If the pictures on Instagram are anything to go by, boudoir photography is a growing trend in Singapore.
One local photographer who has ventured into this intimate style of photography is Andrew Lim.
Best known for his underwater photography services under his company Drewperspectives, the 30-year-old recently started offering two-hour boudoir photography packages.
He tells us why having sensual pictures of themselves taken empowers women and how he helps clients relax during shoots, and lists some of the common misconceptions about boudoir photography.
Boudoir photography was not something he planned on doing
Andrew will readily admit that boudoir photography is "still a little taboo" and that it was not something he planned on doing.
"This is because in the past, hobbyist 'photographers' would leak or sell photos of the models they took photos of," he says.
He got his start in it when a client asked if he could take boudoir photos for her.
When told that it was not a service he offered, she explained that it was hard to find a photographer she could trust, and after some persuasion, Andrew decided to do a boudoir shoot exclusively for her.
"I remember asking why she wanted it done-she told me that she wanted to memorialise her youth and my body at its prime. Thereafter, without any marketing or official provision of the service, I started receiving more requests for boudoir shoots.
"My client had shown her friends the pictures I took and they wanted the same for themselves too."
It gives the subjects a boost in confidence
In honing his trade as a boudoir photographer, Andrew has come to learn that boudoir photography is "more than just a photoshoot as it can also be a healing and empowering process for them".
"While many people do it to capture their youth, many people also do it because they struggle with body image issues. We are the harshest critics of ourselves and tend to hyper-focus on certain 'flaws' that, to be honest, only we see.
"In my role, I help my clients focus on the overall appearance of their bodies, so not so much to 'hide' the things they do not like, but to highlight what they have," he says.
"After every set of photos is taken, I go through them with my clients, and the comment I usually hear is, 'Wow, I did not know my body looks like that.'
This greater appreciation of their bodies gives them confidence and affirmation. Plus, being able to pose almost naked or naked takes courage."
Not that all subjects struggle with body image issues.
Andrew lets on that there are also married couples who engage his services, as well as people who simply want to capture "a sexier side of themselves they never knew about".
Clients are not expected to know how to pose
Suffice it to say, an intimate shoot where the subjects can feel quite vulnerable is most optimised when they are relaxed, and Andrew helps them to let loose by first building a connection with them.
"They need to trust me before being able to fully relax. The shoot typically starts with the most conservative outfit they have brought as a warm-up to being in front of the camera. I also use this chance to find their best angles and have a feel of what they like or dislike," he says.
He adds that it is totally OK that most clients do not know how to pose. If anything, they are not expected to know how to.
"Apart from giving them direction, I also demonstrate certain poses for them, especially for the more sensual stuff, which always results in a lot of laughter.
"This breaks the ice and helps them feel more comfortable. As for expressions, the preferences differ from client to client, but whether they want to be more smiley or seductive, I guide them along the way."
Safety and privacy his top priority
Andrew makes sure that his clients not only feel safe throughout the shoots, but also know that their information and pictures will be kept private.
"Before each shoot, I get my clients to sign an NDA, a copy of which they will also have. This contract assures them that not only the photos, but also their information and the conversations we have during the shoot, will be kept private. The photos will not be published or used anywhere unless written consent is given," he explains.
"I urge everyone who intends to do one to heavily research the photographers they are thinking of working with. At my shoots, my clients are allowed to be accompanied, and if their friends are not available, they can request for my makeup artist to be in the room at all times."
As for the common misconceptions about boudoir photography, he says that it is often thought to be pornography and only for super confident women.
"There are many ways to capture a body in a tasteful manner. And on the contrary, boudoir photography is especially for those who lack body confidence but seek it," he says.
"People also tend to assume that it is only for beach bodies, which is untrue as our bodies will never be 'perfect' enough. Time does not wait for us so let the photographer bring out what is attractive about you, for you. Lastly, it is often thought that it is only for women but men, as well as couples, can do it too."
This article was first published in Her World Online.