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A Photographer's Advice: 10 Things NEVER To Do During A Boudoir Session

a woman having fun during a boudoir shoot

Boudoir photography. The term alone evokes images of sophistication, allure, and a secret intimacy usually kept behind closed doors. But it's more than just capturing seductive poses in alluring attire. It's about embracing your body, celebrating your self-worth, and immortalizing a moment of utter self-love in a world too often obsessed with nitpicking every imperfection.

In essence, boudoir is an art form—a delicate balance of light and shadow, angles and curves, raw emotion and structured composition. It's a space where vulnerability meets empowerment, where every individual, regardless of shape or size, can feel like a masterpiece in their own right. It's not merely about lingerie and satin sheets. It's about encapsulating the essence of the individual—their spirit, their strength, their passion.

While it may seem like an adventurous, perhaps even daunting, endeavor for some, a boudoir session has the potential to transform one's self-perception in profound ways. It is a journey towards self-discovery and self-appreciation. That's why it's critical for those considering this journey to understand what it entails, not just from a practical standpoint, but also from a perspective that seeks to maximize the overall experience.

Of course, the quality of the experience doesn't solely depend on the subject's enthusiasm or the photographer's skill. Preparation plays a significant role in this delicate equation. Knowing what to avoid during a session is just as vital as knowing what to do. Missteps, both minor and major, can cast shadows over the potential brilliance of the moment.

Over the years in this profession, it's become clear that the most rewarding sessions are the ones where clients come armed with the right knowledge. A well-informed client isn't just a boon for the photographer; it's also advantageous for the client themselves, as it significantly enhances the value they derive from the session.

I've pretty much seen it all, so, let's navigate this together. Here are ten things that you should never do during a boudoir session—a compilation of wisdom distilled from many sessions, many stories, and many transformative experiences. Take these suggestions to heart, and you'll be well on your way to an unforgettable boudoir experience.

two women having fun during a boudoir session

Thing #1: Don't come unprepared

As in any venture, preparation is key when stepping into a boudoir session. It's not simply a photoshoot, but a journey towards self-appreciation and empowerment. This journey requires a certain level of preparedness to truly encapsulate your essence, your character, your spirit. Imagine going on a wilderness expedition without your essential gear or walking into an important business meeting without a clue about the agenda. Preparation, or the lack thereof, can make or break these situations. The same holds true for boudoir photography.

Take the time to reflect on what you hope to achieve from the session. What narrative do you want to tell through your images? Do you want to channel a sultry diva, or perhaps a vulnerable nymph? Maybe you're looking to showcase raw power or maybe delicate elegance. Having a clear vision for your session helps guide the process and ensures the final images capture exactly what you had hoped for.

Preparation extends to the choice of wardrobe as well. It's not just about lingerie; it's about any clothing or accessory that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. This could be that oversized shirt that whispers casual confidence, that favorite dress that screams power, or that simple necklace that carries sentimental value. Whatever your selection, make sure it reflects your personality and resonates with the story you want to tell.

Finally, consider the mental preparation. It's completely normal to experience a flutter of nerves or a hint of apprehension before a session. But preparing yourself mentally, perhaps with relaxation techniques, positive affirmations, or just some quiet reflection, can go a long way in ensuring a successful session. It's about stepping into the studio feeling confident, relaxed, and ready to embrace the transformative journey of a boudoir session. Because remember, you're not just stepping in front of a camera; you're stepping into a space of self-celebration.

Thing #2: Avoid excessive alcohol before the session

A glass of wine or a dash of champagne— it's often seen as a shortcut to easing nerves and summoning that free-spirited, carefree vibe. While a little bit of liquid courage might seem like a good idea before stepping into the spotlight, overindulgence can potentially hinder the very essence of a boudoir session.

The thing with alcohol is, while it might momentarily embolden you, it has a way of masking true emotions, creating a facade that isn't necessarily reflective of the real you. Boudoir is about celebrating your authenticity, your raw emotions, and an excessive amount of alcohol can blur those lines. Plus, it's easy to underestimate the power of alcohol, especially when you're in a situation where nerves are running high.

It's also worth noting the physical effects that excessive alcohol can have on your body. It can lead to bloating and dehydration, both of which can affect how you look and feel during the session. Alcohol can also cause your eyes to appear bloodshot or your skin to flush, neither of which are ideal when you're trying to capture stunning photographs. In extreme cases, it might even lead to feelings of nausea or dizziness, significantly impacting your comfort and enjoyment of the session.

But that doesn't mean you need to battle your nerves single-handedly. There are plenty of alternatives to help you relax and get comfortable. Mindful breathing, for example, can be incredibly effective. Some light stretching or yoga before the session can also help ease any tension in your body. And of course, a good rapport with your photographer can go a long way in creating a comfortable atmosphere. Remember, boudoir photography is about capturing the beauty of your authentic self, and it's essential to keep that authenticity front and center throughout the session.

a boudoir photographer and a client posing

Thing #3: Don't wear tight clothing to the studio

OMG! I hate photoshopping out clothing lines. 😂 An often overlooked aspect in the run-up to a boudoir session involves the choice of attire you don before stepping foot into the studio. It might seem inconsequential, even negligible, in the grand scheme of things, but hear me out—wearing tight clothing prior to a session can inadvertently sabotage the aesthetic you're striving for. Let's delve into the why behind this seemingly odd piece of advice.

Consider the material and structure of most tight clothing. It tends to grip and press onto your skin, and while it might serve to accentuate your curves in everyday life, it can leave unsightly marks on your body. In the same way that a hairband leaves an indent in your hair, tight clothing can leave imprints on your skin. These pressure marks can be stubborn and take time to fade away—time that we don't usually have in the middle of a session.

So, imagine this: you're adorned in your chosen outfit for the session, perfectly made up, radiant in the soft studio lighting. But then, there they are—those telltale indentations, those pressure marks from the tight jeans or the pressing bra you wore to the studio. Sure, some of them can be removed in post-processing, but wouldn't it be better to prevent them from appearing in the first place?

What's the solution then? Opt for loose and comfortable clothing as you prepare for the session. Think flowy dresses, loose pants, or even comfy pyjamas—anything that does not press onto your skin. Consider a sports bra or a bralette, which is less likely to leave marks compared to an underwired bra. The goal is to keep your skin as free from pressure as possible.