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[Part 02/23 | Module 1: STYLES & GENRES]

Since the end of last millennium, the Glamour Photography Business got (much) more difficult. As a photo enthusiast you are having the best chance to make some money off with Private Glamour Photography first.

Are you considering trying your hand at the genre of nude/glamour photography from a business perspective?
There are still many (or let’s say, growing?) myths and flat-out incorrect beliefs woven when it comes to the business angle in glam photography. In this post, it’s my goal to shine some light into this rather jumbled field.

Borders are blurred and genres mixed – from implied nude models to semi-naked to glam nudes. That’s what’s the commercial market is looking for. Plus, not to be forgotten (!) a growing number of female clients that are looking for all sorts of the aforementioned styles.

You might try to start tap into the business with private clients to establish yourself.

Imagery - Commercial Glamour Photography

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

First Things First: What Exactly Is Glamour Photography?

Glamour photography is a stylistic genre often used for commercial purposes in the advertising sector, but not limited to that sector.

One of the big differences between other styles of model photography and glamour is the extra charm purposely added to the model. That charm is generally regarded as a model’s allure. Through the use of makeup, lighting, wardrobe, and even shooting locations, glamour photography focuses on enhancing a model’s allure, generally her bold allure, by careful use of those elements, and by accentuating them via pose and expression.

Often enough, you’ll see examples of glamour photography in many models’ portfolios, even in fashion models’ portfolios. Their portfolios are, of course, used for self-marketing purposes. To agencies, potential employers, and to other photographers they might wish to work with.

Not sure what I am talking about and how this looks like? Get some general ideas here:

Instagram Sexy Models - Crossover Fashion Photography & Glamour Photography Teasing

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

One of the main differences between fashion and glamour photography is that, with fashion, the focus or “story” contained in the image is generally about something other than the model – be it what she’s wearing, accessories accompanying her clothing, or some other product the fashion photo is attempting to sell. Certainly, the model is a big part of those photos. Often, she’s the star of them! But she’s not the primary reason she’s being featured or has that starring role. Many fashion photos contain elements of glamour and vice versa. There’s plenty of overlap often seen between those two genres. They still, however, stand on their own as individual and distinct photographic styles and genres.

Glamour photography, as you may already realize, is about the model herself. A glamour model is the center of attraction or focus of a glamour image. She is the story! She’s the star and doesn’t share her starring role with a product of some sort because, in a sense, she is the product! (“Selling” herself, her charms, and her allure to appreciative audiences.)

For both genres, fashion or glamour, it’s the photographer who is the key person, the director, the head honcho who creates the photos and is chiefly responsible for their effectiveness, be it glamour or fashion. That’s not to say others don’t contribute to the effectiveness and overall impact of the photos, sometimes in huge ways – think makeup artists and hairstylists – but in the end, it’s the photographer who makes the photos what they are and oversees the work of others.

Fashion Glam Cross Genre Modeling - Sexy Women Photography

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

Glamour and fashion photography are similar in more than a few ways. Yet, they are also different and distinct in other ways. And not just because one might feature nudity while, with the other, nudity is much less seen (but always slightly involved and somewhat accepted).

Each genre requires different yet similar approaches. It’s important for you to understand those differences and to be able to effectively employ both, the similar elements, as well as the unique and individual skills necessary to achieve terrific results in either genre.

Even if your main focus is glamour, you never know when you might be called upon to shoot some (more) fashion(y) images. This 101 isn’t about fashion photography but there’s a lot in it that will help you shoot fashion images if and when that’s what you’re called upon to do.

The Terms “Glamour Photography”<>“Glam Nudes”<>“Nude Photography”

By the way, many people seem to think “nude photography” when they hear “glamour photography.” Often enough, they might be correct. But just as often, people with those beliefs are wrong. Nudity and “adult” content are not always synonymous with, nor is nudity a requisite for, glamour photography.

