When I looked up the word “intent” in the dictionary (okay, online) the phrases eager attention, with purpose, and determined to do something came up. I think those are pretty good words that describe shooting with intent, and shooting boudoir in particular with intent.
So, what does shooting with intent even mean?
To me, that idea means to have a very well-defined purpose for not only your entire shoot but for each shot.
The Shoot’s Intent
At the macro level (yes, macro) you can have an overall theme or look to the shoot. For example, having a bridal boudoir shoot the theme or intent would be to capture boudoir images using various elements from the wedding.
Your intent could also be a style of lighting, either all-natural or something dark and moody.
In any event, having an intent to your overall shoot can guide you and your subject towards a specific look, and eliminate everything else that doesn’t fall into step with your original intention.
This can keep both you and your subject focused so the shoot has a certain aesthetic or look that will present well when viewed in an album or as several pieces that hang on the wall as art.
Not deciding on what your intent is at the start could lead both you and your client to being all over the place with the shoot, having no rhyme or reason for anything and having it all look like nothing complements anything else.
That’s fine, if that’s what you want to do, but most art has a focus… a theme… an intent.
Something as simple as, “Hey, let’s see how many interesting shots we can get with you in that outfit lying on the bed there.”
“So, what do you want to shoot today?”
“Uh… I don’t know. What do you want to shoot?”
“I don’t know, maybe we could do some stuff over there? And then do some shots in that closet there? And then do some shots down by the creek?”
Okay, I’m being a little silly here, but it’s to emphasize a point.
Having an intent for your overall shoot will help both you and the client to focus in on something that’s tangible and simple. Not having an intention will complicate things because there’s nothing to focus on. You’re operating without any set of creative boundaries that’ll give your images a look or style.
Okay, enough about that. That’s all fairly obvious stuff. What I really want to talk about in this article is the micro intent (yes, micro).
“Micro-intent” — I just made it up because I needed something to differentiate it from other types of intent, so that’s the best I could come up with. (Maybe it’s because I have my white lab coat and goggles on while writing this article.)
I think a better term to use would be “shot intent”, having a specific intent for each shot.
When you’re shooting boudoir, you don’t want to fall into the trap of just taking pictures of what the person looks like that’s in front of you.
Okay sure, they may be in lingerie posed on a settee or something and then you start clicking away but what is your intent with each shot? Do you have one? Are you just shot-gunning it? Taking a thousand shots while asking her to move around in hopes that you’ll get something good as if you’re some Terminator-like photographer who can’t stop taking photos no matter what gets in your way? (By the way, been there — done that.)
Okay, let’s get serious here for a moment.
If you slow down and really think about it, you can shoot a lot less and end up with a lot more quality images.
Let’s use shot intention in a real situation.
Okay, you have a client standing next to a window in bra and bottoms. Now, instead of taking aim and firing away, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, (and like I said, been there — done that) take a moment and decide what it is you want to emphasize according to what is speaking to you in the moment about the model and scenario.
You may notice that she has a nice curve to her hip, so shooting with intent you’ll want to emphasize that curve and get your model to fully-commit to making that hip curve the best it can be.
“Can you pop that hip out a little more?”
“That’s it — perfect.” Snap
Another example might be you’re moving in for a close-up of her face and notice that she has amazing eyes. So, seeing that, you decide your intent with this series of shots is going to be to capture an amazing look in her eyes. The eyes are going to be the focus, not just the face.
So, you may first want to frame the shot placing her eyeline in the upper third of the frame utilizing the rule of thirds… or not. It may look better further down, but at least you’re directing the shot with intention.
Now you coach her.
“Okay, with this shot I really want your eyes to be saying something.” And then coach her however you would to get the look you’re going for.
She does and you capture the shot because you were ready for it… because you’re shooting with intent.
Kick It Up a Notch
I like to think of it as ratcheting it up a notch. Yeah, you’re aware a lot of times of what you’re trying to capture… in a general way, but by really giving yourself a specific intention of what you want to capture makes for better images because now you’re really getting specific and going for something with every shot.
It should also reduce your shot count but with a higher percentage of keepers.
Teach Your Client That Downward Dog
If you practice yoga for any length of time, you’ll begin to notice that you can just hold a pose with the least amount of effort required… or you can infuse your entire body with energy and really engage in it a hundred percent. That requires a lot more focus and effort but will also reap better results for you.
When you’re coaching your clients into their poses, make it a point to tell them to really commit to the pose (with your guidance, of course). It will improve what’s already there by maybe 10 to 20% but that can be significant.
It’s like an athlete that’s performing at 90%. If she has a supportive coach that knows how to coach her and push her just that extra 10%, it can make all the difference in her performance and in the outcome.
How To Choose Your Intent
How does one pick an intent for each shot or set up?
The first thing you have to do is slow down. Just stop for a minute and observe. Once your client is in front of you in the outfit you both decided on, get her in the spot or pose you want and then step back and take it all in.
If she’s in a particular pose, what about that pose can you make better or push to the extreme? Does she need to point her toes? Turn her head a bit? Drop her chin down? There’s a lot going on here. A lot you can miss if you’re moving too fast.
So, give yourself some time to just sit there and make yourself find something you can improve upon. It’s rare the client will fall into perfect position.
If you’re a student of posing, I guarantee you’ll find something. They either won’t be arching their back enough, pointing their toes, engaging their hands, lifting or lowering their chin… and on and on.
It’s during this process of observation, evaluation, and adjustment that your intent (if you didn’t have one before) will reveal itself.
By doing this with every client, and with every set up and shot, you’ll start to notice patterns and the process will get easier and faster.
The fun is that everyone is different, and everyone will have strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll discover from time to time a client who gives you something completely new — something you never would have discovered had you not gone through the process of “fine-tuning” your shots with intent.
You’ll be the boudoir photographer that goes to eleven.
Thanks for your time!
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Founder / Lounge Boudoir
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