10 Tips of Glamour Photography
By Dan Spencer
6 Dec 2007
"Glamor Shots" is a national glamor studio chain that has made a killing in the Beauty Photography industry and has become a "household name".
Most everyone knows the name Glamor Shots, in fact, when I tell people I'm a Beauty & Glamour Photographer,
I tell them "it's like Glamor Shots" and they totally understand.
So what is the secret to their success? It's a "System".
Go to Glamor Shots in Beverly Hills and one in Sacramento and they are essentially the exact same process.
Two different studios, two different cities, two different populace income levels, yet both studios are basically set up the same, take the same style of photos, and consistently produce photos that sell yet, you don't need to have any photography experience to work there. Why? Because they have a "System"
Follow their "system" and you will succeed. - Maybe not to the level that they have, but none the less, you will succeed.
One "Secret" to their success, is their Glamor Portrait Studio Setup.
As it turns out, this "secret" is a very simple, inexpensive studio setup that takes very little space
For severe budget minded photographers like me, Believe it or not, an acceptable studio can be set up for under $200.00 and it fits in an extra room about 10 X 12 feet.
I know this, because I have a working Beauty & Glamour Studio that cost under $200.00 to set up in a space that size.
The most expensive thing in my studio ...is my camera!
Main Light / Hair Light
Umbrellas (One Large / One Small)
Light Stands/ Background Supports
Misc. Ladies Tops, Hats & Jewelry
To buy all this at a studio supply house would cost an arm and a leg.
Here's what I did a lot cheaper.
Modeling Table: Small student drafting table bought from Walmart $75.00
Posing Stool: small computer desk chair. $5.00 at a Yard sale
Main Light: AC MasterSlave Studio Strobe (about $25.00 ea.-screw into standard light socket).
Umbrella One Large / One Small: Can be bought on E-Bay for about $25.00 or so (studios for less store on E-bay sells stuff cheap) Other reflectors can be made from Foamcore in various sizes up to 4'X8' panels.
Reflector(s): Car windshield reflector (silver on one side / gold on other side) bought from Dollar Store for $1.00
Light Stands/ Background Supports: E-Bay
T.V. Monitor: I use this to show clients their photos as I take them. When I snap the shutter, their photo immediately shows up on the TV monitor. Clients love the instant results and they really get into the session.
Fan: Floor fan to gently blow models hair.
Backdrops: Colored Mylar - Purchased at PartyMart store. (sold as large, colored table cloths) $5.00 each
Glamour Wraps: Materials bought from Walmart - About $5.00 each
Feather Boas: Bought from Michaels Craft Store for $10.00 each.
Misc. Ladies tops and Hats, Jewelry: Various thrift stores $1.00 to $5.00 each.
Makeup Artist: A good makeup artist is worth their weight in gold. I can't afford that. Instead, I tell my clients to do their own hair and makeup "as if they were going out on the town for the evening". Surprisingly, most women already know how to do their own hairstyling and makeup (or have a friend to help them).
What do they wear to their session?
I have my customers wear comfy shoes and pants. Wear a loose fitting top and a white strapless bra or bikini top
(if they don't have strapless, we'll tuck them under their arms.) I have a terrycloth wrap that I have them wear instead of their shirt. I build up the Glamour Wraps over that terrycloth wrap. They can also bring their own tops if they like.
Props: I utilize feather boas, glamour wraps, hats, pearl necklaces, sunglasses, fur coats, silk and lace gloves, various clip on earrings are always a plus. I have them remove their watch as they tend to 'date' a photo.
Friends: I encourage them to bring (ONE) friend along. This serves two purposes. 1.) It helps them feel secure and helps build their confidence when their friend, who also sees the photos on the TV screen, says WOW!
2.) I have a built in assistant! I can ask them to hold a reflector or hand me something. This helps them to feel they are now part of the process. Plus, I just might get another client out of it. (or at least another source of free word of mouth advertising.)
Note: I have a CD Stereo in the studio and play upbeat music. Have them bring their favorite music on CD to play during their session. I also offer refreshments like snacks and either bottled water or soda.
The most difficult thing about this style of Glamour Photography, is applying the glamour wraps and learning the poses.
After all, you're just photographing the head, shoulders, sometimes the hands and a bit of cleavage.
1.) Have a couple of large (20x30 or so) Glamour Photos that you've taken in your studio, hanging up in your little studio to help instill confidence in your subjects.
2.) Have your props and Glamor Wraps close by, so you can just reach over and get them without having to leave your subject.
3.) Take a MINIMUM of 24 various poses, looks, styles and background combinations. This will ensure at least 12 or so great photos. I shoot with a wide open aperture and a fast shutter speed. Focus is critical (Thank God for auto focus!)
4.) I shoot digital and can display the photo I just took, instantly on a large color TV. The client can instantly see what I just took. This impresses them on how well they look and they really get in to the session. It also give me instant feedback on the lighting, focus, their taste in styles, etc.
5.) By shooting slightly above the model, you force her to look 'up' showing a bit of whites under the color part of the eyes. Speaking of the eyes, ALWAYS focus on the eyes! You also want that sparkle of a catch light in the eyes.
6.) Have her breath through her mouth instead of her nose. The slight separation of her lips is more sexy and makes her look more relaxed.
7.) Have her turn her head slightly away from the camera and look at the camera with her eyes, chin slightly down for a sexier look.
8.) Always direct her to turn her head by telling her move her "nose" slightly to the right or left ...the rest of her face will magically follow.
9.) Immediately after the session, I go over the photo with her (on the TV screen-from the camera) and we start deleting out the bad shots. I try for 12 or so "winners" and I edit /enhance them further in Photoshop. I don't provide prints, I provide a CD of a musical slideshow and the hi resolution, edited photos with a photographers printing release but you can just as well sell "packages" like other studios do.
10.) Instead of simply showing prints or proofs on a computer, I make a musical slide show and show them the edited / enhanced photos in a custom slide show. They are always amazed and impressed!
I'm living proof that a small, inexpensive studio set up can result in beautiful glamorous portraits that can sell for big money.
Here's more Samples of what can be done in a tiny studio: