Modeling versus Trade versus Paid Shoot

Often, models and potential customers ask me about the difference between being a paid model, a trade photo shoot, and hiring me to photograph you. This posting will hopefully help clarify the differences.


When someone pays me to produce images, I will hire a model. I also hire models for personal projects where I hope to make money (dream on…). In this case, I pay the model for her/his time, and I might also hire a hair and makeup artist.

I will ask the model to sign a standard model release allowing me full use of the photos with no further compensation due her/him. Also, while I might send a few photos to the model, she/he was paid, so I am not obligated to I do so. In other words, the model trades her/his time for money (as in any other work situation).

I process photos from a paid shoot whenever I get to it, even if that is never (i.e., I paid for but never used the photos). If I am delivering the photos to a customer, then, obviously, I do process them quickly.

Some of the photos in this blog and at my web site feature paid models.

This is an example of a photo of a paid model.  As I was learning how to work with people as subjects, it was easiest to hire an experienced model such as AzariaZia, pictured here.
This is an example of a photo of a paid model. As I was learning how to work with people as subjects, it was easiest to hire an experienced model such as AzariaZia, pictured here.

Trade photo shoot

I do a few trade photo shoots per month. These usually are for personal projects or to increase my skills in one way or another. For a trade, the model gives her/his time modeling and I give the model a selection of edited photos from the photo shoot. She/he can use these photos for promotion (e.g., showing to potential clients, posting on a modeling web site, using as headshots for movie work, etc). Personal use (e.g., giving to family) is also fine.

The model release I use states that I can also use the images for promotional uses. Not all photographers have a specific trade model release; some expect the model to sign a full release, the same as for paid work. If you are a model, please read the release carefully; you might ask for it ahead of time.

However, either of us making money other than by the self-promotion requires that we work out additional details of sharing the profits. This has come up a few times.

I process the trade photos get processed as I have time; You might have to wait a few months to get the processed photos. Paid work takes priority. This is not the route to take if you are in a hurry to get your photos.

Many of the photos in this blog and at my web site feature trade shoots, especially the more artistic photos.

A nude woman on a canyon edge
This is an example of an image from a trade photo shoot. Ziggy (the model shown), another model, and I went off and produced some interesting photos like this one.

Paid photo shoot

When you hire me, I give you priority in scheduling. Whereas I do a few trades per month, I will do any paid shoots that I can fit into my schedule. Also, I promise a turnaround of photo processing in under two weeks, and I aim for delivering the photos in under one week.

Additionally, when you hire me, you can have the photos be private. If you want, nobody will see the photos other than me, you, and whoever you share them with. Unsurprisingly, none of the photos on this blog or my web site are from paid shoots.


Modeling Trade Paid
You get paid Yes In photos No
You pay No In time Yes
Photo turnaround time Whenever; possibly never As I have time Under two weeks
Privacy of photos No Promotional use by me Yes
Scheduling On my schedule A few a month, worked out cooperatively On your schedule

So, different ways of working with me have different results in terms of scheduling, privacy, photo turnaround time, and who gets paid (if anybody). Pick the right one for your needs, and everybody is happy.

Boudoir photography on a bed

In a continuing series about locations for boudoir photography, we look at using a bed as a prop for sexy photography.

Most couples use a bed for sex most of the time. Of course, it is fun to spice things up by doing it in different locations, but the bed just tends to be the most comfortable and convenient. When producing sexy photos, we want to convey the possibility to the viewer that sex is imminent. Therefore, a bed is a natural location to use for boudoir photos.

Here is an example:

model in a bra lying on a bed illustrating boudoir photography on a bed
Model Chrystal Loya shows how boudoir photography on a bed can be sexy.

This photo makes use of lingerie to show sexiness, and also uses the bed to imply a sense of intimacy with the viewer.

Here is another example:

nude woman on bed covered by a sheet and pillow illustrating boudoir photography on a bed
Model AzariaZia shows how boudoir photography on a bed is sexy.

In this photo, even though she is completely covered, you can tell that she is also nude. This photo combines the concepts of showing what is not normally seen with the intimacy of a bed and being completely undressed.

One more example:

woman with the lingerie straps off her shoulder and taking her panties off to illustrate boudoir photography on a bed
Chelsea Christian illustrates boudoir photography on a bed and clothing coming off

In this photo, she is completely covered, but providing a sense of intimacy and the possibility of sex by removing clothing.

To summarize this blog post, using a bed for boudoir photography is great because it shows an intimacy with the viewer and hints that sex might be imminent. This expression of intimacy due to location is effective both mentally for you and visually to the viewer of the photos. If you want to show how sexy you are, contact me to book a boudoir session today.

Lingerie and sexiness

woman in a red babydoll lingerie lying on her back on a bed
Model Chrystal Loya shows how lingerie can be sexy.

When considering what to wear for boudoir photos, an obvious choice is lingerie. In this post, we will look at lingerie and sexiness.

As mentioned in a prior post, showing something that is not normally seen can be sexy. Since lingerie is clothing not normally seen, showing it can be sexy.

a woman wearing a red bra showing sexiness and lingerie
Model and performer Ashli Mayo provides yet another illustration of lingerie and sexiness.
A whole industry exists equating lingerie with sexiness. Think about brands like Victoria’s Secret, Venus lingerie, Fredrick’s of Hollywood, as a few simple examples. Looking at the comments on lingerie for sale at Amazon, you see comments about how meeting a partner wearing sexy lingerie “works”. For example, look at some of the reviews on this page. One says, “I tried it on and my man was like DAMN GIRL, LETS DO THIS.” You can find example reviews like this on most of the lingerie that they sell.

woman showing lingerie and sexiness
Model Gisele Serna shows how a bit of see-through enhances the sexiness of lingerie
Some lingerie is also somewhat see-through, which can provide a hint of what is underneath. This example is one more showing what is normally seen. The combination of the two can be devastatingly sexy.

One more important part of lingerie and sexiness is that what you wear can affect how you feel about yourself. When you feel you are beautiful and sexy, you are. Knowing that you are wearing something alluring can set your mental attitude to “sexy”, and this shows in the resulting images.

To summarize this blog post, lingerie is usually sexy because it reveals something not shown to the world. This expression of intimacy through uncovering is effective both mentally for you and visually to the viewer of the photos. If you want to show how sexy you are, contact me to book a boudoir session today.

Boudoir Photography in a Hotel Room (NSFW)

As with all locations, boudoir photography in a hotel room has its advantages and disadvantages. It will be clean and uncluttered, private, and might have good light making flattering photos easier to get. However, it also adds to the cost of a photography session, and the furniture will probably be different from yours. In this blog posting, I will be talking about the pros and cons of a hotel room as a photography location.


nude woman silhouetted in the bedroom doorway
Boudoir photography in a hotel room gives an uncluttered location for sexy photos.

One of the biggest advantages to doing boudoir photography in a hotel room is that it will be clean, uncluttered, and, for some hotels, the furniture will be unique and an enhancement to the photos. Only in the cheapest hotels would the furniture be a distraction, and we would never work in one of those.

Another hotel advantage is that they all have sheer curtains that provide privacy while allowing the light into the room. This light is often very flattering for photos.

Speaking of privacy, in a hotel room, nobody should be interrupting the photo session. No kids coming home from school, no friends dropping by to chat, etc. This allows us to focus on the photos, helping us get more and better ones.

Yet another possible advantage of a hotel room is that there can be a sense of adventure that arises from being sexy in a different location from normal. Think about going with your lover to a new location. Isn’t the sex a little more exciting? This excitement can show in the photos as well.


You never get something for nothing. This adage really applies to the idea of boudoir photography in a hotel room. Good hotel or B&B rooms cost at least $100/night, often more. This can add significantly to the cost of a photo session. However, if you have some friends who also want to have boudoir photos, you can split the cost amongst yourselves. We can easily do several photo sessions in a day of hotel time.

Hotel room furniture is unlikely to look like yours. This might not be a problem at all.


nude woman lying on a bed illustrating boudoir photography in a hotel room
The simple bedclothes and other furniture provide a clean but obvious bed for implying the imminence of sex
Boudoir photography in a hotel room provides a clean, uncluttered, and private location for photos that can show a sense of adventure or excitement due to the different location. Unfortunately, it also adds significantly to the cost of a photo session.

