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Boudoir photography is trending now

The discreet art of shooting sensual black-and-white pictures is not so rare any more. Practitioners say it promotes ‘body positivity’.

George has shot for single and married women.

Bengaluru is not shying away from boudoir photography, a style that features intimate, romantic, and erotic images shot in a bedroom or hotel environment. But it’s a trend people don’t talk about openly.

Practitioners say it is a way to promote body positivity, as the pictures are shot in the rawest of formats, without makeup or fancy props.

Alex (name changed as he wants to keep his identity a secret), photographer at the Instagram page @photodotbot, has been doing boudoir photography since 2005.

He got his first DSLR around the time one of his friends was going through an emotionally difficult phase.

“I was studying abroad. We all used to eat out a lot and that caused us to gain weight. My friend’s boyfriend broke up with her and she gained 20 kilos. She agreed to do a shoot, and I wanted her to feel good,” he recalls.


Pritham Dsouza

Alex chose to shoot her in monochrome, a rare approach for first-time photographers.

His friend was delighted with how she looked in the pictures. “That’s when I decided I wanted to do this more often,” he says.

Since then, he has done 288 shoots across the globe and uploads pictures on his Instagram account with the permission of his clients.

Confidence is sexy, many in the business say. So when Bengalurean photographer Pritham Dsouza shoots boudoir, he does raw images.

“I don’t edit my pictures. I think the blemishes, freckles and stretch marks build one’s confidence,” he explains.

Couples approach photographers for private shoots, and that brings up the question of privacy.

 “It is important to trust your photographer. I always make sure I have a female assistant with me when we are shooting. There is also a non-disclosure agreement; though the pictures remain the property of the photographer, the client has a right over them too, and the pictures can’t be used without their knowledge,” Pritham says. 

Those who feature in these shoots are not always professional models. George Seemon, architect and part-time photographer, has worked with married women who wanted to do the shoots for their husbands.


George Seemon

On social media

Social media policies about such pictures aren’t always clear. “There are so many inappropriate images on Instagram but sometimes they send you messages and take down a photograph for violating their rules. As an artist, it is quite confusing,” says Preetham. 

A recent debate online brought up the topic of how pictures of men showing their nipples were not considered inappropriate, but that was not the case with women.

Boudoir photographers generally don’t upload any explicit content; when they do, they cover the nipples by
drawing on them or pixelating them.


Shot by @photodotbot.

Does it cross boundaries?

It is up to the client and the photographer to manage that space, say practitioners of the art. 

Karthik Machani has been working with young models, mostly between 18 and 25.

“Luckily, I haven’t had any shoots where I felt like it was going to be anything else. In fact, there was no tension at all. The idea of the shoot itself is to ward off the negative energy,” he says. Other photographers say having a clear conversation and taking a friend or assistant to the shoot help ease things.

Is it only for women?

Yes, it predominantly is, but there are also couples who sometimes pose together.

Alex says, “Men are a lot more body conscious than women. As a photographer, I try to keep the images as raw as possible but most men somehow want to look hot and desirable, which defeats the purpose.”

Men might be okay taking off their shorts and shirt when going for a swim but that confidence vanishes when they have a camera in front of them. It is a problem of conditioning, he reckons.

Body positivity

Boudoir is not just for “good-looking women,” say photographers. Often asked why they shoot ‘skinny women.’ “I have shot with women who are from 37 kilos to 125 kilos. Every one of them has had their own insecurities which they try to overcome through these shoots. In fact, professional models are more hesitant to show their bodies than everyday women,” says Alex.

Calling a woman skinny is as much an act of body shaming as calling a woman fat, he believes.

Confidential

Boudoir is French for a woman’s bedroom. And this style of photography is meant for the private enjoyment of the model and his or her romantic partners.

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