A NYC Boudoir Studio Tour
Hey guys, welcome to my studio here in new york city come on in. This is the bottom floor entrance of my studio and if you've seen any my work you might recognize these steps. These are the steps where I did my boudoir dancer shot um and you could see how small this festival is I could actually touch both walls with my arms and yet I found a way to shoot this I shoot on the stairs I shoot on this wall I shoot on that wall because there's really no room for lights down here I use the available light from the door that I'm facing right now that everybody walks in there's a big window on top of the door it's not a lot of light it has to be the right time on the right day, but if it's available, it looks really awesome now I'm on the third floor walk up is you could see there's a lot of stairs here, so I usually tell my clients to be careful not to bring too much stuff. Otherwise we're gonna be carrying it all up stairs. Uh is this important to know? I don't have an elevator here, so this ...
is something that I need teo talk to my clients about before they come, but why don't you come up? I'm going to show you some more spots in my studio this is the entrance to where my studio is which I'm going to show you in a moment but before we go inside I wanted you to take a look at this area here it's tiny but there's something that I love ah window which means I have light here this is a great place to manipulate light to get it to go on the staircase or moving around I'm gonna show you guys how I do that today this over here is a staircase that leads to another staircase is a lot of stairs here all the way up to the rooftop I'm not supposed to go up there but I'm not gonna lie to you I do sometimes it's a great place for my clients to be shot I don't bring them out on the rooftop keep them sort of in the doorway well I go on the rooftop and I shoot them inside the lighting is beautiful and if it's a nice warm day or if they're really brave in the winter we can go out there it's just another place for me to shoot when I get bored of my in studio shooting come on inside that I want to show you around a little bit so this is my where my studio is now this is the common area there's seven studios on this floor this is an old building that was renovated for artists down here if I turn this on here this is actually gallery space down here, it's not something that we commonly used most of the time there's a show here and if there's artwork hanging up we can't photograph in this area because of copyright infringement we photographer should already know so I don't use this area very often. However, in the way back you can see double doors and there's a freight elevator there now I know I said I don't have an elevator but this elevator is different to pain in the butt to bring up and take down and I may or may not have gotten stuck in it once or twice true story but the truth is it's great to shoot and so if I'm able to bring it up sometimes um when it's a nice day out and we have a lot of light in there I d'oh otherwise I kind of stay out of this area and I focus everything on the other side of the studio. Let me show you where that isthe this area here is used for a few different purposes. First it can be used as part of the art exhibit so the colors and the walls are always changing. Right now we have sort of a brownish black on white few weeks ago it was all black and a few weeks before that it was always there always changing it here which is great for me because I get all sorts of different backdrops in different areas of shooting. When there's no artwork here again, when there's no artwork here. Like now. There's, um, seats here that they use as sort of like a waiting room for some of the offices here. The truth is it's easily removed, so I take them out and I use this area as a second little studio of mine. Now, this long haul kind of boring, but I also used this for shooting as well. I've been able to figure out how to get the light from my studio, which is down there into this hallway. It's a very little bit of light. But this is what we're going to talk about when we talk about finding that little bit of light or finding a different space to shoot. And we talk about finding those hidden gems. This is one of those hidden gems for may. Okay, guys, this is it in my actual studio. Come on, him. So does the studio look like you thought it would probably not right there's a few different reasons for this number. One it's really small. The studio is about ten feet wide by twenty feet long, it's not a lot of space to work with. I used to have a studio made some of you might have heard me mention that before she's moved out, but we just spoke today as a matter of fact and she's gonna be moving back in so my space is going to change yet again, we talked a little bit about how to make the most of this space that we're probably going to be putting up some shelves and some other areas for storage so we can make the most use out of the floor here because we don't have that much room now even though the room is really small there's a lot of little details that make it what it is and we want to show you those I'm going to show you those today so that you can apply it to your studios. You might not be able to fit everything I do in your studio or your home or wherever your shooting, but if it can give you one or two really good ideas to put into action that's really what matters