by Sue Altenburg Published 01/12/2008
The Evolution of Boudoir Photography
Sue Altenburg gives the perspective from the USA
I remember the exact day I decided to start doing boudoir photography though it was over 25 years ago. I had just graduated with my degree in photography and was working on building up our family business. At that time our studio income was 95 per cent wedding photography. A new photographer moved to Las Vegas from New York City and started displaying what he called 'boudoir' photography at bridal shows where we were promoting our weddings.
I had never heard of boudoir photography and frankly I was a little uncomfortable when our brides started enquiring about whether or not we could do a boudoir portrait for them to give to their groom as a wedding gift. At that time in the 80s the idea of photographing women in their lingerie was still a bit scandalous even for Las Vegas. I had no idea how to make women look good in lingerie and so I dismissed the idea as a passing fad.
Hair and make-up styling for boudoir portraits helps create a variety of looks for the clients and reduces our retouching costs
Later that year I booked a wedding of a well-known local businessman who reserved my top package. I was trying to move up in the wedding world so that I could raise my prices accordingly. This was the kind of wedding that I knew would give me great referrals and get me into the right circle of clientele. When his bride called me before the wedding to ask if I could do a boudoir portrait for her to give to her husband, I gave her my standard answer that I didn't do 'that type of photography'.
I had forgotten about her request on the day of their wedding. They booked a full-day coverage, which began with a trip to their home for 'getting ready' photos, then to the church for a full mass, portraits afterwards in the church and then to a park. By the time I made it to the reception I was already tired and when the announcer said that they needed the groom to come to the centre of the dance floor for a special surprise from his bride, I had no idea what was going to happen.
Two groomsmen carried out a large box with a huge bow and the groom pulled out his wedding gift, a 24x30 canvas wall portrait in a gold gilded frame of his bride. It was a beautiful, soft, head and shoulders boudoir portrait (showing only a tasteful bit of cleavage) that looked like an oil painting. The groom cried, the bride cried and everyone went crazy. The rest of the night I was asked over and over if I did that gorgeous portrait of the bride and I had to say, while mentally kicking myself, 'No, I don't do that kind of photography'.
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