Jantira “Ya” Namwong is a famous and talented Boudoir Photographer in Thailand. Her brand “Boudoir by Ya” creates sensual and artistic pictures which enhance the model’s beauty. In this conversation, Jantira tells us about her work, her travels and her projects.
How did you get started in photography ?
I have been studying at the university in the section of communication arts, with a specialisation in photography. At the same time I was running a printing company with some partners. We were an agency as well. We created brochures for our customers. Most of them were hotels and resorts. I was shooting the pictures for their campaign.
I was then in architecture photography for several years. It was very complicated because the picture had to show a perfect place. There was a lot of preparation to get the place clean and a lot of editing in photoshop.
Three years ago I wanted to do something that would make me happy and correspond to what I like. I did some research about the history of photography and I learned about boudoir photography, which was developed in France in the 1920’s . As I am a female photographer, I thought that it would be easier for women to pose in front of me for sexy pictures or nude pictures. I started to ask around me and on facebook if some women wanted some boudoir pictures and that was a success. That’s how it started.
How would you define Boudoir Photography ?
It’s about making portraits sexy and chic, taking place in an elegant setting and nice surrounding. In Asia it’s not yet very well-known so I often have to explain the history of this genre and the purpose of it.
So you were a pioneer in this genre of photography in Asia ?
I don’t know if there are many other photographers in this field. Many people told me that I am the first female doing boudoir photography in Thailand!
What is the profile of your customers ? is there a special moment or event in their life that make them want some boudoir photography ?
Many of my customers have never posed in front of a photographer before. I know how to make them comfortable, how to dress up, how to pose and behave in front of the camera. Every woman want to be sexy and beautiful. If they are single, my pictures help them to be more confident. If they are married or have a boyfriend, they make a nice surprise by showing themselves in an attractive and unusual way.
You are very active on facebook, is it important in your line of work ?
Yes, 100% of my business comes from facebook. When woman see my pictures on facebook, they want to do the same and contact me.
Where do you set your shootings usually ?
Most of the time I rent a hotel room. When I shoot in Bangkok, I change of hotel every time . This way, my pictures look different everytime and my customers feel unique. Besides, I am more motivated by having a new set and I make better pictures.
Do you travel a lot for your work ?
I live in Chiang Mai and I travel a lot to Bangkok because that’s where most of my clients are. I organize a session for a few days and it’s always fully booked. Some of my clients live in a foreign country. When they travel to Thailand, I come to Bangkok to meet them.
10 to 20% of the time I shoot in Chiang Mai as well.
Earlier this year I went to Mongolia and later I went to Vanuatu for 3 weeks, in the South Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu is amazing. I had the chance to go to the jungle, to stay with the people and shoot some street photography. I could shoot some local models as well.
Can you tell us about your workshops ?
I started last year. At the beginning I targeted the beginner photographers who want to learn how to shoot models. But in fact, I have as well a lot of professional photographers who come!
I organise everything, I tell the model how to pose and I explain to the photographers how to do it. Then I show them the right angles to shoot. After the shooting, we work on the editing in Photoshop.
Speaking about editing, are you using Lightroom and Photoshop ?
I used to edit in Lightroom, but now I prefer to do everything on Photoshop because I want more details. And I want my models to be beautiful in the end.
How do your models react when they see your pictures ?
“Wow! this is me ?” that’s how they react sometimes. The amazing thing is that after seeing the pictures, they change themselves. Thanks to Photoshop I can make them beautiful, and when they see how they could become, they are motivated to go to the gym, to dress better, to take care of themselves. My pictures help women to improve themselves and feel better, I’m very proud of that.
You have printed a calendar for 2017,
can you tell us about this project ?
I wanted to do an interesting and original calendar. The theme I choose was the traditional way of dressing and living 100 years ago in Thailand. I show the women working in the field, being in nature or taking care of their house.
This year was a test for me and it worked very well. I’ve almost sold all of them but I keep some samples to give away for the promotion of my work.
Have you ever thought of printing a book ?
I have a project of printing a book in the same theme as the calendar, the traditional thai life. I’ve already shot hundreds of pictures. I just need to take the time to finish the editing and printing. In fact the calendar is an extract from this bigger project.
You have an exhibition in Chiang Mai, can you tell us about it ?
The exhibition is in the Sangdee Gallery,Soi Sirimongkalajarn 5, Chiang Mai. From the 6th of January to the 6th of February. It’s a joint exhibition with a friend of mine, Matt Myers, who will feature his paintings along with my pictures. The theme is : “Boudoir East meets Sensual West, a collaboration in Photography and Fine Art”.
What is your best souvenir of photography ?
Every session of boudoir photography makes me happy. From the preparation to the final editing, I am happy. I’m very lucky that my work brings joy to my life!
self-portrait of Jantira:
How do you find your inspiration ?
It comes naturally. When I see the setting, the environment, the ideas come to my mind.
I like the style of the 1960’s and 1970’s : the colors, the atmosphere, the elegance, the way the woman were dressed. It was very artistic.
What makes a good photograph ?
First, the model is the most important. Then, I like tan skins because light skins are more difficult to edit. I like when a model is not too much experienced, so I can easily tell her how to pose. I immediately have in mind the final picture that I want. When I shoot I know how the picture is gonna be. Most of the time I shoot with the natural light, and sometimes with LED light. I don’t use flash because it’s too strong.
Then, I edit the picture and I will make them look beautiful, with a nice body and a smooth skin.
As a photographer, what is your dream ?
I have so many pictures I want to shoot… I’d like to shoot with a balloon. The model would be in the balloon, and then I would be in the balloon and I would shoot the model on the ground.
Another idea would be to shoot boudoir photography underwater.
In general, my dream is to improve my craft and become a better boudoir photographer.
What are your other projects ?
This year I plan to make workshops in different locations in Thailand : beach, mountains, jungle, waterfalls. I’d like to make workshop in other countries.
I plan as well to do some exhibitions in USA and UK.
I have as well a project of a nude art book.
If you want to have your own boudoir pictures, you can contact Jantira on email@example.com