In the boudoir industry it is a main priority to help the client feel confident and empowered. Some clients prefer the high-key fashion look associated with strobe work and solid backdrops. For those clients who prefer the anonymous images, Chris Nelson guides you through how low key images highlighting just the curves while shadowing the mood can help your clients make the decision for that large fine art wall piece.

Low-key lighting is an image that contains primarily darker tones and colors. It accentuates the contours while creating darker moods with reduced lighting in all other areas. Chris Nelson of Chris and Becca Photography based in Connecticut feels this helps him to focus and draw extra attention to his clients’ favorite body parts. “You can take incredible photographs but a client may not be able to see that past some of their own self-consciousness. A little communication and proper light means you can get whole body shots that diminish those areas a client is worried about” he wrote.

Shooting low-key establishes worth according to Nelson, in that it provides images that cannot be duplicated by a simple phone camera. While the team has shot both high and low key depending on the client, Nelson prefers this more darker moody imagery for his work.

Nelson is firm in thinking  that while art is a very subjective term, his black and white low key image translates into what his clients’ preconceived notion of fine art is. First this idea of being art allows clients to feel less self-conscious sharing images and also has boosted sales for wall art. Secondly, low-key fine art nudes are often seen already on display in a home or art galleries. People are then much more aware and accepting of wall art of themselves with low-key lighting more so than a very bright glamour style image.

“I’m not by any means saying that glamour or bright boudoir images are unfit to be wall art. But by shooting at least some images with low-key lighting it helps remove at least one or more mental blocks for your clients” wrote Nelson.

The Technique

If the intent is to add more shadows and contrast you need to work on angles while having less light or a smaller light source. If you’re working in a home or studio, one option can be to close all the windows and blinds except one to start playing with harder shadows and more contrasty images. Nelson looks to the inverse square law to play with the light fall offs for his images while making sure to move around to get a variety of shadow and highlights.

Nelson works with strobes as well adjusting his shutter to help remove any of the unwanted ambient light. “If this is your first time shooting darker I would keep an extra careful eye on your histogram. Make sure you are exposing for your highlights and not losing any information the the blacks or whites” he wrote.

Keeping with the theme of the anonymous shots, choosing details such as the legs can be something even the more modest clients will be willing to hang on their walls or better yet to sign that all to hard to come by model release!

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