During a boudoir photoshoot, it’s important to know what to say to make your subject feel comfortable. But it’s equally important to know what not to say or do. This video from Michael Sasser will spare you from some really awkward situations, as he shares a list of things that shouldn’t be a part of a boudoir photoshoot.
“Be sexy” – this on its own is not instruction at all, it could just make your client confused. Instead, Michael suggests that you give clear and detailed instructions. And if I may add, I think that saying “be sexy” could make your subject feel uncomfortable, so that’s one more reason to be patient and direct them more clearly and in detail.
“It will look better after editing” – it’s important to show to your client that they look amazing now, as you’re shooting. Telling them that they will look better after you edit the photos is a real self-esteem killer.
Staying completely silent – “sometimes saying nothing is worse than saying a wrong thing,” Michael notes, and I agree. Staying silent could make the subject feel completely lost and possibly even scared a bit. So, if you need a couple of minutes to just shoot a single pose from multiple angles, let the client know in advance so they don’t feel weird if you stop talking and just go around them and shoot.
Emphasizing your mistakes – we all miss focus sometimes, we don’t like how we composed the shot, or we don’t expose it correctly. But don’t draw your client’s attention to these mistakes and loudly undermine yourself if you do it. Let them know if they need to repeat the pose, perhaps make a joke about your mistake, but don’t be negative about it or emphasize every mistake you make.
Directing with inappropriate words – Michael notes that, if you’re a girl photographing other girls, you can probably get away with words like “boobs” (I’d personally avoid it nevertheless). But as a guy, make sure to use appropriate words for body parts when you’re directing the subject.
Being negative – similar to not emphasizing your mistakes, don’t emphasize the client’s, either. If you don’t like an outfit, an angle or a pose, say you want to try something else, don’t say things like “this looks bad.”
Overusing the same word – Michael admits this is his most common mistake, as he overuses the word “perfect.” It can sound awkward, so pay attention to this detail if you feel you make the same mistake at your shoots.
Touching the client/model without asking – sometimes it can be difficult to explain what exactly you want the model to do, but please don’t touch them without asking first. From my point of view, I would feel extremely unpleasant if a photographer touched me while I’m posing half-naked, even though there was no bad intention behind it. So, always ask first. And if the model insists on fixing everything alone, respect it.
Telling the client/model why you need them to change something – in short, if your client doesn’t look their best because of an unflattering pose, don’t tell them that. Just tell them to adjust the pose and keep shooting.
Supporting their negativity – as Michael puts it, boudoir isn’t really about what someone looks like, but more about how they feel about their looks. Sadly, most people are self-conscious about their physical appearance, and they may be nervous because of it before or during the shoot. As a boudoir photographer, you should raise their self-esteem, so don’t feed their negativity towards the way they look.
Make sure to watch the video for more detailed explanations and funny (but useful) examples from Michael. And let us know in the comments if there’s anything else that you think photographers should not say or do during a boudoir shoot.