Updated: Jul 13, 2019
So, you've been thinking about taking the plunge and doing a boudoir session for an upcoming anniversary or wedding? You're not alone! Boudoir photography is certainly a growing gift idea for several reasons, not to mention it's blast to create. Even though boudoir photography has gone mainstream, people still often have questions about the process.
I've been photographing women for a long time, and I've probably seen and heard it all. As fun as boudoir may be, it's still not every day women are shed their clothes in front a photographer they really don't know. Not only that, due to the intimate nature of this style of photography, potential clients may also have questions about the process, that, well, may be awkward or may seem a bit personal to ask.
No worries. I've compiled a list of questions you may have been wondering about boudoir, but were a bit embarrassed to ask. so let's get started.
Do I have to get naked for a boudoir session?
This is a topic that comes up from time to time, and the simple answer is no. Although boudoir sessions mostly take place in lingerie, but there is no requirement in any boudoir shoot for nudity. One of the best parts of a session is it's a great excuse to head out and buy some new outfits, but in general, boudoir is more about beauty than nudity. The key is to wear outfits in which your are comfortable and have a great time.
Nudity certainly can be involved in sessions, and although I don't keep statistics, I'd say about 1 in 3 sessions have some form of nudity in the session. What does that mean? Well, there are certainly lots of fun shots which may include bare bodies in some way or form.
Additionally, there are lots of cute shots that have more of an "implied" nudity. What does that mean? Well, for an example, see below. Shots with implied nudity are typically where they client may be nude (to some extent), however, she is using sheets, or arms, or the angle of the shot to sort of cover parts of the body. In this manner, a client can get a "nude" shot...without really exposing parts to the camera.
Nudity is not your thing? No problem. In a boudoir session, though, it's as fine to go as bare as you dare. Boobs, booties, and even sexy shots with total nudity are all part of the boudoir scene. Want to zazz up your album a bit by taking it off? No problem.
Do I have to change in front of people?
No. In my personal case, clients have a private room to spread out their belongings, get changed, and even have a private restroom. Typically, a private changing area would be provided in most instances.
Check in with your photographer on what kind of accommodations he/she may provide.
Do I have to bring my own lingerie to a boudoir session? Or is it provided?
Well, this is a instance where you'd have to query the individual photographer you may be using. I, personally do not. I may occasionally bring along a few sheer robes (which are typically used for women who'd like the idea of a nude type shot... without going all the way...) or perhaps another piece of lingerie I thought would look cute in a shot.
My thoughts on this topic are that women come in so many shapes and sizes, its very difficult to provide outfits for everyone. Additionally, and this may just be me, but the idea of sharing lingerie-- well, seems is bit, I don't know-- would leave people feeling a bit strange knowing the outfit has been worn over and over....
That's just my opinion, however. I do know of photographers who provide whole clothing racks of items which clients can use during their sessions. So, I guess this is a matter of what someones personal preference is on the subject.
How are women grooming these days for boudoir?
Um, well, as a man my observations here can hardly be classified as solid empirical evidence, but I think in general we live in a fairly hairless era. Although your pubic area isn't exactly front and center in boudoir photos... there are certainly some shots where it may play a supporting role...
There may be certain shots taken while you're standing where undies are pulled down on one side or another, or others taken while you're laying down where undies may be pulled down, and well, you may be on display a little more than usual... (and in my experience these are typically client favorites that wind up in their albums!) It pays to be prepared!
Does this mean everything must go? Absolutely not. Whichever your personal styling preference, the key here is preparation. Although getting this area in a photo isn't for everyone, more and more session do tend to include teasing shots that may include some geography below the equator.
Do I have to wear tons of makeup for a boudoir session?
Tons...no. Makeup, yes. Most women do not have an issue here, however I do hear from time to time client stating they don't regularly wear makeup and want a natural look with little to no makeup. This is one area where I tend to step in and push the issue a little bit-- my wonderful makeup artists know how I am :-)
Professional makeup is essential to the final look and feel of a boudoir session. I always ask clients if they have viewed my galleries...and if "overdone" makeup was an issue that glared out at them. The answer is always, no.
Makeup and lashes are essential to a session, and typically you can get away with more makeup then typical (or than you normally would wear) because with the window lighting, and the occasional LED lighting I use... people can definitely look a bit washed out.
This is one area you will have to put a bit of faith in your photographer and makeup artist and trust that they know best. Get camera ready makeup done properly!
Pro Tip: The sad news is typically after my clients have a beautiful makeup application... it all needs to get taken off after the session. This can be a dead giveaway if you go home and partner recognizes this... ooops... you got a lot of 'splainin to do.
Are women doing boudoir sessions for themselves? Or for someone else?
Short answer: Both!
Long Answer: Although from time to time I speak to women who have always wanted to do a boudoir session, and come in purely to get the photos done "just because," for the most part, however, the driving factor in booking a session is still typically an anniversary, Christmas, or wedding gift.
Although the "end product" is typically a gift for a partner, boudoir sessions are really the most fun you can have "making" a gift, and the best part is you both get to enjoy the results.
