Many photographers are always talking about lighting, and how something is lit, including boudoir photographers.
Just how important is lighting to your boudoir photography outcomes?
Well, let us start with the word “photography” itself.
In 1839, John Herschel birthed the term photography (see Etymology of Photography). Photo means light, and graphy refers to being recorded or written.
That is, your boudoir photographer is recording light. The walls and storage spaces in our Phoenix photography studios are hung and overflowing with lights, lighting modifiers and lighting gear of all sorts. All to practice our craft of creating the most perfect photographs. Which means seeing, controlling and recording light.
The best modern boudoir photographers are painting you with light, then recording the resulting light paintings, usually with a digital camera.
Without light, there is no photography, boudoir or otherwise.
The best photographers are master students, crafters and artists of light and it’s recording, manipulation and display.
It is with light that we photographic artists make something look thinner or larger and through light and the absence, or fall off of light, that we show, or give impressions of form.
Master photographers and artists are always adding to or subtracting from whatever light is or isn’t available.
In any given gathering of photographers studying a photography they love, there is much talk about “how was that lit?”
Or, “what did you use to light that?”
Or, “how can I get that same lighting effect?”
While much can be done using available light for boudoir, flash and other artificial light sources and lighting modifiers are usually also deployed.
Our eyes are drawn to contrast. Contrast is about rapid variation in light.
When our eyes are drawn to bright lights, that is because brightness contrasts strongly with darkness.
Yet, as you read this page, the writing is a black on white effect. Here, the darkness draws your eyes.
Why? Because the darkness of the letters are contrast with the overall lightness of the page, and draws your eyes towards it, via the contrast.
Colors can also contrast. Red with green for example contrasts.
Light also has a color cast. For example, the sunlight at sunset has a much warmer redder hue than that during full mid day sunlight, which is a cooler blue.
Artificial light also has color casts, incandescents are warmers, old school florescents are greenish, then there are daylight color balanced florescents and LED lights which tend to be more like sunlight.
This is all very technical, and only scratching the surface.
Light has many qualities, like hardness and softness. Fall off, and direction.
Hard light tends to show form. So, it can enhance a six pack for example, or show curvature to breasts in a boudoir photo.
However, hard light also reveals contrast.
Young skin has lower contrast, than more mature skin, in the form of smoothness in youth and increasing wrinkling over time.
Soft lighting makes more mature skin appear more youthful.
So always use soft light?
Photography has technical aspects and artistic aspects.
Boudoir photography requires high technical proficiency and even higher artistic creative ability.
Each boudoir subject is unique.
Usually, your boudoir photographer will not see you au natural for the first time until your boudoir sitting.
Even with a preconsultation, bodies change, due to tanning, shaving, weight shifts, lines and marks from clothing, acne, etc.
Any boudoir photographer using one basic setup for all body types and ages will get very inconsistent results.
A boudoir photographer capable in their craft must both be technically very lighting knowledgeable, and creative enough to blend and modify the available light and artificial light to make you look your very best.
If you see a photographer’s work and boudoir portraits which you fall in love with, chances are, that photographer is a master light artist.
If you see work that is sometimes hit, sometimes miss, chances are the photographer is still learning the lighting rudiments or isn’t a serious or capable lighting artist.