Boudoir Photography Tips
Boudoir photography isn’t a new trend that everyone is just now creating. It’s been around for centuries in various forms.
It can be seen in classic paintings. Its popularity increased in the early 1900s thanks to Albert Arther Allen. Now, it can be divided into new subgenres by the artist rather than be limited to the traditional definition.
At the start of my career, I was in a small bedroom studio with minimal available natural light for my first boudoir photoshoot. Starting off in a smaller confined area forced me to get very creative with my angles and posing.
The challenge was to create enough varied images within each boudoir shoot to be able to sell the client an album full of choices. The creativity lay in the wardrobe, the lighting, the posing and the emotions that went into each of these boudoir photos.
Many photographers struggle in various aspects of boudoir.
Some are fantastic at strobe lighting but lack the skills in how to pose for emotion and story. Others have posing down but lighting is flat or color balance is incorrect.
Boudoir is unlike most genres in that it works off of many psychological aspects of the client, who may not even realize it’s happening.
Knowing how to connect with your client on all levels will be key to creating an album they will adore and a sale that makes you as the artist stay in business.
In this article, I will walk you through a few tips on how to create that perfect match for you and your client.
Keeping these boudoir photography tips in mind will take your photos from mediocre to exceptional, allowing you to create thought-provoking imagery that sells big by keeping it simple.
Here are 6 tips to help you get better images of your boudoir clients in 2020.
6 Tips for a Boudoir Photographer in 2020
1. Connect With Your Client
Connecting with your client and/or model is an important task to accomplish prior to your photography shoot. While this may seem obvious to most boudoir photographers, it needs to be said to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Connecting on a deeper level with your boudoir client will help them to feel more comfortable with you in the very intimate setting they will have during their shoot.
Boudoir clients will come to you at different points in their lives, for many different reasons and looking to gain different things from the session.
Some are young and feel free, wanting to try something new. Some are older with children and want to regain that confidence. Some (if not many) will come to you during a very difficult time in their lives needing to step out of their comfort zone in order to heal.
I’ve had many clients who just got out of very abusive relationships, some who had a major weight loss journey, or even those who have never felt the joy of loving their own bodies. They are all looking to take back the control of their minds when it comes to seeing themselves on camera.
When you connect with your client – even if you haven’t personally experienced the same things they’re going through – it reassures them that you’ll be able to comfort them during the session. And this knowledge is the key to them trusting you.
They are about to not only shed clothing, but also shed some emotional issues that have created a barrier for them up until this point.
Don’t be surprised if they are apprehensive at first. If you are there for them and reassure them their nerves are normal, they will open up in no time.
As a long-time boudoir photographer, I can assure you that these types of sessions are not always about feeling glamourous. More often they are about the subject healing a part of themselves emotionally.
99% of my clients are not doing this for a significant other. They are booking a session for themselves, whether they gift the partner the album or not, they are mainly wanting the experience of it all.
2. Posing for Everyone
Posing does not have to be over the top, fashion runway, or glamour looks. Sometimes the best poses are those that are natural and comfortable.
Boudoir posing is not unlike other shoots, however, the photographer must read their clients a little differently for their comfort level. While our job is to help encourage them a little past their comfort zone, it is not our job to break them beyond that point.
This goes back to connecting with your client, so always take care when posing your boudoir subjects.
- Where to Look for Inspiration
Every photographer gains inspiration from different places.
When I first started, I looked towards the classic painters of generators past. My personal favorite is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ The Odalisque.
While I never completely recreate an image, I do want to use it for posing inspiration. Above we can see that the back arch with a soft over-the-shoulder look was inspired by the original but not styled entirely the same.
If your style is more moved by the trends such as wings, neons lights or shower scenes, look to artists that move you. There are so many clients with a wide variety of tastes, there will be a photographer for everyone.
- Body Limitations
Each body will be different. It is not about size, shape or age. All of those are just the icing on the cake on how you get to pose each unique client. Whether your boudoir client is 5′ 1′ or 6’1′ they can each pull off the same sensual pose – sometimes adapted a bit.
However, the body issues that are of concern are of movement. Not everybody can be as flexible, or have the same range as another.
You may have a client with extremely limited mobility due to a medical condition. You’ll need to move beyond the posing of a traditional session and come up with unique ways to help her pose without pushing her body to harm.
On the other hand, if you have a client who has extreme flexibility, feel free to ask for poses you have not been able to shoot yet.
Having an aerial artist in the studio was fun getting poses that are usually not obtained by the everyday person. The client loves showing off how hard they’ve trained so it’s a win for both.
- Posing Nudes
Not every client will want to add nudes to their boudoir photoshoots. Some will love the look and others will want to shoot without this option.
