In other words, when people tell you to “make them look skinny,” this is the secret sauce for making that happen. Now I want to stress that the number one reason your clients will opt to do boudoir with you is to build their confidence, so it’s your job to learn about the things your clients want to de-emphasize before your shoot with them. So now that you know how to use shadow, let’s go over how to increase or reduce the light intensity. One of my favorite ways to do this is to utilize reflectors. Reflectors will allow you to add light, or a negative reflector (black side) will allow you to reduce light. A V-Flat when shooting in the studio is essentially just a big reflector. I recommend the ones from V-Flat World as they fold into fours.
2. UNDERSTAND LIGHT RATIOS
I don’t usually like talking about lighting ratios in articles, however I think for boudoir photography, it’s incredibly important to understand exactly how to use light ratios properly. To simplify this as much as possible, imagine using two lights. Your main light, often referred to as your key light, will be responsible for creating the highlight to shadow transition on your subject, which in turn gives them three-dimensionality. Now let’s assume you are shooting in total darkness. Wherever that key light does not touch, your subject will fade into clipped shadows. This is where your fill light comes in. Your fill light will allow you to reduce the contrast on your subject, which has a variety of benefits. First, it will allow you to reduce the appearance of texture on their skin. Second, it allows you to see more of your subject and background. Third, it will make post- production a lot easier. There is no perfect formula, but a good place to start is a fill light that is two stops darker than your key light. This is known as a 1:3 ratio and is generally where I start when producing my light source. You can get a lot more advanced with this as well by adding clamshell fill, background lights, kicker lights, etc., but start off with working with just ambient light as your fill and a key light that is artificial. You will get the hang of it in no time.
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