welcome to the three part boudoir prep guide by blvck fox studio
BEFORE YOUR BOUDOIR SESSION
Date and time
First and foremost, we will work together to choose a date and location. More on locations in the next section, but for now I will explain important considerations with regards to scheduling.
Sessions are held Monday - Friday. My weekends are spent photographing weddings under my parent brand www.jakubredziniak.com. In rare cases I may be able to fit you in on a weekend for an additional fee. As sessions are indoors, they happen rain or shine and rescheduling is not possible on account of poor weather without incurring a rescheduling fee.
When choosing a day for your session, it is up to you and your comfort level if scheduling around your time of the month is a factor you would like to consider. If you fear you may feel bloated and uncomfortable, plan ahead for this when deciding on a date for your session. I am understanding in the event of a reschedule request however locations rented and pre-paid for may not be.
Recommended time of day is usually quite flexible, but in part depends on the location to determine what is the optimal time of day. Some hotels and studios have windows facing East, some West, etc which can change the look and feel of the room depending on the time of day, as can time of the year with winter days being much shorter. You should be prepared to schedule your session between 8:00am - 4:00pm. Once the sun has set, we cannot attain the look that gorgeous natural light gives us.
I have extensive experience in judging what makes a place either great or not so great for a photo session. The amount of space available to move around for different angles, the decor, and most importantly - the lighting, are the three main factors that should be considered when narrowing down your boudoir session location choice.
In many ways, the location is not the ultimate deciding factor of whether the session will be successful, however let's point out the fact that the photo above caught your eye for a reason - the ambiance of the room is absolutely stunning and it makes a difference. There are so many possible session locations throughout NYC, although they are not so easy to always find. Scouting and researching locations that are unique, fairly priced, and offer diverse backdrops for photo opportunities has been a process I have invested many hours into over the last several years.
LOCATIONS - PRIVATE RESIDENCES
I would urge you to first consider your own home or apartment, or a place your friend or family member can provide access to. This will generally be the easiest to coordinate, have the least restrictions, be the most spacious, and the most financially viable option if budget is a concern to you. During your consultation phase you can send me photos or a video walkthrough of any locations you have in mind to use and I can let you know my expert opinion on how well they would work.
Airbnb's would fall under this category as well in a way, however Airbnb options are very limited in NYC due to legal regulations of short term rentals. Look around in Jersey City or nearby areas for alternatives if you would like to go this route.
Locations - Hotels
Your first thought might be to look at hotels which can be a great option. I want to point out a few things you should keep your eye open for in order to avoid common limitations and disappointments.
This section may come off as a bit negative towards using hotel rooms. This is not my intention as there are really plenty of amazing options available in NYC. Some hotels advertise with photographs that are so altered that make it unfair when considering them for a session.
Space is incredibly limited in NYC, and hotel rooms are no different. If you live in any of the boroughs, chances are low you've ever had to stay in a hotel room in NYC. I have been to hundreds at this point as they are popular options for boudoir sessions and wedding day preparations.
Photos of hotel rooms listed online are photographed and edited in a way to make them look more spacious and naturally lit. Editing hotel room/property photos requires a process not possible for a boudoir session, which means we cannot use those same techniques. I won't get into boring technical jargon, but that process consists of taking multiple exposures of the same scene while on a tripod and then merging different exposures to create one perfect composition - something not feasible for a portrait session. This means that the room which looks so nice online can in reality be dark and lack any natural light if the windows are small. Look for large windows, ideally floor to ceiling when considering hotel room options.
Getting the perfect Hotel room
You should also consider that when reserving a room, in majority of hotels a specific room or even floor cannot be guaranteed. I have had clients excited for their reservation in a room with a view that's only visible from the 39th floor but the highest available at check in was on the 20th floor. On that floor there was another, shorter building across the street that was blocking the view they were so excited for. The photo above had that situation happen. We still had amazing results from that session, but my intentions with writing this is to educate you so we avoid disappointments wherever possible.
Check-in and check-out limitations
Another drawback of hotels are check in and check out times. Check-in is generally around 3pm. Depending on the time of year, this can potentially leave us with a very short window of time before we run out of natural light in the room. On the other hand, check out is usually around 11am, meaning our only option is to start your session around 9am (which means hair and makeup must start much earlier). Shooting on the day of your check-out also means having to tidy up the room if you stayed in it the night before.
I have found an amazing solution to the problem above thanks to an app/service that many beautiful hotels in NYC participate in which allows for daytime use of their rooms, for example from 11am - 4pm. I can tell you more about this option during your pre-session consultation.
With all this said on the topic of using hotels for boudoir sessions, I have some great hotel options I can recommend that would work amazingly well for your session.