so let's start with the back of the door I'm gonna head back over this life I don't really have room in here for a whole lingerie line or a whole rack of clothing for my client's although I do sell some lingerie, I keep some things in the studio all the time that air helpful the first thing is a robe number one, because when a girl's changing, if I'm running down to change my money in the meter of the car, she shouldn't be just sitting around in her laundry. So I keep a robe in the studio to make sure that she's warm and she's covered when she wants to be some of the things I keep here are like bodysuits. This is really great. You always make sure that a client is wearing like a thong or something underneath it. So for sanitary reasons, I don't have a problem. But something like this is neutral it's covering its a great option for somebody who didn't bring something better than this. I also love this lace road. I take a lot of pictures in this robe. First of all, it's the kind of road that's sort of like one size fits all but what's so nice about it. Is that any good brar underwear a client brings? If she's concerned about her stomach and she wants him covering something like this is fantastic because it's going to still show off her lingerie but give her a little bit of coverage as she needs. One time I had a client come in. With literally a pair of cotton briefs and a tank top that's all she had with her and what we did was we threw this robe on her with a bunch of pearls and it was a whole different shoot. So now she had two totally different looks it's something really easy to do and it's affordable to keep in your studio let's see what else I have here? I have some jewelry and accessories this is another really great option this is something I actually but just bought on etc it's a sheer shirt and it has some interesting to it though it has the stripes on it what's so nice about this is it's also one size fits all it's great if it's a smaller girl might fall off the shoulder if it's somebody that a little bit bigger will sit on the shoulder and this looks wonderful over like a black bra and underwear so if you have something like a t shirt bra or something really boring and you want to add some variation to it just throw something like this over it and you could get that you couldn't probably even make this yourself or find it in many different stories and different variations but it's again something that I keep in the studio that I know that really works for everyone I used to keep a lot more here I used to keep more shoes here um, and some other accessories and outfits, but I just find that if I properly prepare my clients there's no need for me to hoard all of that stuff here and have it take up room. I don't have that much room to spare, so I want to make sure what I keep here is fairly minimal. Next we're gonna go over this wall, which I've recently turned into a little studio for myself, a typical studio back drop all my gear's over here I have all my reflectors and my light, my soft boxes, my batteries are charging. Andi, this is for when I need a different look besides white because all of my walls are white in the studio, I'm able to change out the backdrops here uh, in my studio, maybe was then we're also going to be putting some rules, the paper here, things of that nature so we can get some different looks for me. It's not something I'm going to use very often, but it's a nice luxury to have also, I've really started renting out my studio here and there to other photographers. I'm not here as much as I used to be ah, full schedule for me at this point is about four to five shoots a month. So even if I should four to five times a month that's only for five days I'm using the studio that leaves another three weeks where I'm not so besides having a studio mate, we do rent out the studio at times for other people to use this way they can help us pay our rent, it makes a studio more affordable, which you can only imagine in new york is ridiculous for the amount of space that we have, and it gives us a little bit of variation to, you know are the accessibility to the variation for our shoe it's. Like I said, I won't use this very often, but I know other photographers will be looking for it. This was one of the parts of the studio that I love so much when I first saw it was this brick wall when I first saw the studio actually, the the whole floor wasn't done yet, and this is a really old building it's kind of grungy and dirty and messy and it's what I love about it the most. But when I first saw this room, all of the walls were royal blue except for this wall, this wall with silver and I remember walking in here and say, oh my god, I love it is going to be my new studio on I said to my makeup artist slash assistant and my husband. You guys have to come see this face it's amazing. And I dragged him here and they walked in and they were like, this is it. And I was like, yes, have some vision is gonna be great and we're gonna pay into white it's gonna be beautiful. We're going ahead and currents. They thought I was out of my mind, but the truth is, once it was painted white, it looked a lot larger and there's a lot of variation here. The other studios in here don't all have the brick wall. This was important for me because it gives me that variation that I need. It gives me some texture for my photos. It gives me a little bit of edge where I like to play the edgy against