"There is a difference," states Mike Cassidy, a New Jersey Boudoir photographer. "You may not dine out and eat filet mignon every day, but when it's a special occasion and you want a great steak, that's what you order." We all know filet mignon is going to cost more than a typical burger at a local fast food restaurant-- does that apply in this case, as well with boudoir, "by all means, it does."
Boudoir photography has grown in popularity as a wedding gift idea over the past several years. --And why not!! Giving a boudoir album as a wedding gift is a completely personal and intimate gift. It's a lot more than just a couple of pictures-- boudoir photographers are great at turning it into an experience. Each year, more and more brides are reaching out to boudoir photographers for to create these personal wedding albums.
But-- are all these boudoir photographers created equal? Turns out, they are not.
"As with many types of goods, such as automobiles for example, they come in different price points and levels of amenities for different needs and budgets. Photography works in the same fashion." People may not immediately think of something like "luxury photography" is a thing, but indeed it is. "Absolutely. This concept applies to photographers, as well," states Cassidy.
Boudoir photography has come a long way. At one time, it was something almost scandalous-- you dare not tell the neighbors. Photos of a woman in a bra?? Scandalous! Times have changed, however. Boudoir photography has gone more mainstream, and all types of women are heading in to boudoir studios to take part in a boudoir shoot-- for various reasons. "Weddings are still probably the main reason, but there are plenty of anniversaries...Christmas is big... And women are also doing it for themselves, as well."
"It's an experience. It's a break from an every day routine where clients get pampered, get a makeover, and have a great time for a few hours, then leave like they are walking on air..."
How does it all come together? "Typically, I will receive inquiries from my Contact Page on my website, or occasionally via Instagram." It all starts with a consultation to see if everyone is a good fit. "I am enthusiastic about my clients... and I want to be sure they share the same enthusiasm about their session." How far ahead will women book? "I can hear from brides a year ahead of their wedding dates. Wedding planning tends to start early, and planning a boudoir session no exception."
"Because my work is so specialized, I tend to work with a limited number of people, and the spots tend to fill up." People tend to underestimate the amount of time and skill it takes to produce a beautiful bridal boudoir session. "Hours...hours and hours."
Being a boudoir photographer seems like it would be a fun job, but the work is very demanding and specialized. "It is difficult," states Cassidy. "You have to be part technical wizard, part gracious host, and at the same time be a calming force while maneuvering clients through lots poses and making sure they have a great time."
What the best part about what you do? "While my clients receive an incredible experience and beautiful work, the real service I strive to provide is overwhelming joy and a heart filling experience each and every time you view your images-- five years, ten years into the future. It's a feeling that transcends words." The boudoir experience goes way beyond the few hours spent working together with a client. When woman leave, they are literally walking on air-- it's just a great time.
What's the worst part about doing what you do? "Well, there is so much positive, but probably the worst part is not being able to accommodate everyone who would really like the experience."
What defines a luxury boudoir photographer? Several things. Think of it maybe a bit like Hilton vs Holiday Inn Express. These organization are both providing accommodations, and serving very different markets and needs. A Hilton Hotel may give guests a different level of service and luxury over a Holiday Inn Express, it all comes down to the little details. When you're traveling-- perhaps you are on special vacation, you're in the mode for a bit of pampering, a nice breakfast and fresh cinnamon rolls, a beautiful pool to relax at-- and you're willing to pay more for those experiences.
"From the hair & makeover, to the coaching during the session, to the follow up and gallery review...it comes down to a level of service. My clients are women who value these experiences, and love having fun."
Shopping for a boudoir photographer can be a bit challenging. "People, in general, aren't great shoppers," he notes. "People have been trained that the lowest price wins, but when it comes photography, more times than not, you'll walk away disappointed following that strategy. I've had to 'fix and re-do' several bridal boudoir photo sessions over the years for women who had poor experiences with photographers, and I hate hearing those stories."
Any advice for women shopping for bridal boudoir? "Yes, keep that 'special occasion' frame of mind. Think of it as you're shopping for your wedding venue... or if you're planning for a special anniversary weekend getaway. Boudoir is a special occasion, and needs to be treated as such."
How about some tips on what brides should bring along. What are brides wearing for their sessions? "Good question-- and I'm going to stick with my 'special occasion' mantra, here. Some brides are bringing along white bridal lingerie, which is really nice in a wedding album, but it's not required. They key is to bring along a few beautiful pieces with you that you are comfortable wearing-- quality is much better than quantity."
Are there wardrobe horror stories? "Well, 'horror story' is a bit harsh, but there are definitely some wardrobe miscues." He elaborated. "I think now when I see clients walking in with clear plastic bags with lingerie purchased on Amazon I cringe a bit. An ill-fitting $13 bodysuit with no elasticity to it isn't doing anyone any favors." Your wardrobe needs to be treated just like any other part of this boudoir process...with care.
Sounds like there is a lot to know about getting ready for a boudoir session. "Indeed there is-- sticking with an expert can make all the difference."
In the end, the result is, of course, a work of art. It is, indeed, something that will be treasured for years to come-- and is worth all the wait and preparation.
For more information on working with Mike Cassidy for your bridal boudoir session, please reach out on the Contact page. To see a bit of this amazing boudoir photography you can view boudoir galleries here.