There’s no denying that this year has been a difficult one, and most people’s lives have changed dramatically in ways we couldn’t have imagined twelve months ago. Something a lot of us are coming to terms with is how our bodies have changed due to a reduction in the amount of movement in our daily routine. I used to joke that I got all of my exercise from my commute – walking to and from the station, walking up escalators, and then up several flights of stairs once I got to work – but, after several months of not doing this, it became apparent that my previous daily routine had been far more active than I’d realised. Like many people working from home during lockdown and beyond, I have struggled to fit as much movement into my routine as I did before and, as a result, my body has become softer around the middle. I wasn’t unhappy about this, but it had left me feeling a bit less glamorous.
So, when I saw that my friend Tigz Rice had moved to doing virtual boudoir shoots, I was intrigued but didn’t really think that it was something for me. After all, in addition to my extra squishy tummy, I didn’t think there was anywhere in my flat that would have enough space and a nice enough background for photography. But I was very curious about the concept of a virtual shoot. I did a makeover shoot with Tigz, back in 2017, so I knew how her shoots worked normally and I became increasingly interested in how this would work from a distance. What sort of equipment would I need? How would Tigz take the photos? I commented on a Twitter post about not really having anywhere at home that might work, and Tigz replied that she’d seen the big windows in my flat (on an Underpinnings Museum team video call) and thought they’d be a perfect backdrop. I said there wasn’t much space around the bed, but she explained she’d been able to get good results in very small spaces. It seemed there were no more excuses left, so… I booked my shoot and started planning.
First of all I had to sort out the space. I had decided that the spare bedroom (which also doubles as my office at the moment) would be the right place, and so I sent phone snaps to Tigz to show the available space next to one of the windows to see if it would work. Once it had been agreed that this was where we’d be shooting, I set about buying a few things I’d been putting off for ages: new bedding, some plants, and a bedside table. Now I had my pretty background, I needed to start thinking about outfits too, and I quickly realised that there were quite a few beautiful lingerie sets in my collection that had yet to be photographed. Not least, my Miod set from Karolina Laskowska which definitely deserved its turn in the spotlight! Back when I bought it I wasn’t quite sure if I liked the high cut of the briefs on me but, after seeing ‘thighbrows’ become even more of a visible trend on Instagram over the last few years, I put them on again and was blown away by how hot I looked. I mean, I don’t need to sit down to get that crease, but seeing so many images of softer curvier bodies has definitely helped me to love myself more.
I had the week off work so that the shoot day and prep day were completely clear of other commitments. The day before, I re-dyed my hair and made sure my legs were smooth and everything was moisturised. I’d had a slight panic when it dawned on me that I was going to have to do my own hair and make-up this time, mostly because my hair hasn’t been cut since last November and I wasn’t entirely sure how to successfully style it in its current state. In the end, I trimmed my fringe and decided to embrace my natural waves for the shoot. My make-up look was one I’d done many times before, so I knew it would work well on camera and it wouldn’t cause additional stress on the day, which was important because… I was going to have to be Tigz’s assistant as well as her model!
There are many ways that Tigz can run a virtual shoot, depending on the equipment that you have available. In my case, I had access to a Canon 40D so Tigz suggested I download the EOS Utility app, which allows for remote shooting. I installed it on my Macbook in advance, and connected the camera to test, getting it set up on a tripod in a way that I hoped would work well on the day. It’s difficult to tell when you’re testing alone and can’t properly get yourself in the frame though! Tigz was going to give me directions and take control of the camera via Zoom, so I also made sure that I tried out screen sharing in advance so that I knew I had enabled the correct settings. All seemed to be ready, so I just had to keep my fingers crossed for some decent natural light on the day of the shoot.
Thankfully, the August weather was kind to us and there was plenty of sunlight which also wasn’t too harsh. Once we were connected on Zoom, with the screen sharing and remote access enabled, Tigz directed me to get the camera set up in a way that would get the framing she was after. As it became clear that the tripod wasn’t going to work well in the limited space we had available, this involved grabbing anything I could from my desk to prop up the camera and the lens – including two hardbound dissertations, a big pad of Post-it notes and a leopard print face mask! I was wearing my Betty Blues robe at this point, which I had planned on taking off in front of the camera, but I’m so glad that Tigz convinced me to try a few shots with it on as the peach colour worked really well with my pink hair and the background greenery.
I set up the EOS Utility app to save RAW files directly to a Dropbox folder that I had shared with Tigz in advance, so all the images she captured were available for editing without any further faff. It wasn’t long before I stopped worrying if I would look any good in the photos, as hearing Tigz’s words of encouragement coming from my laptop helped to reassure me that even the most bizarre of poses was giving excellent results. Who knew that kneeling or lying on the floor in the corner of a room could be so glamorous? At the end of the shoot, she recommended that I have a quick look through the Dropbox folder so that I could see how good I looked, even before the editing. I have to admit that I was blown away!
Although the virtual boudoir shoot package is different to the full makeover shoot package that I went with before – only 45 minutes of shooting plus 10 edited images, all selected by Tigz – it offers excellent value for money and is ideal for anyone working to a tight budget, or who can’t travel to shoot with Tigz in person at her studio or on location. I was amazed at the results and loved how good I felt on the day, so would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s considering trying a boudoir shoot. If you feel like 2020 has taken away your sparkle, I’m absolutely certain that Tigz Rice is the woman to help you find it again!
For those who are interested, the lingerie that I wore was a handmade cotton bobbinet tulle set from Karolina Laskowska, with a coordinating harness (I completely forgot to wear the choker though!), and a rose-embellished skirted set from Regalia, by Playful Promises. The shoes were from Office (about 20 years ago!) and the giant beaded tassel earrings were a from H&M a few years back. And, because a few folk have also asked about my greenery, you can get the plant from Patch and the bedding from John Lewis.