Boudoir in Paris

Apr 24, 2016 | Continuous Lighting, Location, Travel | 23 comments

I could have shot all day on the balcony of our hotel suite location. The play of light, shadows and vantage point all gave the balcony a magical charm. Instead we started inside with the curtains closed.

Boudoir in Paris with Alicia Endemann and Agata Suduiko

01. For our first shot of the session we started with both of our models on set and I closed the curtains to simulate evening light. We used a single Lupo 650 LED spotlight for this shot of Agata standing and Alicia seated. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 23mm lens at f/1.4, 1/60th second with a monopod using ISO 400.

Photography: Damien Lovegrove
Models: Agata Suduiko and Alicia Endemann
Makeup: Tatiana Medved
Camera: Fujifilm X-Pro2, 16mm, 23mm, 35mm (f/1.4), 56mm and 90mm lenses

These boudoir in Paris shots were taken on a 1:1 training session in a wonderful hotel just off the Champs Elysees.


02. For this sequence I swapped the LED spotlight for daylight by opening the curtain just a little bit. Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm at f/1.4, 1/60th second with a monopod using ISO 400.

Agata Suduiko and Alicia Endemann in a Paris hotel room

03. This shot was lit with the same glancing daylight as in shot 02 above and the same exposure settings too.


04. I love the ornate railings on the balconies in Paris. We were 5 floors up so unlikely to stop the traffic in the streets below. Fuji X-Pro2, 56mm at f/1.2, 1/4000th second using ISO 200


05. The sunlight projected forward leading shadows into the frame and I chose to shoot directly into the sun for maximum effect. Fuji X-Pro2, 23mm lens at f/2.5 for 1/1000th second using ISO 200


06. I swapped out the 23mm lens for the 90mm for a more compressed frame that isolated the ironwork against the busy houses in the background. The shallow depth of field of the 90mm lens wide open rendered the houses beautifully out of focus. I realigned Alicia for a simpler composition. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm lens at f/2, 1/1000th second using ISO 200


07. I particularly like the character profile shot of Alicia on the bottom right of this set. I used the superb 56mm lens on the X-Pro2 for these frames and I shot at f/1.2 for 1/1000th of a second using ISO 200


08. I changed my settings for the balcony railings in this frame of Agata. I dialled in a bit more depth of field to make them stand out enough without them being crisply in focus. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 90mm f/5, 1/60th second using a monopod at ISO 800


09. The lure of the balcony gave way to the bed for a few frames before we said goodbye to Agata. Agata had worked with us the evening before for this striking set of images on the streets of Paris at twilight. These two frames were lit with the Lupo 650 to simulate sunlight coming into the room and glancing across the bed. Fuji X-Pro2, 56mm f/3.2, 1/30th second using a monopod at ISO 400


10.Using the same lighting set up as above we tweaked the settings to create a more contrasty look and a dramatic feel. This control is made easier by the fact the Fuji cameras give a live preview of the shot before it is taken. Fujifilm X-Pro2, 56mm f/1.8 hand held for 1/200th second using ISO 400


11. Alicia picked up the baton after lunch and I set the curtains narrow again for these striking portraits. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm f/2.5, 1/125th second with a monopod and ISO 800.


12. Exposure as above.


13. This is one of my classic portrait lighting looks. I love exploring shapes, curves and lines with this simple lighting setup. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm f/2, 1/250th second using a monopod and ISO 800


14. This kind of study of feet and legs makes a Lovegrove boudoir shoot unique. Just like in wedding albums, close ups add to the complete set of images. These delicate shapes, enclosed triangles, contra jour lighting and simplicity help illustrate the narrative. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm f/2, 1/250th second using a monopod and ISO 800


15. One of my favourite shots from this set is this profile of Alicia lit with the Lupo 650 spotlight. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm f/2, 1/60th second using a monopod and ISO 800


16. Lighting from the Lupo and exposure settings as above.


17. I just used simple window light for these portraits. Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm f/2, 1/250th second using a monopod and ISO 400.


