This is a guide covering boudoir photography.
Boudoir photography is an intimate type of photography. With this being said, there are some do’s and don’ts you will want to know.
If you are more of a visual learner, check out the YouTube video we made on this topic:
What is Boudoir Photography?
Boudoir photography is a niche of photography that highlights and embraces the intimate and sensual beauty of one’s body.
Well, let’s start off with what Boudoir itself means. Boudoir is a French word that refers to a woman’s private dressing room.
Put simply, it is a cherished place that she has to herself with a more playful, provocative look, with nudity that is implied rather than shown.
But creating Boudoir photos requires a thoughtful approach to the subjects’ bodies, clothing, and also personality.
To those who are having their picture taken, boudoir photography is fashionable or glamorous, but to the photographer, there is a key difference.
Fashion models are professionals who have experience in photography, but with boudoir photography, many of the subjects do not have the experience.
Because of the style of photography, they are uncomfortable, and they might not know how to pull off even the most basic poses of Boudoir photography.
Thus, Boudoir sessions require photographers to possess certain skills in directing, posing, and communicating.
There are as many styles of Boudoir photography as there are photographers.
From classical looks that are dramatic, luminous, or playful, to vogue images with the addition of vintage, pin-up, maternity sessions, and fine-art nude ideas.
With these many ideas of Boudoir photography, there is also a required skill set for the photographer to communicate with their clients.
From researching different photographer portfolio websites for some inspiration to operational and technical prep.
The key to success in Boudoir photography depends on the photographer’s clear vision of what their model wants and a touch of what the photographer can offer.
Who is Boudoir Photography for?
Technically, Boudoir photography is for everyone. Perhaps recently you found yourself questioning who the real you is.
Asking yourself about your true potential and who you’ve been lately.
Then you decide to prove to yourself, not to someone else, that you are worth it, special, and unique. Or you are just fed up with the world and need to chill.
Or maybe want to be “naughty” without anyone knowing. Then, Boudoir photography suits you the most.
You do not have to be a professional model or have any experience in posing. In fact, you can do Boudoir sessions with no experience.
Indeed, there is no need to worry about stripping down under the scrutiny of cameras that may make you feel intimidated or embarrassed.
It is likely, you will exceed the feeling of self-consciousness within a blink of an eye realizing that you are in the hands of a professional.
Boudoir photo sessions are of course common for women that are meant to exude sensuality and are intimate in nature.
However, men are also welcome to explore a different side of their personalities with Boudoir sessions.
There is something empowering about stepping out of your gentle shell and owning your desire.
What is the Point of Boudoir Photography?
The simplest answer is, everyone is discovering their true beauty and is also treating themselves to boudoir sessions because they are confident enough to do so.
It can be a way to embrace their bodies and decide to mark special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and life milestones (such as pregnancy and weight loss), and even a way to celebrate overcoming domestic violence or breast cancer.
Imagine taking a boudoir photography session as a basic spa day. This is a moment where you can relax and be pampered while being treated as a goddess as you pose in front of the camera.
Once the session is over, you leave with pride, refreshed, more confident, and with stunning images of your glamorous moments at the studio.
The more you know, boudoir photography sessions can be seen as the empowering and body-positive experience that it’s meant to be.
They are becoming more open to having their photos on social media along with adorning walls in their house.
Today will be a good time to feel good about yourself. You want and do deserve to get glammed up and enjoy a day exclusively about yourself.
When it comes to boudoir, and everything else in life, it does not matter what size you are, age (18+ at least though), or any other details you might think are important enough to keep you from having this experience.
It is just the moment when you declare to yourself, “I’m ready to take the leap”.
It is about celebrating yourself and when you see the photos, they will make you feel beautiful in every way. Embracing every inch of yourself.
I know some of you are still afraid and not willing to take the leap. But you must know that your body is a wonderland regardless of its flaws.
Your curves, blemishes, and scars tell the story of your journey. Everyone is worthy of their own boudoir session. Your boudoir session is literally whatever you want it to be.
No expectations come across when it comes to what you want during your session.
You have the moment and opportunity to show yourself that you are proud of who you are. The beauty and confidence of boudoir sessions are incredible and inspire everyone.
What do You Wear to a Boudoir Photo Session?
What you wear to a Boudoir photo session really depends on you. But part of the boudoir experience should be mimicking looks that you love.
As such, the most successful boudoir photographers do also have a large wardrobe selection from which you can choose to pull boudoir photo ideas.