Boudoir Photography in a Bedroom

The lovely AzariaZia reclines on a bed illustrating boudoir photography in a bedroom.
The lovely model AzariaZia reclines on a bed.
According to Wikipedia, “boudoir” comes from the French word for a woman’s private sitting room or salon in a furnished accommodation usually between the dining room and the bedroom; it can also refer to a woman’s private bedroom. It is an area where a woman can be intimate with herself or together with her lover. Since we are after photos showing the sexy side of you, this location is an obvious one to consider when thinking about locations for photos. In this blog post, I will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using your bedroom as a photo location.


A woman in lingerie lying on a bed illustrating boudoir photography in a bedroom.
Beautiful model Kika De La O relaxes on a bed.
As noted in a previous blog, sexiness can come from the implication in the photo that engaging in sex is a possibility. Since, at least in western culture, the bed is often used as a location for intercourse, then it makes an obvious photo prop for hinting about future sex. Clothed or not, posed on a bed, you can radiate a sexiness that your target will find irresitable.

Since the bed is the bed you share with your lover, there is a feeling of familiarity that shows in the photos. This might make you more comfortable, and that comfort will translate into better photos. The camera captures your mood, so when you are happy and feeling sexy, it shows.


topless woman lying on her back in a bed with her hands on her breasts
Wonderful model Sabrina Marie is comfortable in her body and is sexy, yet another good illustration of boudoir photography in a bedroom. Photo assistance by Nora Sue.
Most people have things in their bedroom that are useful for day-to-day life, such as books or magazines that you are reading, a mobile device (possibly plugged into the charger), maybe some medicines, etc. This everyday clutter is fine for life, but can be distracting in a photo. This means before we use your bedroom as a photo location, you need to remove all of the clutter (maybe other than some sex toys or lube). This cleaning obviously takes time, and you will want to bring at least some of the items back after the photo shoot, taking more time.

If you want, when you schedule a photo session, my female photo assistant or I will come to your house and give advice about what can be left in the room and what should be removed for the photos.


Because of the association with sex, doing boudoir photography in a bedroom, especially your bedroom, can help you be both relaxed and sexy. Other than the issues of decluttering, this might be the location you want to use for your boudoir photos. Contact us today to schedule your sexy or boudoir session.

Boudoir photography outdoors (NSFW)

Doing sexy or boudoir photography outdoors can be exciting and beautiful. However, it can also be cold and rainy and might have privacy problems. In this blog posting, I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of outdoor boudoir photography.


a nude woman holding a flower and behind a bunch of grass illustrating boudoir photography outdoors
Model Stephanie Anne behind some grass in San Lorenzo Canyon, NM
The great outdoors can be beautiful, especially in the two states where I live: New Mexico and Hawaii. A beautiful landscape makes a better backdrop than any you will every find in a studio. Trees, tall grass, mountain streams, and wonderful vistas all await someone willing to work outside.

When we are working on private property, privacy can be assured. I have set up a simple outdoor studio on 11 acres that I own in the Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque. The land has a lockable gate. It also has several different forest settings.

Working outside can lend a sense of adventure to the photo session. Many people in the US are rarely somewhat or completely undressed outdoors. Therefore it can be a new experience (and maybe even a nude experience; sorry, I could not help myself).


a nude woman floats in a mountain pool illustrating sexy and boudoir photography outdoors
Model London Andrews in the Rio Jemez, NM
The biggest possible disadvantage of doing sexy and boudoir photography outdoors is the weather. Luckily, I live in areas where good weather is common. However, I have had to cancel photo sessions or move them to the studio when the weather did not cooperate.

Also, in most states, it is too cool or even cold to work outside during part of the year. If you are cold, it will show in the photos and they will not be as good.

