Category Archives: Training

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BOUDIE CALL – PlayBack

Wow, what a phenomenal Boudie Call last week! I had so much fun,
and we’ve received tons of positive feedback – thank you!

In case you missed all the action, you can listen to the recording here.

“How to Earn More & Be Happier
as a Boudoir Photographer in 2013!”

+The biggest mistakes to avoid when getting started, that even experienced pro’s make
+How to be in love with what you do as a pro boudoir photographer
+How to triple your sales at each stage of the process
+The one powerful exercise I do every year to take my biz to the next level!

The call went overtime, and since there were so many boudie business Q’s,
I answered them here in the comments below…

Thank you for making the call a wonderful start to the new year!

xoxo, Christa

85mm, ISO 320, f/2, 250 sec

The 5 Boudoir Poses You Need to Know and Master

I’m loving the beautiful fall weather we’re having in NYC, and I have an extra skip in my step because my new book is nearly complete! Yaaaaay! Which means we’ll all have to celebrate (details on that will be forthcoming), and you’ll see more of me on the blog.

This week, I want to give you a fun glimpse into the posing chapter from The Art of Boudoir, which includes the 8 Biggest Posing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, Principles of Sensual Posing, My Posing System: Putting It All Together, and more. One section is called:

The 5 Boudoir Poses You Need to Know and Master

Why Five?
When it came time to write about specific poses, I knew I had very limited space. I thought about it for months. (Obsessed about it really.) I kept asking myself: what instruction would give you guys the biggest bang for your buck? I scoured my archives for the critical poses that I couldn’t do a shoot without. After going through every single past boudoir session numerous times, it became quite clear which poses I was using to create stunning, yet varied, results again and again.

I realized that these five poses bring me the greatest amount of success because they fulfill the following criteria:

  • Most flattering to the widest variety of women
  • Offer the most variety out of a single pose
  • Easiest for non-models to perform
  • Easiest for the photographer to manipulate
So without further ado, here’s one of the five for you…
No. 4 The Serpent

24-70mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 125 sec

Oh this is such a sexy and slinky pose! It’s a great one to start a session with because even nervous women feel more relaxed and safe in this position. The Serpent will take a bit of coaching and continued reminders for her to hold this extreme posture, so keep encouraging her to push that hip up and arch her back even more than she thinks she can, to create what I call the “triangle of awesomeness” between her hip, upper thigh, and lower abdomen. Ask for the arm facing the camera to be moved out so that we see the side of her breast. This creates gorgeous symmetrical curves and a lot of pleasing triangle shapes.

24-70mm, ISO 320, f/2.5, 125 sec

 Note: to really see that “triangle of awesomeness” characteristic of The Serpent, you must be on a surface that has a bit of firmness, whether it’s a bed, couch or the floor. If it’s too soft, her body will sink into it.

There are so many incredible angles for this pose. Shooting from where her feet are produces a saucy point of view, and depending on the position of her legs, the pics can vary from mildly hot to super erotic. You can have her peek over her shoulder at you, and then walk around to the opposite side and capture some gorgeous close-ups, which is what I did to snag the first pic in this post.

Just by changing up your position and/or slight adjustments to the model (such as differing hand gestures, eye-lines and actions), you can create so much variety and every shade of modesty. Add to that a variety of focal lengths from which you photograph her, and we increase variety from the same pose even more! And that’s a whole ‘nother how to section in this book: ways to easily create variety on a shoot, which dramatically increases sales.

Thank you as always for tuning in!

It’s such a pleasure to share how to make women look and feel sexy with you!

Please post a comment to ask any questions about posing, the book, or The Serpent, and I’ll answer them the best I can.

Enjoy using The Serpent this week, and let me know how it goes! (Even if you’re not a photographer, but a woman who wants to look damn sexy 😉

Lots of love,

Christa

ps. and if you are a photographer or a woman who wants to look damn sexy, pre-order my book now! It’s only about 26 bucks during the pre-order stage on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Peachpit Press.

 

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Making it Work: A “Noir” Lighting Setup

It’s been nose to the grindstone time as the deadline for my new book is less than a week away, and I’ve been writing and shooting up a storm. That, in addition to my normal boudoir client work, travel with my man, and a whirlwind week in Mexico for a business retreat (more on that soon), and the summer went by in a flash.

Today, I wanted to share a super fun lighting set up from the chapter on creating beautiful light. The new book shows eight different simple and sexy lighting set-ups I use to flatter women using only one light.

