Boudoir photography features intimate, romantic, and sexy images of a subject. The photos can be for themselves or their romantic partner.
Boudoir photography is about making a subject feel confident and sexy regardless of their size or age.
Whether you’re a seasoned boudoir photographer or want to add it as a segment to your business, it’s a blend of skill, art, and communication.
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Learning all the aspects of a boudoir photo session will ensure you provide a memorable and comfortable experience for the subject.
What’s boudoir photography?
Boudoir photography is a type of portrait photography that features a subject wearing sexy clothing, lingerie, and other items that make them look intimate, confident, and sensual. Nudity is rarely shown.
Boudoir is a French word that means a woman’s bedroom or private room. While boudoir is more popular among women, men can also do a boudoir photography session.
The photos from a boudoir session are cherished for personal pleasure or gifted to a romantic partner.
As a photographer, your role is to make your subject feel comfortable and photograph their body and face in a flattering way.
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Boudoir photography tips
Stunning boudoir photography takes practice and preparation.
With the right equipment, knowledge, and approach, you’ll showcase your subject in a breathtaking, sensual, and intimate way.
Use the following tips to become a better boudoir photographer.
Get to know your subject first
Boudoir photos require your subject to be vulnerable and intimate. Most people aren’t comfortable undressing and wearing intimate clothing in front of a stranger.
Before you do a boudoir photo session, invest time in getting to know your subject.
Build trust and a relationship with the subject because it’ll result in a better experience. Your subject will be more comfortable, which will show in the images.
Meet them for coffee or a meal and ask questions to understand who they are and what they love and dislike about their body.
Also, ask them about what they’re comfortable with, what they want to show, and what they want to wear.
Some people want subtle poses and more clothing, while others prefer sensual poses and minimal clothing.
You’ll also learn about their physical limitations, which helps you prepare poses that’ll accentuate their best features.
By understanding what your subject wants, you’ll deliver an exceptional experience. Be professional and have top-notch communication throughout the entire process.
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Pick a comfortable location
Boudoir photography is all about the mood and requires an intimate setting.
Ultimately, your subject must be comfortable with the location. Before finalizing a session, ask your subject about a preferred location.
Boudoir photo sessions are commonly in the subject’s bedroom, a hotel room, or a boudoir photo studio.
These locations are ideal because they have a bed, couches, or chairs, perfect for various poses.
Opt for somewhere without too many furnishings, so the attention remains on the subject. It shouldn’t be cluttered or busy.
Your subject needs room to pose, and you need space to take pictures.
An important aspect of the location is light. Look for a place with good window light because the natural light makes your subject look stunning.
Provide hair and make-up options
Before the session, offer your subject recommendations or an on-site hairstylist and make-up artist. They may also have their own make-up artists or stylists.
Additionally, some people prefer a more natural look and won’t need any make-up or styling.
As a boudoir photographer, build connections with make-up artists and hairstylists because your clients will need them often.
Use the right camera and lens
The most important aspect of boudoir photography is to flatter your subject. Your camera and lens make a big impact on how your subject looks.
While a high-resolution camera is crucial, the lens you use is the most impactful decision.
Ideally, use a prime lens, such as 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, or 100mm.
A longer lens is ideal because it minimizes and even eliminates distortion. 35mm is good for full-body images when you have limited space.
A zoom lens is beneficial if you want the flexibility to adjust focal lengths. However, prime lenses will result in sharper images.
Additionally, a wide maximum aperture is necessary.
Use a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or wider. It’ll let in a lot of light and create an appealing shallow depth of field.
Start with window light
Start with natural window light because it’s soft and flattering. Experiment with front, side, and backlight to achieve your desired look.
With an abundance of natural light, use curtains or drapes to soften it.
If natural light isn’t sufficient, use a reflector or add artificial light. Any continuous LED, such as a light panel, ring light, or floodlight, will work well.
Whether you use natural or artificial light, the goal remains the same.
Man or woman, your job is to make them feel empowered and look gorgeous, sexy, and confident.
