The results of our sold-out successful boudoir marathon two weeks ago can demonstrate what New York boudoir photography is meant to be—chic, bold, confident, conceptual, and metropolitan.
It was a long shot but we did it! To start, let me repeat a few points from the event’s announcement blog. My wife and I realized that a conceptual boudoir marathon will not be easy to sell as it isn’t for everyone, even in New York metropolitan area. Even though I push for creativity, the general expectations from boudoir photography are the same… similar feel, similar props, similar expressions, similar poses. Just Google “boudoir photography” and try finding images that aren’t done by thousands other boudoir photographers in New York or anywhere else. It occurred to me: why not step away from all the cliche vision and go bold, go nude in a conceptual way? I wanted to delicately work with the brave souls who are proud to present their bodies as the work of art, as Nature’s masterpiece. This year’s conceptual boudoir marathon was not about necklaces, pearls, fishnets, corsets, or lacy lingerie… As far as conceptual photography is involved, and in my New York boudoir photography vision in particular, the less—the better. Simplicity and minimalism would be the key.
It all sounded intriguing and many of our fans enthusiastically supported the idea of defining New York boudoir photography this way but… preferred waiting to see the results to actually participating, for understandable reasons. Honestly, I would have been happy if after a week of aggressive promotion we got to work with even 2-3 clients. Imagine how pleased and honored I felt when the first two ladies booked within hours and others were asking about a possibility of an alternative date! The original date got sold out soon so we extended it to the second day as we did once in the past. There was one last-minute cancellation but in the end, we worked with 10 strong women (two of them—photographers themselves, two—mothers of 2-3 children, and two brought their men), most of whom agreed to be featured in this blog to a various degree. Some images were cropped for privacy concerns.
We brought a little arsenal of trade tools and props along with special lighting equipment to elevate the art of female form from the “girl’s next door” nightstand to the world-class fine art worthy of an art gallery or a fine art book found in a bookstore.
To portray New York boudoir photography, for the highlight of the project I chose a simple stretching fabric with some character, Telio Stretch Nylon Shaper Mesh, sewn into a tube by my wife. A variation of it, Solid Power Mesh Fabric Nylon Spandex, was used as a flat material seen on the cover photo. Another cool prop we used was a light ball, 16-inch LOFTEK Shape Light, which operates on batteries and changes color if needed. The rest of the effects were achieved with various lighting techniques, including casting the shadows on the bodies with Digital Juice Shadow Kit. I once used an actual PC projector in one of past boudoir marathons but wanted to try a different method now. Next, a silhouette technique is pretty common: I used either huge 48 x 72” Hensel softbox or threw light on a white wall while placing the model in front of the stands. Lastly, what I haven’t used for my private clients a lot yet was “bodyscape” approach, so we extensively played with it.
Although the nature of any boudoir marathon assumes a very quick progression, we set up three creative stages to achieve eight main concepts, and each client was given an opportunity to work with at least 4-5 of them within her own hour of shooting. To maximize time efficiency, everything was planned out in a certain sequence and the lights were strategically placed between the stages to easily turn them around or modify to lessen moving everything (see a few behind-the-scenes at the end). Here is the basic setup of the stages:
We rented a Manhattan dance studio to get an ample stage space plus a separate room for hair and makeup. On the downside, we had to pack and unpack everything but I was surprised how it all fit into my mini SUV, including three 10-feet backdrops! Wish I had a photo of the car interior, though… Reminded me of when four of us go camping packed to the gills.
Timing of this marathon was challenging as it overlapped with our annual contest for a free wedding on top of the major effort on catching up with the previous year’s shoots. We already skipped the marathon last year due to my travels to India so I made myself commit to the tradition and hold the event this year, albeit organized on a short notice. It didn’t help that unlike previous marathons timed around or on Valentine’s Day, I decided to have it even earlier with an aggressive goal of delivering the images for the Valentine’s Day! What usually takes months, took me just about two weeks: going over ~2K images, working with the clients on selecting 10 for each, carefully retouching them, designing photo art books, and even have some of them delivered today, on Valentine’s Day! Another surprise for me this year: almost everyone added a fine art book to their package which I believe confirms considering this unique take on boudoir photography as a refined journey away from the cliche.
Speaking of hair and makeup. My good ol’ friends had my back covered and rocked it again, even last minute. My dear friend Edvina Sarukhanyan, whom I photographed for a sick shoot yet to be published, provided makeup for both days working non-stop. For hair, my trusted vendor was U-Mode Salon which creatively supported me numerous times, from another conceptual New York boudoir photography marathon, to bridal couture photoshoot, to the Russian Calendar Girls commercial shoot for DaNu Radio (and it just occurred to me—all these intense projects also spanned two days). They couldn’t accommodate both days this time so I reached out to my other pals to see who could be available; Leona Gorovets of AR Studio Salon joined our team and masterfully contributed her talent.
Here’s to the beauty of women, feminine and confident, celebrating New York boudoir photography on Valentine’s Day at its best!
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Here’s a look at the set up and packed equipment: