I've been experimenting a lot lately with a particular style of photography that I've been drawn to for a really long time. I got my start in black and white film photography, and I've always really admired the old Hollywood glamour photos of the stars and starlets of the early 20th century, as well as the aesthetic of the old Film Noir movies from the same period. At the same time, I also really enjoy shooting traditional modern boudoir and glamour sessions. So I thought to myself, what if I combined these two themes and styles into something a bit different? And so I came up with Boudoir Noir.
There are several key elements that are needed for a Boudoir Noir session: Lighting, Style & Makeup, Theme & Props, and Finish/Post-production.
For me, proper lighting is the most important part of a Noir-themed session. If you look at the old detective movies of the '30s and '40s, one of the main things you'll notice is the strong, dramatic lighting in almost every scene. Strong shadows invoke drama and mystery, and so when we're shooting a Boudoir Noir session, we use similar dramatic lighting to achieve that look. In the old days, they had giant tungsten lamps that got extremely hot, and made models and everyone else in the studio quite uncomfortable. Fortunately these days, we have new LED lighting technology that lets us achieve similar looks while keeping everyone nice and comfortable.
Style and Makeup are the most flexible part of a Boudoir Noir session. There are so many options that will all work great with this type of shoot, from edgy and modern, to soft and classic, and everything in between. Things we will usually aim for are strong contrasts and contours on the face, dramatic eyes and lips to really make the facial expressions pop, and to really have some fun with the hair. We work with a really great hair & makeup team that can help achieve whatever style we decide on for your session, from contemporary to retro, subtle to outrageous.
Theme and Props will go along with the overall Style of the session, and are also very flexible and will usually be decided on at the same time. While Boudoir Noir is a sort of theme in itself, we have a lot of room to interpret it depending on what we're trying to express. Everything from a sultry bedroom scene, to a strong-willed Femme Fatale, to a mysterious figure in the shadows in a smoky room. We have a wardrobe of costume items including hats, scarves, gloves, lingerie in several styles, and even a few evening gowns, as well as a number of props suitable for a Film Noir scene.
The last key element to a Boudoir Noir session is in the finished images. There is a certain look I try to achieve for my Boudoir Noir sessions, which calls back to the classic Hollywood images of the period from legendary photographers like George Hurrell. As I said before, the lighting is the first major key to achieving that look, but there is a lot that happens after the session to really bring the photo and idea to life. In most cases, the final photos will be in black and white, although I will sometimes use a subdued color style depending on the overall look and preferences of the subject. I aim for a certain softness to the finished photo, to get that almost otherworldly glamour that those old images had. While in the old days they had to employ long processes involving graphite applied to film, today we have the advantage of Photoshop and other tools that can come very close in a much shorter time. The overall goal is to create truly glamorous, dramatic images that will definitely capture the attention of any viewer, and that you will treasure for years.
So I hope you've enjoyed this look at what is behind a Boudoir Noir session, and also the photos of my wonderful subjects I've shared here. Be sure to check out my other galleries at the links at the top, and if you're interested in setting up a session for yourself, drop me a line and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have!