The photo above was shot for the new book this past Saturday, and is a perfect example to show how every shoot has its “make it work” moments when things don’t necessarily go as planned.

(Project Runway fans will recognize the mantra “Make it work.” Don’t you just love Tim Gunn? I repeat his mantra all the time. He lives on my block in NYC, so now I feel pressured to dress up even when walking the dog. But I digress.)

To create the look above, we needed a narrow beam of light. The reflector attachment that goes with this monolight would have helped do the trick , but was not packed in the box. Yikes. We had only this one strobe and two softboxes. Yikes again.

There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and here’s just one that we chose:

Lighting Equipment used:
Elinchrome BXRi 500watt Strobe with 27”x27” Rotalux Softbox
Elinchrome Skyport Speed Transmitter
Impact Multi Boom Lightstand
Two Flats used as Flags
Grey Seamless Backdrop

Shot with:
5D Mark III
50mm 1.2 with Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density .9 Filter and 72-77mm Step-up Ring

Settings:
100 ISO, f/2.8, 100 sec

We decided to use this small softbox with the diffusers removed, exposing the bare bulb and silver lining inside, as well as two large flats to act as flags to block the light from spilling onto the subject and background where we didn’t want it to. We kept the model bright and the background dark without blowing everything out by exposing for her fair skin. I am kneeling down, so I can best lengthen her legs while shooting full body. I used an ND filter to take my exposure down 3 stops without changing my aperture setting. You can create lighting modifiers out of almost anything in a pinch, and those crazy boards we used as flags are large wallpaper flats we lucked out finding in the studio we rented… a total gift.

Here’s the shot SOOC.
Notice any adjustments done in post? (…speaking of Tim Gunn 🙂

Thank you to Robert and Kathy from JohnsonSarkissian, my dear friends, for being an enormous help while shooting behind the scenes pics and footage. I couldn’t have finished the day without you, and your enthusiasm, positivity and creativity helped make it a success and so much fun! I am so enormously grateful to you both.

And a huge thank you to each of you as always for stopping by!

Post any questions about this set up or the equipment used in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

We’ll have more updates, tips, giveaways and news coming soon!

Lots of love,

Christa

 

 

 

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An Ordinary Couple, An Inspiring Story

My recent boudoir shoot in New York with Julie started as a perfect example of my typical shoot and client.

Julie is a mother of three, has been with her husband for 25 years, and was traveling to NYC to do a shoot with me to celebrate turning 41. Her husband, Jim, had wanted her to get boudoir photos done for several years, but she resisted. She’s a self-described plain Jane, and had all the same hesitations and doubts that all women do who eventually approach me for a shoot.

The day of the shoot, the make-up artist and I came to the couple’s hotel, the husband begs to stay and watch, I refuse, he takes off, and the usual silliness, sexiness and girly fun ensues.

We were having a blast, and I was just posing Julie on the bed, adjusting her arm and saying “Move your arm more to the right so I can see more boob,” when all of a sudden from behind me a male’s voice says “That’s what I like to hear!” I turn to see Jim peeking out from behind a wall, crashing our party. 

Here’s the look on Julie’s face when that happened:

 

Jim’s jaw was on the floor, startled and thrilled to see his wife half-naked and loving it. We all cracked up for a bit, and I began to notice Julie getting even saucier with her husband present. He promised to watch quietly from the sidelines, so I agreed to keep shooting with him there and see how it went.

Well it went beyond great – it was the most gratifying shoot to date. To see Julie strut around half-naked in front of her husband with bold confidence… to see Jim smile from ear to ear and watch his wife so lovingly with such adoration and barely able to keep his hands off of her… that’s the most rewarding part of my job.

To couples everywhere:
Julie and Jim wrote letters to me describing their experience because they wanted to inspire all couples out there thinking about doing a boudoir shoot to do it! 

Here’s Julie’s letter to all women:

First, let me say, that I am a 41 year old, mother of three and librarian, living in a suburb of Boston – typical in every way.  My husband had been talking about having Boudoir photos taken of me for several years, and I was a bit resistant.  This summer, I suggested we spend a few nights in New York City, and he suggested that I book a photo shoot with Christa.  I thought about it and decided that if after 19 years of marriage, he wanted to look at pictures of me in sexy lingerie, rather than other women, that was a good thing and what the hell, it might be fun.

I spoke with Christa on the phone.  She asked me tons of questions about myself, what I love about my body, what I want the pictures to say about me, what activities my husband and I enjoy together, etc.  We talked about different set up possibilities and what to expect.  She also spoke of the importance of doing the photo shoot for myself as much as for my husband. After our first phone conversation, I felt totally comfortable and was actually getting excited about the shoot.

 Two weeks before our trip to New York, my husband and I went on a date to a lingerie boutique, where I tried on different sets and we picked out a few.  A fashion show ensued once we got home and it was at that point that I realized what a great idea this was.  

On the day of the shoot, my husband had the foresight to leave behind a bottle of white wine to calm the last little bit of nerves. The make-up stylist and Christa arrived, and we toasted the day’s adventure to come.

Once Christa started shooting the time flew by.  She was a great coach, telling me exactly what to do, how to sit, where to look, what to do with my hands.  I changed outfits, hairstyles and makeup several times.  We even snuck out into the hallway and stairwell for a few shots with the make up artist standing guard, ready to throw a robe over me.  

It was an absolute blast.  Honestly, more fun than than I had ever imagined.  I felt beautiful and sexy and confident in a way that I haven’t since before our kids were born and It was nothing less than magical.

The pictures were everything we had hoped for and more.  Christa did an amazing job capturing everything that was physically and emotionally on display that day.  I love my new photos and will treasure them and the memories of that day for a long time to come.

A letter from Jim:

Dear Christa,

The whole experience from beginning to end was so memorable for both of us.

A couple of weeks prior to the shoot, we went shopping for her various outfits she wanted to wear. Julie had so much fun trying everything on and I had a great time watching her in all of the dresses and sexy outfits!  There might be a couple of stores we can longer go back to but it was worth it. 

Julie spent some time before the shoot looking at a lot of images of other sexy moms on your blog as well as your coaching articles, which really helped.  Soon, she was looking forward to the shoot even more than I was! 

When I joined you at the end of the shoot, it was so thrilling to witness my wife transformed from the girl I know and love into a sexy vixen.  Seeing her confidence in herself build was so wonderful to see. 

Just as you tout, Christa, sexiness is not about being a perfect ten, it’s about assuredness and attitude. You made her feel so relaxed, comfortable, sexy and beautiful. 

We went out that evening while she was still all made up with one of her new sexy dresses.  It was such a wonderful night and the shoot was just about all we talked about. 

In fact, we’ve been talking about it for days and wondering when we can do it again!

This is the kind of experience that, unfortunately, not many couples get to have.  We are so lucky. Not only was it fun but it was intimate and it made a very strong marriage even better. 

Being over 40 or not a supermodel is not a reason to deprive yourself of having this amazing experience.  We’re so grateful you were able to capture her beauty and provide us both with a day we’ll never forget.

All the best,

Jim

Having the man present is now something I will consider for future shoots. There are fun ways to incorporate the husband… I asked Julie to flirt with Jim off-camera while I shot, and those pics are some of my favorites. We even had Jim holding the fan at one point, to which he said “I’m glad this fan is between me and my wife because I would attack her right now.” 

A big thank you to Julie and Jim, for a memorable experience, making every moment of my time with you so fantastic and fun, your heartfelt letters, and your generosity in allowing me to post a couple of images here.

I hope their story inspires you!

xoxo Christa 

 

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The Money Shots™ Giveaway Pinterest Contest

Summer is heating up and my birthday is coming in August, so I’m doing another hot giveaway!

Many of you know that I celebrate my birthday with a personal boudoir shoot, and I’ve begun to plan this year’s festivities by posting pics to My Bday Boudoir Shoot board using Pinterest.

I believe deeply that every woman and photographer can get so much value from doing her own shoot, so join me in the fun and start planning YOUR boudoir photo shoot! If you’re male, plan one that you’d love to do with your next client. 

As part of the fun, we’ll give away two copies of The Money Shots™ posing guide for BEST BOARD (most inspired collection) and MOST FOLLOWERS for the board with the most followers.

The Money Shots™ are THE shots that sell. Part Pose Book and Part Coaching Guide, this is a set of inspiring poses and ideas with my instruction so you can easily capture these Top Ten Best-Selling Boudoir photographs with enormous success every single time!

You ready to plan your Ultimate Boudoir Shoot and win The Money Shots™? 

Using Pinterest, create the Ultimate Boudoir Photoshoot pinboard using content from christameola.com and around the web. Choose your favorite poses, outfits (or lack thereof…), props you love, fantastic settings, and any element you’d love to include in your shoot. 

CONTEST DETAILS

Contest ends this Monday, Aug. 6th at Midnight EST.

ENTER NOW:

  1. Follow Christa on Pinterest
    New to Pinterest? Request an invite here using this invite link.
  2. Create an “Ultimate Boudoir Photoshoot” pinboard
    Select “+Add” and then “Create a Board” at the top-right hand corner of the Pinterest page.
    Make sure to name your board “Ultimate Boudoir Photo Shoot.”
  3. Start pinning!
    Search christameola.com and the web for pics that inspire you and pin it.
  4. Share the board with friends to increase your chances of winning The Money Shots™

Christa and Team Meola will review all the boards and announce the winners on Tuesday, Aug. 7th.

Good luck and happy pinning!

***UPDATE: There was such wonderful participation and phenomenal boudoir shoot boards, that we chose 4 winners!

Michelle Young, We love the idea of Sexy Beach Glam.
Jaime Baxter Martin, A board full of soft, beautiful and sultry inspiration.
Pamela Mullins, Just plain HOTNESS! Love the bold implied nudes.
Amie Adams, rocked the follower count

xoxo Christa

ps. I also use my Pinterest page to post Lighting I love, Rocking Boudoir Poses, How To Tips, Art that inspires me and so much more! Join me, and I’ll see ya on there!

 

Marketing with Mobile

My Favorite Product, plus $400 Cash Giveaway!

Woooot! I have another smokin’ SUMMER GIVEAWAY for you!

$400 CASH money, honey.

That’s 4 winners of $100 each. Details below on how to enter!

This contest is to introduce my favorite new photographer’s tool for not only adding so much value to my client’s experience, but also delivering exceptional word of mouth marketing… STICKYALBUMS!

Watch the video to learn how I use this hot new product to thrill clients, market myself and create tremendous positive word of mouth marketing.

Plus, you’ll hear about ways to further brand yourself, stand out from the crowd, and further personalize the shoot experience for your clients using this easy and inexpensive new product, Sticky Albums.

Click Play to learn more…
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Details:
Use the widget above to earn several entries into the drawing.
4 winners, each will win:
$100 coupon towards StickyAlbums Pro!
If winner is already a StickyAlbums Pro member, you will win $100 in cash paid via PayPal.
Contest & Discount Ends Friday 6/29 at 11:59pm EST.

Important Info:
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will not be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You must be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Stickyalbums.com and not to Facebook.

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Celebrating Curves! Plus WPPI Giveaway

It’s Celebrate Curves Week on the Meola blog!

One of the Q’s I get asked most by photographers is “How do you flatter curvy gals?”  So here ya go!

My Top 8 Tips to Flatter Curvy Gals

1. Read the #1 secret about shooting curvy gals most beginning photographers don’t know.
2. Ask your subject what she loves about her body. Focus on that.
3. Ask her what compliments she receives a lot or what her partner loves. Focus on that. 
4. My favorite Q to ask: what does she love about her personality? Do your darndest to bring that out.
5. Read my lighting tips to flatter curves. 
6. Walk around your subject to look from ALL angles to find the most flattering ones. Go high, go low, and go waaaay beyond shooting from your height. Just because you’re 5’7″ doesn’t mean you should shoot from there 🙂
7. Use lenses that flatter, such as the 85mm 1.2 (my fav) or the 70-200mm.
8. Most importantly, know that essentially the only thing you really need is to truly observe and appreciate the woman in front of you. Ask: what’s beautiful about this woman? And focus on that.

The only thing I like as much as enjoying my own curves is photographing another woman enjoying her’s! Today, the lovely Tru is gracing my blog. This was a mini-session, and I was captivated by Tru’s laugh, her rocking hourglass shape and her gorgeous skin. She told me that she also loves her feet and her man loves “everything.” Ha! You gotta love that.

Tru is a prime example of my belief that sensuality comes from within!

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In her own words: “Once I embraced my curves, I gained the freedom to be me.”
-Tru www.trunettaatwater.com

Now onto a GIVEAWAY!

I have TWO FREE WPPI TICKETS for you!

Join me at WPPI in New Jersey – my home state! I’ll be speaking and teaching alongside some of the industry’s best, such as Sal Cincotta, Doug Gordon, Lindsey Adler and more. Such a great line-up!

Registration includes the two day workshop, seminars, a personal portfolio review, mini trade show, and a free conference & expo pass to WPPI 2013.

Here’s my juicy topic:

How to Add Boudoir (& Big Bucks) to Your Business
If you’re not shooting boudoir, you’re missing out on a ton of money and fun. Whether you’re a wedding, portrait, boudoir or aspiring photographer, Christa will show you how to develop your unique and highly profitable boudoir brand. Learn the biggest mistakes photographers make when breaking into this market and get a step-by-step guide to swiftly grow your ideal boudoir clientele. She’ll tell you exactly how to bring out the best in every woman before, during and after the shoot. Plus, she’ll share her proprietary “booty” sales boosting technique. Christa will tackle the biggest questions, myths and mishaps about this highly lucrative field. 

New Jersey // June 25th & 26th
Register Now
$149

To WIN a FREE TICKET to WPPI, Leave a Comment below with a Q about adding boudoir to your business, photographing curves or let us hear how much you loooove curves!

***UPDATED : Winners of this contest are Shannon Lery and Lea-Ann Wadleigh!

Got a friend who could use a bit of curvy celebration or a free ticket? Forward this link

Lots of love and boudie hugs,

Christa

ps. More giveaways on the blog all summer long! Sign up here so you don’t miss a single one 🙂

 

 

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Hot Sales Tips and Paris Pics!

If you know me, you know I freaking LOVE sales as much as I love romance, travel & taking pictures. 

A lot of my workshop grads report a huge surge in sales after studying with me, such as Melanie – who posted this on Facebook today:

 

Hearing your success stories makes me feel AWESOME! and I want more of that for you and for me 🙂

Want to know how you can sell more easily, with more joy and make more money? 

Scroll down for details… and please enjoy all the romance and beauty I experienced in Paris recently while shooting on the Seine…

 

For my Hottest Sales Tips…
Please join me for a Free Live BOUDIE CALL Q&A this Thursday on SALES & SELLING

The steps you absolutely MUST do before each sales session !
How to create a masterful In-Person Sales Session flow that will never leave you at a loss for words!
How to ensure your clients order during the first sales session
The importance of asking your clients if they want mustard on their sandwich (yup, you read that right) and more…

And for the first time ever, I have a Special Guest, Kristen Kalp, joining us on the call!

Why?

Well when I first saw Kristen’s Sales Without Shame program, I thought “B*tch stole my idea!”

But of course she didn’t. She did even better than that…

Kristen created THE BEST in-person sales tool out there. Her program is so aligned with all my beliefs and strategies and fills you in on everything you need to know to sell portraits effectively, simply and easily. She walks you through exactly what to do, in what order and guides you through every step of the process.

So I asked Kristen to join us on the call to share her wisdom, and she said yes!

EXCLUSIVE! BOUDIE CALL THIS THURSDAY!

Thursday, June 7th
1:00p EST / 10:00a PST

Call in details:
Dial-in Number: 1-218-862-1300 
Conference Code: 668103 

During the call, we’ll answer ALL your burning sales Q’s,
as well as some you might not even think to ask…

What single sales tip has made Christa and Kristen more money than any other?
What’s the best way to deal with clients who need more time to order or are from out of town?
How do I start to sell in person on a super low budget?
How do I overcome my fear of feeling “sales-y” and make more money yo?!


Post your Burning Sales Q in the comments below, and tune in on Thursday!

xoxo Christa

P.S. You can also hear me dish about sales and high-end client experiences during a juicy exclusive 45 min. interview with Kristen, which is available to folks who use her Sales Without Shame program. Details on that here.

 

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How to Flatter Every Woman

LOVED shooting Miss M at my recent creativeLIVE Boudoir Workshop! She is curvelicious and knows it. I get asked so often how to flatter curvy women, and it’s really the simplest thing ever – most curvy gals (especially the ones stepping in front of a camera) absolutely adore their body and dig their curves. Most men do too 🙂

We spent the entire first day of the workshop discussing how to work with women, flatter every size and shape, relax nervous clients and bring out the best in every woman. We covered essential posing, shooting & lighting techniques that every photographer can rely on to capture gorgeous photographs…


During the creativeLIVE workshop, we covered posing and how slight adjustments in posture can really enhance curves. For example, dropping her left elbow behind her body, putting her hand at the height of her hip, dropping her knee and working that extreme posture all work together to enhance this gorgeous gal’s hour-glass figure… (and let’s be honest: wearing a corset helps too 🙂

We also discussed crossing your subject’s arms in her lap when shooting a close-up. Again, creating lines that curve when they hit the end of the frame…

I also demonstrated how coaching actions is a simple way to create natural movement (instead of stiff poses), eliminate your subject’s nerves, and create photographs with some emotion and life!