the beautiful. So this was really a selling point for me in this studio to have this brick wall. My catch? Anybody looking for a couch because I'm thinking about selling it. Um, I love this couch and my clients use it when they come in, they throw their stuff down, they sit on it, they relax. I sit on it while they're getting the hair and makeup done, but I barely ever use it for shooting, it doesn't really fit this space so well. Uh it's too shallow to shoot this way and it's too awkward to shoot at length wise and honestly I think if my studio mate is moving back in I'm probably just going to get rid of the couch because it's just taking up space it's awkward to move around and although it's beautiful and it's great for boudoir I don't know it's just not suiting me anymore so I think it's time for a change okay so let's move over to the bed the most important part of the boudoir studio right let's talk about bed's a little bit first of all, this is a it's either a fool or a queen size bed I can't remember but I think it's a full size bed basically when I moved into the studio called the mattress company and I said hey, can you send me the most unkind, uncomfortable hardest least expensive mattress you have in a full size and this is what they sent me it is not comfortable it is not meant to be slept on but it solves the problem of those smooshy beds that you may have where people say hi jen how do I prevent their hands from getting lost in their posing? This is going to prevent that it's really, really hard and uncomfortable I like full size mattresses I would say that that's probably the minimum you should shoot with I know some people use twin sized beds or they put it up against the wall like a day bad if you can use a full size or above mattress I highly recommend it. It gives you a lot more flexibility and freedom in your posing and movements. Um it's books more natural like I always think of like little kids having a twin size bed you know, for adults we wanna have a larger bed uh that's that's how I feel about it but you have to do what's good for your space. So no judgments if you use the twin size bed I just prefer full and up this betting it's funny it's old and it's kind of ratty looking but it works for the shoot. Um what I like about it is it's neutral first of all, it's not white white would be very difficult in this studio because my walls or white but also because white it bounces light so because there's so much light here, we want to make sure that the the betting is not bouncing even mohr light onto the client. That makes it much harder to control it's also not beige. Beige is an interesting color because they can often be the skin tone of your clients as well, so now they're laying on the bed and they blend with the betting that's awful and it's not too dark either if I did black betting or navy betting it would absorb the light so I've chosen to go with this gray betting that gives me a little bit of texture because I can use it as a great card when I'm bring my photos in tow late room I can click on the bedding and it gives me a really nice white mounds for all my photos so it's neutral it has a little bit of texture and it's it's it's the texture really works well against the smoothness of the client's skin I like that mixture ah! And again it could be worked as a great card I have a couple of pillows on the bed just to make it natural looking um you could do anything you want with this, but I think that it looks knife I take them off for some of the shots um and they are white gives a little bit of contrast, but with your bedding I'd be really careful to avoid those other colors I spoke about headboards talk about that a little bit uh, I know a lot of people make their own headboards are they buy headboards or some people don't use head boars or use backdrops is headboards doesn't matter to me this headboard I was actually able to get fairly inexpensively I think, for about seventy five dollars and I brought it to a guy in brooklyn who re finishes furniture and he was able to make it look distressed for me and antique and I really liked the way it looks. Um it's not upholstered I know a lot of people go for upholstered headboards it's a little bit different but I like that it's neutral if you notice everything in the studio I have is neutral I wanted to match all the colors the clients you wearing all different color skin tones and this for me was the right answer what's so great about this bed is it it's on wheels that's really important for me, especially in a small studio space where I need to move it if I want to shoot in this area so let me give you a little quick if I want to get this out of the way and the couches in here I could just push it against the wall this way not going to go the whole way now but it gives me flexibility. It also allows me to flip the bed around to put it against this wall if I want or against this wall or further that way well however you want to do it um I have some photos where I've taken with a light is shining through the shades and there's beautiful lines coming through the studio well, that happens over here so if I want to get a picture of a woman laying in bed with the lines on her, I need to pull the bed forward, okay? This gives me flexibility this is something I didn't have when I was shooting in my home, okay? And you guys know, I started out in my house and I shot there for three years well, there I had a king