When working in national forests and on other public land, there is the issue of privacy.

a topless woman looks around a corner in a canyon illustrating boudoir photography outdoors
Model Stephanie Anne looking around a corner in San Lorenzo Canyon, NM
Whenever I am shooting sexy or boudoir photos outdoors, I always have a lookout posted, and we are ready with a robe or other cover at a moments notice. When we were doing the photos of London (such as the one above where she is floating in a pool), a group of people intending on fishing wandered by (and kept going). We heard them approaching and she was clothed when they came by us. In general, I have noticed that even at busy locations in the mountains (such as the Sandias just outside of Albuquerque), most people are gone by a mile from the trailhead. Leave the trail by just a little bit, and you rarely will see people. I know many places just far enough off a trail to work well as photo locations.


a topless woman holding a flower as an example of boudoir photography outdoors
Model Stephanie Anne in San Lorenzo Canyon, NM
Doing sexy and boudoir photos outdoors gives a background and props that are impossible to recreate in a studio or other location. There can be a sense of adventure associated with going to a location and being partially or completely undressed. Unfortunately, the weather is not under control, so there can be temperature or rain issues. Private property has controlled access, but working on public lands requires having a lookout watching and listening for people wandering by.

Boudoir photography in a studio

One location option for sexy or boudoir photography is to use a studio. As with any location, there are advantages and disadvantages. A studio is under the control of the photographer, and might be less expensive because he or she does not need to travel. However, it might not look like a (or your) bedroom, and it might take longer to relax in the unfamiliar surroundings. In this blog post, I will go into more detail about the pros and cons of boudoir photography in a studio.


a woman on a bed as an example of boudoir photography in a studio
Model Kika De La O in the bedroom portion of my studio
To start with, a studio is a controlled environment. This means that the temperature can be set to a comfortable level. Probably, you are wearing fewer clothes than normal. The ability to ensure that you are warm enough is important. If you are uncomfortable, it will show in the photos. When I am doing sexy and boudoir photography, your comfort is more important than mine. If necessary, I will be sweating to ensure that you are comfortable.

Next, most studios have controlled access. This means that you get privacy. In my case, the only people around during boudoir photography in a studio are you, maybe your friend, my (female for female customers) photo assistant, and me. Your privacy is very important to me, so I ensure that nobody else will show up in the studio unexpectedly.

Another advantage of a studio is that the lighting might be already set up, saving time (and hence money) for you. It can take 30 or more minutes to set up lighting equipment, and a similar length of time to take it down again at the end. Since my price is related to the amount of time I will be spending on the photography and subsequent editing, less time means a lower cost.

Beyond the cost of the time to set up equipment, when I have to travel to your location, I have to spend both time and money to get there. When we work at my studio, the time is minimal or zero. This is also reflected in the cost.

In my case, my studio is in my house. Not everybody is comfortable coming to a strange house and undressing. For this reason, I also have access to two rental studios. They have the advantages listed above other than the time savings, although one of the studios comes equipped with a good selection of lights and light modifiers.

In my home studio, not only are lights probably already set up, I keep a selection of props handy. When traveling, I take the props most likely to be useful, but if something unusual is needed, I might not have it. Under most circumstances, I have way more ideas than we have time for, so this advantage is minor.


a topless woman with breasts covered by hair illustrating boudoir photography in a studio
Model “Ziggy” poses in a non-bedroom part of my studio.
You never get something for nothing, however. This means that boudoir photography in a studio does potentially have some drawbacks. The first is that the boudoir (French for bedroom) part of my studio probably looks different from yours. If the photos are intended for your partner, then this difference might be disconcerting. A related issue is that a different part of my studio is a more traditional studio. It looks nothing like a bedroom. We can get great photos there, but they will not be traditional “boudoir” photos.

Another disadvantage of a studio location is that some people find it harder to relax in due to being partially or completely undressed in unfamiliar surroundings. Time spent photographing might cover this; most customers relax in 15 to 45 minutes. This relaxation time is why I rarely schedule less than a two-hour photo session.


Boudoir photography in a studio is a temperature- and privacy-controlled environment. It normally requires less travel and setup time than a location photo shoot. However, it probably does not look like your home, and it might take a little longer to relax in the unfamiliar surroundings. In other blog posts, I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your house, a hotel, and outside locations.

Candlelight Photography

I recently did a photo session where we experimented using one or more candles as the primary light source. Here is one of the resulting candlelight photography images:

woman lit by the candle she is holding
The beautiful Samantha Jo. holding a candle.


