Leah Stafford - Ohio Boudoir Photographer Interview

We are thrilled to announce the 1st in our series of "Cool Photographer" interviews that we will be sharing at Cool Photo Ideas.

Every other Friday we will profile a new photographer in an effort to help our readers get to learn more about the styles, personalities, educations and passions of the everyday professional photographer - and what makes them tick!

Our first interview is with:

Leah Stafford from Intimate Boudoir by Leah Stafford

1. Tell me a little bit about Intimate Boudoir by Leah Stafford? Intimate Boudoir was founded in 2007 and has worked with over 300 women to date. I work out of my home studio in Ohio but also travel all over the country. Work has been done in NYC, Chicago, Boston, DC, Charlotte, Orlando and San Francisco. NYC and Chicago are my main markets besides Ohio and I travel there every other month for marathon sessions. My goal for 2010 is to take my work overseas.

2. Where is home? Lakemore, Ohio.

3. Did you study photography in school or are you self taught? I am all self taught. I jumped right in and learned everything I could. The learning never ends though so I am constantly reading online articles, webcasts and books.

4. How long have you been doing photography? It's been around 3 years and I have been full time since September 2007. Definitely a very fun couple of years!

5. Do you do other types of photography besides boudoir? While Boudoir is definitely my main business I also do around 20 weddings a year. Engagements and portraits also occupy my time. My husband and I  hope to branch into more newborn and family photography in 2010 as well.

6. What got you started in boudoir? When I was first starting out I figured I would only do weddings and portrait work. Then, I had a friend ask me if I would do her session for me. Her husband was overseas and she wanted to send the gift to him. I said no a couple times before finally giving in. it was of course, the best decision because then it seemed everyone wanted a session! My business has grown by leaps and bounds but there is still lots of new stuff to come!

7. How do you prepare a client for a boudoir session? I would imagine keeping them relaxed is difficult - and making them feel comfortable, what tactics to you use to make them look so comfortable in your environment? My clients receive a great deal of information before the session. There are tips, outfit ideas, posing ideas and much more! Overall, I feel like this prepares them. We'll also do a consultation and I have a questionnaire so I better know what they are looking for in their images. On the day of they come in and I give them a little tour and show them around. My office is the first stop because it's filled with inspiration all over my walls. During the session I play music and am a total chatter box. I rarely stop talking and giving direction. Silence can create nerves and we don't want that. You have to let your client know how great she is doing, how she looks, etc.

8. Do you think all women should do a boudoir session at some point in their life? Absolutely! It's a great confidence raiser and a chance to glam up for the day! It can also be done for any reason. I have brides to be, people who turned 30, 50, anniversary, birthday gift or just because!

9. What type of reactions do you get when a client sees her images for the first time? Here are a couple things my clients have said.

"I still can’t stop looking at my pics. I didn’t show the pics to Marco yet but I cannot wait. I know he would be so surprised…."

"Thank you so much the pictures are beautiful!"

"I just cannot stop looking at the pictures I love them! everyone I show it to they love it."

"I just wanted to say thank you for my photo shoot. I must say I did enjoy it a lot. Who knows I may do another one, I’m already thinking about it
OMG i absolutely love these pics, i can barely even function right now!!!! lol!!!!!"

10. Have you ever shot a man in a boudoir session? Had to ask - you know Homer had it done in the Simpsons! No, I haven't.

11. What photographers inspire you most? How much time do we have? I adore Jose Villa and his work. If he did boudoir I can guarantee it would rock our world.

12. How would you describe your shooting style? Timeless and elegant. I want my work to be something you don't look at in 20 years and go, "what was I thinking" I love crisp, clean work and I really strive to capture my clients natural beauty: their personality, their laugh their significant other cannot get enough of.

13. If you could shoot any one person - anywhere in the world - who and where would it be? Rachel McAdams in a huge empty field with the sunset shining down. (she's my favorite actress and i have an obsession with the way light hits fields)

14. How many boudoir sessions do you currently average a year? Somewhere around 150. I do a lot of marathon sessions where I'll have around 10 girls in 2-3 days so it definitely makes the number high.

15. What is your must have camera equipment? 5D + 50 1.2. A beautiful combination.

16. What has been your most memorable boudoir session to date?
When I was in Chicago I had an amazing client who had just turned 50. She was a bit nervous at first but maybe 5 minutes later she let her hair down. She was so confident in her skin and really trusted me. Her personality was also so contagious and SHE kept me laughing the entire time. I definitely want another session with her!

17. If you can give one word of advice to women who are considering a boudoir session what would it be? CALL ME! In all seriousness, put the nerves aside and really consider it. It'll make you feel AMAZING and who doesn't want that?

18. What is the most fulfilling part of being a photographer? The impact I have on people's life. I get to work with amazing people all the time and give them a gift to treasure forever. It shows them they are beautiful and it does raise their confidence. Girls walk out strutting their stuff! Also, I get a ton of emails from fiancee's who thank me and not only for the images. They notice a difference in their significant other and when it comes down to it, there is no better feeling than letting a women know she is gorgeous and having that radiate.

19. Can you offer our readers one photography tip that they can use at home that will help them take better pictures? Find the spots in your house with natural light or when shooting open up your curtains. Our upstairs has a ton of natural light so all shooting is done there.

20. What do women most often order from a boudoir session, do they get wall portraits, books etc.? About 90% of my girls order albums. I offer a variety of sizes and covers. The most popular is an 8x8 red leather album. After albums would be folios that you can customize in different colors and ribbons.

I would like to thank Leah for her time!

You can view Leah's Wedding Portfolio here