Featured Photographer – Bonne Donovan

Mar 2, 2020

March 1 – 15


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Business Information:


Bonne Donovan

Name of business

Bonne Belle Portraits, Glamour & Boudoir

Location of business

Kelowna, BC. Canada






Technical Specs:

Camera used

Canon 5D Mark 3 and Canon 80D

Lens choices

Sigma 35mm and 50mm

Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)


Do you use any actions?

No, but sometimes LR presets

Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc.?

I retouch with Imagenomic Portraiture, and PS


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What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?

Word of mouth is key, then I market through my website and Facebook mostly, and Instagram. My ideal client is one who values my work enough to invest in working with me, and wants to engage in a new experience. She’s open to the thought that doing a session is a valuable investment in herself.

Do you have any inspiring client stories you can share? Also, have you had any issues with clients and how did you resolve them?

I’ve learned to make sure clients have all the details about pricing in advance of booking. There have been a few times when they didn’t read the info I sent to them and were surprised at the sales appointment. I don’t let that happen anymore.

Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients?

No, but that sounds like a nice idea!


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How do you sell to your clients? Can you provide info on your sales process and your pricing? Can you provide numbers on what you charge for a session and what products you offer?

I do IPS like most of our members.

I show unedited images on my computer usually the next day, they pick their favourites and order, then I edit.

My sessions start at $500

Average sale is $3000 +

I sell albums, boxes and wall art.


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Best describe your workspace. Do you have a studio or work from home? How large is your space? What are the challenges with it? What works really well for you?

I’ve turned my 2 bedroom apartment into my studio. It’s a little small, so I don’t have furniture or many personal things, but it works. The challenge is having to move things around.

Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.

I plan to get rid of more stuff so I can have more space. I like where I am and it works well. I love living minimalistically.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

Yes, and I keep weekends to myself now.

Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?

I have only 2 windows in my studio that act as my soft boxes. Everything revolves around them. I have a ring light if I need it but I’m never pleased with the results. The challenge in my studio is that light is minimal on a dark day. But so far I have just adjusted my settings and it worked okay.

Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio? If so, can you give me a run down of what the rate is you pay them and how you feel about the importance of that relationship. If you don’t use them, is there a reason?

When I started, I used to do all the makeup and hair, until I found that it was too much and took away from my planning the photography part of the session. Now I have a couple makeup and hair girls on rotation. It’s such a relief to have them chat up my clients while I get things ready.

Do you play music during sessions, and if so, what are some tracks on your playlist? Do you ask clients what music they like and if they would like certain music during their session?

I send a questionnaire in advance to my clients asking what type of music they like. So they get their preference of music during their hair & makeup session. Then when it comes time for the shoot, I change the music to what inspires and calms me, yet still has a sexy mood. It’s usually a lounge type sound that I just find on YouTube playlists, such as this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqvP5zu5eKk&list=PLZZB1DdiDmIBrYsm9uvWE2YNA K36H0a27&index=2&t=0s


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How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?

I opened my business casually on weekends only in 2013 while I was working full time in sales for a company. I quit my job and went full time in 2015.

Did you go to school for photography or are you self taught?

I came close to enrolling in school that would’ve cost 20K . (living expenses would’ve been another approx 30K) But before I enrolled, I audited a couple classes and interviewed past students of the school. I learned that the school used a lot of YouTube videos in the classroom. The students told me it was not worth the cost of the program. So I decided to watch the videos at home, while I continued my job, and kept all the money, while continuing to earn money to pay my bills. It worked perfectly because I was confident in my talent. I’ve always been a closet artist since childhood, and I was a photographer by hobby for over 40 years. I knew I could put all my skills, talents and experience together and make it work.

Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?

I didn’t plan to be a photographer by trade. I thought photography would always be a hobby, just like drawing or painting. I didn’t think it was possible to earn a living at it. There are so many wonderful, amazing photographers in my area that I didn’t think I could stand out. So I tried a niche in boudoir, and it’s been really good. I love the art of it and I love that it empowers women and makes them feel good about themselves; something I lacked in my own life.

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

Not enough time in a day! I struggle with creating a balance of work and self care. I’m working on that!

Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre? If you’re exclusive, and/or recently went exclusive, can you give the readers some insight into why you did? If you’ve only ever done boudoir, again we’d love to hear why.

