Photography is loaded like a gosh darn baked potato.
The world of photography is full of keywords, descriptors, and buzzwords.
Every industry has its jargon, I suppose. Raise your hand if you've ever come across these words when searching for a photographer: candid, authentic, traditional, non-traditional, boudoir, lifestyle, etc, etc, etc forever and ever.
I roll my eyes at these, but at the end of the day, I use descriptors to let people know what they can expect from me and what my work will look like.
Intimate Portraiture is the way I describe and categorize this facet of my work.
I have used "Boudoir", but after some thought and conversations I found that it was too narrow of a focus. Boudoir generally brings up thoughts of lingeré and sexually inviting poses within a bedroom setting. I have started thinking of my work as beyond boudoir. I have used "Lifestyle", but that also limited what I was actually seeing from people. "Couples" or "Family" or "Seniors" describe what you are at the moment (often relating to your position relative to someone else), but I'd rather ask 'who are you?' Cue the Caterpillar. You deserve to commemorate and celebrate yourself in whatever moments you choose- you don't need a graduation or engagement!
The words you'll see from me a lot are Intimate, Authentic, and Raw
oooooh. Ahhhhhh. Let's dive into what those mean.
Intimate means so much more than nudity. It means that you are sharing parts of yourself with me- and that's an honor and responsibility that I do not hold lightly. You are sharing your home, your feelings, your nudity, your sexuality, your art, your expressions, your intelligence, your quirks, your time, your experiences, all of it. You're sharing so many things with me. The point is for me to capture as much of that as possible.
This is not to downplay or demonize nudity. A lot of my work is actually nude. I would never want to ignore a person's sexuality either- that's a really cool part of being human! I just want to acknowledge that nudity and sexuality are only parts of the puzzle. In fact, you don't necessarily need to have either for an intimate portrait.
If we are working together, I want you to be you. I do not want to replicate things that are trending, commercial beauty standards, or what your friend did. Your person, your brand, your body are all unique to you. What makes me feel sexy might not be the same as what makes you feel sexy. Wear make-up, or don't! Shave your legs, or don't! There is not one way to be beautiful, but there is a way that is authentic to you. That is what I want to see! A portrait can be beautiful, but if it doesn't have authenticity, it doesn't have the soul.
Raw means real, and real is so much better than perfect. Perfect is boring. AND perfect is a subjective construct. So maybe I do like "perfect" but perfect to me includes all of the real and the messy. I'm not a photographer who will edit out your wrinkles or cellulite. Those things are natural and I'm not gonna edit out those gorgeous holders of life experiences. I also don't want you to change your spaces- they should reflect your life. By all means, wipe down your counters and make your bed, but please don't stress about having a perfect space. The important thing is that it's you and it's your space.
The goal of every session is to authentically highlight how all of these things come together to make up a person. It's a holistic approach to showcasing a person through the visual of the human body's power and magic.
Here are some images that convey these three themes:
Eleanor in the snow exemplifies authenticity. This is everyday winter wear for her and her mid-giggle squint is as natural as her playfulness.
Now let's check out a different kind of intimate portrait. The access to a private space and moment is extremely intimate. Authenticity is found in the things that are scattered throughout my room: a wine glass on the nightstand, a towel thrown over the closet door, and of course, the real tears of my depression. And rawness is shown in the emotional state. Crying faces aren't really sexy, well...mine isn't at least. BUT these pictures are part of my puzzle, and the connection I feel to them is important to me. Real is more important than perfect.
With Ella's three pictures you can feel intimacy in the sharing of private spaces and levels of nudity. However, the intimacy here comes mostly from the openness of emotion that she allows us to access- check her eyes. Authenticity is in the pictures on her walls, socks on her feet, and softness of expression.
And now, for Rawness. Stretch marks! Cellulite! Dirt on the bottom of my feet!
This photo of Sophie is another one that includes all of the three themes. It gives the viewer a sense of who she is by calculating all the available elements: what is she wearing, how is she standing, what space is she in, what's her expression, what is in the art on her walls.
This last photo is one of the most intimate pictures of me that exists.
There's a level of intimacy from the access to a private space, personal belongings, nudity, and vulnerability in emotion. It helps that this was taken by my partner- which is a comfortable space for me. I have lots of portraits that show more nudity, but this image is far more intimate because it connects multiple pieces of who I am.
I love this picture: not because I feel sexy, but because I feel seen. And THAT is the importance of intimate portraiture.
Check out SkinbySilt on Instagram (below) to see more Intimate Portraiture!