Marilyn Sanchez, the once event planner turned photographer, has kindly agreed to share her experience in Boudoir Photography with our readers. After ten years of planning countless prestigious and glamorous events Marilyn pursued her true passion – photography. Marilyn specializes in contemporary Boudoir and Glamour Portraitures, as well as modern pin me up photography.
For the Love of Boudoir
By now, we should all know what “Boudoir” means. We should also know that there is a niche market within the photography industry focusing on exactly that… Boudoir Photography. That’s where I come in. My name is Marilyn Sanchez and I specialize in the art of Boudoir Photography. I am based in Miami and travel all over the country photographing women, men, and couples. I was delighted when Zenfolio approached me to write this post. When I asked what they wanted me to focus on, I was actually surprised by the response. I was expecting to write about how Boudoir Photography works, but instead they came back with “tell us what Boudoir Photography means to you”. So, here it goes. My own personal sentiment… my own take on the whole thing… the “why” I do what I do.
I want to begin by saying that, for me, Boudoir Photography is something of a calling and I do not say that lightly. Now, please be aware that I do not say this to discourage anyone interested in getting started shooting Boudoir. I am simply writing about my own personal experiences. I used to be a certified wedding planner and was always asked about the “Boudoir” tradition of presenting your groom with a very sexy gift on the wedding night. I honestly liked planning events and weddings but it wasn’t what I loved to do. It wasn’t the thing I wanted to do first thing in the morning… nor later in the day. It was a job. Photography had always been a passion of mine so when you put my love for photography with my hopeless romanticism… Voila… you’ve got “Boudoir”.
I was so nervous on my first shoot… but I knew this is what I wanted to do with all my heart. My will overpowered any fear I might’ve had. The rest is History. I asked close friends and family members to pose for me so I could work on my portfolio. I started off working with backdrops and artificial lighting but soon realized that it was not for me. So I took the natural light avenue and that’s where it took flight. I did have a disaster or two, as any other photographer has. I was booked for this shoot and I asked the client everything that I normally ask and it turned out that the location she was providing me with had big great windows. Everything was set and perfect. I arrive at her location and soon realize that I am in some sort of a dungeon. The hurricane shutters were still covering all the windows. She had completely forgotten to get them taken off. This client had gotten her make-up and hair done and taken the day off from work just for this shoot. Seriously, her shutters were screwed on to the outside of her home. So what do I do? We found a screwdriver and took them all down. Things in life may get in your way but they should never take over you. Your core as a person is stronger than any emotion you might feel.
The fact that I am a woman does not make me a better boudoir photographer, however the fact that I genuinely love what I do… absolutely does. Maybe I’m a little biased because I am a woman, but I sincerely believe that the female figure is beautiful inside and out. Both the ability and the opportunity to capture the outer expression of a woman, as well as her inner being, is a spectacular thing. The joy of capturing her candid laughter. The sweet sensation of capturing her in the silence of her own thoughts. I am always filled with a certain curiosity. I wonder who she might be thinking about, who she is doing this for, what made her take this bold step, when was the last time someone told her just how beautiful she truly is, has she ever given her heart away, has her heart ever been returned broken, and does she still believe that dreams really still can come true? All of these things helped to create and mold this woman into the person she is now. When a woman undresses before you, she is trusting you. She is allowing herself to be vulnerable in front of you as she lets her guard come crashing down. She is allowing you to see the person she sees everyday in the mirror. And isn’t that every photographer’s dream… to capture raw and unscripted emotion?
She completely trusts you as she is both physically and emotionally exposed, but you have to earn her trust. As a woman, I know what I need to hear to make myself feel at ease, comfortable, respected, trusting, beautiful… this understanding is very important. This is what will get you a homerun of a shoot. This goes beyond people skills. In shooting “Boudoir”, you need to give as much of yourself as you want to get. I let them see me as I see them. I let them realize on their own that I am on their team; that I am only after what they truly came to give me. That’s where the LOVE for all of this plays such an intrinsic part. To see a woman in all of her beauty is easy, but to see her beauty amidst all of her flaws is not. You need to look at those flaws and embrace them as she has had to embrace them all of her life. You need to accept her, and so does your camera.
A love for what you do is something that comes naturally, but you will need, of course, a number of skills that can only come from experience. Most important of those is how to pose certain body types. I learned a long time ago to ask all my clients for a picture of themselves before shoot day. That way I could envision their shoot before we all got there. This alone, changed the way I programmed my shoots. No cookie cutter poses here. Every woman’s body is different and it takes experience to know how to pose them just right every time.
Through my experiences and love for Boudoir photography I have learned to capture the raw emotion and beauty of women. My advice to anyone else interested in this field would be to capture what she is not saying. Capture what she is thinking. Capture what she is feeling. In doing so, you’ll capture her as a whole, the woman, the daughter, the mother, the wife, the lover, the friend, and most importantly the beautifully imperfect person she so perfectly is.