The Boudoir Divas: Lighting for Muscle Tone

My husband, Weston Bouchér, recently completed an intense 45-day health & fitness regimen and his coach, NPC Physique Competitor George Waszczuk encouraged him to have photos taken at the completion of the program to document his transformation...which was where I came in!

My light of choice was a Photoflex StarFlash 650 through a Photoflex Medium HalfDome with Grids attached. Weston, being a photographer himself, already had some suggestions for the look he wanted. He showed me some H&M product shots of David Beckham that really emphasized muscle definition due to the dramatic single source lighting approach.

Weston has an experienced eye for analyzing light direction so with a little experimenting, he quickly discovered how to replicate the desired effect of intense shadows and contrast. This is a much more masculine style of lighting compared to what I'm used to. When working with female clientele for our boudoir shoots, I'm often trying to soften the image and avoid harsh shadows on the eye sockets and other areas of the body.


The setup was actually very simple, but the key to achieving the dramatic, high contrast look is in raising the strobe rather high (8ft in this instance) and then angling the HalfDome slightly downward toward Weston. I also had the HalfDome angled midway between a vertical and horizontal orientation. It's important to adjust for your subject's height (Weston is 6 feet tall), so pay attention to the definition in the jawline as you raise and lower the light stand (modeling light enabled). The Grids helped to further focus and direct the light so that it didn't spill beyond Weston too much.


As you can see in the diagram, the Weston was about 4-5 feet away from a painted gray wall. I chose an 85mm lens so that I could ensure nice compression to the image and also decent distance from my subject to avoid any optical distortion. The face of the HalfDome itself was about three feet from Weston's face, but depending on how intense of a look you're after, it's generally good to experiment with this distances. The closer the light gets to your subject, the more it highlights a single area of the body. Whereas the further back your light is, the more evenly it lights the entire face and torso. Here, the light was coming in from the hard left side of Weston to create even more of a shadowing effect.


I shot from about 8-9 feet away from Weston and these images were not cropped at all.

Post-processing was done in Lightroom 4 with custom B&W presets created by my husband Weston. Though the images you see still had minimal processing and look very close to straight out of the camera due to the capture settings and strobe position. Enhancements were mostly light contrast, clarity, vignetting, a slight exposure bump and finally sharpening to finish it off. Nothing else. The clarity slider is an especially great tool for enhancing the definition look of a shoot like this.

Happy shooting!

P.S. Feel free to contact Weston's coach George Waszcuk for a quote, as he coached Weston entirely by remote location and is currently taking clients.

Equipment Used
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon EF 85mm 1.2L II USM
Photoflex StarFlash 650
Photoflex HalfDome®: medium
Photoflex Medium SoftBox Grids for HalfDome

Camera and power settings
StarFlash Power: 3/4
Aperture: f/8
Shutter/sync speed: 1/160th of a second
ISO 100


Written and photographed by Marissa Bouchér, Owner & Photographer of The Boudoir Divas
To see more of Marissa's work, visit her Boudoir Divas ProShowcase page
To learn more about the lighting gear used in this shoot, click on the links below:

Photoflex StarFlash 650
Photoflex HalfDome®: medium
Photoflex Medium SoftBox Grids for HalfDome


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