Furnished studio locations that add the element of beautiful decor and not just a white wall or a seamless paper backdrop are my favorite options to consider for a boudoir session in NYC.
I will guide you through the available options after hearing more about the style that attracts you the most, the ambiance of the location you desire your session to have, your desired investment amount you would like to allocate towards a location rental, and any travel restrictions you might have.
These places are designed with photography in mind. There is enough space to move around, lighting is incredible, and there is flexibility in tailoring the set (moving furniture, plants, etc) exactly how we would like.
Studio costs typically range from $75-250/hour paid directly to the property. Hourly minimums range from 2-6 hours depending on the location and every owner sets their own policies with regards to what is allowed, rescheduling, etc. Some studios add cleaning/service fees similar to how Airbnb does on top of your hourly fee. If you would like your hair and/or makeup done on-location prior to the session, keep in mind you will need to cover the additional hourly rental cost to be able to use the space for these services. Alternatively please come with hair and makeup ready to your session so we can get started right away.
Before I share my advice on wardrobe options you can wear during the session, I will briefly touch on the topic of your choice of outfit in the several hours leading up to the session. It is suggested you avoid tight clothing during this time that might leave marks on your skin which will be visible during the session.
Your boudoir photo session may be the perfect excuse to go shopping for some new lingerie!
As you plan your session and wardrobe, I cannot speak clearly enough to this point: you must feel comfortable in it. If you fear you will worry about a wardrobe malfunction throughout the session or have second thoughts on wearing a sheer top, choose something else or come prepared with multiple options.
Think outside the box as well. A knit sweater or your partner's oversized dress shirt can be a great idea to include as part of your wardrobe. Accessories such as shoes, hosiery, or jewelry can add an extra element to your outfit but sometimes, less is more. It's best to bring a variety of options with you and plan to use only a select few of them during the session.
For 1.5 hour photo sessions, I recommend shooting 2-3 outfits. You can bring more of course and decide on the spot once we see which ones complement the decor and color pallete of the location in the most flattering way.
If we are shooting a boudoir video, we will be limited to 1-2 outfits for the video.
Below are some lingerie brands I can recommend for boudoir sessions:
Come to your session with a hairstyle you love and avoid doing anything experimental that may come with the risk of regret. Stray and fly-away hairs are going to be one of our biggest enemies throughout the session that can slow us down a bit, so anything you or your hair stylist can do to help with this would be beneficial. This anti-frizz product is "bomb" as described to me by one of my clients.
I view make up with the same perspective and opinion as I do skin retouching. There should be just enough to cover temporary flaws in the skin without completely changing you as a person. This will come down to your personal preference and your skin type.
Properly done makeup will help with shiny skin, cover blemishes, and for most women - make them feel more confident in front of the camera. Achieving that level of comfort is my primary goal with everyone I work with. Once my subjects are relaxed, ready to conquer the session, and they trust my creative eye, that's when magic can happen. A great artist can bring out your best attributes and hide things you may be self-conscious about.
In this area I direct you to consult with the amazing artists I work with, which you can see linked here.
Skincare - Things to Do
Moisturize and keep yourself hydrated. That is all, it's that simple! If you have a regular skincare routine that works well for you, keep consistent with it leading up to your session to avoid any drastic changes in how your skin might react.
skincare - things to AVOID!
Do not do anything extreme to your skin before your session. Do not do any harsh exfoliations or spray tanning. If you would like a tan look, start this process at least 2-3 weeks before so your skin has time to adapt. Keep tan lines in mind if you do decide to tan - these are not covered by the included standard retouching as they are incredibly time consuming and difficult to remove. You can use lotion but please do not apply any oils that will make your skin shiny or leave residue on bedsheets or furniture which you might touch during your session. Do not use or bring any glitter products to your session.
The purpose of listing the considerations above is because they do not photograph well or become a big mess, such as glitter which can lead to additional cleaning fees. Photoshop is an aide to achieving a finished result, and is not to be confused with a solution to poor or irresponsible preparation.
Nails are occasionally overlooked or forgotten about until it's too late. Your hands and feet will be visible in your photos and are part of your look. If having a nice manicure and pedicure is important to you, plan to have this done the day before. Come prepared with nail glue in case of any mishaps but don't stress if one falls off - we can easily pose you in a way that makes this not even visible.
If you are not planning to have your nails done, please take off any old nail polish that may be chipping away before arriving at your session. We want to spend your entire session taking photos, so take care of all prep before arriving.
Planning Your Gift
Review the available options with regards to offered collections and available products, so you come prepared knowing what the finished product will be. Is your goal to create an album of images for yourself or as a gift for a loved one? Perhaps you have a vision of a collage or wall art images for your bedroom to spice things up. Think things over in the days or weeks leading up to your session so we can shoot with the end goal in mind.