size bed in the middle of the room and I had to work around it there was no moving it, so having the bed on wheels is really important because it gives me a ton of flexibility over here in the corner I have this old antique chest that my in laws gave me actually and it serves to be a prop for the chutes and give a little bit of environmental feel, but it also is storage for me, so I'm able to keep some stuff in here and I don't have a lot of room guys I have to make the most of every single space, so I keep some stuff in here I hoard toilet paper just in case there isn't anything you need to you know, make sure you take care of your clients, but in here I have some more gear I have some other back jobs and my chargers all those messy things you don't really know where to put those things all go in here on the wall I put some empty frames it's funny sometimes people say to me you forgot to put the frames in there but every wall in here is white I wanted to break up the wait I wanted to give a little bit of interest in a little bit of texture to the walls without it being super obvious and distracting from the client so I put these up in a pattern that I don't know I thought it was interesting. I like it on my client's really seemed to like it also again it brings in a little bit of that neutral natural color and it doesn't clash with anything my clients do or where let's talk about my baby my window I love my window a couple of things about this window first of all is big which I love um this room it becomes just one big like white soft box in here it's amazing but that's as good as that is we have to make sure we control the light also so there's two different layers of control I have on this window the first one is blinds now this is on sunny days when I used to get those lines when the sun is coming through the window on our client in those beautiful photos but I can also close them if I want to block the light out and if I want more light I can raise them all the way up I can also make the blinds go up and down to control where the light goes I might want it facing more to the floor or more to the ceiling so that gives me a lot of control the second I think I have on my windows is these curtains act is a diffusion panel so in a really really bright sunny day if I don't want any of those lines and I want to remove the shades I still get really nice soft white light here and these these are controllable because I can pull them back okay and I can hook them up here I could reach right now um or and I can use one or the other and so I have a lot more control over this window than it just shining light everywhere that's how we get into a mess and photography is when we cannot control the light so this really helps me control the light now I have his ugly air conditioner in the window and it's not ideal and we even talked about actually taking it out for the shoot because it's ugly but the truth is it's here and so I wanted to show it to you guys this is reality I don't have central air conditioning here and in the summer it gets really hot so I keep this air conditioner in it kind of socks because it blocks the light a little bit on this side um I used to really love shooting on this side of the window and this side of the window, but the truth is that I need my clients to be comfortable and be happy and if that means having an air conditioning unit in the window that's just the way it is nothing I could do about it so I have a couple of things here like a fan that's pretty common for boudoir photographers it's nice especially when client has really heavy hair and we wanted flowing all around I'll use the fan or on those hot days like we discussed sometimes the fan is just perfect I also have a mirror here now the funny thing about the mirror is it's not really for clients to see themselves it it's more for shooting, however, I will let clients see themselves in it of course, when they're getting dressed once they're done getting dressed, I moved the mirror so make sure you have a mirror that is light enough for you to carry because I don't want them seeing themselves through the whole shoot. There have been times were a client of standing against this wall and the mirror is on this wall behind me and I don't realize they can see themselves until I start shooting them and they get really distracted they're like looking at on the mirror and I'm going what are you looking at? I'm over here you don't underst stand but they want to look good to their eye there I doesn't matter it's the camera's eye that matters so I make sure that that mirror is far gone so they cannot see themselves in the mirror and screw but I'm trying to do with their posing so we have these five dollar curtains for my key on the wall this is something I've definitely discussed before andi they are I still have them they're tried and true I love them. They give client something to do with their hands I can put them all across the wall to create more of a texture on the wall if I want teo, I sometimes raised them up and shoot through it, which looks really nice with the natural light coming through the window. Uh, these air these air fun I mean, you can have fun with them, you could throw them in the air. They're very light that they create something really beautiful, but I couldn't remove them. I mean, they're just kind of lets see if I can even just do it without now it's too short, but they're just on a on a now I