Boudoir may be just a photoshoot to you. But when I stepped behind the camera, I saw things quite differently.
By Kirsten Quinn-Smith
The other day, something amazing happened. But at first, I didn’t think it was going to be amazing. In fact, I was terrified.
Norah Jones played softly in the background at SchlickArt Studios, as dreamy early morning light flooded the floors. It was a serene Saturday, and everything was perfect.
Yet there I stood, camera in hand, staring at the blank space with utter stress. What had I signed up for? What had I gotten myself into?
You see, I was about to shoot boudoir for the queen of Santa Clarita photography. Yep, you heard me right — I was photographing Lindsay Schlick.
Everything new is overwhelming at first.
Now, I’ve used a camera before. I’ve even had a couple informal tutorials from great photographers. But there’s a lifetime worth of learning that comes with that magic little machine.
To make matters worse, there’s whole skill sets you have to learn even after you get the camera thing down: expression, posing, composition, color, communication, trust.
With every shot, I’d go through my mental checklist: Check the light, pose the person, find your angle, check the pose again, look for anything distracting in the shot, take a deep breath, steady your hands, communicate, evoke a genuine expression and finally — SHOOT the damn thing! Great! Now you have exactly one shot. Repeat 300 times.
Seriously?! Try keeping all those things in your head at once! I mean it’s genuinely astounding to consider all the things a photographer does before she even clicks the button.
And here’s the kicker. It actually is possible to be great at all those things and shoot with grace at the same time. No, I’m not talking about my own experience. I’m only saying that because I’ve watched Lindsay shoot for over a year now. And that girl is never more graceful than when she’s pointing that lens right at your face.
My point is: Everything that’s new is overwhelming the first time you try it. It’s overwhelming the next 100 times, maybe even the next 1,000! But eventually, with enough practice and faith in yourself, you get the hang of it. And then one day, while you’re barely paying attention, you’ll realize: Wow, I really am good at this thing I once thought was impossible.
How many new things are you taking on? How many changes do you experience in a year? Think of all the new roles, jobs, specialties, titles, relationships, friendships, habits and goals you’ve taken on. You may have to practice each one of those new things 1,000 times before you can do it even once without the overwhelm. If you’re feeling horrible about yourself and your life, please give yourself a break. You’re just new.
Communication is everything.
So there I was, camera in hand, telling Lindsay Schlick what to do.
“Push into that hip, no the other hip. Now lift your chin forward and down. More down. A little up now. And maybe place that hand in your hair. Other hair. I mean other hand, sorry!” I’d hear myself say.
I was repeating everything I’d heard her say for months. Like a parrot. Honestly? I wasn’t sure what else to do. How do you direct someone when you don’t even have the language to explain what you want?
By some miracle, I managed to get her into position. Whew. That was hard enough. But now I had to make her laugh. I had to elicit genuine emotion in order to capture a genuine expression. Now, it’s not hard to make Lindsay laugh, but when it’s a semi-forced situation, and the person on the other side of the lens is a little nervous, it shows up in the expression.
“Talk to me!” she’d yell with a laugh. Admittedly, I had to look quite funny from her end. There I was, holding a camera, staring blankly at her as she posed in lingerie looking drop-dead gorgeous. To her, it was hilarious. Because Lindsay has such a great sense of humor, she laughed whether I knew what to say or not. And to be honest, I never managed to get the communication thing down.
My point here is that, even when you don’t have the language to say what you need, you have to try anyway — especially when the person listening shows as much grace as the forever laughing Lindsay Schlick.
If you’re not happy with the view, approach it from a new angle.
One of the first things Lindsay taught me was to move my body instead of moving the camera. The change in perspective allows you to compare one angle to the next, seeing the entire scene in a more complete way. So the more you move around, the better chance you have at getting what you’re looking for.
Now this may seem pretty basic. I’m sure someone has told you before that life is merely a matter of perspective. But the part I think people often forget is you have to keep looking. You have to continue to search for the right angle, even after you think you’ve found a good one. Think about how a photographer moves around her subject. She moves up, down, right, left. You can even catch Lindsay standing on chairs, climbing on counters or laying on the floor to get the best shot.
That’s the kind of dedication it takes to see the best in things, whether it’s a job, relationship or setback. If life doesn’t look like your perfect shot, then climb on a chair. That might be all it takes to find something truly beautiful.
Sometimes perfection happens anyway.
Remember that whole overwhelm thing I was talking about earlier? Sometimes it doesn’t even matter. Sometimes, perfection happens anyway.
“Just keep shooting,” Lindsay said, as she was tangled up in a luscious blanket on the floor. “There’s bound to be a great one in there somewhere.”
And you know what, she’s right. After three hours of posing and nearly 1,100 shots later, we captured some stunning shots. I mean, Lindsay is stunning, so how could I not get something beautiful? But that’s kind of my point. Like Lindsay, life is beautiful. And if we hang in there long enough, we’re bound to capture a bit of that beauty for ourselves.
Capturing raw beauty is a privilege.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the incredible feeling of trust that comes with photographing boudoir. Being vulnerable enough to take off your clothes for a person with a camera is a feat. Seriously. It’s not an easy thing to do.
But boudoir takes two people, so if you want some sexy shots, you have to open yourself up to someone, right? Well, to be that someone comes with responsibility an honor.
This is where Lindsay excels. Every phone call, every email and every word out of her mouth is designed to help you feel comfortable and well taken care of — simply because she genuinely cares about your experience. She doesn’t just want to leave you with gorgeous photographs, but gorgeous memories, too. She understands that shooting your photographs is a privilege, and that is part of what makes her so good at what she does.
So what’s the lesson here? Lindsay didn’t have to trust me. You don’t have to treat people well. You don’t have to care about others’ feelings, just as plenty of people don’t care about yours. But personally, I want to treat everyone like they’re something beautiful just waiting to be captured.
About Lindsay’s Boudoir Photography for Women
With the mind of a businesswoman and the heart of an adventurer, Lindsay began to conceive of a different kind of Santa Clarita photography business. In her vision, stepping in front of the camera could be an empowering experience that gave her clients more than just a photograph — it would give people a new way of seeing themselves. With an eye for seeing the beauty in life and in others, Lindsay could use the camera to spread beauty.
About SchlickArt Photography and Video
SchlickArt, a boutique photo and video studio in Santa Clarita, started in March 2012 with the simple idea that empowerment creates a kind of beauty and authenticity that shines through every camera lens. Built on a philosophy — rather than a product, service or person — SchlickArt has rapidly evolved, meeting professional portraiture, business photo and business video needs as diverse as the community we capture. It’s the desire to take care of you, the client, that drives us at SchlickArt.