Boudoir Photography Success

To many, boudoir photography is considered the art of visually capturing beautiful, sensuous and sexy photos of regular women. Age (as long as you are of minimum legal age), how thin, how tall, doesn’t matter. The purpose of boudoirphotography is to make women look great.


Because of digital photography technology, this type of photography seems to be growing in popularity again. Digital photography allows ordinary people to take sexy photographs and keep them private. Before digital, some people processed their own development of photos. It was often difficult, messy and expensive. Not everyone had access to a space where they could easily set up a darkroom without disrupting the household. There really is little wonder that digital photography has taken off.

Who's to say what is great boudoir photography? Would you like to share a great shot of yours with us?

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Boudoir Photography Has Changed

Boudoir photography does not require the subjects to be beautiful, physically flawless women. Expensive equipment, props, and studio space are not required. With the popularity of digital photography, ordinary people, mainly men, began taking sexy photos of their love interests, girlfriends and wives. The immediacy of digital photography is the primary driving force behind this resurgence. Boudoir photography has changed, however. The term “boudoir photography” can now be applied to nearly any sexy or sensual portrait of a woman.

Some photographers specialize in a very soft, sensual style of portrait. Others include artistic nudes or even glamour nudes, such as what might be found in men’s magazines. Boudoir photos can be revealing, but they don’t have to be. The usual definition of boudoir photography implies that it is more soft and sensual than erotic and sexual. The latter images are usually called “glamour photographs.” Glamour portraits can generally be described as waist-up or head-and-shoulder portraits of a woman with lots of makeup and often a very large, teased hairdo. It’s a far cry from the natural-looking boudoir photography of today.

Just for kicks, what about typical boudoir photography? Is beauty predictable or is it as expansive as our imaginations and that which arouses us?

In all good Boudoir Photography, model confidence is critical.

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Boudoir Photography Benefits Model and Photographer


Boudoir photography has some genuine benefits for both the photographer and the model. Because of pressures of society, women often feel that they are not pretty enough, skinny enough, or sexy enough. The constant media barrage of beautiful, thin models gracing magazine covers reinforces that view. A high-quality, gorgeous, sexy photograph of your model helps to raise her self-esteem. Boudoir photography is a difficult craft to master. The less clothing the model is wearing, the more difficult the subject becomes. A photographer who becomes skilled and experienced in making women look “hot” and “fabulous” in photographs, no matter their age or weight, will receive lots of positive feedback from his models, raising his own self-esteem as well.

Making the Model Comfortable

Boudoir photography is a delicate subject for many potential customers. Many of the women that want boudoir portraits are too insecure about their bodies and/or looks to ask about the service. Most of them are in their thirties and forties. Once one of them becomes a satisfied customer, she delivers her family and friends.

What I have found to be successful is having the friend that recommended me come with them during their session. This helps the new customer to relax. Most of them are nervous, they want to bring someone they know with them, but, they are afraid to tell me. Once I suggest that they bring someone with them to help them to feel comfortable, they begin to relax. Sometimes they bring someone. Sometimes they don’t. However, whoever they bring, they must be silent during the shoot. With this sensuous type of photography, relaxing the model is critical, because the model is critical.

I always make them feel comfortable. For example, I play calming music; I make sure that the studio is not too cold; I do a brief interview to ‘mentally’ walk them through the session; and I begin shooting pictures before they begin posing. I tell them that I am testing the lighting (which is true). But, the flashing lights and the sound of the camera shutter begins to relax and prepare them.

Questions That I Ask

I ask the following questions during the pre-session interview or while I am ‘testing’ the lighting:

  • What do you consider your most attractive feature?

  • What is your favorite pose?

  • Will these portraits be given as gifts?

  • What do you want to make sure that we capture?

  • Have you taken boudoir or glamour portraits before? If so, did you like them? Why? Why not?

Listening to their answers tells me what they are looking for in their portraits. Also, by the time they are finish responding to the questions, they are very comfortable with me. I confidently say to them, “you will like these portraits, I promise.” I then deliver using the answers to the questions as my guide.

They Don't Want to Have to Compete

I shoot fast. I inform my clients (before the photo session) that if they plan to wear make-up during the shoot, put it on before they get to the studio. I allow time for clothing changes. I am not as flexible on make-up. It’s just a personal observation of mine, but, often women will hide behind their make-up if allowed to put it on in front of a stranger - especially a stranger that will be taking their picture. Some of them try to make their make-up look like some of the faces in the portraits hanging in the studio. If they apply their make-up beforehand, they don’t, as a rule, feel a need to ‘compete.’

In the photo area of my studio, I do not have any boudoir photography on display. I don’t want the client to feel they have to ‘compete’ with anyone or anything else. I encourage them to focus on their confidence. I say to them something like “At this moment – It Is All About You!”

My experience is that subjects pose better and look much more sensuous when they are in a laughing and buoyant mood. Their smile is broad and their eyes sparkle. While they respond to my earlier questions, I pay strict attention to what they say and what brings smiles to their faces.

My style is quick humor. My jokes (and joke attempts) get laughs (or chuckles) and the clients relax even more. My humor is clean and wholesome (sometimes a little too hokey, but always clean. Blue humor might put an unnecessary edge on the photo session.) Boudoir photography is not bawdy. Crude jokes often come off as bawdy. The key is to relax the subject. Once relaxed, they become confident.


Indoor Boudoir Photography

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My preference is to shoot indoors. Although indoors, I use both natural light as well as studio lighting for sensuous and sensitive effects. I can better control the lighting. Also, working indoors allows me to build up a closer working relationship with the model than is possible on location. And most importantly, indoor shooting removes the dependency on the weather.

My studio equipment includes: strobes w/umbrellas and barn doors, backdrops (multiple paper and fabric), reflectors, and I prefer to shoot digital.

Among other advantages, shooting digital allows me to see the results of the work immediately – versus the processing time required for film processing. Also, I generally shoot poses with light variations. Digital responds very well to natural lighting. When I shoot boudoir photography, natural lighting (with targeted reflected light), often makes the most sensuous settings.

With available natural light, it is not the same quality any time of the day. The trick is to use available light to its best advantage. Portraits taken with available light should create a sense of spontaneity. With available light, controlling the quality of the shot is less predictable.

I like to use reflectors with natural light. In boudoir photography, unintended shadows detract from the photos. When shooting women of color, reflectors are very helpful in preventing the ‘washing-out’ of features.

I place the reflectors in different locations and experiment during the beginning of the shoot.

I have also set up my strobe outside of the studio window and triggered it with a slave-unit (a light-sensor switch that remotely triggers the strobe light). The light that comes through the window resembles bright sunlight. I sometimes place blinds, plants or other props to generate shadows that contribute to the quality of the portrait.

My studio equipment includes:

  • Background rolls (seamless paper available in different colors and sizes)

  • Reflectors

  • Stepladder

  • Various props

Boudoir Photography must be marketed with a solid plan just as well as any other photography niche.

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