A woman enjoying herself and her body, getting undressed, smiling and flirting is just too cute and so damn sexy… These were just a few of the actions I coached while shooting. (ps. and as I said throughout the workshop – make sure to add the FAN!)

Lastly, good posture is divine: straight back, relaxed shoulders, elongated neck, chin/hips/chest out… easy peasy.

These were just a few of the tips covered in my 3-day creativeLIVE Boudoir Workshop (more photos & tips coming soon!).

But the real secret sauce to flatter any woman regardless of your subject’s size, shape or age: focus on her personality, confidence, her favorite features / body parts, and her enjoying herself!

That’s it baby.

Because the sexiest trait in a woman is happiness, and confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear.

xo Christa

ps. I’m coming to you from Vegas baby – here for WPPI. If you’re attending, stop by and say hello! I’ll be judging the print competition in the Portrait category on Sat and Sun. And I’ll be teaching a MasterClass in Boudoir on Wed at 2:30p – since it’s a MasterClass, the seating is limited, so snag one by registering online for my class when registering for WPPI. If you’re already registered for the conference, sign-up for my class by calling 1.877.779.3127. See you there!

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Featured Interview on LensProToGo

*One note before we launch into the interview — The deadline to submit your video and join me for free in creativeLIVE’S Seattle studio for my sassy Boudoir Workshop is TOMORROW Wed. Jan 18th! So jump in, record your vid, and I can’t wait to meet you!

Now on to the interview!

I was recently interviewed by the incredibly knowledgeable and generous staff at LensProtoGo.com and their readers. They asked smart questions that are on lots of newbie boudie photogs’ minds. So I think you’ll relate, and I hope you enjoy!…

LensProToGo: For those who don’t know you, can you explain what type of photography you do?
Christa: Sure! I specialize in photographing women. I love to make women feel confident and beautiful, and I incorporate fine art nudes, fashion and portraiture into my private commissions.

How did you start doing boudoir photography?
A few years ago, a friend of a friend was getting married, and she wanted to shock her fiance with sexy photographs of herself as his wedding gift. She is a self-described plain jane and told me she lives in sweat pants and no make-up and this is something he would NEVER expect from her. She said she knew I was a portrait photographer and that she felt really comfortable with me, so asked if I would do it. Of course I said heck yes! I love saying yes to new creative opportunities and challenges.

I, personally, don’t feel boudoir photography is something any photographer can just ‘do’. In one sentence describe yourself and why you you belong in boudoir photography.  
First, I feel that any photographer who feels drawn to photographing women, appreciates the value of it, and has a compelling reason why they want to do it, can do so. Now, to describe myself in one sentence is difficult for me 🙂 so, I’ll just say that one of my talents is creating intimacy quickly.

I find you can make any woman feel sexy and great about themselves without focusing on their ‘shape’. What do you like the photos to show in the end?
My goal is to capture the distinct spirit and personality of each woman, including all the glorious qualities she loves about herself (such as playfulness, bold, elegant, etc) and what she loves about her body (such as her fabulous smile, curvy hips, or the small of her back). I also like to incorporate the qualities which the woman aspires towards. That’s the ultimate success of a shoot – getting to redefine yourself as you wish with your photographer’s help.

Who do you find to be your most common client?
My most common client is also my Ideal Client, who I’ve intentionally focused on attracting. Soccer Mom’s, 40+, who’ve just had a recent transition – either breast cancer survivor, huge weight loss, about to get pregnant again, 10th anniversary, divorce, new partner, etc. Those are my ladies that I love to serve and I find the most fulfilling. Make this client feel confident and look beautiful from doing a shoot with you, and there’s no finer reward.

How do you get your clients to feel ‘comfortable’ with not only you but the shoot in general?
Comfort is over-rated. The more nervous you are the better is what I tell them. Going out of your comfort zone is thrilling and part of this experience. It feels freaking amazing once you’ve push past your fear – that’s when you feel the true reward. So I like when my client is nervous, which most are, and I tell them why. Also, I do a lot of prep work and planning before the shoot. I get specific and ask exactly what degree of nudity/modesty we’ll be capturing. I ask what they love about their bodies. I let them know what to expect. I keep in touch the weeks leading up to their shoot with a few points of personal contact via phone or text. I make sure to have about 1.5 hours of make-up and hair styling time before the shoot, so she has this transition time to get pampered and relax. It also gives me the opportunity to start shooting while she’s in the make-up chair so she’s already comfortable with being half-naked in the room with me shooting. Then, before she’s even completely done in Hair/Mk-up, I pull her out of the chair for a “make-up or light test” and we’re shooting without her realizing the session has begun. That’s important – you don’t want your client to feel like there’s a drum roll going on while you’re dusting off your camera and she’s taking her robe off to “begin” the session. I keep her moving before she knows what’s happening or has time to get self-concious. Lastly, keep your demeanor professional yet playful on the shoot. Demo every action or pose yourself first that you’d like her to do, so she doesn’t feel silly compared to how silly you just looked doing it 🙂 Be respectful of boundaries and always give Constant Never-ending Positive Feedback: everything works “GREAT!”

