What is boudoir? Boudoir photography is a photographic style featuring intimate, sensual, romantic, and sometimes erotic images of its subjects in a photographic studio, bedroom or private dressing room environment primarily intended for the private enjoyment of the subjects and their romantic partners. It is distinct from glamour and art nude photography in that it is usually more suggestive rather than explicit in its approach to nudity and sexuality, features subjects who do not regularly model and produces images that are not intended to be seen by a wide audience, but rather to remain under the control of the subject. I shoot film in various formats and chose to do a hybrid vintage boudoir shoot on 4×5″ large format film and also on digital. The era was appropriate for shooting large format film, and I wanted that feeling to be conveyed to the viewer, a sense of romaticism and nostalgia.
Amidst C-19 it was always going to be a challenge to find a model, location, wardrobe and a time that would fit the theme and everyone involved. I discovered Nikki, who is a talented, full-time professional model. My friend Kirsten, who can be followed on Facebook and Instagram has excellent video and photographic skills was roped in to shoot a BTS (behind the scenes) video of the shoot. Unfortunately, the video files were corrupted and we didn’t end up with a video. Location, this was a bit of a difficult one as I wanted a true Victorian vintage boudoir feel of which there are very few such locations in and around the greater Cape Town surrounds. I did not want to use a studio and have to source props etc. The wardrobe was outsourced at Annies Wardrobe Rentals in Cape Town. Finally, we were all able to agree on a time that would suit all from the location to the model and shooters.
Nikki is a talented, full-time professional model. I wanted to produce a quality product with someone who was easy to work with and who knew what they were doing, she ticked all those boxes. To see more of her work, she can be followed on Facebook and Instagram and you can also enquire about her rates.
Location, after much searching I found a magnificently beautiful themed Victorian Guest House in Paarl – Domaine Du Cap. On arrival, it was set up for both video and stills photography. I would be shooting both film in large format – 4×5 and medium format in 6×9 as well as digital. Space is always a premium when shooting in a bedroom, more so as there were three formats on the go at any given time. Nikki prepared her makeup in my vehicle en route to Paarl, which saved a lot of time.
In my preplanning, I made use of set.a.light 3D software which helped to speed up the lighting arrangements. This was also passed onto Nikki so she would have a clear idea of the look, the environment and results that we would be getting from our setup. From there on it was a mix of different poses in the different wardrobe that was available and the different photographic formats. Large format photography is a slow process, it cannot be rushed. When done correctly the results are nothing short of astounding. In saying that, towards the end I had changed to medium format film – 6×9 on my large format camera, using a roll film back. What this means is that your subject needs to remain perfectly posed after composing the shot. The ground glass where you view your composition is removed and is replaced by the roll film back. In digital terms, you do not have a viewfinder and simply have to trust that you got the shot. Time was running short and I did have to rush the 6×9 shots; this is where I made the mistake of thinking in 4×5 inches instead of 6x9cm – my framing was a flop except for one or two images!
Inbetween me shooting film and digital, Kirsten was also very busy directing the video shots. This is where we both had opportunities to select presenting shots that were working in those moments.
All in all it was an excellent day at the office for all involved! We discussed some ideas we had for future shoots and locations, tapped into each others’ networks and generally had a good time being creative whilst keeping things professional and fun at the same time. A big shout out to all involved, thank you for what we were able to accomplish together as creatives. Go and give both Kirsten and Nikki a follow on social media.
This gallery contains the film images of the shoot. When home developing the 4×5 film, I used fresh Ilford ID 11 developer. The fixer that I used was a bit older and ended up base fogging my image. I was able to save that during scanning, the result was a much more gritty or grainier look which still turned out great! Let me know in the comments which look you like the most.
Apart from a few minor adjustments, there was no other editing involved. Lessons learnt, use fresh chemicals! Ilford Delta 100 is a very fine grain film much like Kodak Tmax 100, this turned out to be much more like an Ilford Delta 3200 result with heavy grain, which still works well.
This edit was rather time consuming and yet so worth it and the base file to begin with was 450mb. Printing these images will result in very large high quality images. A classic timeless look can be had for both images.
This gallery contains the six frames that were shot in black and white using both Kodak and Ilford film.
Kodak Portra 400 is my prefered colour film stock of choice, I dont get to shoot much Kodak Portra 160. Portra is generally best suited to portraiture as it renders skin tones really well. I used two Elinchrom 400ws heads, two Phottix 175cm shoot through umbrellas, a Shen Hao HZX45 II 4×5 camera and a Nikon 210mm f/5.6 W Large-format W-series Lens on Kodak Tmax 400 and Portra 160 film at f/32 and 1/30sec and 1/15sec respectively.
A quick cellphone video by Kirsten showing the behind the scenes of our vintage boudoir shoot and what is entailed, edited by me.
The images are of a high resolution nature and may take time to load. Click either on the advance arrow or on the image itself to view as a large single image.
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