If you’ve read enough of my articles you’ll come to realize that I’m a big fan of creativity. In this third installment of My Creative Process Behind This Boudoir Image, I’m going to talk about the inspiration that led to this rather dramatic boudoir image.
Now, whether this actually qualifies as boudoir is debatable, never the less, it’s an example of something I’m exploring which I’m calling Dark Boudoir. If you’d like to read more about that, check out my article “The Dark Side of Boudoir No One Shoots” which I’ll be posting soon.
The Spark of Inspiration
The main inspiration for this image was the oil painting, The Nightmare by Swiss artist Henry Fuseli. It was on the cover of a book I happened to come across and one can’t just take a passing glance at it. It grabs hold of you and demands your attention.
I had seen it a long time ago, way before I got into photography, so when I saw it again I was looking at it from a whole new perspective, that of a boudoir photographer.
It’s macabre and erotic tone is quite unique and disturbing and I thought I could use it in some way as inspiration for a different kind of boudoir image, with the woman’s pose being the most usable element.
The fact that the woman is dead, at least that’s how I interpret the painting, led me to start thinking about using death as the central concept in the image that was starting to take shape in my head.
A woman’s tragic suicide, I had decided, would be the story.
This led me to purchase a prop dagger that I wanted the subject in my tableau to be holding, having just ended her life for some unknown reason.
The First Story
And there in lies the captivating element of the image. When one views it, they have to ask themselves, “Why did she kill herself?” “What made her do it?”
This, then, leads to a series of questions that runs through the mind of the viewer.
“What were the circumstances leading up to her death?”
“Who else was involved?”
“Was it about love?”
I took a number of shots with the model in slightly different positions but this first one, with her head hanging over the edge and falling to the side, her outstretched arm holding the dagger with knees bent had the most impact.
It’s as if we’re witnessing her last dying breath, with her hand covering the spot where she had just stabbed herself.
I used the red shirt to symbolize blood and purposefully had it hang down to the floor to depict its flow.
This next shot with her legs collapsed and with no bend in the arm doesn’t have the same energy as the first shot. Her body looks more relaxed and calm. I wasn’t crazy about the angle of the blade either.
I did try some with the masquerade mask and actually liked this look a lot but unfortunately the positioning of her body just wasn’t as powerful as in that first shot.
I didn’t recognize her best body position until I got home later and started looking at them all more closely. If I had recognized that while shooting, I would have used the body positioning from the first shot but with her wearing the mask.
As you can see in this next variation, the light is causing a reflection on the floor, which I liked a lot. It was very hard to catch though. I actually had her hold her position and then turn the dagger ever so slightly in tiny degrees to catch that light,
Unfortunately it was eating up too much time so I stopped.
It worked out for the best though, because I like how the dagger doesn’t draw attention to itself in that first image. In fact, you probably don’t even notice it at first, not until you really start to investigate the picture will you see it, and then it’s like… whoa… surprise! Wasn’t expecting that!
So, I guess it worked out for the best that I didn’t catch a refection in that first shot.
The Second Story
It wasn’t until I started editing them that I decided to add this sort of celestial light. I tried it on one image and liked how it expanded the story.
It can be interpreted in a number of ways too.
So you have the story of her tragic suicide, and then you have the story of what’s happening to her as she passes into the afterlife.
Is the light her soul leaving the physical world?
Or is the light a god-like presence that is coming to take her into the afterlife?
Another adjustment I made after adding the light was to expand the space above her. I noticed she seemed a bit cramped within the confines of the original aspect ration so I extended the canvas above her.
I wanted her smaller in the frame with more “heaven” above her. I think the image works better when you’re observing her more at a distance than being up close and personal and the extra space with the light puts her more in the proper context of the story I’m trying to tell.
So, as you can see, this image evolved during the shooting and editing of it. I didn’t have all the elements in place beforehand. I had an idea and shot it, and then other ideas came to me while still working on it during the edit.
And it all started with an image from a book cover.
I’ve found it’s best to jump on an idea once it grabs hold of you. You have to write down any thoughts you come up with so you don’t forget them later on.
Inspiration is a gift that doesn’t happen that often so when it arrives, be sure to open it up and use it right away as opposed to putting it on a shelf in your mind that you’ll get to eventually when you have more time.
The time is now… always now.
Thanks for your time.
The Dark Side of Boudoir No One Shoots (coming soon)
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