Knowing why a particular boudoir shot looks great (the blue prints behind it) is key to recreating that image over and over again for other clients.
The alternative is that you don’t know why a certain image looks great and you go into your next session shooting and praying that you’ll end up with something just as good… hopefully.
One kind of shot in particular, that can easily be broken down and dissected is the centered one-point perspective (also known as single-point perspective).
The concept comes from drawing and painting, and has been around for centuries.
I first became aware of it when I took an art class in high school and we had to draw a street scene using this technique.
It’s also used quite frequently in architectural photography, which I shoot as well.
Why Stepping Outside the Boudoir Genre Is A Good Thing
Before we dive into the power of the one-point perspective in boudoir, let me take the opportunity here to first talk about how shooting another genre can influence your boudoir photography for the better.
In addition to boudoir, I also shoot architectural and interiors photography and it has given me some useful techniques that I apply to my boudoir photography… techniques I never would have been made aware of had I not shot this other genre.
By the way, in addition to architectural photography, other genres that will benefit your boudoir are fashion, beauty, swimsuit, portraiture, environmental portraiture, street, fantasy (or cosplay), product, black & white, as well as others I’m sure.
The point here is that staying within your genre (in this case boudoir) is fine if that’s where you’re most comfortable, but realize you’re operating from just one point of view.
In other words, you’re only aware of the rules and conventions of the boudoir genre with no outside technique, approach, or style influencing you otherwise. It’s like cooking with the same spices over and over again.
Shooting another genre opens you up to new approaches, new ideas, and new techniques of doing things. Think of it as new spices for your boudoir photography.
In fact, if you’re getting burned out on boudoir, I suggest you explore another genre for a while and see if that doesn’t spark some new inspiration for you with regard to shooting boudoir.
It may just be the creative sabbatical you need.
For a deeper dive into this topic, check out my article “See the Matrix of Creativity and Transcend Boudoir”.
Getting back to my point, though, of not limiting yourself to just one way of looking at things, shooting a different genre (or genres) will give you another perspective from which to view your boudoir, and thus, improve upon it.
But let’s get back to the topic at hand… shall we?
The Power of the (Centered) One-Point Perspective in Architecture and Movies
Shooting a one-point perspective in architecture is when you frame your shot so that the lens of your camera is parallel to a wall, fireplace, kitchen cabinet or some type of flat surface so that you’re really only emphasizing two dimensions — length and height.
It’s a very solid and grounded looking shot and its impact comes from its centeredness and symmetry.
A two-point perspective, by the way, is when you shoot from a corner and the two walls on either side of you are extending themselves away from you in divergent directions.
This perspective will showcase more angles and thus, emphasizes depth as well as length and height.
In movies, two filmmakers I know of who use the one-point perspective a lot are Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson. If you happen to be watching a film by one of these two, take note of the one-point perspective cinematography.
The (Centered) One-Point Perspective In Boudoir Posing
The defining characteristic of an image that uses one-point perspective is having the lens of your camera centered and parallel to a wall or floor of your room. You’re creating a kind of perfect rectangle or square box (depending on your aspect ratio) and everything is as centered and symmetrical as it can be.
Three Ways To Use One-Point Perspective In Boudoir
There are three ways to use the one-point perspective in your boudoir, they are:
— The setting is in one-point perspective with subject in a very symmetrical pose. Here the subject is a reflection of the symmetrical setting.
— The setting is in one-point perspective with subject in a mostly symmetrical pose but with a little asymmetry. Here the subject is still a reflection of the setting but not exactly.
— The setting is in one-point perspective with subject in a very asymmetrical pose. Here the subject is in sharp contrast to the setting.
The Effect a Symmetrical Pose Has In a One-Point Perspective Setting
Having your subject in a very symmetrical pose within a one-point perspective setting is a very stylized shot. It will come across as very geometrical, cold, and clinical with little to no emotion.
Having your subject in a symmetrical pose but with a little asymmetry thrown in, for example dropping a shoulder, popping a hip, or turning the head slightly, gives the impression of symmetry but softens the subject up a bit. It won’t be so distant and emotionally void as the perfectly symmetrical pose but it’s really just a variation of the perfectly symmetrical pose.
Having your subject in a very asymmetrical pose (a hot mess of undulating curves) within a one-point perspective setting will produce what I call geometric contrast.
This is one of the most impactful uses of the one-point perspective technique because you’re emphasizing the female form to the nth degree by creating an environment that shows it off to its fullest.
The centeredness and symmetry of the setting will provide sharp contrast to all the undulating curves of the female form causing them to stand out even more.
Settings That Lend Themselves To A One-Point Perspective
A large blank wall.
A large rectangular or square window.
The floor (if shot from a bird’s eye perspective).
A bed (again, from a bird’s eye perspective).
A couch parallel to a wall.
A chair parallel to a wall.
A settee or chaise lounge parallel to a wall.
A large bay window.
A window bench.
The end of or side of a bed. Subject can be on the floor leaning against the bed or on top so the bed serves as the centered/symmetrical setting.
The Importance of a Tripod In One-Point Perspective Shots
I use a tripod as much as I can (when feasible), when I’m shooting boudoir. I know that’s not typical but I like to get as sharp an image as possible. (Yet another influence from architectural and interiors photography.)
With regard to shooting a one-point perspective boudoir image, it’s practically a necessity.
Lining up the plane of your lens so it’s parallel to the plane of a wall or window is best done with the use of a tripod. By the way, I use the Manfrotto 055 XPro4 if you’re interested in a good solid, reasonably priced tripod.
One trick to nailing this is to use the seam where the wall meets the floor or where the wall meets the ceiling as your guide to get your frame as perfectly lined up as possible. (You may have to tilt up or down temporarily to line things up, then adjust back to your original composition.)
If you use Canon cameras, they have a built-in digital leveler you can pull up by clicking through on the INFO button.
If not, you can always buy a small bubble leveler that slides into your hotshoe (another architectural technique I use in my boudoir). Make sure you get one with two bubbles though, one for the horizontal axis and the other for the tilt axis.
Some tripods have a built in bubble leveler on the tripod itself so you could use that, however, sometimes these are not in the most convenient spots to read easily.
So, there it is… the power of the one-point perspective boudoir shot.
In all likelihood, you were already aware of this style of image but perhaps didn’t know all the tricks and techniques available to you to pull it off perfectly each and every time.
I hope this article has been helpful to you and that you’ll explore other genres and even other forms of creativity that you can use in your boudoir photography.
Thanks for your time!
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