As a long time boudoir photographer, I've pretty much seen it all, and photographed most of it. There's one trend that's been popping up more and more over the past few years, however, that can take a bit of the shine off your boudoir session... Read on for the details.
A boudoir photography session is definitely a bit of a special occasion. Many of my clients are booking sessions for a wedding gift, an anniversary celebration, or even just to treat themselves. Why not! A boudoir photography session really is a great time-- and it's possibly the most fun you can have creating a gift for a partner.
There can be a bit of preparation involved in getting ready for a session, however. Shoots are often booked months in advance, which is good-- giving clients plenty of time to really have some fun in dreaming up the ideal looks they want.
The centerpiece of the boudoir shoot is lingerie. It is a showplace for your best. It's a great excuse to break out the corset that's been sitting in your closet unused for the past year.
Another fun part of booking a boudoir session is the shopping. It's a great excuse to go out and buy a few new items-- and a great time to give that dusty Victoria's Secret card a workout...
Ah, Victoria's Secret. The boudoir staple for years and years. I think I am personally familiar with practically every Victoria's Secret lingerie set released in the past decade. My clients would show up, we'd review their lingerie haul, and without much doubt they'd pull out at least one or two newly purchased Victoria's Secret outfits.
Then something changed... Two or three years ago I started noticing something different. As my clients unpacked and we did the outfit review... something was missing. They were still bringing suitcases and bags full of lingerie, but the VS bags and packages were gone, and more and more often they were replaced by clear plastic... Amazon bags.
Here's where the trouble starts. We all love Amazon. Nothing beats an easy click and purchase... but the influx of cheap Amazon lingerie, as it turns out, is really not a great look for a boudoir session.
At first I thought perhaps it was an aberration, but there it was, client after client, just more and more Amazon lingerie. So what, you ask?
Yes, I understand that when shopping at stores such as Victoria's Secret or Honey Birdette, a single outfit may cost you $90... or more. That can get expensive, real fast. I get it. ...And yes, I understand that you can potentially buy four lingerie outfits for that same $90 on Amazon-- but for the love of god PLEASE DON'T.
What's wrong with the Amazon stuff? Well, to put it bluntly... it's cheap. By cheap, I'm not just referring to inexpensive "cheap," I'm referring to "cheap looking" cheap. At this point, and for the most part, when a client walks in one of my rooms with something they've purchased on Amazon... I can spot it a mile away.
What's the problem? Well, in general, and to put it simply, you are getting what you pay for. When buying a $15 lingerie outfit on Amazon, you are really getting what you pay for: The lace is super cheap and wafer-thin, items do not have good fit or elasticity, and the overall fit and finish is not super flattering.
I had one client this past Christmas who brought in several Amazon outfits. She had one bodysuit (not the one shown above, but I did have had a client bring in that exact outfit) which just fit so poorly-- it had no "elasticity" to it so it was baggy and ill-fitting, and not only that, the entire time she was wearing it the crotch area, which also had no elasticity, awkwardly kept sliding over to reveal everything or worse-- it kept giving her this unattractive front wedgie. Needless to say, these photos were just not flattering or usable.
Remember when I mentioned earlier that your boudoir session is a special occasion? Well, this can actually be a concept that is not obvious to people and sometimes takes a bit of explaining. One thing I say to my clients is to think about your anniversary (or another special occasion) and imagine you're preparing to go out for a wonderful dinner and a night out. You love sushi. For your special anniversary do you send your husband out to the local gas station to pick up a pack of gas station sushi-- because it's just $3.99 (a bargain!) Is price really the most important factor on this occasion? No! Your anniversary is an experience. You look forward to dressing up, getting your makeup on-point, and heading out for a wonderful dinner at your favorite sushi restaurant.
Likewise, your boudoir session is a special occasion. It's not necessarily the best place for gas station sushi-- err, I mean cheap Amazon Chinese lingerie.
When it comes to rocking your boudoir session, the quantity of outfits you bring along isn't important. I'd rather have a client bring along one great outfit, than 4 ill-fitting ones.
As your boudoir session is a special occasion, so should your lingerie selections. Remember: You'll be looking at these photos for years. I used to laugh when I would photograph so many Victoria's Secret outfits and see the same outfits over and over. BUT now I would trade anything for those good ole' heydays of the pink VS bags littering my clients dressing room floors.
As a matter of fact, I have included this as part of my client prep guides.
I understand a bit of the reasoning from the clients perspective. I've spoken to some of my clients who are not necessarily "lingerie" women and bought things specifically for their sessions. They may have seen outfits they really liked, but were a bit reluctant to purchase something they fear they would not use. Well, even after your boudoir session, a beautiful Honey Birdette corset outfit may not have a lot of practical everyday-at-the-office value (or maybe it might 😉) but you'll feel amazing each and every time you wear it. Wearing beautiful lingerie is something many women should be making a part of their every day lives-- treating yourself.
In the end, the goal of your boudoir session is to create amazing photos. There are many parts to this formula including your choice of photographer, the location, and of course your outfits. All of these things play a role in the final results of your session. One thing to keep in mind when preparing for your boudoir session is to treat it like the special occasion it is, and plan and purchase your outfits accordingly. There is no need to purchase "tons" of different outfits, but focus on a smaller set of quality, well-made, lingerie items and you will be rewarded with great results.