Partners love it-- I don't believe I've ever heard a story where the gift wasn't greatly appreciated. Likewise, the clients also hang on to, and treasure the albums and photos for years. How often to do women really get nice photos of themselves?
I have no idea how to do those boudoir "poses." Does someone help me?
Unless you are a full-time professional model-- no one really knows how to pose in front of a camera-- so no worries there. Posing, however, is an important part of a session that contributes to the final look of your photos.
Keeping hands, arms, and legs where they belong can give a polished "professional" look to your product. There are lots of photographers, however, who put a bit too much emphasis on this aspect of the session- and often tout themselves to be "posing experts."
The truth of the matter is-- although posing can have an impact on a photo, the bottom line is your session is about having fun...and so what if an arm is slightly out of place. If someone likes a photo-- they like the photo, and that's what matters most.
Additionally, this instruction should really be more of a transparent aspect of a session, in so much that a photographer should be guiding you-- but it doesn't need to be such an overt part of the overall experience where someone is hyper-focusing on minutia-- that in the long run... really doesn't matter.
How do you deal with "problem areas?"
Fact: Everyone has problem areas.
Fact: Nobody is perfect.
My personal philosophy here is that its better to be real than perfect. That being said, its completely natural for people to have insecurities about certain things. Typically, though, its very easy to work around "problem areas."
We live in a magical age and have a wonderful tool called Photoshop, which makes it possible to "smooth," the bumps, "flatten" the bulges, "vanish" errant tattoos and bruises, and even "volumize" areas that well, we wish were a cup size or so bigger.
Aside from that, the easiest way to handle insecurities, is well, to simply not focus on them. There are so many ways to photograph a session, that you can still have a very well rounded looking album without any shots centered around a "problem area."
I'm not a "model," is boudoir ok for me?
Yes. I'll restate how I started the answer above:
Fact: Nobody is perfect.
If boudoir was for models only, well, I'd have been out of business a long time ago. The key here is to not think about boudoir as an activity for fashion models... but more of what it actually is-- a fun activity for everyone-- sort of like the photographic version of karaoke.
My clients come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I think the great thing is that I have really noticed over the past four or five years a big increase in the diversity of my client base.
How do you pronounce "boudoir?"
Well, it depends on where in the world you live...
In the United States, people tend to use the pronunciation of Boo-Dwar
Everyone else in the world uses the more accurate pronunciation bood-wa.
To hear the way to two different versions are pronounced you can click over to the Cambridge Dictionary Pronunciation Guide.
The definition of which means a women's bedroom or private sitting room, or quarters.
Do people do "wilder" sort of shots in boudoir sessions?
Yes. And everyone has their own personal idea of what "wild" may be, which is fine. In the years I have been doing this, my personal observation is there are a greater number of sessions now that include something that may be categorized as "wild," or "erotic," than there were maybe even just five years ago.
Photographers may have different names for these type of sessions, such as erotic boudoir. Remember... "wild" is a relative term, and we're not here to judge. Boudoir is about having a fun time, and well, if someone is OK doing a certain type of shot, then why not!
It may be a little embarrassing or awkward to ask a photographer you don't really know (perhaps more so if he's a guy, like me) to do a certain type of pose, or bring in an item to be used as a prop in a session-- if you don't really know what is going on in boudoir sessions these days.
The thing is, its unusual for clients to really mention this up front-- because typically they are uncertain if there is a "line" that perhaps cannot be crossed, or perhaps just out of the aforementioned awkwardness. One person's "wild" can certainly be another's "tame." This is becoming such a popular thing, I have started including more of these type of shots in my gallery, and I have included a whole list of "embarrassing" items to bring along in my prep guide, but ultimately most people aren't really certain until they are on-site and in the process of their session.
...And that's fine, too. Once people are over the initial nerves of the session, and if they are having fun and are comfortable with their photographer and the process, that's when most of these requests seem to come out. "What requests?" you may ask...
I have to admit, since the 50 Shades of Grey days, I have definitely been restraining a lot more women! Handcuffs, ankle cuffs and other restraints are probably most prominent. They are a fun way to maybe put a but of an edgier type shot in your book. Aside from restraints, other forms of "50 Shades of Grey" gear such as nipple clamps, whips and vibrators are common. Additionally, women are bringing blindfolds, nipple jewelry... the list goes on and on.
Another common request is along the lines of he loves it when I... "Touch my..." "Pinch my..." "Play with my..." These shots are all cute fun and a playful way to spice up your album a bit.
If this kind of shot piques your curiosity, and sounds like something you'd like to include in your album, check your photographers listings for something along the lines of "erotic boudoir photography."
Remember: the primary focus of boudoir is beauty. It can be alluring, and there are certain aspects of it that can be sexual, without a doubt.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the mystery of the world of boudoir sessions. In reality, it is just a simple and fun process, that somehow has become a bit more complicated that necessary.
If you have any "embarrassing" boudoir questions, send them over and I'll be happy to help you out.
All the best,