Learning the fine art of boudoir portraiture

Photographers need to learn and grow. I try to attend several seminars each year. The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) offers local seminars twice a year, called “Super Monday”, often produced by local photographers. I often either attend or instruct these sessions. They are a great opportunity to meet with other photographers and learn new techniques.

This May, my friends Stephanie Cunningham and Dana Nordlund jointly presented a Super Monday at Steph’s studio in Ripley NY. Their program was entitled “Bombshell Boudoir” and featured some great models, great clothing and amazing hair and makeup. I have little experience with the style called boudoir, meaning a women’s bedroom. These photographs are often suggestive, but not outright naughty. In addition, we worked on pinup photos as well, which are generally more fun and “G” rated than boudoir.

We used some the newest Wescott constant lights, from florescent to the newest (unreleased) LED lights. They are great for WYSIWYG studio lights!

Here are a few samples of the session. There are dozens more on my Facebook business page!

boudoir portraits black and white boudoir pinpu portraits boudoir portrait boudoir and pinup portraits boudoir portrait

Special thanks to our models who worked tirelessly for the whole day, and our clothing, hair and makeup contributors.

Professional Photographers Unite!

IMG_4364I recently returned from Imaging USA 2013 in Atlanta. This is the annual convention organized by The Professional Photographers of America (PPA). I have been a member of PPA for many years.

Conventions and other educational programs are important for photographers. They help to keep their skill and knowledge levels high, the expose the photographer to new products and services, and they give us a chance to socialize in a noncompetitive environment. This year I met some great people from all over the world, and talked at length about Senior portraiture and Wedding Photography.

This year, I both attended and volunteered. As a PPA volunteer, I helped with the many courses offered at the convention. There were several large courses offered at the same time, and I worked at seven of them. The bonus was that I got to see those seven classes, and many more when I was “off the clock”.

For my volunteer effort, I earned a Service Merit toward my next level of Certification,  Photographic Craftsman. It will take me a couple of years to earn all of the service and Speaking merits to achieve this level, but the journey will be worth it.

I am very proud of my friend Stephanie Cunningham, who has finished the requirements for her Craftsman degree. Next year in Arizona at the Imaging USA event, she’ll have a chance to cross the stage and receive her medallion!

Spot the Pro!

These days, it’s hard to tell who is a real photographer and who has a Wal-Mart SLR and a Facebook page. Here are some questions you can ask a potential photographer to help you determine how “professional” a particular photographer is. If you ARE a photographer, this is a great way to see how you stack up to the real pros, who score in the high teens or 20.
1. How do you make prints for me?
Right Answer: I Edit, Retouch, resize, and use a high-end printer or lab. Then I carefully package and deliver your prints to you.
Wrong Answer: I don’t do prints. I give you a disc and you can go to Wal-Mart.

2. What types of artificial lighting do you routinely use?
Right: On camera flash with modifiers, off camera portable flashes, triggers, studio lighting, reflectors.
Wrong: “I’m a Natural Light Photgrapher”, I use the pop-up on my camera if it’s too dark.

3. How can you stay in business when you only charge $100/session?
Right: I’m super efficient and manage to grow and prosper on minimum wage, OR, I don’t charge $100/session. I charge far more, and here is why…
Wrong: I’m doing this as a hobby, I pass the value on to you!

4. How do you manage White Balance and Color Calibration?
Right: I use a white balance card, custom white balance in the camera, RAW exposure, and regular monitor and printer calibration
Wrong: What’s white balance?
5. What kind of backup cameras, lenses and storage do you have?
Right:I have a backup body, lenses and flashes in my car (or right here).
Wrong: Ahh, who needs that? I’ll just reschedule your wedding, or flee the scene.
6. How do you plan a session with your clients?
Right:I understand their motivations, discuss portrait needs, clothing, setting and other details.
Wrong: We meet at the park and we go from there.
7. Do you pay taxes on your income?
Right:Yes, I reserve 35% of my revenue and pay estimated federal and state taxes.
Wrong: Can we move on to the next question?

8. What types of insurance do you have?
Right:Liability for accidents, Equipment for my gear/studio, and Errors/Omissions insurance in case I have a client that is not completely satisfied.
Wrong: My car is insured!

9. Do you charge Sales Tax on your products and services?
Right:Yes I do, for in-state products and services. I report and pay it regularly.
Wrong: Nobody does this, plus then you would have to pay me $106 for a “shoot”

10. If I want reprints in 10 years, how will you support me?
Right: My images are archived in three places. I will retrieve and print your images, because I intend to be in business for the long haul.
Wrong: Hey, I gave you the CD of the images. That’s your problem.

11. Where is your website? Can I see it on my iPhone/iPad/Droid?
Right: Here’s the URL. It works on all tablets, phones and browsers.
Wrong: Um, here’s my FACEBOOK PAGE. Please LIKE ME!
12. What kind of training do you have? Do you attend seminars?
Right: I went to school for photography, OR I have attended these seminars/classes/workshops.
Wrong:I have a NATURAL TALENT. My friend/mother/cousin told me so!
13. What camera modes do you use most often?
Right: Manual, or Aperture/Shutter for changing conditions. I use a light meter.
Wrong: What’s a mode? Oh, It’s on P for Professional!
14. What is the fastest lens in your bag?
Right: f/2.8 or 1.8 or 1.4 or 1.2 lenses. And yes, I know what those numbers mean. Primes, and pro-level zoom lenses.
Wrong: Well, the lens that came with my camera lets me zoom REAL FAST!

15. What kinds of model releases and contracts do you use?
Right: My contracts and releases protect the subjects and spell out our mutual obligations.
Wrong:We don’t need that stuff!
16. Where is your studio or indoor working space? How do you deal with bad weather?
Right: Here is where we go, and what we do for indoor or inclement weather.
Wrong: We reschedule, because Mom said I can’t use her basement anymore.
17. How do you support your community through photography?
Right: I offer classes, donate sessions and prints, and network with vendors and my peers.
Wrong: I take pictures in the community, does that count?

18. What is your image processing work flow after your session?
Right: First I back up the images, then I select, global edit, final edit and provide proofing or review sessions for you.
Wrong: I take the chip and put the files on a CD. Then I give the CD to you.

19. What products do you offer in addition to prints and/or digital files?
Right: Canvas prints, mugs, totes, posters, collages, tiles, clothing, you name it!
Wrong: You can do that your self on MPIX or at the grocery store.

20. Do you belong to any professional organizations? Certifications or merits?
Right: I’m a PPA/WPPI member. I have CPP certification. I have these awards/merits, which indicate that I care about my craft and that I create work that my peers respect.
Wrong:Who needs that stuff? Let’s go do a shoot!