Many of us have been curious about boudoir photos. How would I look? Where do I put my hand? What happens if I giggle the whole time?
The answers: absolutely beautiful, wherever you want, and that’ll probably look sexy too.
At least, that’s how I felt when I had a mini photo session with Denise Luce, a 35-year-old photographer and owner of DL Art Photography, based out of Lakewood, who specializes in boudoir and pin-ups. The second I walked into the room, she put me at ease with her soft voice and beautiful accent, and her kind and encouraging words.
I chatted with Denise about her photography, her ability to connect with clients, and what makes her unique.
Roxanne Hack: What makes you different from other photographers?
Denise Luce: I think what makes me really different is the fact that I treat each client that’s in front of my camera how they want to be treated. I want to make sure that they get the photos they will memorize, portraits that show them who they truly are. There are some people who want the boudoir experience or the ones who want the pin-up, or the ones who want more of a darker portrait. I just want to make sure I really get to know my clients, and then give them photos of how they want to be remembered.
RH: How do you get to know your clients?
DL: Most of the time I either meet them in person or we talk a few times on the phone. I really like to meet people in person because then they get to know me too, and they get more of a feel for who I am and see if I’m the right kind of vibe for them. I want people to know who I am before they get in front my camera, which tends to be a lot of boudoir; I want them to be comfortable with me. I want to be their friend, in essence.
RH: How long have you been doing this?
DL: I’ve officially done it since 2014. I started a little bit earlier but I didn’t really take it seriously as my profession until then.
RH: Was photography always a passion of yours?
DL: To be entirely honest, I’ve always been an artist of many forms. I bake, I do crafts. But photography kind of came to me as a surprise. I’d done a family session and that family session with that photographer didn’t go as planned, and everybody wasn’t happy with the photos. I’ve always used Photoshop my entire life, so I thought, maybe I should try and do the other aspect of this, and get the photos myself. The minute I picked up the camera, that was like love at first sight for sure.
RH: Describe a typical day for you.
DL: A typical day usually starts for me with a lot of social media. I go through all my Instagram and Facebook feeds and connect with people. Then I check my emails and sit down and make sure my clients are happy with their galleries if I’ve submitted those. I do a whole lot of editing of my photos. I set up different sessions, I sometimes go location scouting.
RH: Tell me about location scouting. Do you have favorites? Super weird ones?
DL: Locations are always fun for me because as much as I’m drawn to beauty and fashion and pin-up and boudoir, I’m also really drawn to abandoned buildings, haunted places, burned down places, graveyards – so I like to combine them. That’s sometimes really fun for my clients when I suggest to them, “Let’s go to this abandoned school area and shoot there!” One time I went out to the desert with a friend and she had a high-fashion gown on, and we went out to a totally abandoned house. It was just run down, there were rusty nails everywhere and glass on the ground, left over old shoes and dresses and car pieces. It was just crazy. There is definitely a whole different feel to it when you put high-fashion gowns and beautiful modern style into an abandoned area.
RH: What’s one of your very favorite photo shoots?
DL: It’s honestly really really hard for me to pick just one because what really makes me the happiest is when my client has so much fun shooting, and later on when they see their photos they’re just so happy with them – those are my favorite moments, individually.
RH: What do you tell people who are doing a photo shoot for the first time? What about boudoir specifically?
DL: Most of the time I let them ask all the questions they have. I tell them not to be shy because I know there’s a lot of questions they have on their minds that they’re maybe too shy to ask, so I make sure to really open myself up and say, hey, just tell me what you’re worried about and I probably have a solution for it. I tell them we ease into a shoot; it’s not like we’re going to show up on location and you have to be almost nude in front of me – it’s going to be on their time and however comfortable they feel. Also, they usually expect to pay for a session and then have to show up and just do it, so I tell them if for some reason they’re not feeling right or not feeling good about themselves that day, we can reschedule. I don’t ever want pressure on them because I know how hard it is to be in front of the camera.
RH: How long does it take for you to get the photos back to your clients?
DL: It’s probably about two to three weeks. It depends on the package too; if something takes a day to shoot with multiple outfits, it might take longer than that. But my average is two to three weeks.
RH: How far in advance do you get booked?
DL: Most of the time it’s about a month or two.
RH: Where is your studio?
DL: I actually don’t own a physical location; I book different studios – one in L.A. and one in Orange County. I own my own portable studio setup, so I can do that to some extent. But the high-fashion concepts I like to shoot in the bigger studios.
RH: What’s your price range?
DL: My prices start at $150 per session.
RH: Where should I go to find more info about you and your work?