First: safety. When we did the photo shoot, we had a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case something went wrong. Also, because we are working with fire, we also have to think about temperatures. Soy wax candles burn at around 115-119°F and the wax makes a good hand lotion. They also burn cleanly, so there are fewer health issues associated with breathing in the same area where they are burning. Paraffin wax, which is used in traditional candles, melts at between 115 and 154°F, so it can be much hotter. And, when paraffin burns, it tends to produce chemicals associated with lung cancer and asthma with long-term exposure (CNN’s similar information). Finally, not a safety risk, but also worth considering is that soy wax is a renewable resource, whereas paraffin comes from petroleum.

Light (or lack of it)

The primary issue associated with candlelight photography is that candles are dark. Our eyes adjust, so it is less noticeable to us. However, the low light means one or more of the following:

  • Exposures are longer. This means no moving, including breathing. It also means that the camera has to be on a tripod. Since I normally prefer hand-holding the camera, this is not my favorite way of working. However, as you will see, the results are probably worth it.
  • The sensor ISO setting has to be higher, leading to more sensor noise. I shoot with a full-frame camera that has good low-light capabilities, but the noise goes up with the ISO for all cameras (digital and film). Also, with higher ISO settings, the image sharpness drops. To some extent, these can be handled with post-processing, but you cannot make data where there is none to begin with. The result of a higher ISO setting is that prints might have a smaller maximum size. Since my normal maximum is around 2x3ft, this is not a big deal.
  • The exposure needs wide apertures (low f-stops), which leads to shallow depth of field. Since many boudoir, sexy, and glamor photos have a narrow depth-of-field, this might be OK. However, it is something that I have to be aware of as I create the images.

Light color

The next issue is that the color of light produced by a candle is very red-orange-yellow (warm) compared with most other light sources. This means that white balance is important, even if I decide to keep some of the warm colors in the final image.

Light character

One advantage of candles is that they tend to produce soft light, especially when several are combined to produce the light. When I took the photo at the top of this post, not only was the dual-wick candle you see in the photo at the top of this post burning, but there were several others burning nearby. I had lit them at the beginning, because some candles get brighter after they have burned for a few minutes. They added some extra light to the image. Here is an example:

a woman's torso lit by 10 tea candles
Using several candles both provides more light as well as providing very soft light which tends to be more flattering for most people. This is the beautiful Samantha Jo.

Blended light sources

Another interesting thing to do is to not rely on the candle as the only source of light. This requires setting the exposure so that it shows the candle (as mentioned, not a bright source of light) with the other light. It also means that the different sources of light need to be similar in color. Simply adding in daylight or a flash will mean that the image has a very warm light from the candle and daylight and flash are much cooler (bluer). Mixed light sources can cause shadows to have a color cast, something that can be a real pain to deal with. Blended candle light will be the subject of a future blog post.


After taking care of safety, candles produce a warm, soft light that makes for beautiful photos. However, because it is not very bright, it also brings with it some challenges. I look forward to doing more candlelight photography in the future. Contact me to schedule a candlelight photography session!

Why no unedited photos?

Sometimes, I am asked to provide just the unedited photos straight from the camera to a customer. I always decline. This post explains why.

Remember that the camera does not take the picture. I do. If all you want is whatever the camera (set by someone who has less experience than I do) can do and nothing more, there are a lot of “photographers” out there who will happily give you whatever their camera produces at a lower price than what I will charge. When you hire me, you are going to get a set of quality images that will display you at your best and you can be proud of.

How Raw is “raw”?

First, usually when people ask for unedited photos, they normally mean the camera-produced JPEG. However, they could also be talking about the RAW file, which is all of the camera’s sensor data. Starting with the JPEGs, I only use the camera-generated JPEG image for proofing—looking at photos to see which ones are good and which are the duds. The camera does an OK job of producing a JPEG file, but it does not really know the look I am after. There are some controls to guide it, but it never produces an image that is exactly what I want in a finished image.

For example, here are two versions of the same photo of Dakarra:

woman standing, looking over her shoulder at the camera
This is the camera-generated JPEG image of the lovely Dakarra Dolley. It is not a bad image, but it could look better.
woman standing, looking over her shoulder at the camera
Here is the same photo of Dakarra Dolley. However, this version has nicer color, details in shadows, has better colors, has been slightly cropped to achieve better composition, and is overall more flattering to her.