As it turns out, I’ve fallen into specializing in boudoir and glamour portraits. I’m set up well for that. It’s a great fit for me. It feels right.

What process did you go through to find your specific style? Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I’ve studied a lot of work by other artists, and am inspired by the dreamy open aperture style of photography when it comes to boudoir portraits. I love reflections and shooting through objects. I love the voyeuristic approach to boudoir photography. I love portraits that tell a story. I really love fairy tales and old fashioned styles.


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If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?

Practice! Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to try anything that interests you. Then, make sure you take a business course, and do a business plan. Learn how to manage client relations with some type of software right from the beginning. (CRM)

Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself? Do you think it’s something that is important for boudoir photographers to do?

Although I think it’s very important, in business, to feel what it’s like to be on the other side of the experience you’re offering, I personally haven’t felt the need to do a session for myself. As an artist, I don’t feel the desire to be in the art, but to create it. Therefore, I try to get as much feedback from my clients about their experience with me as I can.

How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?

I guess that it’s up to the client and their spouse whether they feel comfortable with a male or female photographer.

What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?

I got burned out a year ago, but now I make sure I don’t take on too many clients, so I can get my sleep, eat right, exercise and spend time with my family and friends. I want to have time for my hobbies which are ballroom dancing and tennis. When I’ve worked super hard and made good money in the past, I had to give half of my earnings to taxes, so why bother? Life is too short to burn out working. Money is not life.

What do you love about the business?

I love minding my own business! There are times I’ve wanted to fire myself, but then remembered that I’m the boss. I love the people I meet and work with. Many of my clients have really inspired me in life. I love that I can provide a service that makes them happy. I love that I can make a living doing what I know I’m good at and what I love. I am very blessed and grateful.

What do you hate about the business?

The only thing I hate about the business, is having to sit so darn long in a chair! The only running I ever seem to do is running the business! I want more time outside.

Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?

No, I haven’t had the time.

Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it? AIBP runs contests regularly. Do you participate? If not, is there a reason you don’t?

Yes I compete occasionally. It’s a fun challenge to enter contests and it’s nice to see and appreciate each other’s work. I think most of us, as boudoir photographers, live isolated lives and work very hard. The contests bring a bit of excitement to everyday life!

How long have you been a part of the AIBP family? Tell us a little bit about why you joined and what benefits and/or things you particularly love about the AIBP community?

I joined AIBP in 2017. I love being part of the community of amazing photographers who mentor others, share their work and experiences, give tutorials and support one another in the business of boudoir photography.


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Favorite food?

I have the problem of loving ALL gourmet food, and wine.

One guilty pleasure in life?

Loving all the gourmet food, and wine is my guilty pleasure.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

Yoga pants! So I can eat all the gourmet food and wine.

What’s one song on your playlist?

I wouldn’t know! I don’t pay attention to songs.

What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?

I’m attracted to simple dramas about people’s experiences in life and how they overcame obstacles. I love beautiful cinematography.

Favorite shoes to wear?

Soft, flat pumps

What are you currently reading?

Articles on health, nutrition and psychology.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? 

I’ve been trying to get to Italy but keep getting side tracked. Currently planning a trip to Israel.

If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?

I would become an independent young woman, instead of marrying the wrong person, so young, for security. But it’s never too late, and I’m doing that now.

If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?

Honestly, I have no desire to photograph anyone famous. Famous people have enough photographs of themselves. My joy is seeing and photographing the unique beauty of the ordinary woman who didn’t know she was beautiful.

What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)

I struggle with having an “All or Nothing” mentality. Perfectionism per se, ie: if I can’t spend 2 hours in the gym, then I won’t go at all. This type of thinking must end.

Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?

I was married very young, raised 3 daughters and 1 son. Was divorced, and now it’s time for me and all the things I never had time or money for! Loving my freedom.

Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

Anyone who speaks the truth, has integrity, good boundaries, self control, is kind, and thinks positively inspires me.

If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?

● Love people, but don’t depend on them too much or believe everything they tell you from their viewpoint. Your experience may be different.

● Find out who you are and what you like.

● Stand strong and focus on your goals to get where you want to be in life.

● Always do the right thing.

● Be different.

● Be kind, but don’t waste even a minute of your life on people who don’t value, respect or accept you.

(If I had to say just one, it would be the last one.)


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