Wearing lingerie is the go-to for boudoir images, but it is not the only option. Many fun pictures come from mimicking vintage scenes or the golden age of Hollywood look from the 40s to 60s.
Some clients might be looking for nude (or implied nude) images. But to put it clearly, these choices should concur with the stylistic choices and look you are going for that should have been discussed during the pre-session consultation.
Your choices go hand in hand with the hair and makeup decisions made and of course the lighting and posing techniques that will be used.
A recommendation? Well, yes of course a Bodysuit. There is a variety of combinations you can wear:
- One-piece set (bodysuit, teddy, fitted slip dress, or shapewear)
- Two-piece set (bra/undies, high-waisted skirt/bra, garter belt set/bra/stockings)
- Cover-up wrap/shawl/cardigan/off-shoulder shirt
- Something you LOVE – pastel colors or black as well
Do’s and Don’ts of Boudoir Photography
- Remember to cut off all price tags from your clothing. Optionally remove the laundry instructions inside the garment.
- Do invest in at least one cute body set (well black is always a great recommendation) that makes you feel desired and fits your style.
- Consider normal clothing if you feel it is too vulgar or you are nervous about revealing your body, such as cardigans, tank tops, a fitted button-up shirt, or a high-slit skirt/dress. Many of these options can be paired with cute undergarments to make a very good outfit.
- Do consider that photographers will prepare white sheets, towels, pillows, or a prop to fit the scene. So do not worry and just relax, you are indeed in the best hands.
- Do not forget your accessories. Pearls, long necklaces, gaudy costume jewelry, hats, fishnets, or sheer black hose, and most you can consider cute shoes. High heels are great to extend the length and beauty of your legs.
- Do not wear anything too small that digs into your skin or creates the dreaded “muffin top” please.
- Do not break the bank on new clothes for the session. You might consider buying one main piece of clothing, but we can create stunning images with the items you already have in your closet and affordable pieces from your favorite e-commerce site.
Start simple and grow more extreme from there. Think about what colors you like and be more confident with them.
As to casual attire, everyday clothing such as sheer tops, and jeans, can end up cute with the touch of the photographer.
A simple white tank top or cami can be cuter. If this is a gift for your partner, then bring things from his/her wardrobe.
This could be one of their favorite ties, button-down shirts, or even jerseys. Anything that makes the images more personal and sexy will add variety to your collection of outfits and will look great in the final book.
In the end, we want you to feel completely comfortable! Wanting to show more or less skin is up to you.
Bring out your personality and feel free to bring something special as well as props. And, have fun!
Common Boudoir Photography Poses
Standing, sitting, and reclined poses are often used as boudoir poses. Look for inspiration from fashion and glamor magazines, but do not forget that boudoir photos are influenced by fine art.
So, look for classic pieces from the renaissance, baroque, or romanticism movements.
With your research, communicate your thoughts to your photographer to exchange ideas and give them a picture of what you want to share in the photos.
Certain poses in boudoir photography emphasize legs and hips with a focus on soft curves. Bent limbs, an arched back, or a twisted torso can be used to highlight curves and posture.
And of course, do not forget about your hands. As with all portraits, hand positioning is critical for a relaxed and natural look.
Keep in mind that in a boudoir, less is more. Minimalist and simple poses can actually be better.
Props are generally not needed beyond a chair, a couch, and maybe a mirror.
A simpler wardrobe and background setting can be an advantage because when it comes to Boudoir, fewer distracting elements and less clutter always make a better image.
Because boudoir photography is becoming a way for everyone to get photographs of themselves and embrace their body and sensuality, communication is important.
Some images are cropped to conceal the identity of clients. The photographing space for Boudoir sessions also can be discussed.
A studio with solid or textured backgrounds can include a bed or somewhere that you feel can lay on and pose during the session.
To show visual examples, check out this in-depth video by Yuliya Pachenko.
How do You Prepare Your Body for a Boudoir Photo Shoot?
Just like any other photo shoot, preparing your body for a boudoir photo shoot can help you feel more confident and comfortable during the session, and can also help ensure that the images come out looking their best.
Here are some tips I recommend you follow before your boudoir photo session.
Drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to your photo shoot can help your skin look more hydrated and radiant.
Get Plenty of Rest the Night Before
Getting enough sleep can help you look and feel your best. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night in the days leading up to your photo shoot.
