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Photographing a Bohemian Lifestyle

Updated on April 6, 2014
Bohemian Dream CC BY 2.0
Bohemian Dream CC BY 2.0 | Source

"Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free love, frugality, and—in some cases—voluntary poverty. A wealthy and privileged, even aristocratic, bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as the haute bohème ("high bohemians").

The term Bohemianism emerged in France in the early nineteenth century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, gypsy neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who had reached Western Europe viaBohemia."Wikipedia

Bohemian photography refers to photographing individuals who by choice have decided to live an alternative lifestyle.

They are not hippies in the true essence of the word, but rather people who have chosen this lifestyle by choice and in most case posses the means to go back to their former living arrangements and lifestyle.

This project is not difficult. What may be difficult is finding individuals that practice this lifestyle. It is not as common as many may think and the best tool any photographer can employ to prepare for the shoot is to do research into some of the organizations and publications that cater to them.

Like the majority of photographic projects worth doping, this one takes doing some homework. You need to plan your shoot ahead of time rather than just going off in search of subjects.

You need to have an idea of what types of photographs you want to include and an idea as to how you want to present the final project.

Many photo shoots can bear similarities with this one and it is up to you, the photographer , to have enough of a difference in your photographs as to separate them from the rest.

Your viewers need to quickly become aware and understand that the photographs they are being presented with are representations of a particular lifestyle and subtle differences can go along way in achieving this.

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Would you be willing to take on such a project?

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How do you go about photographing a Bohemian lifestyle once you locate suitable subjects? Keep in mind that a Bohemian lifestyle is usually carefree and un-assuming so therefore your photographs should be a reflection of the same.

A good approach can be to take photos as if doing street photography and casual photography, much like a laissez-faire (let it be) style would be.

If you pose your subjects then the project may lose some of the carefree and essence that is usually associated with the theme. You can still do some limited poses, just don't over do it.

Also pay attention to make up and other elements that are usually worked thoroughly for a regular portrait or other shoot. It is a good idea to keep them to a minimum.

"The phraselaissez-faire is French and literally means "let [them] do", but it broadly implies "let it be," "let them do as they will," or "leave it alone". "Wikipedia

Bohemian Rhapsody  CC BY-ND 3.0
Bohemian Rhapsody CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source
CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Among the subjects that should form part of a complete project are not only the clothing as well as the people wearing them. Living spaces, recreational activities and other social events can be used to make the photo project a more complete one.

The key should be to present your viewers with as much visual information as possible so that they can get an idea of what it is to be a Bohemian and everything that is associated with this lifestyle choice.

Lacking sufficient subject matter another option is to research the style and use some models dressed in typical Bohemian attire as well as to set up some studio like shots simulating living quarters and general life style amenities.

Your pictures once you're done, could be suitable for any publications that feature this particular lifestyle as well as for many arts related publications that cater to artists as the Bohemian lifestyle is closely tied or associated with an artistic inclination.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      MarleneB: thank you

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from USA

      What a fascinating lifestyle. You have captured it quite well. I actually like the casualness of bohemian attire.


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