The Boudoir Summer

I had been fascinated by the human body and its potential of being a wondrous subject for photoshoots for quite some time. And last summer, I got a handful of opportunities to explore it through boudoir photography. Having no formal training or prior experience, it was quite overwhelming and a tad bit scary at first. But with each photoshoot that I did, I found myself to be more confident and at ease with the craft.

I implemented my style of playing with the intersection of light and shade. I attempted to accentuate the body’s shape in these light and shadow intersection points to uplift the composition’s beauty. Juggling with different natural light conditions, locations and attires, I pushed the boundaries of my artistic and technical comfort zone.

The lush green outdoors, the warm sun and the occasional rain made shooting boudoir this past summer both fun and challenging. Meeting new people and learning from them in the shoots made my first boudoir series genuinely memorable.

Healing.Pulse.Sohbet – 2

The late winter afternoon photoshoot under a dim Sun continued with I and Elena attempting to experiment and take full advantage of the natural setting of Wienerberg Park. We walked around amongst the dead foliage, broken twigs, felled tree trunks and the skeleton-like woods. We tried a combination of headshots, chest level, waist level and some full-body portrait shots. I found myself gaining confidence and even being able to guide her before composing a shot. Elena’s occasional tip, not only for our ongoing shoot but also on the theories and philosophies behind photography, proved vital in this shoot. Also, she provided me with some million-dollar post-production tips, which worked wonders in the actual post-production process later.

Harmonising with Elena’s belief in nature’s healing power and the pulse of life that emanates from it, I tried to integrate the natural elements around us. I followed her playful body movements and made sure that I got enough sunlight just on the right spot of her facial profile. Her jewellery accessories and the twigs and grass combined to make a beautiful collage, thereby creating wondrous stories through the snapshots.

The shoot with Elena was not only a fun-filled portrait model shoot, but it was a seminal learning experience for my photographic journey. It was not merely a dialogue that I shared with her in the shoot but more like a Sohbet-an enlightened discourse. The Sohbet, captured in my lens, pulsated the healing power of Mother Nature even in the middle of a dry winter landscape.

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The shoot continued with NX taking advantage of the grand old castle with her playful poses, making a beautiful juxtaposition, keeping in line with my recurrent efforts to control light and shade and capture their intersection points.

And as with my other shoots this summer, I pushed boundaries and made it more provocative and edgy. I was impressed by the NX’s maturity in manoeuvring between different styles of shots.

We moved to a wooded area near the castle, and I increased the exposure while taking some shots. In the post-production. I tried to create a vignette effect to highlight NX and the dirt path in the woods. And as we were wrapping our shoot, the rains came pouring down, and we had to rush back to the bus stop, leaving behind us a fun-filled afternoon at the majestic Liechtenstein castle.

Elegance On The Rocks

My model, NX, was an enthusiastic young and ambitious actress. She was confident and thorough in her interactions with the camera. She displayed an unusual calm and elegance during the shoot and was sure that she would move her body to get the perfect shot.

Elegance On The Rocks June 2020

My work, as the photographer, became relatively easy owed to NX’s expertise. However, a rainy early summer afternoon by the Danube made it harder to shoot. The incessant drizzling and my good for nothing umbrella tested my patience and my shooting skills with practically one hand.  

In this photograph, I asked her to lie down on one of the big rocks on the Danube banks and arch backwards while looking directly at the lens. This was one of the perfect shots of the day-I had the right aperture settings; I got the right frame and to top it off , my model had an elegant pose on the rocks in her beautiful reptile print one-piece bikini.

Vineyard Vignettes

Ever since coming to Europe a few years back, I always wished to do a photo shoot in a vineyard; and finally a few days back, I got the opportunity to do so in the vineyards of the Kahlenberg region in Vienna. I, along with my model Giovanna, trekked down a few dozen meters from the hill to the more flattened lush green slopes. Situated at an elevation on the northern edges of the city, the vineyards provided with a breathtaking panorama of the city and the Danube basin beyond it.

The golden hour evening light had just set in and it created the perfect blend of natural contrast and light intensity for the shoot.  I started with some normal portrait shots and then moved on to taking some perspective portraits to accommodate the rows of grape climbers in the plantation. I proceeded to take some beauty shots with the grapes and creepers in my composition. However, as the grapes were just in fruition, I did not get the exact shot I was looking for. Nonetheless, these shots highlighted Giovanna’s expressions quite successfully.  We continued our descend through the plantation in search of better locations. We found some country streets meandering through woods and dissected by small streams where we took shots in a beautiful scarf draped top which gave the pictures an added edge and, gave depth to the bodily spirit of the model.