18. With the curtains wide open the light was superb right back into the room some 20 metres away. Fuji X-Pro2 f/2.5, 1/125th second using a monopod and ISO 800


19. Exposure and lighting as in shots 18 above.


20. Exposure and lighting as shots 18 above.

The Fuji X-Pro2 with prime lenses was the perfect combination for this shoot. Using 4 of the fast primes might seem like overkill but with boudoir photography there is no carrying to do and the lenses can sit on a dressing table during the shoot. The X-Pro2 with a prime lens sits comfortably on my Gitzo carbon fibre 5 stage monopod with it’s Really Right Stuff ball head. I always use a monopod (or OIS with zooms) when the light level demands a shutter speed at or below 1/250th second on the 56 and 90mm lenses. I usually work on a ratio of 4x the focal length as the reciprocal fraction of a second needed for tack sharp hand held pictures. So for a 35mm lens I use 35 x 4 =140 rounded up to the nearest value of 1/180th second. Any shutter speed longer than that gets the monopod treatment. The monopod slows me down a bit too and the extra composition and thinking time really pays off in the final image.

Despite taking as much care as I can of my kit I occasionally find a lens gets a knock especially with all this travelling I do. I was a little concerned about my 56mm lens on this shoot because just when wide open it wasn’t as crisp as it used to be so I sent it in for testing on the Fujifilm UK optical bench and sure enough it was slightly out of allignment (In it’s defence it is number 000028, a pre production sample). I must say the full production versions of Fuji lenses and cameras are really tough but above all they perform spectacularly well, so when I notice a hint of sogginess something is not right. I have come to expect absolutely top quality images from the Fuji kit and consistency too. When I was recently looking back at my SLR pictures from 5 years ago for a magazine article I was shocked that despite having 20+ megapixels the images were not a scratch on what I am used to now. It’s progress I suppose.

Please feel to comment on these pictures below.

Damien Lovegrove.


  1. Frank

    Greetings Damien,

    May I know what brand and details of the monopod do you use?

    Thank you! :)

    • Damien

      Hi Frank, I use a Gitzo GM3551 monopod with a RRS BH30 ball head.

      Kind regards,


  2. David

    Wow, really nice photos, you know how to photograph!!! Do you have the photos also with color?

    • Damien

      Hi David, Thank you. Yes, I shoot everything in RAW and I process the colour before I make the black and white versions. Kind regards, Damien.

      • David

        Hi, thanks for your answer. I am not such a pro, just a beginner, but I know what you mean.
        So is there a way that we can see the photo in the RAW format or after the processing of the colour. Would be nice.

  3. andrewbrown319732737

    I was going to say “just the usual supply of Lovegrove excellence” until I spotted shot 13 – which may be your favourite type of shot, but have to say it could easily become my favourite type of shot as well. a stunning shot that really does suit B&W

    • Damien

      Thank you Andrew. I love the high contrast rim lit look too :) Cheers, Damien.

    • Lovegrove

      Thank you Sarah. I’m loving your lamb updates :)

  4. Mona van cleve

    Sorry if this is a silly question, but what is acros?

    • Damien

      Good question Mona. Acros is a Fujifilm monochrome film emulsion that became a favourite among portrait shooters at the end of the last century. Fuji have recreated it’s characteristic fine grain look in a ‘film simulation’ in their latest digital cameras. Kind regards, Damien.

  5. Mike Duffy

    I love all your images as usual Damien… just one question… why would you use ISO 800 instead of ISO 1600 and upwards.. I use both ISO’s a lot and find it hard to see much difference? Maybe I need new glasses :)

    • Damien

      Hi Mike, Thank you for your comment and interesting question. Here is my take on the exposure parameters and how I use them. Shutter speed has no creative value once you reach the speed where there is no discernible camera or subject movement in the image. Low ISO is clean and high ISO is grainy and has less fine detail. The lower you go the better. Aperture dictates the depth of field and look in the image. Very wide apertures and very small apertures have some softness due diffraction etc. I happen to like the look from the fast (f/1.4) Fuji primes wide open when I’m shooting portraits. It’s quite flattering.

