1:1 boudoir shoot training ~ Pictures and technique

Aug 13, 2011 | Continuous Lighting, Location | 21 comments

1. Shot using my Fuji X100 camera. Lit with a Lupo 1200 light and processed in Lightroom. I wanted to create quite a surreal look for this image of our model from the Gingersnap agency in Bristol. The gaze and colour tone remind me of the album artwork of Robert Palmer or Pink Floyd. There are influences of Edward Hopper in this image too.

Sarah Ferrara was my delegate from Italy for this 1:1 session and she is already a very accomplished photographer and digital retouching artist. Sarah and I shared picture ideas in the build up to this shoot because we wanted to go beyond the scope of the images we shoot together on the into the light workshop. Once I had created the mood boards on my iPad we sent them through to Katerina at Gingersnap to cast the shoot for us.

(not work safe after the jump)

2. The idea was to blend a low key look with a subtley different lighting style. This was an advanced session and I had taken the opportunity to create a new gobo for my Lupo 1200 spotlight. I use lighting modifiers to create my pictures because they break up the uniformity of otherwise flat even lighting.

3. Pools of light and a minimal amount of post production leave me with a simple yet beautiful look. I’ve deliberately chosen not to soften the skin as I prefer a quite natural style to my images. In a few years time we will be able to date pictures from the first part of the 21st century by the fact that all facial character has been removed. I sometimes like to treat my image-making as if I were shooting slides. All these pictures were cropped in camera and what you see is what we shot.

4. These tighter shots were taken on my Canon 5D mk2 and the others were shot on my Fuji X100. I ended up with exactly 50/50 from the two cameras.

We shot was in a regular bedroom of a boutique hotel in Bristol. Blaise, my PA booked it from 09.00 until 13.00. We then had time for lunch before heading back to my studio for an afternoon session discussing pricing policies and marketing strategies. I often split my 1:1 training days this way because it is a great use of time. We can usually cover a lot of ground in a four hour business session developing products, strategies and systems. A four hour shoot is often long enough too, especially if we are in just one fabulous location like this.

5. The Fuji x100 is perfect for getting top shots like this. It’s quite easy to see the live view screen and the camera is light enough to hold at arms length.

6. It’s easy to see the dappled light that my gobo creates in this picture. I love natural lighting fall off.

7. We occasionally had a bit of sunlight for a moment or two. I love to line up the shadow elements from blinds and window bars carefully. I particularly like how the highlight stripes on the face align with the shadow stripes on the bed.

8. One of the many pictures sent to me on Sarah’s mood boards was one I shot of Georgina from Gingersnap earlier this year. It shows her seemingly peaceful in death covered with a thin veil. We decided to improve on the original image by shooting on black rather than a patterned carpet. This shot was lit with the Lupo through my latest gobo.

9. Serenity.


10. Sarah then had the fab idea of reversing the tones and shooting on the white bed covered with the black veil fabric. Once the exposure is established it all becomes an exercise in shapes and diagonals.


12. Then from death we shifted to calm delicate beauty lit with the light from the Lupo reflected through a large silver Lastolite reflector on a stand just out of shot. The light was the other side of the room on full spot beam aimed at the reflector.

With careful control of the natural daylight it is quite possible to create many looks from low key to high key. We just used either the available light or just one Lupo 1200 to supplement the natural daylight in the room. for all of these pictures. When I’m shooting with continuous light I love to keep things simple. The Fuji X100 helps me do that too. Eleven out of the twenty one pictures in this post were shot on the Fuji.

13. The light from a window captured on my Fuji X100 at f/2

14. A close up captured on my 100mm macro lens at f/2.8

15. I used the Lupo to recreate the look from a shot Sarah and I had previously taken of Katy McGee on an ‘Into The Light’ workshop using window light alone.

16. Some of the best beauty shots are created with hard light and exhibit intense contrast.

17. These wider shots show the bigger picture of the Lupo lighting.

18. We recreated the so called Hollywood lighting style that utilises a triangle of light enclosed by the nose and cheek shadows. By asking the model to lower her head I lost the eye highlights and this in turn gives the picture takes on a more ‘reflectve’ feel.

19. Inspired by the tennis girl shot of the 70’s but given an abstract treatment using this plain bathroom wall.

20. Lit with one Lupo through a gobo. This lighting style utilising hard light gives a healthy glow to her skin. I love freckles, vellus hair and skin texture.

