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Creating Authentic Emotion

Photographs that depict emotion have become my trademark. Before we get into flattering lighting and composition, let’s focus on nailing a wonderful expression. Cultivating sensuality and sex appeal, as discussed earlier, is the first step in creating sensual movement. Coaching actions, the second step covered, is geared toward generating natural movement regardless of a woman’s experience in front of a pro’s camera.

Now, the third step puts the icing on the cake. This is how you ensure that each movement and emotion captured is authentic.

Emotion Is in Her Expression

Step one in creating authentic emotions is recognizing the real deal when you see it. You can always tell an authentic smile if it rings true in her eyes, as in FIGURE 2.12. Other emotions could get a bit trickier to suss out, but more often than not, you can feel authenticity by looking at her expression. Ask yourself: Is your subject connected to the moment and what’s happening? More often than not, I feel more authentic emotion when a subject is looking down at her body, at the light source, or has her eyes closed rather than directly at the camera (FIGURES 2.13, 2.14, and 2.15). Although this is a matter of personal taste, I feel that eyes looking directly at the camera take the viewer out of the voyeuristic feel.

Figure 2.12

Figure 2.12. Shot in my Los Angeles studio with a young and curvy nonmodel. You can always tell real laughter when you see it. The curl over her face adds to the impromptu little giggle from a nervous subject whom I was just warming up.

24–70mm lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 200 sec.

Figures 2.13-15

Figures 2.13–15. Shot with a nonmodel in New York. This woman was a bit nervous, so I started by asking her to let her hair down and mess it up, which prompted some real giggles, as in 2.13. Then I coached her to flirt over her shoulder, imagining her biggest crush (2.14). Well that provoked genuine laughter and blushing (2.15). It’s up to you to direct, evoke, and select the genuine moments.

85mm lens, ISO 160, f/2, 100 sec.

Shoot the In-Between Moments

Unplanned outtakes are awesome (FIGURE 2.16). That’s the good stuff. When your client falls over or cracks up, make sure to capture it (FIGURE 2.17). Those are often the most beautiful, honest, and emotionally true moments. You can even try telling her that you’re just shooting a light test so she drops her guard and can move and feel more truthfully.

Figure 2.16

Figure 2.16. The flower kept falling out of this woman’s hair. Even though she was still prepping and wasn’t ready, I grabbed this in between moment because of her joyfulness and authenticity.

50mm lens, ISO 400, f/3.2, 100 sec.

Figure 2.17

Figure 2.17. In a 30-minute mini-session shot in Italy with a 40-year-old nonmodel, I directed her to shake her hair from side to side. I asked her to do it again and again until she busted out laughing. Is the composition perfect? No. Do I love the emotion, spirit, and beauty in her and this picture despite that? Yes!

85mm lens, ISO 200, f/2.0, 160 sec.

Cultivating sex appeal, coaching natural movement, and creating authentic emotion is the essence of what boudoir is all about. Without these essential ingredients, your photographs will lack the sensuality that is the foundation of this genre. By sharing with your subjects the keys to sensual movement, you will not only bring out their best, but you’ll bring out your best as well. It’s so exciting and rewarding for both photographer and subject to experience a woman really opening up and enjoying herself and her body, as well as the shoot and resulting pictures.

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