Artist Spotlight of the week – Leah Stafford

Our artist spotlight this week is a photographer who specializes in boudoir images.
Leah has some amazing images and lots of great info about boudoir photography!

How did you get started with boudoir?
It’s all thanks to a good friend. She wanted to do a boudoir session and at the time I was already doing wedding photography. I said no a couple times but finally game in. The rest is history!

What do you love most about boudoir?
That’s simple, changing the way a women can look at herself. We are shown everyday that if we aren’t a size 2 we aren’t sexy. However, we are. We all have something that is sexy about us, something that makes us completely unique and beautiful and everyday I get to help my clients realize that.

Is boudoir your main focus? I see on your site you have a wedding gallery coming soon?
I actually started off as a wedding and portrait photographer. I definitely have been focusing more on boudoir within the past year and was planning on going 100% boudoir. However, I am moving to Portland and figured it would be good to get my feet wet in both, get situated and develop a clientele and then decide what moves I want to make.

What are a few tips you would give someone wanting to start out in boudoir?
The most important thing in my eyes is to have a clear marketing plan for your business. One of the things a lot of people can get caught up in is the need to advertise on every website, blog, magazine, billboard or what not out there. I have learned that for me, my best advertising has been the least expensive like carrying around mini albums in my purses, chatting people up in nice clubs, offering your services to fashion shows, women’s expos, etc. Make a clear marketing plan and use your money wisely! Tip #2: Be comfortable with your clients. They are in a situation they aren’t use to and it’s very important to keep them comfortable, relaxed and having a ton of fun. For me, I rarely stop talking during my shoots and it’s go-go-go. I love to keep it high energy and fun for the both of us! if you’re nervous, it’ll show and then she’ll just be more nervous!

You seem to travel a lot for boudoir, how did that get started?
Honestly, lots of luck. I was approached by a couple girls from theknot asking if I was interested in doing a boudoir session in Providence. At that time I had just starting shooting boudoir locally so wasn’t too sure but jumped in feet first. From there, the word of mouth began and I was in 10 different cities within 3 months. Luck was very good to me at that point in my life. However, I know when there is a market for something and I jumped right on that. I started putting dates on my blog for cities all over the US and everything was selling out within days. I then narrowed down my travels to focus on Chicago and NYC where I travel on a monthly, sometimes weekly basis for sessions.

Who are you …
I’m a quirky, independent, spontaneous red headed girl with a zest for life. I put every single piece of who I am into my work and believe passion will take me anywhere. I love to travel, be active and be around people of all walks of life. I was born a small town girl who adores the city life and overall have been extremely blessed to have found what I love doing at 24.

the reason I love what I do ….
I love that I am able to have my clients come in, get sexy and give them something that they won’t forget. They might come in not feeling so sexy but I love that when they leave, they do! Being able to show someone how amazing and gorgeous they are is a very satisfying feeling.

who do you get your inspiration from …
For me, it’s always very random. The obvious things are magazines, blogs, fashion. However, today I checked into the Hotel Monaco in Portland and instantly was flooded with ideas for a shoot. The striped wallpaper, the damask wallpaper, the curtains, headbaord, the curves in the furniture. So for me, it’s everywhere and in places you would never expect it to be!

favorite photography product …
Canon 35 1.4L, my must have for a boudoir session.

what is your most fav photo you have recently taken …
This was my first couples session and I did it in NYC this past January. This couple has such passion and love for each other and I really love that about them. This can be an ackward situation (for all) when you have someone taking pictures of you in your lingerie with your significant other. However, the session was amazing and I loved the results. Sometimes being scared really pushes you to do some awesome work!

boudoir photography

do you plan out your shoots before, what is the normal flow of a session?
All my clients get a questionnaire beforehand. I want to know what outfits they are bringing, what hair and makeup they are thinking of with each outfit. I want to know their overall vision for a shoot, what they are comfortable with etc.

When they come in for their shoot I always grab them something to drink and over that we’ll talk about the session, do the model release, go over their payments and any other paper work. Then from there we go into makeup (if it’s not done beforehand) or we start doing their outfits. Once outfits are picked out and ordered we start shooting! i average around 20 minutes an outfit but that depends also on their time. After the session I usually will upload their images and show them a couple edited right away. If not, they’re up within a couple days :)

what do you prefer for lighting a boudoir session?
I prefer all natural light and if I use OCF, I prefer that to look very natural as well. I have been leaning towards moodier images lately though to spice things up a bit but even then if you know your light, it can be done just as well with natural as it can with artificial.

after the session how does your client view the images?
I narrow down their images to a manageable amount and then I do everything online. I do my booking, proofing, ordering all online. I want to keep it as simple as I can for my clients. In the future I might try to do some in house ordering and see how that goes.

Do they normally buy books, prints? whats the most common item and way of
presentation your clients like to take home from the session?

My largest seller is an 8X8 flush-mount album. After that I also sell a lot of 11×14 calenders which are amazing because the images are so large. Every client who also orders an album gets them wrapped in the fabulous wraps by Gracie Designs. I love a good presentation to go with their gorgeous albums!

favorite movie …
Lately it’s been The Hangover. Does it ever get old?

last rental you watched …
2011….rented, never watched. Very typical of me!

where can you be found on days off …
I am a travel junkie. I am very known for deciding the day before I am going to go somewhere so if I have a couple days I will head somewhere. Speaking of, I’m working on this on my flight. If I’m home I really just love spending time out on my patio. It’s very relaxing and the first place I go if I need a couple minutes of relaxation.

what superhero would you be …
Is there any superhero that has the power to fly AND have a venti macchiatos appear instantly? Because if so, I want to be them!

if I am typically craving something it is ….
Sushi or a good conversation. Bonus points if they happen at the same time!

View more of her work below and online here:
Leah Stafford
http://intimateboudoirbyleah.com/

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Author: Mark Stagi

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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