Operating a mobile photography business means you don’t have to have your own studio, which means you don’t have to pay out the costs of running a studio. Without the high costs of running a studio you don’t have the overheads to charge back to your clients, which means you can charge less and still make a profit. Having the option to charge less means you can undercut your competitors and win even more work. There is a lot to be said about running a mobile photography services business.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Camera
You can use any camera for mobile boudoir photography so the choice is entirely down to personal preference. I typically use a full frame, like I do for all my portrait photography, because it not only captures awesome photos but it also looks the part too, and image is very important in commercial photography. Basically, if you don’t look the part you won’t win any work.
I always make sure I take two cameras on a shoot. A second camera is essential so if your camera fails for whatever reason you have a spare and can carry on with the shoot.
Whilst this is the main reason for a second camera I use two cameras so I don’t have to keep swapping between lenses.
Whilst I mainly use a full frame dslr camera I have also used a point and shoot camera for boudoir photography in the past, and got some pretty good results. I have a Canon G1X (which I have on me all the time) and whilst visiting a friend I met someone who was looking at getting in to modelling and wanted some boudoir type shots for her portfolio. Since this person lived in another part of the country the photos had to be taken there and then so we thought we would give the G1X a go, and it actually worked very well. The photos weren’t that great in colour but once converted to black and white and edited in Elements I was quite impressed with them.
Whilst I would always recommend using a camera with interchangeable lenses for boudoir photography this just goes to show that you can in fact use anything.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Lenses
Boudoir photography is meant to be sassy, sensual and seductive and the best way to convey this is to use a softer lens. You still want photos that are sharp, but you don’t want them that sharp that they record every detail and emphasise spots, blemishes, variations in skin tone and other imperfections. A super sharp lens is not the best lens for boudoir photography.
As far as focal lengths go anything from 35mm (full frame equivalent) to 135mm (full frame equivalent) is ideal. You don’t want to go any wider than 35mm because you may get problems with distortion, and this is something you definitely don’t want when taking portrait shots. At the long end anything longer than 135mm will require you standing too far from the model to get an engaging shot.
The ideal focal length is one that allows you to get nice and close to the model and get everything in the frame you want to get in. Being close to the model allows you to communicate with them, direct them, pose them and make them feel at ease. Being close to the model will also allow you to get an engaging shot.
My favourite lens for boudoir photography is the Canon 50mm f1.8 (for a full review of this lens click here) as it is ideal. The 50mm focal length is perfect, it is fast so camera shake isn’t a problem and when used wide open it is slightly soft to give a flattering look. If you don’t shoot a Canon camera there are other 50mm f1.8 lenses, and all of these will achieve the same results.
I also use a Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L zoom lens (for a full review click here) for boudoir photography. This lens allows me to get in nice and close to photograph specific areas of the model’s body and also allows me to pull back for full body shots. I don’t use this lens any wider than 35mm because of distortion, and typically use it at the longer end. The Canon 24-70 is a real workhorse lens and the build quality and image quality are second to none.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Lighting
Lighting is something you have to nail for boudoir photography and it is important to have a decent lighting kit. I like to be totally mobile and I also like to travel light, therefore studio strobes are not suitable for this.
Speed lights, whist portable and light, aren’t powerful enough on their own. I do gang 3 speed lights together if I can get away with it (you can find details on how I do this here) however this can be a bit of a faff, and there are times when I need a bit more light.
In these circumstances I use a Godox Witstro AD360 bare bulb flash (for a full review click here) off camera for the key light and a Godox Ving 860 (for a full review click here) on camera for the fill light.
I find this two light set up perfect for mobile boudoir photography and it does everything I need it to, and all at a budget price. I know some photographers like to use hair lights, rim lights, kickers and the like but this is not needed. Complex lighting set ups are fine in the studio when you have time to correctly set them up but they have no place in mobile photography services. My Witstro AD360 and Ving 860 set up enables me to get in, light the scene and take the shots and get out again quickly, efficiently and without any fuss. Client’s don’t want you hanging around in their bedroom for ages setting up a studio and they are not prepared to pay for your time in doing so either.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Radio triggers
When using an off camera light you need to an additional bit of equipment to fire it, and the bit of equipment you need depends on how you are using it. For my style of shooting I always use radio triggers to fire the off camera flash (Godox Witstro in my case) since I find the is totally reliable (and never from misfires) and it also reduces the amount of trailing cables, which could be hazardous – especially if you or your model is a bit clumsy like me.