just feel like a little now on the wall and I could snap it right off whenever I want to I just need to be up on a step stool um so they're removable they come off, they go on and it gives me again a little bit of variation for a really boring space this space serves two different purposes over here basically, this is well, maybe three different purposes this is hair makeup slash my desk slash if we move it out of the way we have more fabric hanging the corner that we can play with also um so this could be a shooting area or a work area what's gonna happen is when my studio made moves back and she'll probably end up using this is her desk area I use my computer and I do all my editing and everything from home I worked come home as much as I possibly can so I'm really, um only shooting here and I'm working home, okay? You guys I have two kids, I'm here during the day when they're at school and then I'm home when they're home so I don't need to have a computer here and all that full time but she does. So what will probably do is make this into shelving on computer area before now is also a hair and makeup I have this rolling heart um so my hairdresser can work really openly like that kind of take over this whole area and it's nice because I could be sitting on the couch or the bed or pull up a chair while my client is getting ready or I could make myself disappear depending on how I want it to be a we'll talk more about that um as we talk about hair and makeup so the hair and makeup section this is just a really simple table that I got from costco with a covering on top and what I like about it is I used the bottom for storage okay, so I have you been more stuff down here I have paper oh there's paper towels were looking for paper towels today uh paper towels I have fabric down there I have some other lights and little things I play with like polaroid cameras things of that nature anything I really want to put a way I kind of hide under the the table okay? Like I said, I'm looking for space everywhere in this studio if I had more room I would probably do like a really nice makeup table with a nice makeup mirror, but actually my clients don't get to see themselves as they're getting made up. I know that sounds crazy, but I really want the impact of that transition from before and after so when they sit down in the chair here and they're getting worked on, they don't see themselves again until their hair makeup is absolutely finished I want that wow, I want them to look in the mirror and go oh my god what did you do now sometimes every once in a while it is an oh my god what did ugo so there are sometimes disadvantages for them not to say the process along the way but luckily I have a great hair and makeup team and they fix any problem we've ever had so I'm not worried about that so there's an overview on the space that I have here now the other space I used to shoot him is my home and I lived in my last house I love that space and I shot there for three years it wasn't always ideal but I made the most of it that I could part of what I loved about it was first of all there was no rent second of all there was a private bathroom which my clients could use and third I had a big closet that I could switch sir, you know it's stuff in and out all the time so I can store stuff there and it wasn't so intrusive into my everyday life although my husband did have to get used to some light stands in the bedroom but the truth is that it was time for me to go my kids were getting a little bit older, they were intruding on my sessions I needed a little bit of space from from my home life in my family to be able to be creative and concentrate on what I wanted to dio and so I decided to make a leap to a studio. I didn't know it was gonna happen so quickly. One saturday morning I had the idea I grabbed my ipad, I started searching craig's list for art studios in queens and nassau county on long island, and this place popped up. I came to look at it the same day, and I signed a lease only a few hours later. This is part of what makes me may I take these calculated risks, and I go for it, I make a decision, and I just leap into it. I realize now that I was really actually just lucky to find this space because, to be honest with you, since I've been here about three years and it gets a little boring at times, I've been looking for another space, but it's hard for me to find something that has all the gems that this studio has mean, we're talking about beautiful natural light, white walls, high ceilings, wood floors. This is convenient for my client's, although not as convenient for me, I have quite a commute to come here compared to my bedroom, at least, um but it has so many wonderful things is right by the subway it's near a whole bunch of restaurant there's place for my client's husbands to go and they come with them. It's very close to manhattan, it's close to brooklyn, close to connecticut and westchester, everywhere that my clients come from. So location wise, this cannot be be it's just I haven't really found something else that I love so much. So that's why we keep reinventing the wheel here and trying to make things look different over and over because I don't really know if I'm really ready to go somewhere else, but you shouldn't be afraid of taking risks. You should know when you're ready for a studio. First of all, I want you to think a little bit about whether or not you have enough business