Boudoir Photography with Kim Ackerman

Hello! My name is Kim Ackerman, I have owned a studio for 15 years on the Illinois side, and I reside in Edwardsville, IL.

I specialize in HS Seniors, stylized sessions, fashion, and boudoir. I am known for my concept shoots and I have taught classes on both concepts and boudoir. I like to design gowns, headpieces, and wardrobe, and I also do all my own hair and makeup for my clients and the majority of my model sessions.

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When teaching boudoir workshops the one common question I receive is “what lens(s) do you use?” So in this blog I am going to go over my favorite lenses for boudoir and why I like them.

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II, and my go to lenses for boudoir are the 50mm and 85mm prime. My favorite is probably the 85, but when shooting boudoir you find yourself in tight spaces and small rooms, so the 85 isn’t capable of full body shots. I tend to swap back and forth between the two lenses. First taking full and ¾ body images with the 50, and then using the 85 for some close ups.

There are a couple of reasons I prefer these two lenses. I shoot with natural light, constants, and strobes. When I am shooting constants and natural light, I need a lens that can handle low lighting without blur and noise/grain. The 1.4 and 1.8 lenses are remarkable for this.

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I also like to shoot boudoir at a very low f stop, usually 2.2-3.4. When shooting a low f stop with these prime lenses, I can create a really nice bokeh which allows the focus to be on the face and most importantly the eyes. Also, it blurs a lot of the background and the body, which can be beneficial with curvy clients and skin flaws when it comes to editing.

I personally do not like to shoot below 50mm for ¾ and close up shots. I feel it distorts the client too much, usually resulting in a bobble head effect. I love my 70-200, but here again, the size of the shooting space generally prohibits using such a lens for many shoots, so I will usually just stick to the 85 for close ups. The 85 is a great portrait lens in general, and does a really great job taking flattering head shots without distortion and provides great bokeh for separation. If I happen to be in a super tight spot, I will grab my 24-105. It enables me to get the full body shots, and zoom in for the tighter shots… but it’s not as sharp as the primes, and it is only a 4.0, so it’s definitely not my prefered choice. I could use a 35 in these tight spaces, but I would be changing lenses every other shot to get my closeups without getting distortion.

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With all this said, it’s important that I note one thing: be careful when shooting at really low f stops. Depending on your camera you can easily lose your focal point and the focus difference is so slight you will most likely not see the error until you are viewing them on your computer. When I am shooting extreme close ups or a shot with hair or fabric in the foreground, I almost always take two shots to ensure one is spot on where I want it to be, focus wise.

You can always go to your neighborhood Creve Coeur Camera with your own memory card and try these lenses out at the store. I chose my camera body by testing them out at the store with my own CF card, then went home and compared the images on my computer. If the lower end lenses are in your budget, don’t feel like you have to get the high end. My 50 is the $350 range one, and it is amazingly sharp.

-Kim Ackerman
You can check out her website here!

Follow on InstaGram @kim_voguestudio 
Follow accounts: Vogue Portrait Studio and Bella Boudoir St. Louis 

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