“If photographers are responsible for creating or reflecting an image of women in society, then, I must say, there is only one way for the future, and this is to define women as strong and independent. This should be the responsibility of photographers today: to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”
I start from this quote from the great photographer Peter Lindbergh because today I want to talk to you about something that lately has been thrilling me a lot: a particular type of modern boudoir photography that I have renamed “boudoir noir”.
A few months ago in Milan I participated in a workshop of the Texan photographer Kara Marie dedicated to this photographic style and I completely fell in love with it! It captured me so much that I’m starting to offer it more and more often to my clients who want to do a contemporary portrait photo shoot.
But let’s go in order… I’ll tell you more in this article.
What is boudoir noir photography
In general, the “boudoir” is a photographic style dedicated to femininity and its forms, which are portrayed with audacity and elegance, without judgment or aesthetic standards to be included in.
Boudoir noir is the name I chose to use to offer my clients a type of modern, essential and honest boudoir photography, which captures the authentic beauty of the women photographed and the essence of femininity without superstructures. In a boudoir noir photo shoot, women can be and feel completely themselves, without the need for a glamorous makeover or extreme photographic retouching. In these kinds of images, women are sexy but not because they take provocative poses: they are simply because natural and authentic femininity is sexy.
For a boudoir noir photo shoot, the glamorous clothing that women wear for example in my contemporary portraits is not necessary: a long shirt, sweater or blazer in direct contact with the skin will be perfect. Or a slip, underwear or even just a soft fabric: the woman who is the protagonist of the shooting decides how much to reveal or hide. In any case, nudity is never shown. There is a refined game of see-through and transparencies, where the details are more interested than the whole: the back, the shoulders, the décolleté, part of the face.
The key word is “authenticity”: the hair is not perfect, the make-up is natural, as is the photo retouching, which is reduced to a minimum, and above all used to enhance the texture of the skin. In this, the boudoir noir photographic approach is very much in line with that of Peter Lindbergh, who portrayed celebrities, but immortalized them without makeup, with natural hair, in all their authenticity.
It is a hymn to the beauty of imperfection even in the photographic style, which includes blurred, blurry, grainy, non-artificial, live photos. We let go of the perfection of the glamorous shot – where every photograph is almost a painting – in search of a more authentic mood.
Another point in common with Lindbergh is that boudoir noir photography is mainly in black and white, which for the great German photographer “has always been connected to the image’s deeper truth, to its most hidden meaning”. I think like Lindbergh: black and white is the photo of the soul.
In modern boudoir photos there is a play of light and shadow that shapes the body and makes photographic retouching superfluous. Personally, in this I find a return to my origins, that is to photographic reportage: I have always been attracted by the concept of “less is more”, by black and white, by minimalism and by contrast. As a teenager, I developed my black and white analog films in the dark room and I understood that light and shadow shape everything else, while if an image is equally illuminated it remains flat. The play of light and shadow can be used to the advantage of the image and the portrait subject, illuminating only small parts, enhancing where you want and leaving the rest in the shade, giving space to the imagination.
Boudoir noir photography: an intimate and transformative experience
As in my artistic portraits, boudoir noir is also a spa for the soul, but if we want it is an even more transformative experience because it is more intimate. It is a real journey that allows a woman to accept herself and her body, even with all its imperfections.
It allows her to feel strong and beautiful in her own skin, to get out of the comfort zone and rediscover herself, to accept and love herself more.
For women, a modern boudoir photo shoot is a moment of strong self-awareness and acceptance, beyond any fiction, an almost sensorial experience that allows you to embrace your femininity, true beauty and the light that shines from inside. It’s like having a special, judgment-free space where you give yourself permission to express your most authentic self, not for the male gaze but to please yourself.
As a portrait photographer, I am always looking for new ways of expression to help women feel more confident and beautiful through the portrait experience. Everything starts from creating an environment in which the woman feels at ease: I will guide her in different poses, in order to make the most of it and create magic.
You don’t need a reason to pamper yourself, to stop time and create a memory that you will cherish forever. There is something powerful in having a portrait of yourself that you really love, that makes you exclaim: “Wow, this is me!”.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, just do it. 😉