In order to best see the color differences, you need to be using a color-calibrated display for your computer. Notice that by adjusting the white balance, the image has better color. Her skin and hair nearly glow. The processed image has more detail in the shadows. I also slightly cropped the image to do a better job of making her the focus of the image.

The camera RAW data is not intended for human consumption. It has more data than will fit into a JPEG image, and few computer displays can even show all the data in it. The raw data is also uncorrected for white balance, which means that the colors can be (and probably are) incorrect. I have been using camera RAW format for years, and I have developed a skill at producing images from it that are what I (and my customers) like. Unless you are a professional photographer or very experienced amateur, I am probably better at producing final images from raw files than you are.

Producing “the look”

I have a certain look that you hired me for. Before you hired me, you saw examples of my work that convinced you that I produce photos like what you want. That look might or might not be what the camera produces. In my case, I work really hard to get images correct in the camera. However, I still adjust exposure. contrast, and white balance. I will have edited the photos so your skin looks great; zits and other skin flaws are temporary and easily removed. If you want, I will soften any wrinkles you have. The pose and lighting will highlight your best parts and minimize what you are less proud of. I know this, because we will have talked about it before we started the photo session. None of this is in the unedited photos.

Removing duds

I will start this section with a story. Several years ago, I was working for a geologist, taking photos of her research site and of her and her students performing the research. I gave her a camera dump of the JPEG images. Being very conscientious, when she used one of the photos, she put my name by it. Normally, this is a good thing, because having my name associated with the photo might bring in more business. However, in this case, she picked a photo with glaring photographic flaws and put it on the web. I asked her to either change photos or remove my name.

Every photo shoot has duds. In some cases, the problem is mine. I might have blown the focus, framing, or lighting. It could be that you were making a funny face or had an awkward pose. I remove all of these duds. The only reason to show someone the duds is when I am working with a new model who needs to understand what poses work and what poses do not work for her/his body type. Otherwise, nobody ever sees them. What I deliver to you is strictly the photos that I am happy to have my name associated with.


I work with a professional printing company to produce a photo that has correct color and looks as good as what I see on my color-calibrated monitor. Producing a print is not as simple as just sending the photo to your computer’s printer. I work with the printing company to make the absolute best print you can get. I select the paper; this controls whether it is glossy or matte. Also, because “white” is the absence of ink and all inks are on this background, any color in the paper affects the colors in the whole image. The printers that produce my prints use many different inks, more than consumer printers and low-end commercial printers. This means that the colors are richer and more accurate. The printers are also color calibrated, which means that the image on my display is what the print looks like, within technological limitations.

The result of all of this is that the print I deliver to you will look far better than what you will get from a local discount store, drug store, most web printing companies, or a cheap photo printing place. In other words, you are getting quality.


I want you to have photos that bring back memories of the photo shoot and your life at the time. The photos will capture your beauty and sexiness. They are a great ego boost for you to see yourself as I can show you in photos. They make a great gift for your spouse or partner to remember part of why the two of you are together. I will give you photos that are properly exposed, have good colors, and have no duds. The prints will be beautiful, and you will be proud to show them off. You will get quality.

Why not schedule a photo session today?

Photographers I respect: Monica Motor

There are several photographers whose work I respect. They all have the skills to produce excellent images. For blog entries in this series about photographers I respect, I will introduce each one of them. In many cases, I know them only through their work. In other cases, I personally know the photographer.

The first photographer I will mention is Monica Motor. She is a photographer in Poland. What I like most about her photos is the clear mastery of lighting that she shows. She uses lighting to show shape. She also uses it to hide flaws, although I doubt that any of the models in her photos have may flaws. Look at her portfolio of women, and in particular, look at their noses. The light always shows the model’s nose perfectly.

I would be interested in seeing what she can do with a more diverse collection of models, especially models who are older and/or larger. Given her control of lighting, I suspect that she could do a fine job with them.

One criticism I have of the photos is that several of the models have rounded shoulders. Since good posture is sexy, I think that the women in her photos would be even more attractive if they had good posture.