The Newest Trend in Bridal Gifting: Boudoir Photography
Rachel leonard sat down with seasoned boudoir photographer, nomi ellenson, to find out just how boudoir photos can make the perfect, intimate gift to a loved one
1) How did you get into boudoir photography?
When I was first building my fashion portfolio, I did model testing and would often style the shoot myself. Because my great-grandmother was a bra fitter until she was 95, the fashion I was most comfortable putting together was lingerie. While shooting these tests, I found there was a genre of photography that focused on lingerie. In addition, I felt good about the body positive message it sent. It was a natural fit.
2) Is this a new genre of photography for the wedding industry?
The body has always been a popular theme in art and I think boudoir photography translates that fascination for all women (and sometimes men) to partake in. The rise of boudoir photography for the wedding industry makes sense because it's a moment in a person’s life they want to remember forever.
3) Why do you think this has become so popular?
I think boudoir photography is riding on the body positive trend. Self-care is becoming more prevalent and a boudoir shoot is the ultimate symbol of taking a risk and saying, “I celebrate who I am.” In our world, we are infiltrated by visuals and I think my client’s partners are genuinely grateful to be with someone who took the time to take these intimate portraits.
4) How does it work? What is the process?
I’m mostly a word-of-mouth business. People find out about me through friends who have worked with me. I’ve also found success selling my shoots on Gilt City. Once a client purchases their package, I’ll set up a call with them and send a pre-shoot questionnaire. I like to get to know my clients before they walk in the door and 90% of my clients have never done a boudoir shoot before, so I find this eases any natural nerves.
I do most of my shoots in my loft in Brooklyn - it is 1,500 sq. ft. of open space flooded with light. I have furniture and poses I focus on, all designed to be the most flattering for my clients. Clients can choose whether they want professional hair and makeup, the number of outfit changes and what type of album they want their photos displayed in. Once the shoot is over, the client and myself look over the photos together and make selections. Viewing the photos on the same day is very popular!
Then, I make sure the photos and albums are delivered in time for the special day!
5) With your background experience, do you get involved with selecting the lingerie for the boudoir shoot?
I really do view lingerie, even the most lacy, as foundation garments - I love helping my clients choose the best options. You want to get the fit just right because that is the only way you will feel the best during your shoot. I will meet clients at lingerie boutiques and go personal shopping with them. I also have some lingerie for sale in my studio by OuiHours, a lingerie website created by Marc Balet.
6) What other type of photography do you specialize in?
I really like photographing androgynous and trans models, as well as photographing models that are size 8 and up. I’ll have models come by my loft and we’ll hang out and shoot together. It sounds corny, but we discuss what beauty is and then we create images that show them this beauty through my lens.
7) What have been some of your most interesting shoots so far?
An underwear company, which I was doing ad work for, had a model who had undergone a double mastectomy and opted for no reconstruction. Photographing her and creating images that highlighted her unique beauty and strength was very rewarding. The photos made it all over the internet. I loved seeing how people crave this kind of body affirming content.
8) Who have you photographed on the red carpet?
Photographing with the entertainment division of Getty Images for a couple of years gave me amazing exposure to the celebrity circuit (it was also the first time in my photo career my father, a Rabbi, actually understood what I was doing). Some highlights included photographing Aretha Franklin, Daniel Radcliffe, J.K. Rowling, Kristin Wiig, Lena Dunham and Sting.
9) How do you make real people feel comfortable, especially in lingerie versus photographing portraits of celebrities?
Being photographed is part of the celebrity job description. If a new movie is coming out or a cause they want to support, they want their image out there. Private clients require a bit more hand holding, which goes back to the pre-shoot consultation and making my studio a warm and welcoming place. My go-to move is to smile at whoever I’m photographing! Showing warmth is how I naturally make people feel comfortable.
10) You shot behind-the-scenes for The Bridal Council for Bridal Fashion Week for the first time. Were there any surprises?
Bridal Fashion Week differs greatly from New York Fashion Week because it focuses only on one day, one event and one dress. I’m used to going to a multitude of fashion shows, and while every designer has a certain aesthetic, there is always a range of clothes from pants to dresses to skirts, etc. Bridal Fashion Week shows a breadth of variation on one piece: The Bridal Dress. The amount of creativity shown towards one garment highlights the importance of the wedding.
For more from Nomi Ellenson, visit her website at www.naomiellenson.com/