By Chris Malinao
Literally, a boudoir (say, bood-war or bood-wah) is a private sitting room, usually decorated, used by a woman for relaxing, dressing, entertaining, and sometimes, sleeping; thus, the word has also evolved to mean a woman’s private bedroom where she can be intimately herself—alone, uninhibited, and expressive.
Boudoir photography aims to evoke this intimacy, this image of a woman in her private self, a beautiful, confident woman. A woman takes to boudoir photography to preserve that image of her in the prime of life, when she is most ravishing.
There are other reasons for a woman to have her photographs in a boudoir session: as gift to a lover on their engagement day or marriage, or perhaps as a going-away present for a soldier or businessman husband who is being assigned to a far place. The gift is to reaffirm romance and sensuality, to remind the boyfriend or husband that he has a lovely partner to come home to.
But more and more, boudoir photography is seen today as something a woman might do purely for her own enjoyment. In it, the woman sees herself as attractive, daring, sensual, and desirable. But boudoir photography differs markedly from nude photography in that the former is more suggestive than explicit, more subtle and nuanced, and it is the woman speaking, “This is me.”
It is no surprise then that the more successful boudoir photographers are women. This is so in the U.S. and Europe, more so in a conservative culture like the Philippines. It is more natural for a female photographer to be able express a woman subject’s point of view than for a male photographer. It is also much easier for a female subject to be comfortable—and shed off inhibitions—with a woman photographer for obvious reasons. We don’t even have to mention that many boudoir photography sessions with male photographers have ended in disasters, in more ways than one.
How then do we shoot boudoir?
Boudoir photography is among several topics to be covered during PhotoWorld Asia (PWA) 2018, the annual international photographers’ conference in the Philippines that has been going on now for more than 30 years under the auspices of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF).
In the lecture and hands-on shoot with models, boudoir photography will be explained and demonstrated by internationally acclaimed professional photographer Ruel Tafalla, successful boudoir photographer who happens to be male. “I tap into my inner woman self,” says Ruel with a wink, but we think he’s serious.
The main thing you must develop as boudoir photographer is trust. You must be trusted by the woman asking you to photograph her. If you are male, your woman subject must trust you as her photographer, not some man with a camera taking pictures of her. Only with this trust can you bring out the best images of her as a woman.Then there’s technique and technical matters to master—your camera and lighting. Tafalla will reveal his frame of mind, technique, and equipment in his lecture.
All these, during the Boudoir Photography session of PWA 2018 with Ruel Tafalla and his bevy of lovely international models. For those who wish to start a career on boudoir photography, this will be an excellent chance to build your portfolio.
PhotoWorld Asia 2018 will be on Feb 1-6 at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati. The photography trade show, which is open to the public, will be at the Glorietta, Ayala Malls also in Makati. The international photographers’ conference requires registration at www.photoworldmanila.com.
Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation), a nonprofit organization that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom.