Lingerie on Location!

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Lingerie is not just for indoors! There’s no reason why you can’t shoot beautiful underwear outside. I love looking for alternative ways to shoot, so when Silver Key Lingerie, in Key West, approached me it was the perfect excuse to try something different.

Many lingerie pictures are shot in bedrooms or studios, and it can be embarrassing for non-models to be photographed outdoors in their underwear! But if you’re sensitive to their feelings, and find private locations, you can get some exciting results!

You don’t need a beach in Key West – try secluded woodland, fields, the top of a city building, and interesting landscapes. Take a small tent to change in, and hide from view, if some unsuspecting tourists happen to come past! Just think outside the box and make it happen!

For the Silver Key Lingerie shoot, we borrowed a boat and went out to Marvin Key, a tiny little island about a 30 minute boat ride from Key West, then stopped off at a couple of extra places on the way back.

Locations:

  • Secluded beach at Marvin Key
  • Mangrove trees in the middle of the ocean
  • Shallow coral reef off Key West

Time allowed:

  • 5 hours including 30 minutes travel each end

Models:

NONE of the three people in this shoot are models!

  • Alexa works for Silver Key Lingerie
  • Isabelle is a French girl living in Key West
  • Cody runs a paddleboard company in Key West and New York
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Left: Isabelle and Alexa with hair protected for the speedboat ride. Centre Left: Cody with his Go Pro camera, capturing the action. Centre Right: The girls hang onto their hair, while make up artist Candon looks on. Right: Kimball trying to fit everything we need into his boat!

We didn’t want to use models, as we wanted the lingerie shoot to be about REAL people – however we did select people with good bodies, because the images will be used for advertising to promote Silver Key Lingerie.

The reason I am telling you this, is because they really are normal people, they are nervous about the shoot (particularly as they will be photographed wearing so little!) and they need a lot of direction – so it’s just like photographing anyone in underwear – even though they have good figures, you still have to relax them, make them feel good and position them so they look their best.

Planning:

A huge amount of planning goes into a shoot like this:

  1. Finding people willing to model!
  2. Finding a boat and willing driver.
  3. Finding suitable locations.
  4. Coordinating the lingerie.
  5. Using a good make up artist/hairstylist who can cope with hair rollers flying out while travelling in a fast speedboat, and make-up running down faces due to the high temperature!
  6. Coordinating food and drink for everyone to keep them fed and watered for 5 hours out at sea, with no loos or facilities whatsoever!
  7. Packing up a tent/shade to protect us from the sun.

Check out the video below for the “behind the scenes” action, and then read the tips to help you take pictures of people in lingerie.

Location 1: Marvin Key

We arrive at Marvin Key and set off for the beach – everything has to be walked through the sea – no easy access! We set up the umbrella shade, Candon sorts out the hair and make-up and I check out the location (which I haven’t seen before, but I did have a good idea of what it would look like). Yep – that will do nicely!

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It’s a tough job – but someone’s got to do it!

Shoot time!

First up is Alexa in black underwear, and I spend quite a lot of time here checking out how she looks best, and which parts of the background to use, etc. It’s absolutely boiling (90 degrees), and it’s much easier to stand in the sea and try and keep cool while shooting!

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Once we’ve taken some standing shots, we then try running around in the water, and splashing, to create a more spontaneous feel.

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Running around and doing this several times results in some very natural, relaxed shots, particularly when she finally walks out of the sea (bottom right, above).

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These images show the different effect created by bright sunlight (left and bottom, above) and the shaded soft light you get using a reflector (top right). Left: I loved the 50’s feel of her hair and face in this position, so used a vintage preset in Lightroom to complete the effect.

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Above: Experimenting with different angles (cropped in camera) creates a fabulous shape which shows off the lingerie perfectly. Note how the shot on the right is quite different from the first, not only because her head is cropped, but also because we have pushed the water towards her to blur the edges of the picture more, and emphasise the underwear.

And now for my favourite picture of the day – I just wanted to experiment with the old wood sticking up from the sand – and even though Alexa was very uncomfortable, I persuaded her it was worth it! Note in the video how I ask her to really stretch to get her body looking really toned and taut – to create this very strong feel to the picture. It would be nowhere near so effective if she were just sitting comfortably in the water.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to stretch their muscles – they will be much happier with the result!

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The water is startlingly clear, and the textures and patterns of the dead wood, plus the shapes of the trees behind, make an amazing background to this shot. I love the fact that no one would ever normally sit there in their underwear!  The more incongruous the better!

I never like to leave a shot at one angle, it’s always worth walking around the subject to see if there is another shot there – and you can see from the shots below that there were several.

Now Alexa is really relaxed and a real feeling of sensuality is coming into the shoot – it’s not just about WHAT someone is wearing – it’s how they FEEL when they wear it, which needs to be portrayed.

Tip: Bottom left (above) – to achieve a similar effect when you don’t have a hot day on a beach, try asking your model to sit in a large bath or hot-tub – take a stepladder into the bathroom and photograph them from above -you’ll be amazed what you can get even in a small bathroom! You could put shells or stones into the bath around them – anything to create an interesting effect.

Cody and the paddleboard

The problem with working in this heat is it gets too much after a while! Luckily we have three models, so they can take turns to sit in the shade!

Cody kindly offered to bring one of his paddleboards as a prop, so we shot this fab orange underwear using this…

Using his familiar paddleboard gets Cody into the shoot, and switching his bathing shorts for underpants is only one step further!

Then we get our very own “Daniel Craig” moment! Steady girls!

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Isabelle in the swamp!

I am so inspired by this environment – it’s amazing! I love Isabelle’s shoes – and decide they will look great in a swampy, sandy area with lots of little black sticks sticking out the water.

The tricky thing is to stop her sinking into the wet sand, but after a few attempts, we manage to do it!

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Different crops and slight movement of her head, helps to create variety in the shots. I am deliberately allowing areas of light space on the shots to add text to them later for advertising purposes.

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Left: This crop allows space for advertising text later. Bottom right: By turning her head slightly, it creates a very different shot. Top right: I can’t resist a shot of those gorgeous shoes on their own!

Wow – what a background! The sand is so white it almost looks like snow.

Location 2: The mangroves

There were several issues with shooting in the mangroves. Firstly, they are a protected environment in Florida and we needed to make sure we didn’t even damage so much as a twig or leaf – and secondly they are full of mosquitos! Plus of course the logistics of getting Alexa into the mangroves, which are prickly and dense.

We therefore floated carefully up to them and checked out the situation first to decide if we could do it. After testing the strength of the roots, and working out how Alexa would climb carefully onto them, we decided she wouldn’t be able to get right into them (as I originally would have liked) but she would be able to stand at the edge (and hope she didn’t get too many mosquito bites – I never said this was going to be easy!). Luckily, she does yoga, so her balance is very good!

Cody is also an expert at paddling, so he used his paddle to propel the speedboat in and out, to get the shots, because we couldn’t use the engine and propeller at such close proximity to the mangroves.

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Alexa tried various different ways of balancing, while Cody paddled the boat in and out, so I could get the shots – not only did we have to be really careful when moving positions, we also had to keep her in the shaded area – as we couldn’t send anyone out with a reflector – it was around 6 feet deep just below where she was standing, and very soft, muddy sand.

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It took a lot of effort – but it was definitely worth it! Note I’ve used several different angles and crops to give variety for use in advertising.

Location 3: Shallow coral reef

Just time to catch the evening sun, which I wanted to use for the light coloured lingerie. This time Isabelle was the model, because her light hair complemented the lingerie perfectly.

One huge advantage of shooting around Key West (apart from the sun, the gorgeous people, the light, etc!) is that the sea is very shallow in many places, so you can stand up in the middle of the ocean and have an infinite background of water all around you.

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The golden light in the early evening is perfect for the colour of the lingerie, and the silk scarf drifting in the wind really adds to the picture.

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Isabelle runs around in the sea, while I shout directions to her! Which was not always easy, because it’s hard for her to understand my very fast English and my French is terrible!

5 Tips for Shooting Lingerie:

  1. You don’t have to shoot in a bedroom – (although it’s a good place to start, for your “safety shots”) – experiment with other places, outdoors, in woods, on a roof terrace – anywhere you can get some privacy, but which will provide interesting backgrounds.
  2. Choose lingerie which flatters the model – a good fit and a colour that works with her hair, for example.
  3. If your subject is not stick thin, and is worried about her tummy, etc, use a white duvet, and pull up the sides around her to create a flattering shape. This can also be done with piles of leaves in a wood! Or drape a silk scarf or piece of material around her. White robes strategically placed can work wonders too!
  4. Take care to look at the shapes you can create – ask her to stretch up tight, so her figure looks the best it can. Look at every detail – “normal” women are very concerned about their “edges”!
  5. Check out a contemporary hotel near you – they often have fantastic interiors (you may have to use the bedroom if it’s too public!) – but see if they have a balcony overlooking the city – or a rooftop terrace. And perhaps use the hotel swimming pool, or hot tub – these are often empty in the daytime in city hotels.

Have fun!

Annabel x


For more ideas on commercial shoots, check out: The Bath House Shoot

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Thanks to:

Sophie and Carrie at Silver Key Lingerie for their fantastic organisation;
Kimball for the video and driving the boat (which was loaned by Kevin – thank you!);
Alexa, Isabelle and Cody for being fantastic models!
And Candon for his wonderful make up and hair styling.

What a fantastic experience! Thanks guys!

Video: Kimball Ingram / Editing: James Robinson