While nude glamour (sometimes called “glam nude”) is quite common, and glam nudes maybe the sorts of images you’re most interested in shooting, they are not the only form of glamour photography.

In many shopping malls across America, for instance, a chain of consumer-serving photography studios called “Glamour Shots” has been around for quite some time. Guess what? There’s one thing they don’t shoot in those shopping mall storefronts called Glamour Shots: Nudity. They also don’t get too overly creative shooting their glamour images. The work is mostly cookiecutter, to put it politely. But that’s another story, not one this 101 is focused on.

Some random Shopping Mall Photo Studio examples (non-judgmental!) and ideas about the aim found via Google:

FAYE REAGAN - Glamour to Porn to Fashion Modeling - Sexy Women Photography

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

Now that we’re (hopefully) all on the same page regarding what glamour photography is and isn’t, we can briefly move on to another photo genre where many of the same techniques are utilized as when lensing glamour shots. In fact, it’s the genre that glamour photography was born from: Celebrity Photography.

Fake Celebrity GlamNude Photography by Dan Hostettler

What Are the Differences Between Glamour and Celebrity Photography?

Actually, there’s not much difference at all. That’s because in Hollywood, during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, studios regularly hired photographers to shoot glamorous photos of the stars in their movies. They didn’t refer to them as celebrities back then, although they were certainly celebrated by the public. One such photographer was George Hurrell .

Hurrell is considered the father of modern-day glamour photography. That’s why glamour photography and celebrity photography are so similar in their approach and the look of the photos. In both genres, the main focus, unlike fashion, is always the celebrity or glamour model. Hurrel photographed some of the most famous and iconic actors and actresses of his day and many of today’s glamour photographers still look to his work for guidance and inspiration. By the way, the images snapped by the paparazzi, while often featuring celebrities as their subjects, isn’t celebrity photography. It’s often more like ambush photography or, to describe it in a kinder way, it’s a lot like street photography.

George Hurrell - Father of Modern-Day Glamour Photography - Google Repository

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

Challenges Facing Today’s Commercial Glamour Photographers

Glamour photography is a very competitive sector in the overall people photography industry, perhaps trumped only by fashion and celebrity photography. The places where much of today’s fashion and glamour photography takes place are in the large urban areas of First World Countries. Milan, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles are some of the notable cities where these genres are often photographed. And the competition in those places is fierce. Often, success doesn’t simply go to the best photographers, but the photographers who can network and schmooze better than their competitors. Having connections or catching a break certainly doesn’t hurt either. But that doesn’t mean other locales aren’t places where photographers can pursue glamour photography, either as a business or a hobby or both.

Aspiring glamour models are everywhere. Web sites like Model Mayhem , One Model Place , PurplePort , Model Kartei , StarNow (“connect talent with casting professionals”) and many more are where you’ll find models and be able to contact them. Even relatively smaller cities have established modeling agencies catering to local glamour and fashion models.

George Hurrell - Father of Modern-Day Glamour Photography - Google Repository

Please note: the copyright of the photos belongs to the respective owner. We use the photos here only for illustration purpose.

Continually evolving digital imaging technologies have been a boon to those who would like to try their hands at glamour and many other photo genres. The downside is that as these technologies continue growing and expanding, putting more cameras into the hands of more people, it tends to decrease the number of revenue streams available to photographers, glamour shooters, or otherwise. What that means, of course, is that monetizing your work is becoming harder and harder to do. These days, the internet is overrun with competing for sexy women photographers, as well as those trying to make some part of their livings shooting weddings and events, babies and children, and all kinds of other commercial photography. If a genre exists, there are many, many photographers hoping to monetize or make a career of shooting it.

Does this mean there’s no hope for aspiring glamour photographers? Absolutely not!

But it does mean you’re going to have to hone your craft via learning and practice and more learning and more practice. You’re going to need determination, to be assertive and creative in terms of networking and seeking paid gigs. It’s not for everyone but for those who are willing and determined, there’s still room for more.

