Boudoir photography is a niche in portrait photography that combines features of portrait, fashion, art, glamour and erotic photography. A great way to capture sexy, sensual, stylish images of women of all ages and shapes. You don’t have to have the body of a runway model to turn out beautifully in the frame.
The word boudoir comes from the French. The boudoir was a place where a woman could take time for herself and, depending on her financial means, the boudoir was a room or a part of a room separated by a partition.
The style of boudoir photography itself has been around since the 1940s. It is a sensual, intimate view of a person. Clients are most often women, but there is also male boudoir photography. It is a playful and provocative style. Nudity is only implied, but rarely shown.
Some women feel extremely confident in front of the camera in this seemingly vulnerable state. Others, however, are not as relaxed. Some may be afraid to “let go” of themselves and relax, to get rid of the feeling that the photographer is judging every physical flaw of the model in the process.
A few tips to help a successful boudoir photo shoot
Get to know your future model
Chat with your client before the photo shoot. Ask different questions, try to understand what a woman likes about her body. What does she think her strengths are? How is she comfortable to work with? Some prefer subtle and refined posing, while others prefer more sensual poses for a photo shoot. Which closet would be more comfortable and is the model willing to bare a lot in front of the camera?
A preliminary idea of how the client sees herself, what she likes and dislikes, helps to prepare for the shoot. Let’s not lie, a boudoir photo shoot can be just as awkward for the photographer as it is for the client.
Disposition for a boudoir photography
Boudoir photo shoots usually need a rather intimate setting. This can be a bedroom, a hotel room, or a regular studio with appropriate props. Try using a space with good natural light from a window. To build a pose, a bed, couches and just chairs come in handy. A huge space is not needed here.
Since you will most likely be using an open aperture, make sure that the shutter speed does not go faster than 1/200. This will eliminate any possible mirror shake or slight movement. This is also a great speed for synchronizing with lighting equipment.
For boudoir photos, you need to work with aperture and ISO first. Depending on whether you use natural or studio lighting, you’ll have a range to get the right exposure. With studio lighting, you can increase and decrease the power, getting as much light as you need. This will help keep the ISO low for better quality and detail.
Natural light is what it is. Overcast weather will require higher ISO values, while sunny weather will require the opposite. The aperture should be around f/8-16 to keep the model in focus but visually separated from the background.
Lighting plays a big role when you want to show the shapes of the model in the best light in the frame (pun intended). It is necessary to get the depth of the image, shadows are used to soften the body parts. A softbox for the on-camera flash, diffuser or reflector, or a softbox or umbrella for the studio monoblock is a must.
What should the client bring with her? It’s best if the woman brings lots of different things to choose from. This will help determine what suits the person best and will also help diversify the entire photo shoot.
Underwear, oversize T-shirts, heeled shoes, a variety of jewelry, T-shirts and button-down shirts – anything can come in handy.
Also keep in mind that professionally applied makeup and hairstyles noticeably boost the confidence of the female model you’re shooting. Consider getting your own makeup artist for the shoot.
As with any portrait shoot, you shouldn’t force someone else’s personality on the model – shyness can look just as sexy as sociability and a cheerful disposition.
Talk during the photo shoot. This not only loosens up the atmosphere, but also allows you to capture your client’s natural movements in the picture. And most importantly – in a playful way! Don’t impose your poses!
Try to evoke emotion. A smiling person can be very sexy in a photo because they are enjoying themselves at that moment. And a more serious look can bring a sensual touch. Again, be guided by the character of the model.
You don’t (and shouldn’t) talk too much out loud about how the model looks. This may make the woman feel uncomfortable. However, you should constantly remind her that she looks great and works well with the camera.
You should also note the importance of your model’s eye direction. She is either looking straight at the camera or her gaze is down – the other options are likely to work worse.
And about posing
The goal of the photographer is to shoot from an angle and help the model compose her pose in a way that shows off her best sides in the frame. Shoot from above, shoot from below and from behind – changing angles will give you more alternatives when choosing images for the final album.
Boudoir photography can be embarrassing for clients and photographers alike. But if you come into the shoot with a plan for this “game” and a general idea of the client’s personality and anxieties/expectations, in all likelihood everything will go smoothly. It usually takes the first few shots to get a little calmer and more in tune. But once the model feels confident and comfortable, the magic begins.
Boudoir photography poses are a little different from other portrait poses. The lenses and perspective of the photograph play a role. Large noses can be made smaller by using a lens with a longer focal length. Balding heads look better when taken from a smaller angle.
Two things to pay attention to when photographing a man are the V contour and the chin line. The V contour is formed by broad shoulders and a narrow waist. The jaw lines should be angular and clearly outlined for maximum masculinity. However, it is also possible to soften them by picking the right angle.
Positioning the arms
Hands are a very important part of any photo shoot. However, many people just don’t know what to do with their hands when they find themselves in front of the camera. In portrait photography, your hands can be gently placed on your lap. Or even bring them close to your face, chin or hair.
Hand positions in boudoir photography are also very important. The basic rule in this case is, “If something bends, bend it.” Use your hands to let sexiness into the shot. The model may lightly touch her lips to her wrists, or tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. Create pure passion in the shot – when the model grabs the sheets with her hands or pulls down closet items.
Advise the model to move her arms down and along her body as naturally as possible. Hands help create the right emotion for boudoir photography and include fantasy.
Imagination is something you should definitely take with you on your boudoir photo shoot!