Arguably, you can use any lens for boudoir photography however if you want to get the best, i.e. most flattering and classy looking shot you can it is crucial you use the right lens.
Boudoir photography is basically a specialist type of portrait photography, therefore any lens suitable for portrait photography is suitable for taking boudoir shots. Popular portrait photography lenses have the standard all round focal lengths of 35mm – 85mm (full frame equivalent). You can shoot wider than 35mm, and some portrait photographers prefer 28mm lenses for portraits, but if you do you will have to learn how to prevent/control distortion to keep the model’s features looking natural.
Whilst many photographers won’t use anything longer than 85mm for shooting portrait photos lenses with longer focal lengths are still suitable for portrait photography, in the right situations of course. Most portrait photographers like to get in close to their subject as this allows the photographer to talk to the subject, direct and pose the subject and make the subject comfortable to get engaging shots. When using lenses with longer focal lengths you have to stand further away from the subject, and many photographers argue that being a long way from the subject doesn’t result in engaging shots. Personally, I think this is utter rubbish and I have captured some very engaging shots using long focal length tele lenses. In fact, there are times when using a tele lens on a model resulted in a more engaging shot than using a short focal length lens on the same model. Food for thought there……………………..
No-one likes a photo of themselves showing any imperfections, i.e. spots, bruises, blemishes, variations in skin tone etc. so it is crucial that boudoir photos don’t do this. Put simply, boudoir photos must be flattering.
All photographers love a super sharp lens, as do I, but a super sharp lens is not ideal for boudoir photography, or any portrait photography for that matter. A super sharp lens, a macro lens for example, will show every spot, blemish and variation in skin tone, which is not good. The best lenses for boudoir photography are slightly soft and these produce the most flattering photos.
There are plenty of lenses that are sharp, but not super sharp (and a little soft) to choose from and there is something suitable for all makes of camera. Choose one of these lenses that is compatible with your particular model of camera and you can’t go wrong.
Lenses I use for boudoir photography
I only use two lenses when taking boudoir shots, and the one I use depends entirely on the model’s behavior. In my experience a model will either clam up and turn shy during a boudoir shoot (which isn’t always a bad thing) or will become extroverted, a bit over the top and play up to the camera.
If the model is a little shy I will use a 70 – 200 lens and give a little distance (or comfort zone) between the model and me. Using a 70 – 200 lens allows me to zoom in nice and close for a tight composition or pull back a bit for a wider perspective. Using a zoom lens in this situation means I don’t have to stray too close to the model (hence making the model clam up) and can capture a variety of shots. Using a zoom lens also means I don’t have to move around too much, which also helps keep the model at ease.
If the model becomes an extrovert and plays up to the camera I will use a 35mm prime lens. Using a 35mm prime lens means I have to get up real close to the model, which results in engaging shots. Being close to the model allows me to communicate with the model to direct/pose them, talk to them to get natural (or as natural as possible) reactions and also keep the model moving for different types of shot. Compared to a 70 – 200 lens the 35mm prime lens is small and light, and the perfect size to allow me to freely move around the model shooting from various positions and angles. Extrovert models generally don’t mind me being so close to them, however if they start to feel uncomfortable I will switch to the 70 – 200 to increase the size of the “comfort zone”.
Canon 35mm f2 IS
The Canon 35mm f2 IS is a cracking lens for boudoir photography, and if given the choice of what lens to use I would go for this lens every time. This lens has the perfect sharpness for the type of shots I like to take. The image quality is superb, the colors are vibrant but not overly saturated and the image stabilization means I can still get sharp shots at lower shutter speeds. Even though this is not an L series (professional spec) lens the build quality is awesome and this lens is one tough cookie that will provide years of service.
Canon 70 – 200 f2.8L IS
There are four L series 70 – 200 lenses consisting of the F4L, F4L IS, F2.8 and F2.8 IS, and the 70 – 200 F2.8L IS is the flag ship model. As you’ve probably guessed it is also the most expensive model, and whilst it is pricey it is worth every penny. The 70 – 200 F2.8L IS is a big and heavy lens, but given the maximum wide aperture and the image stabilization technology this is to be expected. The image quality of this lens, like all Canon L series lenses, is superb and the build quality is second to none. Whenever I have to take a step back and give the model more room and a bigger “comfort zone” I reach for my Canon 70 – 200 F2.8L lens and I know I can capture quality, and engaging, boudoir photos.
So there we have it, if you want a lens for boudoir photography you need a lens that is sharp, but not too sharp and a lens with a focal length no less than 28mm, although I personally never shoot wider than 35mm because the resultant distortion is yet another thing you have to control.
Related Reading – Boudoir Photography
If you found the above boudoir photography article useful/interesting below are some links to other boudoir photography articles, journals and tutorials you may want to check out……..
Boudoir photography is more socially acceptable nowadays and consequently the demand for boudoir photographers has gone through the roof. With this in mind “Can you capitalize on boudoir photography?” is an article you may wish to take a look at to see if you can make a bit of money offering boudoir photo shoots.
“So you want to be a boudoir photographer” is an article exploring the boudoir photography and notes some tips and tricks that will help you on the way to capturing awesome boudoir images.
Lighting is key in all aspects of photography including boudoir photography. “Boudoir photography lighting” is an article focusing on lighting techniques to help you get the most from your boudoir shots.
Color boudoir photography is a challenge however it is possible to capture cracking color boudoir photos and is “How to capture awesome color boudoir shots” an article that will help you out.
If you want to capture great boudoir shots “Boudoir photography poses” is an article that will provide tips and tricks to help you out.
Boudoir shots look classy, sassy and sensual when color is not used and “Black and white boudoir shots” is an article you may wish to take a look at.
Wedding photography is becoming more and more diverse and as well as the traditional church/chapel shots and reception/party shots many brides are requesting boudoir photos as part of their wedding photography package. If you are not offering these services you may be missing out – take a look at “Bridal boudoir photography”
For boudoir shots with a difference and a bit more “punch” you should consider using some accessories, as explored in “Props for boudoir photography”.
Many people are put off by boudoir photography in a stranger’s photography studio and would prefer boudoir photo shoots at their own home. “Mobile boudoir photography services” is an article exploring this, and you may find it useful.
As with all types of photography you need the right gear to capture the best (mobile) boudoir shots and “Equipment for mobile boudoir photography” is the article explaining exactly what you need to be successful in this field.
Boudoir photography shoots can lead to all sorts of issues and problems so it is best to make sure you are fully protected. “Protect yourself when taking boudoir shots” is an article that is definitely worth reading if you want to start out in boudoir photography or have just started out in boudoir photography.
Related Reading – Portrait Photography
Below are some portrait photography articles and posts that will help you out with both your boudoir photography and general portrait photography as well.
“Basic portrait tips” is an article with basic tips and tricks (some of which you may have forgotten) to improve your portrait shots.
Following on from the basic tips is “Advanced portrait tips” to take your portrait shots to the next level.
A key part of portrait photography is lighting and “Portrait lighting tips to capture awesome portraits” is an article you may find useful.
As detailed in the title “The best lens for portrait photography” is an article focusing on the lenses you need to improve your portrait photos.
“Portrait photography on a budget” is an article that proves you don’t need to shell out loads of cash to capture great portraits.
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.