If you’re looking to add some interesting variety to your boudoir shoots, then shooting in a voyeuristic style may be just the ticket. Some boudoir photographers are probably incorporating a number of these key ingredients already without even knowing it.
However, being aware of these steps and understanding their unique outcome will give you a cool new tool in your boudoir utility belt.
So, how do you shoot boudoir in a voyeuristic style?
|Don’t break the fourth wall|
|Shoot with something blurred in the foreground|
|Shoot from another room|
|Shoot with a wide angle lens|
|Take a photojournalistic approach|
|Use candid posing|
Everything I’m going to talk about with regard to this topic was influenced by my years studying acting and filmmaking in Los Angeles. I don’t have a typical boudoir photographer’s background where I was handed my first camera when I emerged from the womb.
My story is different. My background is different. My experiences are different — and I’m finding that has made all the difference in my approach to boudoir.
The Fourth Wall
If you’ve ever studied acting or filmmaking you will inevitably come across the concept of “the fourth wall”.
The fourth wall is an imaginary wall, it doesn’t physically exist. It’s the make-believe barrier that separates the actors on a stage or up on a movie screen from their audience. It’s what sells the idea that what you’re watching is “real” and not a performance recreating real life (whether true or fantasy based).
Those responsible for the fourth wall are the actors themselves. They operate with the idea that there is no audience, even though in most circumstances an audience of some kind whether paid or a film crew is just several feet away.
They’re pretending that there is actually a wall there, hence the term “fourth wall”.
Breaking the Fourth Wall
When an actor “breaks” the fourth wall they are acknowledging the truism that the audience exists and that they are being watched. It shatters the illusion of the make believe world that, up to this point, they were creating.
On stage, an actor can turn towards the audience and speak directly to them. On film, the actor will look directly into camera and address the audience watching at home or in a movie theater.
That’s Great, But What Does This Have To Do With Boudoir?
That’s a good question and I’ll get to my point in just a minute but first a few more things about the fourth wall.
The Voyeuristic Element of the Fourth Wall
The fourth wall creates a voyeuristic point of view for the audience. They’re witnessing something that normally they wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be seeing, especially intimate scenes that most often occur in private.
This voyeuristic approach lends itself to what is actually true because the “people” (actors) in the scene are operating under the imaginary belief that they are alone… and this becomes fascinating to watch for us in the audience.
It’s fascinating because it’s the truth (or at least the re-creation of the truth).
And the truth speaks to us louder than anything else because it’s what connects all of us as human beings. It’s at the core of our human experience.
What’s More Fascinating Than the Truth?
The thing that’s more fascinating than the truth — is the truth that everyone keeps private and doesn’t allow anyone else to see… but when we’re privy to someone else’s private truth, that becomes captivating, especially if it’s sexual in nature.
The Power of a Voyeuristic Style in Boudoir
Images shot in a voyeuristic style will have that taboo element of viewing something that you feel you shouldn’t be looking at but can’t help yourself from doing so. You get to experience the image on a more visceral level and that can have a powerful impact.
Capturing boudoir images in a voyeuristic style can have a lot of power because you’re peeping behind that fourth wall of a woman’s private sexual world… and that can be both fascinating and captivating at the same time.
How Do You Shoot Boudoir In a Voyeuristic Style?
There are several techniques a boudoir photographer can implement to achieve a voyeuristic look to their images which will, in turn, give those images a unique look and feel, and we’ll go over each of these in detail below.
1. Don’t Have Your Subject Break the Fourth Wall
First and foremost, don’t have your subject look into the lens of your camera. You need to shoot her looking anywhere but into camera. Once a subject acknowledges your “presence” by breaking the fourth wall and looking into the lens, the mood of the photo changes completely.
She’s no longer alone, for starters, because her privacy has been compromised, and the focus is no longer on her private world but on the relationship between her and you as the viewer.
2. Don’t Have the Photographer Break the Fourth Wall — Shoot At a Distance
Shooting at a distance with a 35mm lens or so will add to that voyeuristic feel. Voyeurs observe their subjects from a safe distance from which they can’t be detected and any image shot up close will obviously not work because logically the woman would be aware of that person’s presence.
As a viewer of such an up close and personal image, it’s you, the photographer, who is breaking the fourth wall now. It’s like you’re stepping up onto the stage during a play’s performance and standing right next to the actors.
So keep your distance.
3. Shoot With Something Blurred in the Foreground
This technique is employed all the time in filmmaking and gives a real feeling of depth to an image. By having something out of focus in the foreground while your subject is in focus in the background, will give the viewer the POV (point of view) that you’re hidden and secretly watching the subject. Thus, the viewer of the image becomes the voyeur.
4. Shoot From Another Room
Shooting your subject in one room while you’re in an adjacent room with part of the doorframe or wall in the shot will also give you that voyeuristic feel.
If you’re in another room and you snap a shot of her undressing but the doorframe is partially obstructing your view and only some of her body is exposed, that’s a powerful shot.
It’s powerful because it’s reproducing how a voyeuristic scenario could play out in real life. It’s mimicking real life.
5. Shoot With a Wide Angle Lens
Shooting around 35mm will allow you to capture the entire setting that the subject is in. Shooting in a voyeuristic style must include the setting in which the subject is being captured. This will usually be a bedroom or some other room in the house.
Capturing the setting is important because is helps tell the story. It gives us a place and usually a time (night or day) as to what’s happening.
6. Take a Photojournalistic Approach
Photojournalists capture reality. Someone is doing something somewhere. It’s the who, what, when, where, how approach. Having a photojournalist attitude to shooting a woman’s boudoir session will give you the mind set that you’re just an observer capturing real life.
This will lead to all those posing guides you studied to be tossed out the window… for now, at least.
7. Use Candid Posing
When capturing a woman in this voyeuristic photojournalist style, she’s not going to be wandering around her home striking classic boudoir poses everywhere. She’s going to be doing rather mundane ordinary things.
It’s your job to make those mundane ordinary things look sexy, sensual, and provocative in a slice-of-life candid kind of way.
For example, if she’s slipping out of her jeans, a standard shot I do with almost all my clients, I usually have my subject stand next to a window. It’s somewhat posed and looks like an image from a photoshoot — because really… who stands right next to a window when getting undressed?
Capturing the woman undressing in her bedroom, next to her bed where she normally gets undressed while shooting her from another room, at a distance, with something blurry in the foreground will make it a voyeuristic shot and inject it with more sexuality because then we become the voyeur into this woman’s private sexual world.
We’re seeing something we shouldn’t be seeing, a woman changing clothes in her private bedroom, it’s somewhat taboo and adds another level of interest to the image.
Active Participant vs. Removed Observer
I just want to stress this last concept a bit more when I stated “… we become the voyeur…” as stated in the previous section.
When you shoot using the elements above in this voyeuristic style, the effect it has on the person looking at your photograph is profound.
One isn’t just a removed observer looking at a picture of a woman, which is what happens with traditionally shot boudoir images, but rather, it pulls the viewer into the scene as the voyeur themselves — due to the nature of how it was shot.
It forces you into becoming an active participant in the image because your POV is that of the voyeur.
Can This Voyeuristic Style Be Applied To Video?
If you offer a boudoir video as one of your products, you can easily incorporate the voyeuristic style into your shooting.
After you’ve set up your shot for still images and have captured a few, just instruct your model to move appropriate to the scenario at hand and record some video.
Using the key ingredients above can create an entirely new look and feel to your boudoir images. An entire album of voyeuristic images would make a unique collection along with a video to go with it.
Thanks for your time!
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Founder / Lounge Boudoir
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