Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Hi, I'm Michael. I am a womens portrait and boudoir photographer from New Jersey who works with wonderful women from all over my home state and the NYC area.
From time to time I get a call or email from a boyfriend or husband looking to get information about purchasing a boudoir session as a gift for their wife or girlfriend. Boudoir is a great gift idea. Husbands typically love the idea of flipping through their wife's boudoir photos. Sometimes, they have the idea of surprising their partner with a session as a gift for Christmas or an upcoming birthday. Boudoir is a wonderful gift idea-- but not always the best unilateral decision on the part of the man-- and here's why...
Usually, when I receive a call from a man, I tend to ask a few more questions than I usually do, and try to find out what the wife's feelings may be about the idea-- or even if she is aware. A while ago I received one such call from a husband who wanted information on a session for his wife, and the more I probed it seemed the idea was mostly the husband's, and the wife may have not really been too keen (or even aware) of her husband's intentions.
This can be a tricky situation. After talking for a bit and asking some questions the purpose of the call started to become more clear. Although the husband had good intentions, it seemed he wanted to rely on me to convince his wife to follow through and have the session.
I told him I'd be happy to talk to her and answer any questions she may have, and tell her about the process, but if she wasn't really excited and interested by the idea on her own, I, personally, am not going to try to convince her, otherwise. He seemed a bit puzzled by my reluctance to get involved.
From the conversation with the wife I got the impression perhaps she wasn't exactly feeling great about her appearance, and was a bit shy and introverted. He thought it may be fun for her, and although I could hear he had nothing but admiration for her, perhaps this idea was more for him, than her. I explained to him it didn't really sound like she was 100% behind the idea.
Boudoir is about having fun, and someone's positive state of mind and buy-in is crucial to the look of the final product. If someone is there only physically-- but not mentally-- the photos will really show it. People don't easily hide their negative emotions in photographs. Stress, tiredness, or reluctance don't make very cute photos. I have been involved in sessions where there were clues perhaps the woman was following through with the session more for someone else's reasons rather than their own. Needless to say, there is evidence of this in the final result.
Many woman do have questions, and some may even be a bit apprehensive at first but once they get answers and can start to connect the dots about how a session works and what's involved, you will generally hear a "I am really excited about doing this..." sort of message from the client. I want to get a general sense of that excitement-- it's not every day a client get a chance to do something like this, and besides the end result of the gift-- the purpose is to really have a great time while making it!
On a related note, often during their sessions women usually ask me about shooting photos with partial nudity or implied nudity. I always tell them the same thing-- sure, shooting in something sheer, or an implied-type shot is very beautiful and alluring, as long as you're relaxed and having fun doing it. If the client has a "deer in the headlights" expression on their face while frightfully clutching their body--- errr, that's not so cute, and its probably best to try some less stressful posing ideas.
Boudoir is about being comfortable-- and there is no need to be fully nude for the session to be great. There are such a range of options, and everyone has a different comfort level and expectations, and its important to stay within those bounds. As a matter of fact, all my boudoir sessions start out fully clothed! (Pretty much the opposite of what people expect...but there's a point to why I do that.)
Additionally, I have booked couples sessions where the idea was more of the man's and the women was just along more for him, than she was because she wanted to be there on her own. These type of situations are really quite evident in the body language mannerisms of the woman. In the end, it really comes through in the photos.
The key to a successful of boudoir session are three things.
1) Transparency about the process of the session on part of the photographer.
2) A genuine relationship between the photographer and client during the process.
3) Operating within the boundaries of the client.