Groom Yourself Correctly
Take the time to groom yourself in the days leading up to your photo shoot. This may include things like getting a wax, shaving your legs, or getting your hair and nails done.
Pick the Clothing Beforehand
Before your boudoir photoshoot, you’ll want to pick and choose your “outfit” beforehand.
Make sure to select clothing that will flatter your body type while also making you feel more confident and comfortable.
Practicing poses in front of a mirror can help you feel more confident and comfortable during your photo shoot.
What are Some Common Shoes You Can Wear to a Boudoir Photoshoot?
When it comes to selecting shoes for a boudoir photo shoot, there are a few factors to consider, such as the overall look you’re going for and the comfort of the shoes.
Heels are a popular choice for boudoir photo shoots, as they can elongate your legs and help you feel more confident and sexy.
Opt for a pair of heels that you feel comfortable walking in and that complement the style and color of your lingerie or outfit.
Depending on the look you’re going for, boots can be a great option for a boudoir photo shoot.
Ankle boots or knee-high boots can add a sexy and edgy touch to your outfit.
You may also choose to not wear any shoes and just go barefoot for a more natural and relaxed look. This can be a great option if you’re wearing a flowy or sheer outfit, as it can add a sense of movement and freedom to your poses.
How do You Smile for a Boudoir Photoshoot?
When it comes to posing for a boudoir photo shoot, there is no one “right” way to smile. In fact, some poses may not even require a smile at all.
However, there are some tips that can help out when it comes to smiling. These tips also apply to other niches of photography and not just boudoir sessions:
Relax Your Face
First things first, you’ll want to try and relax your facial muscles. An easy way to do this is to breathe during the session. Sounds silly but with a lens, in your face, it can be easy to forget to breathe.
Practice Different Expressions Beforehand
Experiment with different facial expressions in front of a mirror to find the one that feels most comfortable and authentic for you.
You might try a slight smile, a big grin, or a more serious or contemplative expression, depending on the mood of the shoot and the poses you’re working on.
Pay Attention to Your Own Body Language
If you want a relaxed smile, it’s important to also pay attention to your body language and make sure you aren’t feeling tense.
If your body is tense, your smile will look tense.
Try to relax your shoulders, elongate your neck, and maintain good posture to create a flattering and confident pose.
How Much Do You Tip After a Boudoir Photoshoot?
Tipping for a boudoir photo shoot, like any other service, is always at the discretion of the client. If you feel that your photographer provided exceptional service and went above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and confident during your shoot, you may choose to offer a tip as a way of expressing your appreciation.
A general guideline is to consider a tip of 10-20% of the total cost of the shoot, although you may choose to give more or less depending on your individual circumstances and satisfaction with the experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does boudoir photography mean?
Boudoir photography is a type of photography that captures intimate and sensual images of a person, often a woman, in a bedroom or other private setting. These photographs are typically meant to be romantic or erotic, and may feature the subject dressed in lingerie or other revealing clothing, or in a state of undress.
What should you not wear to a boudoir photo shoot?
When preparing for a boudoir photo shoot, there are a few things you should avoid wearing such as clothing that is too loose, busy patterns, and clothing that does not flatter your body.
What color nails are best for a boudoir photoshoot?
When it comes to selecting nail color for a boudoir photo shoot, it’s best to choose a shade that complements your skin tone and the overall mood of the shoot.
Boudoir sessions can be arranged in a variety of locations. A hotel room at a boutique hotel can be interesting or more thematic and that can work perfectly.
Many of them have props that you can use. But if the hotels or locations you pick have pools, this can get more interesting.
You could even go outdoors for a few images in a bathing suit. This way you can capture a more editorial look to the session.
You can also use your house and arrange the space you wish to use. Many homes are decorated beautifully.
But consider those little distracting items that clutter backgrounds and spaces.
At the end of the day, it does not matter if you are in a studio or not. Each space should have a bed, lounge area, makeup station, and a private dressing room or bathroom.
Each boudoir session should also include making the space cozy and comfortable. You can use music, candles, or even incense.
This can help you calm your nerves and create ambiance. It can also give your session the energy it needs to create amazing photography.
Remember, do not forget to have fun during your own boudoir session. Let them all see how beautiful you are inside and out!
Jon has been a passionate photographer for 10+ years. Fun fact is that he has a collection of around 300-400 cameras that his family has collected over the years. Outside of photography, he has a Masters Degree in Engineering and has 13 years experience working in the industry across the globe.