Some would argue that snow boudoir isn’t true boudoir photography. After all, what is boudoir photography? The definition of boudoir is a woman’s private dressing room, bedroom or private sitting area.
Snow doesn’t come into play unless you left the windows open during a snowstorm.
Snow boudoir, on the other hand, is in an outdoor setting. It has a private area in common, just in the great outdoors. It also features intimate moments captured forever.
I’m not exactly a cold weather person. I’d rather be in Key West with a frozen pina colada instead of standing in snow with frozen feet, fingers and nose.
But I agreed it would be a challenge, so we decided to make it happen.
Anna Bright is a model who came to the studio for a shoot earlier in January. She had needed a makeup artist for another photoshoot and I recommended Caitlin. They became fast friends, and Caitlin asked Anna if she would model for the shoot.
All we needed was snow.
As the creative force behind this shoot, Caitlin created the look, red lips matching a red chiffon robe, surrounded by woodland and white. She also scouted a location near her home.
The snow came a few weeks later – so I bundled my camera and extra batteries and headed to Caitlin’s for the shoot. The first hour, Anna was “in the chair” as Caitlin worked her magic. Her look was stunning.
Then Anna dressed in her red lingerie, put some warm clothes on over the outfit and off we went.
We trudged across the terrain to an area that I felt may work. The first thing to do was lay down a HEAVY white fur rug. Although it wasn’t warm (that would melt the snow), it provided padding to keep Anna’s feet from getting wet.
Caitlin also acted as shoot assistant. She was there to take Anna’s heavy clothing, fold it and set it aside along with socks and shoes. This allowed me to start snapping the instant Anna was ready.
Another must, although we didn’t use it enough (our first snow shoot …) was a reflector to help bounce sunlight.
An insulated cup with extremely hot coffee comes in handy too.
A warm car is a necessity! Make sure the car is warm before you leave for the location. In the 20 minutes it takes to shoot, the car will cool down, but the heat will kick on faster and help warm your model.
If possible, shoot near a warm, indoor location. We would go back to Caitlin’s between shoots so Anna could have some heat, hot coffee and warm up. Then she would change and back to the location we would go.
Before we started, I told Anna to let me know the moment she needed to warm up. Keeping in consideration that it would take a few minutes to get her pants, coat, socks and shoes on.
The shot isn’t as important as the health of your model. They are the one freezing! So ALWAYS be aware of their needs.
Some of the most stunning images were shots with Anna’s red cape floating in the air. While the wind helped, you can see by the image below, that Caitlin helped throw the fabric into the air (above right). She was edited out of the final image to create that special moment (above left).
Before you throw out your blanket for the model to stand on, get some snow shots from the distance you expect to shoot. Use the same angles too.
These aren’t for an overlay, but the snow images will come in handy when trying to clean up footprints. Using the fresh snow image as a healing/content replacement will help with your edit.
Because I knew Anna’s time in the cold was limited, I was shooting fast. Even before she took off her overgarments, it was cold.
I was thinking so much about her discomfort, I missed shadows I would usually avoid. The snow brightens the image, making shadows much more pronounced.
I’m not great at removing shadows in Photoshop. I usually work in a studio where although I use natural light, I have learned to control it.
So keep that in mind if you are doing a snow boudoir photoshoot. I know the next time I will be more aware of shadow problems.
Watch where you are in relation to your model!
At one point I was moving in for a close up of Anna, who was lying on the fur with her face near me. I accidentally kicked snow into her face as I shuffled my foot to get a better stance! Thing was, I was looking through my lens and didn’t realize I had done this until Caitlin pointed it out. So apparently I worried about her being cold, and then added wet to that!
Anna, once again I am truly sorry!!!
Things I Wish I Had Done Or Known
First, take all advice with a grain of salt. I watched “behind the scenes” snow boudoir videos on YouTube to learn a few tips before the shoot.
One common tip was to over expose. This is because the snow would “trick” the camera into thinking the image was too bright. It was also advised so the snow would be white – not have a blue cast.
The snow however acts as a huge reflector. If you over expose the snow, you over expose the subject.
A basic rule is that you can pull details out of shadow, but once the highlights are blown out, there is no hope. I knew that, but I decided to listen to these YouTube experts.
This caused a lot of problems in the edits.
I use a mirrorless camera (the Canon R6) with a 24 – 70 mm R Lens. The mirrorless gives you the benefit of seeing the exact exposure of the image before you snap it. This makes it sooooo easy to judge your settings.
Still, like an idiot, I went a bit brighter – and I regretted that in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Other Things To Remember
In the cold, batteries will die faster. Always have a couple of extra batteries on you, preferably inside your coat where they stay warm until you use them. I managed to get by with just one battery – shooting a total of an hour over a four hour period. That was a brand new battery with a full charge. I had three extras with me just in case. Your mileage may vary.
Framing. Again since I was shooting fast, I was more concentrated on Anna than what was happening around me. As a result, I had to edit some tree branches that appeared to be sprouting out of the top of her head in the photos. There is a lot to do in a pretty fast period of time. Just do the best you can.
If you decide to try some snow boudoir, as a photographer, model or assistant …
Stay warm, stay dry and have fun. The results can be stunning!
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