Focus on the eyes
A lot of boudoir photography may be about the body. However, the eyes are powerful and deserve attention.
Passion, intimacy, and beauty are in the eyes, as well. In your boudoir photos, make sure your subject’s eyes are well-lit and have catchlights.
When you’re using large apertures, the shallow depth of field makes it crucial to keep your subject’s eyes in sharp focus.
Clearly explain and demonstrate the pose
Chances are, your subject isn’t a model and doesn’t have a lot of experience posing.
To ensure your subject feels comfortable and doesn’t look awkward in the photos, be clear when it comes to explaining poses.
Give thorough instructions and if needed, demonstrate the pose. It’ll make for a good laugh and example.
Additionally, positive feedback will boost your subject’s confidence and ensure the session is fun and relaxed.
Shoot a variety of outfits
Variety in the wardrobe is a key aspect of a successful boudoir photo session. It’ll provide many options to choose from and different types of images.
Excellent items to bring include, lingerie, matching bras and underwear, heels, oversized shirts, thigh highs, jeans, and anything else that a subject feels confident and sexy in.
While some images will be of the subject in lingerie, others will have them in jeans and unbuttoning their shirt.
It’s not about showing the most skin. Instead, great boudoir photography evokes sensual and intimate emotions.
Try different perspectives
Every subject is unique, and if a pose isn’t looking the way you thought, try a different perspective.
Try a high or low-angle shot. By experimenting with different perspectives, you’ll have a variety of images and find your subject’s best angles.
Boudoir photography posing examples and ideas
Boudoir photography is playful, sexy, sensual, intimate, and a celebration of your subject’s body. At the same time, you must capture their personality.
The poses you choose for your subject need to accentuate their beauty and make them feel sexy.
Everyone’s body is different and so are their comfort levels, so establish boundaries and have strong communication throughout the entire session.
Music is an excellent way to provide a comfortable, relaxed, and fun setting. So, play your subject’s favorite songs.
Additionally, flowing from one pose into the next can help your subject feel more relaxed and natural.
The following are examples and ideas for boudoir photography posing.
Push the hips back
When you’re photographing a subject from the front, one of the best ways to create an hourglass shape is for your subject to push their hips back. It creates a slimming yet curvy effect and results in stunning boudoir photos.
The lying-down pose is a classic boudoir pose, and it has many variations. Your subject can lay on their stomach, back, or side. While lying down, flowing into other laying poses allows you to capture candid images.
Another classic boudoir pose is from behind. Your subject can be standing, sitting, or lying on a bed.
If your subject is standing, ask them to cross their legs and arch their back to create a flattering look.
Your subject can also touch their hair, put their arms up, or do the looking back pose.
Move the arms away from the body
The arms can be difficult to pose. An easy way to make the pose look more natural and interesting is to move the arms away from the body.
They can be up in the air, on their hips, or touching their hair. With the arms away from the body, your subject will look slimmer, and it creates eye-catching shapes.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the point of boudoir photography?
The purpose of boudoir photography is to empower a subject to feel sexy and confident. The subject can use the photos for personal enjoyment or gift them to a romantic partner.
What’s the average cost of a boudoir photo session?
The average cost of a boudoir photo shoot is $150 per hour. Depending on the photographer and location, it can range from $100 to $400 per hour. Most boudoir photo sessions are 1.5 to 2 hours long.
Is boudoir photography safe?
Boudoir photography can be dangerous because it’s intimate and can attract the wrong people. That’s why you must be careful when choosing a photographer. When selecting a photographer, choose someone you trust. Examine their portfolio, read reviews, meet with them beforehand, and bring a friend to the session for extra security.
Boudoir photography is about capturing intimate, elegant, and sexy images of a subject. The images are often used as a gift to their significant other or for personal enjoyment.
As a photographer, it’s important to ensure your client feels comfortable. So, be respectful and take photographs that’ll make them feel confident and beautiful.
Featured image courtesy of Canva.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.