All images by Caroline Ross. Used with permission.
Photographer Caroline Ross hails from Vancouver and is a wedding and portrait photographer. What she eventually started to see is that brides-to-be started asking for boudoir sessions, and Caroline happily complied. Boudoir is a mysterious subject to many: it is centered around a woman’s sensuality and is all about not only making them feel amazing about themselves, but also about delivering a package to their fiancé.
Phoblographer:Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Caroline: I went to University for Fine Art and photography was a required class during my final year, this was my introduction into the field. Around this time, my brother, cousin and some friends got engaged, saw my work and were interested in my photography. I did a few engagement session and word spread quickly and I started booking weddings. A week before my first wedding I picked up a Canon 40 D and that was what I used for years.
After graduating University, I had a full time job as a graphic designer, and shot weddings throughout the year as well. This continued until 2012, when I realized photography was becoming a full time job, so I made the decision to quit my day job. I moved to the Caribbean that winter and started shooting destination weddings, in addition to Canadian weddings. In late 2014 I moved from the Caribbean to Vancouver, where I currently reside and shoot.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into shooting weddings, engagements and boudoir?
Caroline: Weddings and engagements happened naturally, as lots of friends and family members were at the wedding age and word of mouth spread quickly. I started shooting boudoirs when a few brides-to-be inquired about them as an add on to their wedding packages.
Phoblographer: We can imagine that every single woman will be very nervous when stepping into a boudoir shoot. What are some ways that you initially try to calm them down?
Caroline: I shoot on location in the client’s home, which helps set a comfortable environment. In my experience, it isn’t being nearly nude in front of another female that makes them nervous, the nerves come from wanting sexy photos and a successful shoot, but afraid of coming off as not-sexy.
I am pretty high energy, and get really excited about the session as soon as I arrive, which gets the client excited too. I start with really simple and fun poses and constantly give positive feedback.
I take charge during the shoot and tell them every pose to get into, and use lots of movement and get natural laughter through my corny and really bad jokes. It’s important to be confident as the photographer, and have lots of poses ready and go from one to the next. I use the outfit changes to go over the photos and next set of poses.
“In my experience, it isn’t being nearly nude in front of another female that makes them nervous, the nerves come from wanting sexy photos and a successful shoot, but afraid of coming off as not-sexy.”
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear and lighting that you use.
Caroline: I use a Canon 5D Mark III. I use my Canon speed lights on and off camera during wedding receptions and the odd time at photo shoots. I always bring my reflector to sessions, though I don’t always use it, and either throw it on the floor or have someone hold it for me.
Phoblographer: What are some of the most common poses that you use?
Caroline: I really like feminine poses that exaggerate the natural figure and create an hourglass figure. The clients rarely just “pose”. I always have them doing actions and moving from pose to pose.
If I use a common pose, like a female upright on her knees, it would look different from client to client.
Phoblographer: How much retouching is usually done in photos like these?
Caroline: I don’t do a lot of retouching on most of my photos, I try to find the best poses and lighting to show off the female’s body. During the session we talk about parts of their body they really like (and what their partner likes), and I try to focus on that. If a client wants something retouched like stretch marks, I do it for them. I won’t refuse doing photoshop, but I want the clients to know that the sessions aren’t the heavily photoshopped and made up typical boudoir sessions that have been around forever.
“I really like feminine poses that exaggerate the natural figure and create an hourglass figure.”
Phoblographer: Let’s talk logistics of shoots like this: how do you communicate your creative vision to the subject and how is the wardrobe usually figured out?
Caroline: I have a pin board I keep updated with sessions similar to mine. I send a checklist and information sheet to the clients with suggestions for the shoot. The clients usually hire me because they like the previous images I have done and the same style/look, so they have similar outfits. I always tell them to have some loose tshirts (ironed, I’m picky about wrinkles) and a few favourite sweaters and accessories. They can have as many outfits as they can fit in the session time, I typically shoot about 4-5 outfits, and maybe ten looks (a sweater over a bra and bottoms would constitute a different “look”).
I stress on my information sheet its important to have well-fitted outfits, especially bottoms. I stress that I don’t do much photoshopping and that its important to have bottoms that aren’t old and stretched out, or too tight. Bras that are too tight can create back “fat” if they don’t fit well.