Reasons Why Your Boudoir Photography Business Is Failing
Updated: May 17
It's not so easy, is it? A few months ago, you were a starry-eyed budding boudoir photographer who was ready to take over the world. There's one small thing "they" forgot to tell you. It's hard...
Boudoir photography has changed so dramatically over the past ten years, and not necessarily for the better. Boudoir was once this almost "secretive" type of a thing. Women didn't really speak of it in public. Making an appointment with such a person as a boudoir photographer was, as worst, scandalous- and at best not exactly something upstanding women would want known.
There was a time when non-disclosures were sometimes requested, and the idea of a woman having a photo in a brassiere was best left under lock and key. Scandalous! --Fast forward a decade or so, and my, things have have changed.
Society has changed, and boudoir isn't nearly the sketchy fringy thing it once was. Heck, now I have women "live streaming" and posting shots to their Instagram accounts while they are with me getting photographed. Women love sharing their albums with friends and even get wall prints from their sessions for their homes. Talk about a one-eighty!
How can that not be a change for the better? Well, there's a bit more too it. And that's where it get a big more complicated. The social acceptance of boudoir has changed. The technology used to capture it changed. Your boudoir photographer has also... changed.
Today, everyone walks around with a great camera on them at all times-- called a smartphone. We're all photographers, in a sense. People take photos by the hundreds, if not thousands. What makes you so special that someone is going to pay for something they can simply do themselves... On their iPhone?
Additionally, over the past six or so years boudoir photographers, and boudoir photography both have taken a strange turn.
I think of it as the "Boudoir Boom." I guess it was like a mini version of the "poker boom" of the early 2000s. The "Boudoir Boom" sprang to life 2011-ish or so, when suddenly boudoir photographers started springing up like weeds in the summer.
High quality cameras were just a few mouse clicks away, and the philosophy was "I just bought a pro camera...therefore I guess that means I'm pro!" All you needed was that crafty Amazon purchase and a Wordpress template and *BOOM!* you were a pro and in business!
Not only that, though, your new found destiny in life was to not only photograph, but to "empower" the universe! Suddenly, you couldn't turn left or right without seeing hordes of boudoir photographers suddenly trying to out "empower" and out "fierce" the other. (Which is confusing, because that in and of itself doesn't really mean anything.)
What presumably started as someones clever marketing idea quickly spread like a cold almost everywhere. Before long, it seemed most Boomers were "all in" on this "empowerment" religion. Everyone was logging in to the same "How To Be A Boudoir Photographer" website for marching orders. It was (and still is to an extent) fever pitch! If you were not out "Empowering" your fellow photographers... you were doing something wrong! Empower! Empower! Empower!
Along the way, the Boudoir Boomers forgot one simple thing: The photography part. Its hard work. Really hard work to get good. The actual "photography" part seemed to become somewhat of an afterthought to their whole movement. I'm all for the spirit of helping people through photography, and the Boudoir Boomers hearts are in the right place, but a camera and a credo don't automatically mean great photography. And, boy, oh, boy, what fun it has been to observe!
Your good social intentions are not enough to succeed.
Just For Example...
What if I woke up one morning and decided my destiny was go become a pro golfer? That morning I got up and ran down my local sporting goods store and asked for the same golf clubs Tiger Woods uses. Now I am a pro golfer! Could I run down to the nearest PGA event walk on and say "I'm a pro golfer now...look at my clubs... I want to play in this tournament."
Doesn't really work that way, huh. (Not to mention I don't even really know to play golf.) I'd probably need years of practice to even approach that level.
To the Boomer, the concept of the 10,000 hours of practice to become that expert somehow got lost in the shuffle... This, among other shortcomings, including a fairly pervasive lack of self awareness, makes it difficult to prosper in a business that is difficult enough in the best of circumstances.
So, business hasn't been really what you thought? You followed your internet boudoir mentor's advice to the letter, bought every Lightroom action you could, and plastered empowerment phrases all over your social media... no luck, huh.
Aside from the general lack of expertise and awareness, there are some other issues which plague modern boudoir. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of these factors.
You Didn't Find Your Own Vision
Why are you doing someone else's photography? As an active member on social media I see boudoir work all the time. The one shocking thing I notice is how so many starting boudoir photographer's work looks alike... and not necessarily in a good way. I've long thought there must be an online "How To Be A Boudoir Photographer" website out there somewhere where all these people go to get their marching orders.
I understand when people are starting in photography they need to learn-- and everyone starts somewhere! (Me included.) I could, however, create a blog post alone of bad copies of photos I see online all the time. It reminds me of TV news clips where they show reporters from all across the country saying the exact same things despite them being on different channels.... marching orders!
How many poorly done shots "through" a low hanging glass chandelier (not to even bring up why a chandelier would be hanging 4ft. over someone's bed to begin with...seems like I'd be banging my head on that every day. 😖) but STOP.
How many poorly done shots of milk baths.... (Pleeaaasse stop!) Dear God.