to keep a studio. Like I said, I'm only here for five days a month. How many days are you shooting? How much money are you making pursuit? Can you sustain a studio? My rent here is fairly expensive, which is why I keep taking my studio mate. She decided to leave and now she decided to come back to save money herself and is good for me to my rent will be half that's perfect. Yes, I'm making a sacrifice. But to pay half the amount of rent takes a lot of pressure off of me when it comes time to pay bills at the end of the month is sharing a studio and option for you. Do you have somebody that you trust that khun chair space with you? I have a rule here. I rent out the studio to other friends and photographers also. But I try to keep boudoir photographers out of the studio. I know that might sound terrible and sometimes I'll let the minute depends. But the truth is, I really feel that this state's space is sacred for me too. Do boudoir and it's my space it's. It shows my personality, it's something I've created so it's a little uncomfortable for me to have other boudoir photographers here. But if you want to come in and shoot a family here, you want to do head shots or you want to do some fashion stuff that's, great let's all work together. Like I said, I have rented it for boudoir a couple of other times to some close friends. So now you think you're ready for a studio? Where do you find one I think that craigslist has been really great for me, I think that uh, asking around talking to other photographers there. So many cities that I go to that have co ops where photographers get together, um ten or eleven photographers, even sometimes, and they share the space, so ask around, see what other people are doing, where they're finding studios. This area here, long island city is an up and coming area, so there was a lot more space here and a lot more availability than there was a say, manhattan. If I cross the river, which is just a few blocks that way into manhattan, my my rent would probably be doubled. Okay, so I've decided to stay on this side of the river even though I don't have a fancy new york city address it's close enough for me to be convenient to my clients. In fact, the subway here is only one stop away from grand central station it's easier for clients in the city to come here, then it would be for them to go to another part of the city. A studio is a big responsibility don't forget you don't just have space, you have the responsibilities that come with the space, you have utilities, you have rent to have cleaning people so on and so forth, everything that you need to upkeep your studio the way you want it to be it's, not on ly costing you something but it's time consuming also ah there was a saturday a few weeks ago that I spent the whole day here cleaning out the studio and rearranging everything it's another part of my business that requires upkeep so I really had to think if I was ready for it or not if you're not ready for a studio don't feel discouraged I have to be honest if I could go back to my bedroom that I was in a few years ago I probably would I don't live in that house anymore but now that my kids are in school day it would have been a great option for me to say stay home all day I get the kids off to school shooted home and get be there for the kids when they return I still am able to do that here but it involves a lot more commuting so that would have been a great scenario so again don't feel discouraged there were other places you could shoot to besides your bedroom what about your basement? What about an attic, an extra bedroom, your living room, any space that you can transform easily? I used to transform my bedroom every single day I used to take the betting off, throw it in the closet, put new bedding on hang up backdrops changed my lighting around, change the drapes and every night I would put it back to the way it was so I would try to have the least to serve life and there is I possibly could it was a lot of work, but it was better than a two hour commute. Where else can you shoot if you're not ready for a studio? What about hotels, bed and breakfast? Airbnb, a friend's house that might have a basement that you could transform to a studio think outside the box or so many other options you don't have to go to a huge studio and take on such a huge responsibility if you're not ready for it, it does not mean that you're not a great photographer or that you're not legit great photographers can make great images anywhere. I hope you've enjoyed the tour of my tiny little studio. I just want to remind you not to feel discouraged if you don't have a studio as beautiful or as big as the next boudoir photographer I know there are so many boudoir photographers, I have nicer studios and I d'oh, but I don't let that stand in the way. I don't let that be a hurdle for me to not make beautiful images. I've taken this ugly, boring tiny space and I make beautiful images here I make people happy here and I empower women here that's the most important thing you could do that too don't be discouraged change whatever space that you have and make it work for. You take it and run with it. You can make it happen. I'm so excited to show you how I create beautiful images here, the different lights that I used, the different tips and tricks and all the little hidden gems I find around the studio to make women feel and look amazing. I can't wait to show you so let's. Go and do it.