Interview with Shawn Black
VienneMilano is a luxury hosiery brand that believes in helping every woman look and feel fabulous. Throughout our journey, we've come across many talented individuals who are also passionate about hosiery and women empowerment. This week, we'd like to introduce you to Shawn Black, the owner of Couture Black. Shawn is an award winning wedding and boudoir photographer who often incorporates VienneMilano Luxury Hosiery into his work. Through his work, Shawn aims to help women feel beautiful, strong, and confident.
How did your career as a photographer begin?
I have always been a creative through out my life. I majored in TV/Film production in college with a minor in still photography. I graduated and began my career as a TV producer in the late 90’s. By the mid 2000’s when the economy was very unstable I switched to the agency side of things and worked across TV, print, radio, and online advertising and marketing. In 2010 the agency I had been working for closed it’s Boston office and I was laid off. This proved to be one of the best days of my life in hindsight. I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world so I decided I was going to start my own photography business as I had been taking small jobs all along to keep my creative side fulfilled and wanted to give it a go full time. That was 2010 when Shawn Black Photography my wedding and event brand was started and then 3 years later in 2013 Couture Black my boudoir brand launched. Both brands have grown and prospered each year and this August I’ll be celebrating 10 years in business.
What was the first camera you ever owned?
The first camera I ever owned was a Kodak Instamatic 110 Film camera that my grand parents gave me as a kid. Its the camera that was a long rectangle like a candy bar that used the film cartridge that was reel to reel and looked like a pair of glasses. I remember shooting reel after reel of film with it and when I was out still just snapping pics through the viewfinder as if I had a full room just because I love looking at the world through the lens and composing images.
What do you enjoy most about boudoir photography?
What I enjoy most about boudoir photography is the ability to create images that can be life changing for women. Seeing the messages that our media, our society, our culture bombard women with daily about how they are not beautiful unless your are this or you are not sexy unless you are that is saddening. For the past seven years helping women look past that noise and see a side of themselves they might not have seen quite some time if ever at all is extremely rewarding. Knowing that I am making a difference to change the beauty narrative as a whole even if only one woman at a time is something that I know if making the world a better place for my wife, my daughter, and every other women because they shouldn’t ever not feel beautiful, or strong, or confident.
How do you make your subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera?
The way that I have clients comfortable in front of the camera starts from before they even book me. I live my life very publicly on social media so when they are doing their research they have a window into my world where they can see who I am. From the point that they book we start the process of getting to know them with a pre-session questionnaire and then an in person pre-session consult at the studio where they get to see the space and meet me long before they are in front of the lens. We also have a private Facebook group The Couture Black Lounge where clients interact with past, present, and future clients. The day of their shoot it is an environment that is designed to set them at easy and celebrate them. They are pampered with professional hair and makeup so by the time they are in the first pose the nerves are almost gone and if they aren’t once they see the first back of camera images they most certainly are then because they realize that they can do this. Through out the session it is a relaxed fun experience which results in a lot of laughs as I demonstrate any poses that may not be quite getting. It is this level of experience through years of doing this and constantly educating myself that comes through and it is pretty funny when it’s my butt in the air showing a pose.
What are some classic accessories that complement a boudoir photography shoot?
First and foremost the number one accessory for a boudoir shoot is a pair of stockings, preferably VienneMilano and I’ll get in to why VMs in a minute. The reason why they are they best accessory is that they complete the look of what ever piece of lingerie the client may have chosen. The add another texture to a 2 dimensional image giving it more interest and detail. Why VienneMilano stockings versus other brands? Several reasons the first being one of the most important, they do not create a bulge at the top if you size them correctly. Secondly they stay up and in place with out rolling which can slow down a shoot and make a woman self conscious. Lastly they shoot amazing because they are made of quality materials which shows in the final images.
Aside from stockings I try not to over complicate my images with a lot of other accessories because they can become distracting.
The only other accessory that women incorporate in to their sessions at least once are a pair of our #CBBombshellWings as they instantly turn you in to this bad ass runway model and bring out a different level of confidence once you put them on.
What do you try to avoid saying at a boudoir photoshoot?
During a shoot I have a rule, the is not to be any negative body talk. Other than that the studio is kind of like Vegas, what is said there, stays there. It is a safe space where you are allowed to be vulnerable with no judgement.
What’s the number one piece of advice for women who are about to star in their boudoir photography session for the first time?
The number one piece of advice I give all my clients is step out of your comfort zone. Most often that means in your wardrobe choices, get that outfit you keep going back to, but don’t think you could pull off. Guess what? Not only will you pull it off, it will probably end up producing the images you love most.
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