By the way, the last few standing print magazines and other publications in the glamour print world are extremely difficult to get in with. Most of them already have long-time, established, photographers who work for them. Those shooters will fiercely guard their relationships with publishers – relationships they worked long and hard to create.

In short, don’t expect established glamour photographers to pave the road for the professional side of your aspirations, that is, in ways that might help you get in with their employers. They’re not going to do it and, frankly, why would they? The market is crowded and competitive enough without them willingly (foolishly?) bringing others into the game to compete for work they’re already performing. Many of them are available for instruction and mentoring. Some conduct workshops and/or publish training media. But those things are about skills and development mentoring, not mentoring you into their professional jobs.

Because of these realities, more and more photographers, especially those who are less established, are turning to the internet to provide them with opportunities they might take advantage of. But even with that in mind, it is still a crowded and competitive industry. You’re going to need to be prepared to stand out from the crowd if you hope to be successful.

Again, does all this mean it can’t be done? Nope. Photographers do it fairly regularly, but not before paying their dues. And the dues required are all about learning and practicing what you’ve learned, as often as you can.

On Location Glamour Nude Photography by Dan Hostettler

Non-Commercial Glamour Photography (= Hobby)

If you’re not interested in glamour photography as a career, full-time or part-time, and many photographers who enjoy shooting glamour aren’t, it can also be a fun, rewarding, creative, and challenging hobby.

According to JimmyD, who bills himself as the Pretty Girl Shooter because of the nearly two decades he’s been professionally shooting glamour and tease models, some of the best glamour photography he sees comes from hobbyists… make that serious hobbyists. If you ask why he thinks that, he’ll tell you it’s because professionals are often inhibited by the parameters, work directions, and expectations of their commercial clients. (Oftentimes, not the most creative of people or people willing to subsidize a photographer’s unique, less-seen, creative visions.) In other words, when you’re shooting for others, you don’t get to shoot wherever and however, you want. Hobbyists, on the other hand, have no such restrictions.

Can you be both? Can you work at selling your glamour images or services as a glam shooter and also pursue it as a hobbyist? Of course. And more than a few glamour shooters do. Often, it’s the images captured without a client’s involvement that feed a glamour photographer’s portfolio.

Glamourous Model Portfolio Terry by Dan Hostettler

Start Earning With Private Glamour Photo Shoots

If you’re just getting started, you may want to do so by offering exclusive, private, non-disclosed glamour, alluring portraiture, or boudoir photography services. By doing so, you’ll gain valuable experience while providing a unique opportunity for private clients, offering them opportunities to express their stylish and seductive inner selves while feeling like a Star for a Day. What woman doesn’t want to look sexy and beautiful in some private, maintaining a style and projecting class at the same time? This is what makes glamour photography so special and attractive to many women.
Focus on your friends, perhaps your significant other, when starting out and then take it from there.

Bear in mind that most women don’t see themselves, or want to see themselves in pornographic or trashy ways. And they don’t want to see themselves portrayed that way in photographs. Your private glamour model is not there for you, i.e., for you to live out your fantasies. They’re there for the unique and esteem-building experience you can provide her with. Your main goal in private glamour is to let the woman express herself in a sexy, attractive, sensual-yet-classy way. A way she’s likely dreamed of being presented. It’s your job to build her confidence and capture those precious moments for her. (And, most likely, for her male counterpart whom many women present the pictures to as birthday, anniversary, and St. Valentine’s Day gifts.)

If you choose to pursue private glamour (or boudoir) opportunities, there will be moments when your client feels quite vulnerable and apprehensive. You’ll need to be alert and sensitive to those moments, assuring her she looks stunning in the photos, reassuring her in positive ways, and reinforcing to her that’s it’s your job to help her feel as comfortable as possible, and as beautiful and alluring as she can be. You see, private glamour/boudoir isn’t just about your photography skills, it requires people skills as well. In fact, if you make the jump to shooting commercial glamour, you’ll find those same people skills will help you greatly when working with professional models as well.

In a nutshell, private photography services are areas where you can more easily break into and build a business. There are many money-making opportunities shooting for private female clients.

Private Commissioned Glamour Photography by Dan Hostettler

Most Important Ingredient For Private Glamour Is Trust

Your highest priority in the private glamour business is to establish trustworthy business relations with your potential clients. It is necessary to ensure them that you respect their privacy at all times and that the results of the shoots, the photos themselves, will not ever be made public without their expressed approval.

Beyond that, you will need to be careful about which images you show to your clients. Display one inferior photo to her, or photos where she may look trashy or like a porn star, and you will destroy the wonderful experience she came to you for. Her self-esteem may collapse like a sandcastle hit by a wave of disappointment. If you make the mistake of showing photos like those described during the shoot, you can pretty much kiss the shoot goodbye. In such cases, you might want to suggest trying again another day, unless you can somehow erase the negative image from her brain.
If it goes worse than that, you might also kiss off any recommendations she might make to her friends who may, potentially, also be interested in your services.

Always be alert and sensitive to what’s going on with your client during the shoot, leastwise as much as you can be, and always act and react in ways that are aimed at gaining back her trust and her confidence. Your goals, besides creating beautiful photographs, are also to ensure your client leaves with awesome and positive memories of an exciting event. And we all know what women do when they have experienced something incredible like this, don’t we? Exactly! They call their friends and talk about it. And that’s exactly what you want them to do. It’s the best way to promote your work and your services, that is, by providing an experience where your clients leave and do much of the marketing for you themselves.

By the way, it’s a good idea to ask your clients if they might agree for you to use one or two of their best shots in your portfolio. (With them having final approval in a written consent of the images you might use.)

If your client declines, that’s okay. They will feel special and honored simply because you have asked and that will also encourage them to talk about their experience with their friends. Making sure your private glamour clients are pampered, providing them with the best photo shooting experience ever, should always be at the top of your “To Do” list for these shoots. If you accomplish that, they and some of their friends will become repeat or new clients, guaranteed!

Imagery - glamNUDES by Dan Hostettler

Once Started You Need To Keep Going!

Much like any other business, your first steps in beginning a glamour photography business are the hardest. You need to research your local/regional opportunities whether you intend to pursue commercial glamour or private or both before you dive, head-first, into it.

Try not to be discouraged. Much of your potential for success is depending on you, not the market itself. If your level of commitment is strong and you’re willing to pay your dues through learning and practicing, the impersonal data you might discover may discourage you but, if you’re determined enough, it will not stop you!

Don’t let any negativity you find in the data overly mess with your photography business vision. Begin by intensely studying the art of glamour photography. Learn to shoot pro-like glamour photos of outstanding quality. Once you have accomplished that, half the battle is won.

What’s the best way to do that? By learning constantly and practice, practice, practice! To paraphrase the great Joe Edelman : “Your nest shot is your best shot!”.

Thanks for reading.

Dan Hostettler - Photographer & StudioPrague Owner

Author: Dan Hostettler   Verified Account; StudioPrague Owner  Switzerland

A traveler at heart, inspired by women, working along Swiss precision.

Dan is a mediapreneur, photographer, author of several books, owner of StudioPrague and Founder + Editor in Chief of Being a successful photographer for more than 15 years Dan got internationally published and featured on/in GQ Online, The India Times, FashionONE TV, FotoTV, GoodLight Mag, amongst many others.

Dan is currently residing and working in Prague, CZ, conducting nude photography workshops, productions and pushing educational formats to a new level.

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Consider a Small Donation?

Your donation helps to sustain, create and regularly update the free content for you.
I love offering my knowledge to you and a small token of appreciation helps to keep the lights on.

Thank You!


Starting Out: Looks & Portfolio Building

Limited Special for: U$79 | RRP $199

Just $79