Sometimes boudoir can be ‘taboo’ for people. How do you deal with those critiques?
I’m not sure what’s actually “taboo” about it, and thankfully only people open to it approach me.

What has been your biggest challenge in this field of photography?
Redefining the term “boudoir” which, in America, has an unfortunate and outdated connotation.

What has been your greatest success in the field? Personal or business.
Every client who is moved to tears by my pictures. Every client who walks taller because of my pictures.

What type of gear do you use while shooting?
The old Canon 5D, 85 1.2, 50 1.2, 24-70 2.8, and for studio: one strobe with soft box and grey seamless background paper.

Is there a piece of gear that you ‘couldn’t live without’?
Nope. I think an essential and thrilling aspect of creation is working within limitations, so give me anything to shoot with and I’m happy.

You are teaching workshops now…online and live. What is the most important thing you want to get across to the participants during a workshop?
It’s easier than they think and to stay focused on developing their own unique personal vision.

What has inspired you the most during your journey as a photographer?
Oooh, that’s another difficult question to pin down to one answer. There are thousands of things that have inspired me along this journey. Mostly, I think it was my love of fine art (drawing, painting and sculpture) that I was exposed to at a very young age.

Any funny happenings or good stories from a shoot?
Every shoot is a good story.

Do you suggest renting gear and why if so?
Heck yeah! Gear is expensive, and why lay out money that is likely better spent elsewhere to get your business off the ground? I rented those prime lenses for a very long time before I bought them just for that reason, as well as to make sure I really loved them and used them a lot during a shoot. Also, renting allows you to experiment, which I’m a huge fan of in order to continue to grow, be creative and find what’s right for you.

What is your go to lighting set up for Boudoir?
My absolute favorite lighting set up is natural light. I work my butt off to make the available natural light work, and 90% of the time it does. I love genuine, natural, unmanipulated circumstances, so working with natural light plays into that. Sometimes, I have to bump up my ISO to 1600+, or use a reflector, and/or do a bit of dodging/burning in post, and I’m totally okay with that. My style is natural, and a big part of that is making available light work for me.

When you first started shooting boudoir, how did you break the ice…how did YOU get comfortable with your clients? You can’t expect Clients to be comfortable if you’re stumbling over your own words!
Such a great question and you’re absolutely right! Your clients will not feel comfortable with you and what you are asking them to do, unless you are comfortable with yourself, your sensuality, and why you’re photographing women in the first place. If you’re not able to talk freely with your clients about showing “nipple” or other grey areas of nudity, then you may want to consider another profession. You can’t have any hang-up’s about sexuality, nudity, or self-expression and do an awesome job as a boudoir photographer.

What do you feel are the necessary items to have in my “props” collection?
Ooooh, I love this question! I love props and highly recommend that you bring some items to set with you to ensure a fun, smooth and profitable shoot. First, black panties. You’d be surprised how many times a client is bummed because she forgot her black panties. They go with everything and are a safe universally appealing wardrobe option. I buy one size fits all “hanky-panky” brand thongs. They are given as a gift to the client if she wears them 🙂 Second, really high heels in size 7 or 8. Again, sometimes you’d be surprised what women forget to bring and are bummed to be without. Sizes 7 or 8 fit most. Other wardrobe staples that work on everyone are: Men’s white button down shirt, silk robe, fishnet thigh highs, a bunch of different gloves, hats, and jewelry. As far as fun props go: I LOVE masks and have a variety of those. Everyone loves the masks and it’s so much fun to see how different people act with the masks on. I also have nipple tassels, temporary tattoos, and a bunch of other fun stuff like that. I also have little note cards that have different sayings on them like “I’m not wearing any underwear,” and “Shut up and take off your clothes.” Props are awesome to loosen up a nervous client because the focus will shift from being on themselves to “hiding behind” a prop. It’s also a super simple and quick way to add variety to your shoot, which boosts sales. I’m always on the lookout for awesome props, and I think it’s great when a certain item becomes your signature, as I think the masks and signs have become for me.

