Boudoir photography is always evolving. What was "scandalous" for one generation, isn't necessarily the same for the next. Thirty five years ago a boudoir photo of a woman in a brassiere was to be kept under lock and key-- What if the neighbors saw that?! Such a scandalous thing could ruin reputations. Hide the children!!
Back then, boudoir photography was a fringy thing, at best. It certainly wasn't for PTA moms. There must have been something depraved about those women who wanted to do such a scandalous thing, right? Even finding a boudoir photographer probably meant a trip down a dark alley, and required some kind of a secret knock to gain access to the forbidden studio. Inside these walls photographers would smear Vaseline on their lenses to create a strange soft images, and develop these illicit shots in sketchy darkrooms. It was quite a scene, man.
Flash forward a few decades and boudoir and society have both changed.
In 2020 we have an entire generation of women in a race for "Insta-fame" who voluntarily post photos of themselves on Instagram in essentially no clothing-- everyday. Over and over, again. --And nobody cares. Self proclaimed "Fitness Motivators" drag friends along to the gym to capture their workout routines-- which is very necessary because nobody really understands what exercise is 🤦♂️ -- and the results seems to always be not so workout focused, but more "here's more photos of my ass" focused.
On the boudoir photography front, brides are coming in regularly to give boudoir albums on their wedding days. Wives come in regularly for anniversary or Christmas gifts. Boudoir clients are: teachers, doctors, accountants... the list goes on. Boudoir has, well, become super acceptable-- and cute!
Boudoir photographers have upped their game, as well. We have super hi-res digital cameras that can produce stunning images. There is fancy professional software to help clients look their best. Photographers have taken to learning the art of boudoir and have really created a scene of amazing work.
For all of these innovations and changes, boudoir photography is still widely misunderstood. In its purest form boudoir photography is about beauty. It's about observing a women in her private moments in her room. Even though there may be lingerie in boudoir photography, it isn't necessarily about explicit sexuality or nudity. The focus of boudoir photography is beauty over overt sexuality. It's a bit voyeuristic. It's a bit pretty. It's mostly about making women feel great about themselves.
As our times have changed, so have some of these basic tenets of boudoir photography. These changes are primarily driven by changes in our culture. What was a edgy thirty five years ago, today may be rather mundane. People want to keep pushing the limits.
As such, boudoir has definitely taken a turn in a wilder direction. Although there are certainly still plenty of women that was do to more traditional sessions that aren't necessarily explicit, it is a lot more common, however, for women to want to push the edges and do photos that aren't typically within the bounds of traditional boudoir.
So, what has happened to boudoir during this shift? To state it simply, boudoir has become more overtly sexual. There is even a version of boudoir now called erotic boudoir.
So, What Is Erotic Boudoir?
So, what is erotic boudoir? Well, I don't know if it has a single all-encompassing definition. Erotic boudoir would typically be a session where the client is interested in expressing more of her sexuality in a way that may fall outside of "traditional" boudoir photography. This may be done in a few ways. There may be more nudity. There may be more poses of a explicit nature. Erotic boudoir also may contain elements of bondage and masturbation, just to name a few. All the while, as photographers, we try to keep these elements within the "riverbanks" of standard boudoir. Those "riverbanks," however, seem to be ever widening.
Erotic boudoir changes up the traditional boudoir session quite a bit. In my unscientific opinion, most women are a bit anxious when they come in for a boudoir shoot. Not only that, more often than not they are dealing with a photographer they don't know. Many clients may not feel real comfortable bringing up certain shots they "really" want to do in a boudoir session