I'm nearly always reading a photography book of some kind for inspiration, but I've been negligent lately in sharing them with you. So, with apologies for the lapse, here are two that I've been enjoying recently:
Body and Soul: Lucrative and Life-Changing Boudoir Photography
If you have any interest in doing professional boudoir photography (or any kind of professional portrait photography for that matter), you should read this book.
Susan Eckert brings her background as a psychologist to bear on the most challenging aspects of running a profitable boudoir photography business, addressing question like:
How to describe boudoir photography to potential clients
How to make women feel comfortable and beautiful during the shoot
How to maximize your sales revenue during the post-shoot photo review
How to ensure repeat business from clients year after year
How to market your services profitably, even in competitive areas
Eckert is actually a brilliant psychologist, and her insights into the interpersonal aspects of the business astonished me again and again. Whether you want to shoot boudoir, portraits, headshots, or even family photos, her insights into the human aspects of the sales process are worth their weight in gold.
And of course, she covers the technical side also, with extensive photo examples describing the lighting setup and camera details (shutter, aperture, ISO, etc) for each photo.
And the photos, as you can see, are stunning.
I think Eckert is one of the most talented boudoir photographers working today, and given her combination of people skills, marketing savvy, and technical chops, it's easy to see why she runs the most successful boudoir studio in the highly competitive market of Long Island, New York.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in Boudoir, or interested in running a professional portrait business of any kind.
(By the way, Susan is a former student of my Photoshop training course, and it makes me feel pretty darn good to see her succeeding at this level!).
How to Get Started in Boudoir Photography for Just $20
My friend Ed Verosky has a Boudoir Photography mini-course for just $20! It's a great way to get started and learn the basics on a budget. Get the details on Ed's Boudoir Photography Course here
Learn Off-Camera Flash Lighting Techniques in my Flash Portrait Course
Boudoir photography on a budget always uses off-camera flash. Learn the basics of getting the flash off your camera in my flash portrait course here.
The Essence of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum
Somewhere at the other end of the spectrum from Susan Eckert's boudoir book is The Essence of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum. Where Eckert's book is client-focused, warm, human, and ultimately sales-oriented, Barnbaum's book is a manifesto devoted to forgetting about clients, or even potential clients, and just creating personal work that speaks to your soul.
"There is a radically different thought process that goes into doing work that it truly pleasing to yourself versus doing work that is meant to please others. I came to this conclusion early in my career of presenting photography workshops. Much to my surprise, some of the students at our workshops were professional photographers who had owned a studio for 10, 15, 20 years, maybe more….what really blew my mind was that when the professionals showed their personal work...they had the worst images of all the students. Always!"
He goes on to explain his theory that "after so many years of doing client-based photography, they invented a client for their personal work, and the invented client was a potential buyer."
And this attitude, he believes, is toxic to creativity. He concludes:
"If you want to produce photographic art, you have to please yourself. You have to go with your vision, even if it rubs some people the wrong way."
While this may sound like a recipe for self-indulgent anarchy, Barnbaum makes a strong case for the discipline of mastering one's tools, and for studying past masters of photography, to lay the groundwork for creating great personal art. And he always backs up his conclusions with plenty of stunning examples from his own personal photography.
I was particularly intrigued by his description of his own rapidly changing interests in his early career:
"Within the short time span of six months, my interests expanded from landscapes alone to abstracts, and then to monumental ancient architecture. Throughout my photographic career I have continue to expand upon existing interests without losing my previous interests. This has worked well for me. Others take a very different approach. Some start with a single interest and remain focused on it throughout their career. Some skip from interest to interest, dropping the previous one as they latch onto a new one. Some start with a variety of interests and gradually narrow them down to one or two interests that remain with them for a lifetime. Which is the correct approach? Which is wrong? It turns out they are all correct."
Some of my favorites were his surprisingly effective "dual negative" photos, like this one that seamlessly blends a sandstone canyon with a manmade structure.
Barnbaum is a warm and interesting writer, speaking from a lifetime of experience behind the lens.
If your photography, like mine, has been suffering from a lack of inspiration lately, and if you'd like a dose of creative passion to re-energize your work and your perspective, I recommend this book.
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