If you are posing for nudes, send out a questionnaire prior to your session. Some will say they would like to add this option and others will want to decide the day of the shoot. This mainly is due to not knowing their comfort level until the session day.
Most of my nude images lean more on the natural side. The studio is situated on a corner lot with natural light flooding the entire front portion. I take advantage of that and create what I refer to as “a relaxed Sunday morning look.”
Most of these images are kept as they were in-camera and don’t require editing as the clients like the natural addition to their lingerie wardrobe sets.
Some prefer not to show most of the body, but rather the implied look. For this, a white sheet over the body works best.
Every image that is shot this way has sold. Boudoir is not about being “sexy” since this word is subjective to each person. Some clients may feel empowered by being nude while others feel it from wearing a long robe by a bathtub.
Again, as a boudoir photographer, it is not your place to judge or deem what is and what isn’t sexy. It is your job to make the client feel full of confidence when they leave your session.
3. What to Shoot for
Knowing what your end product will be will help you create a better session.
Some clients will not always know exactly what they’d like for products, but they have a good idea they’d like a mixture. For you as the photographer, shooting with all products in mind will help build the sale in the end.
- Shooting for Album Design
Shooting for the album or wall art is key to your sales.
Many times, in the beginning, I would shoot with the client straight in the middle of my frame. This was great for the image, however, I would find when putting on a full spread in the album the client was right in the middle of the seam of the book.
Shifting it to the side or having to add another image in to offset the first would lose the impact of having the image on a full spread by itself.
Since then, I’ve always shot off to the side a bit, imagining the image with a seam down the middle in order to visualize the final product.
- Shooting for Wall Art
If you’re seeing more wall art, shoot a few frames for the more modest client as well.
Some clients don’t feel they’re ready to hang a piece of wall art that is of themselves. Giving them an image to help boost that confidence for display can be something anonymous, or even more painterly.
I often shoot with the focus in a mirror. Clients love hanging these pieces because it doesn’t feel over the top in sexuality, and feels more like fine art.
4. Be on the Move
Posing your clients is not where the movement stops. Getting different angles within one pose will help you give them a variety of images.
Your camera should not work only in one spot. If you place your client on the floor of the studio for one shot, be sure to move around, get above or get down lower to the floor with them for more looks.
In each pose, I will try to get at least three different angles. This will help your client have variety and save their energy instead of moving them thirty times throughout the session.
In one shot you can use the natural light, and then work your way around them for a darker, more moody angle.
Another way to change up the same pose is to have them in place and create movement themselves.
Lying down on the floor keeping legs and torso in place, they can move their hands down their chest and body line for four image placements in their album.
This creates more of a storyline rather than a static image.
5. Work the Details
Detail shots can mean many things. It can be about the details in your setup or it can be the details of the client.
If you create a setup it is important to show it off for a few frames. A simple shot on a bathtub or a couch pulled further back will add a nice piece to their album.
Detail shots of the wardrobe or the client will work well as a stand-alone image or complimenting another image in their album. Most clients have thought through their wardrobe for the session for many months so it’s a great way to show off their planning.
Shooting details could include wedding rings, wardrobe pieces, shoes, the eyelashes and lips, or getting in close to the body line for more intimate shots.
Boudoir photography can be seen in a few ways. Some photographers prefer to split the terms with boudoir, erotica or bondage. Others would rather lump all terms together under the umbrella of boudoir.
Whichever way you prefer, there are a few ways to get out of the studio. While the definition of boudoir has always been thought to be inside in a bedroom, the term has been working to other areas including the outdoors.
Whether you agree with this or not, many clients feel more at home in the outdoors. Perhaps not “boudoir” exactly, but you can add this to your client’s session if you’re loving the idea as well.
Living on a private lake is helpful when I shoot as I can take my clients to get another look for their albums.
If you are skilled at underwater photography this adds an entirely different element to your boudoir photography.
With this idea, please have the right safety protocols in place when you decide to shoot underwater.
This niche is a fantastic way to give motion and an airy element to your boudoir shoot. Many clients are naturals underwater, however, it’s important to be cautious of the type of wardrobe used when shooting in this look.
Entanglement or other safety concerns can happen so sometimes the best bet is full nudity in order to avoid issues if you’re not a professional underwater photographer.
Boudoir Photography Tips | Final Words
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, boudoir photography is one of the most rewarding genres.
You’re encouraging clients to love the body they’re in, you’re bringing a confidence level they may have almost lost, and you’re meeting people with incredible stories they may not have shared in a less intimate setting.
Taking all this into consideration of the psychology that goes into boudoir photography, thinking about the client’s emotional investment will help you become a better boudoir photographer. It will put you on a trust level that leads the client to not only feel comfortable, but excited to recommend you to their friends.
All images are property of JT Noir and Aqua Studios.
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