Bathtub shoots have become a staple in the photography industry over the years. This is especially the case in boudoir and maternity genres, where milk bath sessions are in high demand. I will be giving you a few tips to get you started and then lay out a few different styles to help get your creativity glowing.
Basic Tips to Get You Started
Water temperature should be comfortable for the model but not so hot as to cause issues with steam fogging up your lens.
Speaking of temperature, you will only have a limited amount of time before the model may start to get uncomfortable as the water cools down. Depending on your shoot you can simply drain some of the water and add more hot water to bring the temperature back up.
If you have a small tub you can use an overflow blocker to help raise the level of the water a bit.
Don’t be afraid to use/wear lingerie, swimwear, or dresses for your shoot.
Waterproof makeup is a must if you wear any at all.
Depending on your shoot the model may need to take a shower afterwards. Such as with milk baths or bath bombs.
Likewise, have a towel, robe, and an extra set of clothes handy.
Who doesn’t love a good bubble bath? Not to mention the bubbles can be used to help hide or highlight areas depending on your preference. The trick I've found is to get actual bubble bath soap (and be generous with it) rather than trying to use shampoo or body wash as these won’t create the quantity of frothiness that you’ll need.
The classic milk bath shoot is a favorite of photographers and clients/models alike. Canned coconut milk is a good choice here instead of dairy milk or powdered milk. Two 16oz cans is usually enough for an average sized tub. Adding it to the water after the tub is full will help to avoid bubbles from forming.
Stay away from food coloring as it has a higher chance of dying the skin and the tub. You can use bath bombs for this or as an alternative you can check your local craft store for mica powder pigments. You will still need to clean the tub but it will be easier than if you had used food coloring. Depending on the bomb, you may need two in order to get the depth of color you want.
Want to add a little more pop to your bath shoot? Throw in some flowers. You can go with a single flower or fill the tub with color. Rose petals are a popular option. When using whole flowers leave some of the stem on as the weight will help to keep them right side up. You will want to avoid using fake flowers here as they don’t float. Get with a florist ahead of time if you want something special as they may have to order it.
Baths and candle light just go together like milk and cookies. The problem you will run into is that candles don’t put out a lot of light so you will need to use a lot of them and maybe add in some ambient light as well to get a good exposure.
Sliced citrus fruits are another fun choice that will help to add a little bit of style to your bath shoot. You can combine them with bath bombs if you really want to get creative. I’d recommend using colors that create some contrast between the fruit and the water.
While bath shoots can be a lot of fun they can also be challenging. Remember to plan appropriately for the best chance of success. Alternatively, do what I have done in the past and just grab the camera when your model (i.e. my wife) is in the bath for a more candid style photo.