      So this is what I do:

      1) set my aperture for the look that I want.

      2) set the shutter speed just fast enough to freeze the action and camera movement. (I often use a monopod in dark places with non OIS lenses)

      3) Adjust the ISO until the exposure is spot on.

      That way the ISO is as low as it can go. As you say ISO 1600 is really quite good. Occasionally this system goes by the wayside especially when I am on a roll. Occasionally I find myself nudging the shutter speed or aperture to pull the shot round to my liking. I hope this helps.

      Kind regards, Damien.

      • Mike Duffy

        Yes it did answer my question thanks!… I got so used to setting up using ISO as the base to work from with film for so many years it just never occured to me to use it to “trim” exposure like you say. :)

  6. Barry Forshaw

    Great work Damien. I particularly like the mood of the contrasty interior shots and the shallow dof balcony photographs. I’ve been experimenting with the in camera Acros simulation vs shooting raf and applying the preset in Lightroom, and the in camera Acros is so much better in terms of detail and grain. How are you using Acros?

    • damienlovegrove

      Hi Barry, Thank you. The issue can come about because Lightroom makes a regular preview from your RAW file that does not reflect the in camera settings of highlight tone, shadow tone, sharpness, noise reduction and dynamic range. My process is to set the camera calibration in Lightroom to Pro Neg S (this is done automagically upon import of X-Pro2 files) then get the colour and tone of the RAW file spot on. I then switch camera calibration to Acros or Acros G (as required) and fine tweak the curve/ contrast to suit. Monochrome files can print a grade or 2 harder than colour files and this is where the magic happens. I just use the camera jpeg as a lighting and exposure guide at the time of shooting. Cheers, Damien.

  7. t.linn

    Another brilliant set of images, Damien. That first balcony shot has to be my favorite. Love everything about it.

    I was surprised to see you shooting with the 90. I was under the impression that you had passed on that lens based on your 90 v 50-140 post. It’s been a while so I may be remembering this wrong. I know your issue with it had nothing to do with IQ.

    • damienlovegrove

      Hi T.Linn,

      Thank you for your kind words about my pictures. The 90mm lens is super sharp and the images have a wonderful 3d quality about them. I’ve given up trying to get sharp pictures hand held with the lens using shutter speeds below 1/500th second. I use a monopod for 95% of the shots I take with the 90 and the rewards are spectacular. The 50-140 works really well even down to 1/30th second but doest quite have the sparkle of the 90. I wrote a blog post here: :)

      Cheers, Damien.

  8. Nigel Appleton

    Stunning. Like a good actor you make it look so easy but I know from my own dismal efforts that it isn’t! A few hints on positioning of lights and level of post production would be a real help. Of course all this will be so much easier when your book on portraiture sees the light of day, or should that be Lupo!

    • Damien

      Thank you Nigel, the more pictures I take the easier it seems to get. I’m so excited about taking on new challenges and seeing more of the world hence ending up with my friend, consultant and client shooting in a Paris hotel room. Experiences like these are worth living for.

      With regard to your questions re lighting; shadows tell the story far better than I can with words and post production is a tweakette in Lightroom. I fiddle with the camera and lighting settings at the shoot so the picture on the camera looks as close to what I want as I can then it’s a case of getting the final levels right in Lightroom. There were a few instances where the curtains were driving me mad so I was a bit heavy handed with a gradient a few times. I spent years in the darkroom so I know what I want my pictures to look like and I do the same sort of adjustments in Lightroom. Not a lot has changed for me in the past 30 years. There are no presets or fancy plugins, just Acros film simulation and a nudge here or there of light tones.

      The book is coming on fine and I have time in the diary to finish it once I’m back from Switzerland. I’ve not shot the front cover yet so maybe I’ll shoot it there or perhaps in Nevada in May. Who knows? All I know is the more I write the more there is to say.

      Thanks for your continued support, Damien.


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