There are types of radio triggers from the very expensive (and totally overpriced Pocket Wizards) through to the super cheap unbranded radio triggers readily available from Ebay. In my experience there is no need to spend loads of cash on radio triggers, and you can get a set of radio triggers for little money.
The radio triggers I use are the Yongnuo 622s and I have to say that I am very impressed with them. These radio triggers are reliable, do the job I want them to and are affordable too. Get some of these and you won’t be disappointed.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Light modifiers
Flash light can be harsh and harsh light can ruin a boudoir photo. Whenever I take boudoir shots I always soften the light, regardless of what power I set the flash. You can use different things to soften the light and over the years I must have tried all of them.
My light modifier of choice is the shoot through brolly and the reasons for this is because they pack away small and are transportable, they are light, they are readily available so if you break one it is possible to get a replacement very quickly, shoot through brollies are available in a variety of different sizes, they are quick and easy to set up, and they are cheap.
Some photographers are of the opinion a soft box is the best modifier, which is fine as it is down to personal preference, however I have to say that I find a shoot through brolly easier to use. Setting up a soft box is a faff and you can’t move them around the model as easy as you can a shoot through brolly.
As well as using a light modifier on the off camera key light I also use one on the on camera fill light. Again, there are plenty of light modifiers available for speed lights, and after trying several I now use a speed light mounted mini soft box. These may look a bit unwieldly but once on the speed light and then on the camera they aren’t too bad to use at all.
Mobile Boudoir photography equipment – Background
When taking boudoir shots the model is the focal point and to add some interest I also like to include a bit of background. Personally, I prefer to have a natural looking background, i.e. the bedroom, however some clients disagree with my view and want a totally plain background. This is fine, after all the customer is always right and in these instances I use a plain white background. The good thing about using a plain white background is I can change the colour when editing the photo to whatever colour the client wants if needed.
I have a portable goal post style photography background which is perfect for mobile boudoir photography and it is a bit of kit I highly recommend. When it comes to the background material I never use material or fabric. Material and fabric photography backgrounds crease, they are heavy and they can be cumbersome to hang up. I have to say I am not a fan of material or fabric backgrounds and use paper instead. Paper doesn’t need ironing, papers is easy to hang, paper is readily available and paper is cheap.
So there we have it. If you decide to offer mobile boudoir photography services you don’t need a lot of equipment however you do need the items above to get those awesome boudoir shots you, and your clients are after.
Other Boudoir photography links
If you found this article useful and are thirsty for even more boudoir photography tips and tricks the following links (all open in a new window) may be of interest to you. Please do feel free to take a look and check them out.
“Can you capitalise on boudoir photography?” The demand for boudoir photography services is ever increasing. Is this something you can take advantage of, jump on the bandwagon (before it’s too late) and earn some money?
“So you want to be a boudoir photographer” You have decided that boudoir photography is a service you want to provide. Here’s an article listing some things you need to think about.
“Capturing awesome colour boudoir photos” Capturing colour boudoir photos is a challenge however with these tips and tricks you will avoid the pitfalls and common mistakes and capture classy and seductive full colour boudoir photos.
“Black and white boudoir portraits” Black and white boudoir photos look sassy and sexy but still classy and elegant. For some tips and tricks on capturing awesome black and white boudoir photos this article is something you have to read.
“Boudoir photography lighting” Lighting is important with all types of photography and boudoir photography is no different. You have to master the light to capture flattering boudoir portrait shots, and whilst this may seem daunting with these tips and tricks it isn’t as difficult as it first appears.
“How to pose boudoir photography models” Being able to pose a model is crucial for boudoir photography and changing the pose can turn a good shot in to a great shot. If you can’t pose a model you are highly unlikely to capture awesome boudoir shots, even if you nail the exposure and the lighting. This article gives some tips and tricks on posing models for boudoir photography.
“Props for boudoir photography” If you want to make a boudoir shot totally unique and personal using a prop or two is a great way to achieve this. Use the right prop and you will get awesome boudoir shots. This article is dedicated to boudoir photography props and provides some tips on what to use for boudoir shoots.
“Bridal boudoir photography” Boudoir photography services is something all wedding photographers and bridal photographers should offer. A shot or two of the bride in her bridal lingerie is a photo many happy couples want just as much as the more traditional wedding shots. If you don’t offer bridal boudoir photography services “why not?” Take a look at this for more details.
“Mobile boudoir photography services” The good thing about boudoir photography is you don’t need your own studio. In fact, there are times when being mobile has advantages in winning work, as explained in this article.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.