There is just one picture in this set with eye contact. I shot many, many more but I chose not to blog them. Are they needed? For a customer shoot I’d say yes. It would be an odd portfolio or album without eye contact pictures, but I like the unsettling nature of imagery without eye contact. On their own, closed eye pictures are fine in a wedding album or portrait album. It’s the collective effect that fascinates me.

I am available for 1:1 shoot sessions with you throughout the year. You might have a particular style you want to develop or shoot. You might just want to experience the buzz of the creative journey that is making beautiful portraits. We can shoot in hotels, woodland, on the streets, at the beach or in the studio or at your place. We can shoot Hollywood glamour, bridal fashion, couples or fine art nude and we can shoot with men or women. The choice is yours. Prices start from £700 for a half day shoot and include model fees etc. Call Blaise on 01275 853204 to discuss your ideas and get a quote.

You can also browse our range of upcoming photography training courses here.

Some of Sarah’s pictures from a recent ‘Into The Light’ workshop are here. I thought I’d share Sarah’s fabulous editing style with you.

Please feel free to comment on these pictures or my lighting techniques below…


  1. Alessandro

    Thank you very much, i’m fan of X100 and your blog.

  2. Alessandro

    Amazing effect! have you tips for obtain this nostalgic beautiful gaze and tone control like old Pink Floyd cover?
    Thanks in advance
    Ale, Italy

    • damien

      Hi Alessandro,

      Thank you. You need to light with hard light then in Lightroom I think I increased vibrance and desaturated then added a bit of split toning and a slight contrast reduction. Easy really :)

      Cheers, Damien.

  3. Richard Mortimer

    Beautiful images Damien. Love the ones with the veil. I’m going shopping next week! Going to be a bit outside my comfort zone in a textile shop!

    • damien

      Thanks Richard,

      The ladies in the fabric department at John Lewis know me quite well!

      Kind regards, Damien.

  4. Ivan Packer

    Gorgeous images as usual Damien. Such an inspiration, thank you.

    • damien

      Thank you Ivan.

  5. psyko

    very beautiful series
    how do you command your flash unit with the x100 ?
    thank s for this work

    • damien

      Hi Psyko,

      There is no flash used in these pictures. However I set my Fuji to ‘external flash on’ in the menu. I can now use my Elinchrom Skyport to trigger my Quadra kit. I do sawitch off auto ISO though when shooting with flash.
      Thanks for your kind words and I hope this answer helps. Damien.

  6. Kevin Cull

    These are fantastic! Such a calm relaxed feel from the model shows how you have put her at ease and produced fabulous images,
    Kindest regards,

    • damien

      Thanks Kevin :)

  7. Thorsten

    Yet another set of cracking images. No 20 just blows me away! Such a simple yet such a strong image.

    – Thorsten

    P.S. I’ll make sure to stop by and say hello when you’re in Dublin :)

    • damien

      Thanks Thorsten. See you in a couple of weeks :)

  8. David Cooke

    You never cease to astound me, your work is certainly inspiring.
    I will endeavour to come on a course of yours next year, hoping to return to work in November if my consultant allows it, then all I need to do is save up some money.

    • damien

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your fabulous compliments. I always strive to develop my skills in order to provide my deligates with creative journey that grows with them. I’m shooting new style pictures for my own clients too and this is a necessary development to keep them coming back year after year. I’d love to shoot alongside you on one of my workshops. I give my systems, ideas and photography skills freely to help you develop your own.

      Best regards, Damien.

  9. Richard

    You are my photography GOD!
    I would have given long ago if not for you. You are my aspiration and inspiration and I have planned the rest of my working life to live in your shadow!

    Keep it up.

  10. Claire Plumridge

    Can’t choose, I love them all. Might have to save my pennies for a 1:1 Boudoir session!!

  11. Mark Wilson

    Absolutely love 9 and 11 Damien, not to taking anything away from the others though. Wonderful lighting!

  12. Simon Davis

    Damien and Sarah, a beautiful set of images. I love the calmness of them all.

  13. Sarah Ferrara

    1, 11 and 17 are fabulous, I love the colour in 1.
    Damien, I just want to take the opportunity to thank you for this amazing day. What we covered in 4 hours with Leela was just staggering, I learned so much and pretty much every shot I got is publishable straight from camera. You are THE master of lighting, be it simple or super complicated and in just one day I honestly think I have leapfrogged several levels in my photography thanks to what I have learned just watching you at work.
    Thanks again. xxxxxx


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