the past

In all of western civilization, there is not a woman who thinks she is thin enough or who likes the way she looks. Not one. Some are open to the suggestion that they are beautiful, and those are the ones we as photographers can work with. But generally speaking, for every one who even acts like she's comfortable with her body, there are millions who aren't.

I don't believe this is something you can fight. It's a no win situation for you. I think you would have been better off letting her out of the shoot with a simple "If you don't want to do this, we don't do it."

Given that she used to be heavier, I'd be willing to bet that in the past, her husband has made her feel pretty miserable when it comes to the way she looks. He may still be doing it. If that's the case, you're toast.

Personally, I think any photographer is better off backing away from anything a client is not comfortable doing, regardless of how much money has already been spent on location rentals, MUAs/hairstylists, assistants, etc. It's just better business -- you cannot afford to develop a reputation as a photographer who tries to push women into things they don't want to do -- they will misinterpret what you're trying to do as "he keep trying to make me take my clothes off."

Hopefully you charge a large enough non-refundable deposit to pay your expenses.

If a woman changes her mind and doesn't want to do something, blow it off, and let it go.

Just my 2.



Robin Usagani
Registered: Oct 26, 2010
Total Posts: 2849
Country: United States

You are not supposed to take off your clothes also. I hope you know that.



brianclary
Registered: Sep 12, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

, Robin...yup, got that part right, haha. Actually, I don't even photograph nude clients as part of my boudoir business, just a personal choice.

Don, I believe you're right that the amount of counseling needed to correct severe negative self-image can't be corrected as part of a session...there was no way I was going to change her mind. In regards to canceling the session, I gave her an out in the very beginning, and she regularly veto'd various angles/poses, so I believe she felt in control. At the end of the shoot, which I kept as upbeat as possible, she mentioned that she was glad she did it, and that if she had rescheduled/postponed it, she probably would never have done it. So I *think* this one is going to work out, but the things I would do differently would be:

For red-flag clients who have a significant negative self-image:
1) Require an additional face-to-face consult to discuss specific concerns.
2) Begin the shoot with a 1-hr 'test run' to take a few photographs and present/process them.
3) Confirm with the client that if I feel they aren't comfortable at any point, I may cancel/halt the shoot, as stated in the contract.