Recently I attended a boudoir photo shoot with Spanish Model Cayetana Molla Bendito and 3 other photographers. Although it was economical to share the expense of a model and hotel room I found shooting “papparazzi” style with other photographers in a small space presented a few challenges. Care must be taken in Composition, shot timing, using one light and using simple lighting angles. For example each of us decided to limit our gear to one light each so we weren’t tripping over stuff. I used an inexpensive remotely triggered “Newer” brand speed light on a stand with an $18 flash bender style modifier strapped to the speed light to soften it. In addition while framing the shots we had to take care not to get another photog’s arm or head in the shot, cropping can only do so much. Another problem that is not readily obvious to a newb is the situation where the other photog’s flash goes off while I am focusing and metering my shot. This pushes my shutter speed up as I shoot mostly in aperture priority mode. Once the shutter speed goes above 1/250 ish I approach my “max sync speed” for my cheap manual speed light remotely paired with an old trusty Canon 5D classic. Careful cropping was required to save a few shots where my shutter speed got up to 1/320 sec speed to remove the black line but a few others were blacked out as when I fully pressed my shutter button the other photogs flash had fired and mine was lagging behind the shutter. I was able to get better shot timing after this happened a few times.
The featured image above (broad lighting) and the one below (short lighting) are shots I got by timing my metering, shutter and flash in between the other photographers flashes. This took careful observation of the other shooters as well as the model to capture when she was in the proper lighting angle.
For boudoir I favour dramatic short lighting however, this model looks good in other lighting angles as well. The short lighting ones really show the dramatic shadows and features of her natural chiseled beauty. The image below is in Rembrandt style lighting. My speed light is to camera left and at about 45 degrees up.
The above shot illustrates one of the composition challenges in shooting “papparazzi” style. If you look closely in the mirror you can see the shoulder of one of the other photographers (creepy lol). I didn’t crop it out as it’s a good teaching example for composition. I knew he was there and realized I didn’t want to loose the shot of her. In addition most people would be looking at her and not notice the mirror at all. 😉
In the shot below I used diffused natural window light to camera left as a key light to provide dramatic short lighting shadows. I placed my speed light behind the model and to camera right as a rim light to highlight her hair and define her beautiful curves.
The shot below uses some clever play with the focus and the lighting. My speed light is 45 degrees up and to camera left. I was able to bounce this off the wall and mirror to give her face some short/Rembrandt style light. My camera axis is on the shadow side of her face and I used her eyes as my spot metered focus point instead of her backside. The short depth of field is deliberate. This shot took careful timing to avoid the other flashes bouncing off walls and the mirror.
In summary, I highly recommend keeping it down to one remote off camera speed light when shooting with multiple photographers. Get a “Rogue” flash bender modifier or the cheaper copy that I used to soften and direct your flash for a boudoir session. I was very happy with the modifier I used, very simple and compact. The umbrella I had with me got taken down after a few mins as it was in our way. Know your max sync speed for your setup and work your shot timing so other speed lights don’t mess up your shots. Make use of a couple basic lighting angles so you can position yourself and your speed light quickly to take advantage of the models position. As always keep working the exposure triangle and be prepared to adjust ISO settings if the model moves to another spot in the room. Shoot in Aperture priority mode because I do. 😉 (manual is ok too). Lastly, make sure you get a signed model release so you can use the images.