“La vie es tune fleur dont l’amour est le miel.” “Life is a flower of which love is the honey.” ~Victor Hugo
When I received an inquiry out about doing a Louvre-inspired photo session, I was ecstatic, and of course, had to jump on the opportunity. It was more than this being an amazing idea. This would be the first photo project where I could specifically draw on my classical history background to produce a unique photo experience and product. The chance to combine my love of history, art, and photography was exciting!
In honesty, it was like this project was made for me. Along with my educational background, I had first-hand knowledge of my inspirational source. Not only had I visited the Musée du Louvre, but I had also been gifted with a book describing all the paintings in the museum’s collection.
Immediately, I connected with this project, my client’s vision, and couldn’t wait to get started!
The goal of this photo project was to produce a custom calendar with the client as the star subject. Using artworks from the Louvre, we would create inspired boudoir images that would be transformed into fine art composite images for the calendar. The combination of fine art images on pearl canvas paper would deliver a lovely calendar.
I am sure you did not skip over the part where it was mentioned that the photographs would be boudoir style. Yes, my project that would produce fine art composite images for a calendar was based on boudoir photography! However, this makes perfect sense. A great majority of notable statues and paintings at the Louvre are nude.
Are you wondering now, where was that calendar going? Well, the calendar was being given as a gift to my client’s wife—her eyes only. Generally, this is the intent of boudoir photography. It is an intimate and vulnerable style of photography, so any products ordered usually go to a trusted recipient. There are still various reasons to have a boudoir photo shoot. In this case, it was a special gift from husband to wife, which is so romantic and thoughtful. His wife loves the Louvre and he wanted to title the calendar “I Louvre You.”
Since my client was male, the session I had to prepare for was, for all intents and purposes, a dudoir session. And yes, dudoir is a thing. When it’s learned that I do offer male boudoir photography sessions, I am frequently asked about safety concerns, which I do address as a small, petite female photographer. I implement measures and protocols to ensure not only my safety but my client’s safety. Once these are agreed to, I can dig into to thoroughly planning the photo project.
Photo inspired by Flandrin's Young Man Sitting by the Sea by Miranda at Adnarim93 Creative
There were many parts to coordinate and plan to meet all project objectives. After communicating via messaging and email, I sat down with my client to get a full breakdown to plan. Face-to-face meetings or consultations are always helpful when striving to articulate a vision. Since, I am based in Tampa, Fl, we sat down for a meeting at the Dali Museum’s Gala Café. I felt the café’s setting suited our project. Here we broke down how the artworks would be selected for photography inspiration, timeframe, scheduling, and must-haves over coffee.
Following the meeting, the photo project now fully rested in my hands. Sourcing inspiration for the photographs to be used was the second hardest part of this project. There were so many choices! There were iconic pieces such as Michelangelo’s, David, and the Statue of Paris that were a must and other nuanced pieces of historical significance. I also had the option to go beyond the Louvre as well. In the end, I had to gather images that best reflected the project goal and could be best used in the boudoir photography style.
As my client was male, I am sure you can imagine what pieces I used for inspiration. The pieces used as inspiration sources included: Michelangelo’s David, Rodin’s The Thinker, Perugino’s St. Sebastian, Flandrin’s Young Man Sitting by the Sea, Jusepe de Ribera’s St. Paul the Hermit, Subleyras’ Charon Ferrying the Shades, Foyatier’s statue of Spartacus, Agostino’s Atlas, Fighting Warrior, Cleomenes’ Statue de Marcellus, Myron’s Discobolus, and Statue of a Wounded Galatian or Celtic Warrior. These were decided upon after verifying a list of sourced sculptures and paintings with my client.
Inspiration pieces credit majority credited to The Louvre
While finalizing the inspiration sources, I also need a location as my studio would not suffice. I needed to be able to quickly adjust lighting, change out backgrounds and provide props as needed. I booked a studio that allowed me to just do that after properly vetting.
Now, it was on to the easy part—the actual session. Sessions are always fun. My creative focus goes into overdrive and somehow it makes an hour go by fast. I set up early to check and make sure everything is working and easy to move when needed. I have music going to set the atmosphere, coffee on hand, inspiration sources staged for reference, and props lined up in order.
One of my main goals during sessions, aside from capturing that perfect shot, is making sure my subject feels comfortable. When the client arrives, the only thing he needs to focus on is posing. In this niche of photography, it’s super easy to be overtaken by awkwardness and embarrassment, particularly with age gaps and between different genders. After all, it’s being photographed... naked. I always try to keep the atmosphere light, break any tension, alleviate any awkwardness and maintain professionalism.
Once the session is complete, the real work begins. Editing. This is the challenging part. The dudoir images would be blended into a composite to create the final form of fine art photographs for the calendar. In blending, the final images must look realistic while at the same time artistic. My subject was taken on solid color backgrounds to simplify compositing. This was pertinent for the more complex images such as the one inspired by St. Paul the Hermit. Images with majority black backgrounds lent to a stronger focus on texture for the final image result.
While editing, I refer to a skills and process notebook that I maintain. It includes all my editing processes for different looks and styles. I rely on this book because, sadly, I do not have a photographic memory. I am liable to forget certain things. Although happy mistakes are always nice, my notebook keeps me on track while editing to ensure I get the outcome I want. This is especially so with such complex edits.
Editing took the longest, but once it was all completed, I sent off proofs to my client to review. I took the notes he gave and updated my edits to resend. After a final review of the images, they were ready to be used in the calendar design.
I used the software of the publishing company utilized, Miller Professional Imaging, to design the calendar. The layout chosen for the calendar was 11 X 14 to emphasize the images. I chose Miller for their fast turnaround. The calendar came within two days, leaving enough time before my deadline to permit my client to review and reorder if needed. Fortunately, we did not have to reorder.