If you could suggest one thing to up and coming photographers, what would it be?
Know why you do what you do, not just what and how. Read Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why.” Always look inward first for the answer to any question or issue that comes up. I think nowadays, since there is so much information available to us, it sometimes creates a habit of looking to others for answers to questions that are best answered internally. Go with your heart, and you’ll never go wrong. Play. Experiment. Keep it simple. Shoot for emotion not technical perfection. That will come in time. Ask yourself what’s your point of view on what you see and work on capturing that. It’s called Vision, and it’s the most important thing for you to have or strive towards.

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Creating Emotion in your Photographs

Capturing emotion in my photographs has become my trademark, and I love sharing simple tips on how you can do this too! Creating emotion in your photographs is all about capturing authenticity, movement, sensuality and mood, not a pose that’s static where the subject is disconnected from the moment. Here are a few techniques to get you started…

COACH ACTIONS
For real women who have never professionally modeled before, it’s easier for her to be real and look natural when you offer her an action to perform instead of asking for a “pose.” An action such as “toss your hair, shake your booty, kick up your leg,” etc. looks more emotive then when someone’s just standing there wondering what to do. Make sure to coach her to push the action to the extreme. Coach her to “Kick that leg higher! and shake that booty faster!!”

SHOOT THE IN-BETWEEN MOMENTS
Unplanned outtakes are awesome. That’s the good stuff! When your client falls over or cracks up, make sure to capture it! Those are often the most beautiful, honest, emotional, moments. You can even try telling her that you’re doing a light test, so she drops her guard.

IT’S ALL IN THE EYE-LINE!
I like to avoid eyes looking directly at camera. This is my personal taste. I don’t select a lot of images with eyes looking directly into the camera – it takes me out of the voyeuristic feel. I personally feel more emotion from the moment when she’s looking down at her body, at the light source, or has her eyes closed. In fact, coaching “eyes closed and a slight smile” always works!

CAPTURE REAL LAUGHTER
The more you laugh and crack yourself up, the more she laughs. Use her nervous energy to work for you. Tease your subject in a good way. Ask for fake laughter and it usually ends up in real laughter. Nobody can fake laugh without feeling like a total ass, so it always provokes real laughter from both of us. Just make sure you press the shutter while you’re doubling over 🙂

RELAXING EVEN THE STIFFEST CLIENTS
If your client is not present and totally nervous, a great way to have her regroup and reconnect with herself is to ask her to “close your eyes, relax, breathe, run your hands along your body and make yourself feel good.” This action alone provokes TONS of different emotions and lots of great shots. Or conversely, get her moving a TON! Coach a ton of actions to exhaust her. Have her jump up and down on the bed and do hair flips like mad. Give her some props to play with and take the focus off of her so she’ll start having fun. If nothing is working, shoot a lot of body shots and details, and move on to the next tip…

ADD THE FAN!
The fan is a MUST-HAVE on set. This is the most fool-proof way to add emotion when all else fails! Turn a fan on, blow it towards your client and watch the emotion pour out of her — or just look like it is 🙂 Trust me on this and just try it. The fan creates motion and sensuality, even when sometimes it’s not there.

EDIT FOR EMOTION
Lastly and most importantly: choose the shot that makes you FEEL SOMETHING even if it is not the best choice technically. Be ruthless and edit out all the shots that don’t elicit any emotion. You’ll know the ones to keep when you feel it.

Now go out there and create a bit of FUN and a ton of EMOTION!

x. Christa

 

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LensProToGo announces ViewFinders!

I’m so happy and grateful to LensProToGo for choosing me to be in their brand new ViewFinders program! I’m completely humbled to be included in this inspiring group of photographers!

LensProToGo is one of my favorite companies, and I adore their tight-knit staff of smart, generous, and super friendly pro photographers, whose biggest thrill is in helping you decide what gear will best support your needs and artistic vision.

LensProToGo describes the ViewFinders program as “a partnership in which we will bring inspiring photographers and filmmakers to you. Their knowledge, their skill set, their creativity. These artists have been hand picked and have committed to sharing their knowledge to help expand your creative horizons.” Each month LensProToGo will interview a ViewFinder, share with you their recent projects and tips from the field. They will also host contests and Q&A’s with each ViewFinder with awesome giveaways.

Make sure to check it out!