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If you want to get better at taking great boudoir photos, you need to be investing in your photography and I want to help you get the most bang for your buck. So, here are some of the investments I've made myself and some I plan to make in the future.
Fast Prime Lens
White Sheer Curtains
Extra Battery and SD Card
White Sheet Set
Upgrade Your Camera
The best investment you can make in photography is time. Specifically, spending time to shoot more photos. It takes a lot of practice to get good at photography. From implementing the basics to reading light, these are just some of the skills you will need to learn. And the more time you spend shooting, the better you will get.
Another thing to spend your time on is education. Spend some of your time learning about photography and boudoir.
There is a lot of free information available when it comes to learning photography. I’ve learned almost exclusively on the internet and YouTube. Some of the photography and boudoir YouTube channels I recommend are:
Don’t ignore paid education either. I was given a video course, Fundamentals of Photography by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore I can say is well worth your money if you are completely new to photography. Not to mention boudoir specific courses by some of the best in the business such as:
Boudoir Accelerator by Michael Sasser
Double Your Poses by Michael Sasser
Ultimate Posing Guide by Marco Ibanez
Posing Guide Vol 1 by Marco Ibanez
Boudoir Photography Bootcamp by Jen Rozenbaum
One thing to know about some of these courses, they are focused towards people in the boudoir photography business. There may be sections about the business of boudoir photography you can skip. That said, you will still learn a lot from them.
3) Fast Prime Lens
When it comes to spending money on gear, my number one suggestion is a fast prime lens. Getting a lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or better will allow you to get a nice shallow depth of field and a smooth background. That shallow depth of field will allow you to add a lot of variety to your compositions and let you shoot in lower light situations as well.
4) White Sheer Curtains
Lighting is one of the major factors in photography, no matter if you are doing landscape, portraits, or boudoir. An inexpensive set of white sheer curtains will allow you to get soft even light for your photos. To see them in action watch the video below.
5) Extra Battery and SD Card
You can’t shoot if your battery runs dry or your SD Card is full. Yes you can get by with one of each but it’s nice to have a backup for those times you forget to recharge your battery or upload all the pictures from your SD Card.
I know there are some who say off-name camera batteries are just as good, but I spend the money and get the manufacturer branded ones. I don’t want to risk a battery blowing up or setting fire to my camera.
Same goes with SD Cards. I only get SanDisk Extreme Pro SD cards though not for safety reasons. I get them because of potential card failures. With only having one SD card slot in my Canon RP I want the least chance of failure possible.
6) Editing Software
Most cameras come with basic editing software. This is what I used the first couple of months after starting photography and for the most part they do a good job with the basics. But, if you are wanting to invest in your photography, better editing software is a must. There are a lot of programs out there that will do the job. The most popular are Lightroom, Capture One Pro, and Luminar.
No matter what program you choose, make sure it is non-destructive. That means it doesn’t change your file as you are editing it. This way you can always start over with a fresh slate if you don’t like how your edit turned out.
One such program I urge you to look into is Darktable. Darktable is an open source editing program. That means free and it’s hard to beat free.
7) White Sheet Set
Just like with the shear curtains, investing in a set of white sheets is a good way to up your game. These are just for photos, put them away until you want to shoot so they don’t get dingy.
I like the white sheet set for three reasons.
One, white sheets act like a reflector. If you don’t have the best lighting, adding a set of white sheets will help to bounce light up to the models face so it isn’t dark.
Two, it’s a simple classic look. I’m a big fan of keeping it simple. Plus the white sheet draped over a model is a classic look.
Three, they are great for black and white. My style leans towards black and white. So this is a no brainer for me.
One note, get quality ones. Cheap fabric on exposed skin is no fun and can lead to rashes.
8) Camera Bag
At some point you will want to travel with your camera gear which means you will need a way to carry it. Your circumstances will dictate what type of bag you will need. For some a sling bag like the Peak Design Everyday Messenger works really well. If you are a hiker/traveler I can recommend the Shimoda Explore v2 from personal experience.
It doesn’t have to be a dedicated camera bag. A small camera pouch or insert that fits your camera, lens, and accessories will do the trick just fine. This is the method I use when I go backpacking.
A word of caution. Don’t expect to find a perfect bag from the get go. In my opinion, finding the right bag is an exercise in trial and error.
9) Shooting Locations
Spending a little money to have a different place to shoot forces you to get out of your comfort zone and adapt to your environment. Which is a great skill to have. You have three choices when it comes to paid shooting spaces:
Hotels. I have shot in a lot of different hotels over the years. Anytime the wife and I travel I bring the camera along and we plan time for a photo session.
Rentals. Here I’m talking about companies like Airbnb and Vrbo. There are some really nice places you can rent for a night or two and make it a mini vacation.
Rental studios. Yes, you can rent out a photography studio. If you live in a major city or even some medium sized cities this can be an easy way to change up your environment.
I’ll be doing a full post about hotels and vacation rentals in the future, so keep an eye out for it.
10) Upgrading your Camera
Finally we have upgrading your camera. I’m talking about going from a good entry level camera to a hobby/professional mirrorless camera. An example would be going from a Sony a6100 to a Sony A7IV.
If you decide to go full-frame after having an APS-C camera you will also need to get new lenses and they usually cost more than APS-C lenses.
I had my old Nikon d3300 for over two years before I upgraded. In those two years I took a lot of great photos and really learned the art of photography. Rather than just focusing on buying new gear, I spent the time learning how to use what I had.
If you are doing self-shot boudoir or you want to shoot some couple poses, you will want a tripod. Specifically you will want one that is sturdy and won’t fall over and break your camera if it gets bumped a little. I have the Peak Design Travel Tripod, but if you aren’t looking to spend that kind of money the K & F Concept SA234 will do the trick.