What camera gear do I use for portrait and boudoir photography
I’ve been a Fujifilm X-T2 shooter for about 4 years now. Before that, I always shot with Canon, and my last Canon camera was the 5Dmk3 model. I still have it, because I wanted a backup camera in case my X-T2 failed, but I never actually shoot with it anymore. I’m going to sell it soon, together with 3 lenses that I still have. I don’t really need so much redundancy anyway.
I have a Fujifilm X-T2, which is my main camera, and I also have a much older X-E1, just in case. X-E1 has a smaller sensor and its autofocus is not great, but for portrait and boudoir photography I don’t really need fast autofocus. I could easily even use manual focus if I wanted to. Besides, it is only my backup camera anyway. I only rarely used it during a boudoir shoot.I put a different lens on the smaller camera and it is just easier to shoot with 2 cameras than to keep swapping lenses on the main camera.
3 reasons I switched from Canon to Fujifilm
The size and weight.
My Canon gear weighed a few kilograms. I shot usually with 2 bodies and a couple of spare lenses in the bag. Altogether around 7kg of gear. Multiply that by 10 hours a usual wedding would take and we have hard labor. That was not fun, but it was necessary to make sure I get all the necessary shots of a wedding. There is no do-overs in wedding photography. It was hard work and it became harder as I grew older. Fujifilm gear of similar specs would weigh probably 40% less.
The look of Fujifilm cameras
I learned photography when cameras had all the necessary dials on the body. There was a dial for the shutter speed, the aperture had to be set manually and the ISO had to be set manually too. I know it’s nostalgic, but I do like the look and feel of Fujifilm X-T2. it reminded me of the years gone by, and it felt good.
I am now only a portrait and boudoir photographer
I needed a lot of gear to cover weddings and family photography sessions. Now, for boudoir or portraits, I just need 1 camera and 1 prime lens. That’s it. And a backup, of course, just in case. I used to have a number of lenses that covered focal lengths of 15mm to 200mm, and all of them were professional-grade glass, which means, it was very heavy and very expensive. Now, I just shoot with 35mm and 50mm lenses which are 23mm and 35mm on Fuji cropped sensor, and while they are still professional-grade, they only weigh around 300g each. My camera and the lens are less than 1kg. Compare that to the 7kg I had to lag with me before.
What do I use for a boudoir photography session?
Like I said already, my main camera is a Fujifilm X-T2. It’s a 24mpx camera, which is plenty and it is about 5 years old now. It has good auto-focus, can shoot into 2 SD cards, and has some weather sealing, but I never shoot in the rain, so it’s not a big deal.
I bring a 35mm f1.4 lens and a 23mm f1.4 lens. These are the 50 and 35mm equivalent lenses in a full-frame camera. I carry 2 lenses because I am never sure how big the room is going to be. If it’s a big place, I prefer to shoot with the 50mm lens. It produces images that are a little bit more flattering, and it will not distort some images like the wider angle lens can. up until now, I think 80% lf all my boudoir images were shot with a 50mm(full-frame) lens.
The 35mm is also f1.4, and I’d use it if I shoot in a small hotel room. The 50mm lens needs much more space between me and the model, to get a well-framed image. Often, in small hotels, the rooms are really not that big at all.
I almost always shoot wide open. I would say 80% of my images are shot at f1.4, and I don’t think I shoot at more than f2. Because the X-T2 is a cropped sensor camera, the equivalent f-stops are f2 and f2.8. I know, I would lose a little bit of a bokeh, shooting with a cropped sensor, but on the plus side, I rarely miss the focus, like I often did when I shot f1.4 on a full-frame.
I shoot jpeg images into 1 card and raw images into another card. That gives me access to the amazing Fujifilm jpeg images, but it also gives me redundancy in case one of the cards failed. Which, btw never happened. Touch wood. I can then process the raw images but I actually prefer to work with jpegs. They just come out so much nicer straight out of the camera. Check out the gallery on my Boudoir Photography Page
What I use for my portrait sessions
Practically all my online dating portrait sessions are shot with the X-T2 and the 50mm equivalent lens. I tried the 85mm f1.2 lens as well, but I found the images looked a little bit
too “professional” with a very smooth buttery background. Very pleasing to the eye, but since these images were to be used for online dating, I don’t want them to look like they were shot by a professional photographer. I want to keep them a little bit more authentic like they were shot by a buddy of theirs with a good camera.
The focal length is always 50mm and the aperture goes between f1.4 and f4. At f4, the images retain a decently sharp background, so they look nice as a lifestyle portrait rather than just a headshot.
In a boudoir photography session, I would probably take around 1000 images, and on the online dating photoshoot I normally take around 200 images per hour. Depending on the portrait session my clients choose, I would take from 200-600 images. Some sample images from my portrait sessions are on my Online Dating Photography Page
I process and organise all my images using a software called Exposure X5. I used to have the Adobe suite of Lightroom and Photoshop, but I am not that keen on monthly subscriptions, so I dumped Lightroom in favor of Exposure X5. Both programs help me choose and edit images, and both are great for organising my work, although, I prefer Exposure X5 for that as it doesn’t require separate Catalogues. It just works directly on folders. I still use Photoshop, but it’s version 6, the last one before they went to subscriptions. For a piece of software that is more than 10 years old, it still does more than I could ever want from it. And NO subscriptions.
I don’t edit portrait images that much. Mostly just adjust exposure, and crop. They are to be used on Tinder and other online dating apps, so people should still look in pictures like they do in real life. I will remove some obvious blemishes, of course, but in portraits, I rely more on good posing and good light to create nice portraits. Not so much on post-processing and Photoshop work.
For boudoir, I do a lot more post-processing. I still organise and crop my pictures in Exposure X5, but I also edit them in Photoshop and run a subtle skin smoothing job using a Portraiture plugin. That is really all I need to do online dating portraits and boudoir photography sessions. Not much gear. Much lighter gear. And very little additional software. Next week I’m getting the new Fujifilm X-T4 delivered. Just bought it earlier today. A new chapter begins.