“I want to do something to celebrate myself but how do I know which photographic style is right for me?” The answer depends on what your intention is. To figure this out we need to know a little more about the history of each of these photographic genres.
The word boudoir is a French word that is defined as a woman’s private sitting room for bathing and dressing. As time passed it transformed into a room for “getting away” or romantic entertaining. Today it is really just a fancy word for bedroom, but there are a few interesting connotations still attached to it. Impressions like private, romantic and entertainment. Even today an invitation to a woman’s bedroom can prompt expectations of more than just checking out the decor of her bedroom. It’s a backstage pass, a invitation to a private viewing, it is titillation.
Boudoir photography is shot in studios, high end hotel rooms and plain old bedrooms. Still utilizing the “bedroom” as a private place for partial undress and letting your hair down. Usually seductive clothing and partial or implied nudity are utilized to create an atmosphere seduction.
Which brings us to the purpose of boudoir photography, it’s all about seduction. It’s about getting dressed up, playing a roll, it is a fantasy that you intend on sharing with another. The resulting photos are given as gifts to lovers on valentines day and anniversaries, or as a gift to partners on their wedding day, and gifts for military significant others who are absent. I think the key words here are fantasy and seduction.
Fine Art Nude Photographs
Since the invention of the camera there have been fine art nudes. Using the camera as an artistic tool became quickly apparent to fine artists. Like all art, a new tool or concept spurs new creativity. The camera was a new creative avenue for the fine artist to explore. It’s not surprising that the first images were similar to the oil paintings of that time period. As artists got to know their tool new concepts formed and photography splintered into many genres.
Fine art nudes have no real rules, other than the nude part. They can be shot anywhere the artist sees fit to implement their creative vision. With an emphasis on shapes and form, composition, and emotional effect, their purpose is to convey the idea, ideal, or message an artist wants to impart to an audience. Sometimes it’s a simple as reverence for the human form.
Fine art nude photography is about art. It’s purpose is to be seen so it can deliver it’s message to many people, as apposed to boudoir which is meant for one person. Being the subject of a piece of art can be empowering. Hey, if you’re going to have art in your house, why shouldn’t it be you?
Positive Body Image Photographs
Due to the corrosive nature of marketing during the last sixty years we have learned to look upon ourselves with critical and militant eyes. This has spurred a new movement to counteract this social norm and create images that bolster self esteem and even try to repair this damage. Endeavors, like Leonard Nimoy’s “The Full Body Project”, inspired photographers to take up the cause in their own body image photo projects and eventually influenced advertising campaigns like Dove’s “Self-Esteem Project”.
Positive body image photography is most like fine art photography in that it’s about the human form and tries to convey a message, and most unlike boudoir in that it deals with reality. While the image itself can utilize fictional components, the body itself is not manipulated or altered. Often the artistic concept is procured from the model and interpreted by the artist to personalize the message conveyed by the image. The result can be quite cathartic for the model but also for others who suffer in a similar way.
Obviously the purpose of body image photography is medicinal, to help and heal the model. It’s the power of suggestion for a positive effect. It’s for you (and maybe someone else you choose to share it with).
So I’ll answer the question with a question. Do you want these photographs for someone else? Is it about creativity and art? Or is it about you and something you need to do for yourself?