1) Initial consultation. Talk by phone/in person to discuss your session and get a sense of the photographer's style and approach. How much experience does she/he have in this field, what different styles/backdrops are offered, is this a professional or home based studio?
2) Quality vs quantity. This is a biggie. When you browse through a magazine, how many photos do you see of a fashion or celebrity shoot? Usually not more than 4-6 images in a spread. All the photos have been retouched and the model has had hours of hair and make-up styling with a full day of shooting with the photographer. The images are amazing of Natalie Portman and Katy Perry, right? What you won't see are a bunch of unedited*, unretouched images or a repetition of the same outfit/pose. When looking for a photographer, do you really want a large quantity of unedited images or a selection of high-quality photos that you really love and are magazine worthy? Which would you rather give to your loved one? My advice is to not look at numbers you "get" but rather the quality of work and style. To evaluate the photographer whose style is right for you, ask to see a gallery from a sample photo session. Here is an example of Before/After Images where you can see how the client began the photo session make-up free, to the styling process, and some final retouched photos. Difference between edited & retouched photos? *Editing is the correct term for the selection of best images (from all the shots taken in a session) and may or may not include some color adjustments and cropping. Retouching is a labor-intensive process where each individual image is worked on to achieve flawless looking skin, slimming effects, and so on...Here is an example of celebrity retouched photos to get the idea.
3) The creative process. Having worked in the professional industry for years in NY, I've been on many shoots and it all comes down to the basics.
- Styling. Every session starts with thorough styling with a skilled make-up/hair stylist. They truly can perform miracle transformations and if you want hair like Gisele, smokey eyes like Kim K., or a flawless complexion and vampy lips like Dita Von Teese, chances are, you need the pros to work their magic on you! Any trained stylist with industry experience will tell you it doesn't always come fast. Average styling time with my stylists are 1.5 hours and includes application of false lashes, sometimes extra layers! Please refer to Before/After examples. If someone offers 20min "quick" styling from start to finish, I would be skeptical of the end result.
- Environment. A pin-up/boudoir photo shoot is an intimate experience. You need to feel comfortable in the environment where the shoot will take place. Shooting in a dedicated studio with a private changing area will put you in a different emotional state of preparation than shooting at someone's home.
-Timing. Fashion shoots are notorious for taking 12 hour days. Though time should be used more efficiently for busy everyday gals, it's not realistic to think of a pin-up or boudoir shoot as a quick, "snap and go" experience. An average session with multiple outfits/backdrop changes takes around 2 hours minimum. Since most of my clients have never posed in their lives, helping them take the time to feel comfortable and know what to expect is very important in this process.
I hope this gives some helpful ideas to factor in when deciding on a boudoir or pin-up photographer. Whether it's a gift for yourself or a loved one, it's important to feel comfortable about the process and the photographer you're working with. Have any questions or comments, experiences to share? I would love to hear from you. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org (408)329-2511 Thanks for stopping by!