Wrapping up with shots amidst the panoramic background of the city, the photo shoot ended with my learning of controlling light and shade in rapidly changing light conditions from the vineyards to the woods. As we were also interrupted with bad light on account of large black clouds passing through, this lesson in quick adaptation on my prime lens was a valuable lesson.  Tired from the shoot as I walked down to the bus stop, the smell of barbecues from the nearby farmhouses was also a lesson that I need to carry some food to long photo shoots in adventurous locations to not find myself satisfying my appetite with the just the smell of barbecue sauce on grilled meat.

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It was a sultry July summer afternoon when I took the bus to Vienna’s edge in the nearby woods. With my model NX, I walked through the picture-perfect hamlet and reached the 12th-century Liechtenstein castle for a summer-themed fashion shoot.

This small but grand castle and its grounds provided us with an ideal location for a portrait shoot. The Sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds, and the sudden burst of calm wind added the much-needed flavour to the shoot.

As always, I geared my 50mm prime lens for the shoot and clicked away, following NX’s peppy lead in her summer dress.

The photoshoot continues here…

Formals

The shoot with TM was long and exhaustive that summer afternoon. After an hour of shooting, as we decided to take some snaps in one-piece lingerie. We tried different shots against the wall, and none seemed to do justice to the lingerie.

Formals June 2020

We moved on to back shots and ended up with some really artistic ones. The heels gave the lingerie a formal appeal. The moment I asked to keep her hands on the wall and slightly lift one of the heels, the picture took a new dimension. Though the light was quite splattered, I could manage a reasonably good shot, contrasting the skin tone and the lingerie.

Flame

When my model, TM, insisted on using the plant as a prop, I was sceptical about how we could use it in our composition. I was in two minds about including the pot at the base of the plant. So, I asked TM for ideas, and she took the lead in the experimentation. We took a dozen shots and sat down to finalise on a couple of them.

Flame June 2020

We ended up selecting this picture as I felt that drooping of the leaves from the left contemplated her pose and gave depth to her expression. The way she played around with her skirt, harmonised with her pose in general. It pushed the boundaries of her sensuality, igniting a flame of curiosity in the viewer’s mind.  

The Boudoir Debut

My first boudoir photo-shoot began with a lot of nervousness, self-doubt and creative blocks. For the first quarter of an hour I had no clue what I was doing. I was rushing all the theories on monochrome boudoir in my mind that I had ever read; and I was asking my model, LM, to copy poses from photographs I randomly recalled from memory.

Gradually after about a dozen shots, I decided to go back to the basics of composition, light and shade dynamics and the classical techniques of figure drawing. Coupled with selective improvisation to the specific conditions of the location, I applied these very basic understandings of the human body, to create an ample collection of boudoir/noir nude photographs.

I followed the natural reactions of my model to the lens for the rest of the hour and tried to capture her raw expressions with very little guidance and manipulations. By putting extra emphasis on the series of points of interaction between the sunlight and the shadows on my model’s body (including in the post-production), I was able to overcome the technical and conceptual barriers of composition, controlling the light and posing my model to produce the following collection. What started out as a nervous experiment finished as an expressive and confident series of boudoir photographs.

Healing.Pulse.Sohbet – 1

The late winter afternoon Sun was dim and grey when I got off the tram in a southern Viennese neighbourhood for my first ever portrait photoshoot. I pulled up my jacket’s chain and started walking through a quaint street at whose end I met up with my friend and model for the day, Elena, in a lovely, cosy garden house. Elena and I had discussed my passion for photography earlier, and she sympathised with my hardships in navigating the photography industry in a foreign land. We started walking towards a big park with a lake which was a short distance away. I was quite nervous as I had no prior experience of a semi-professional shoot where one needs to guide the model and create a dialogue with them. My only respite was that Elena had an academic and professional background in filmography and photography and that I could bank upon her to pull me out of a problematic artistic or technical roadblock.

A strong wind had picked up by the time we started taking the first test shots on the edge of the lake on my brand new Nikkor 50mm 1.8G lens. It complicated my compositions and made it challenging to come up with meaningful results. The first few shots felt like those taken on point and shoots. However, after a shaky start, I could concentrate on my compositions, improving them significantly.

We took some shots by the lake with some trees in the background and then proceeded to other wooded areas in the park. The Sun was a bit brighter now, and Elena’s light beige coat gave the perfect complementary touch to the close-ups I took. I took a few snaps where I let the sunlight beam on to her face, while the rest of the frame was wrapped in the shade from the woods. These shots were one of the highlights of the day. We moved to another part of the park where Elena posed without the coat, in her sweater and pants and, we made the shoot a bit more edgy and experimental.

The photoshoot continues here…