So, you’re a family or wedding photographer, one of your clients asked you to shoot their boudoir session, and you agreed! (Yes, Boo!! Get it!)💃
You said yes to this whole idea because how hard can it be?
Posing one person? Pshhh!! I can do that in my sleep. I’ll follow my usual portrait session game plan and figure it out as I go.
Mmm hmmm. Been there. That’s exactly what I thought when I agreed to shoot my first boudoir session too. Here’s why it didn’t work:
I got into the studio and realized (like really realized) that the person in front of me was almost entirely naked!! (gasp!) 😨 Your boudoir client is about to share a vulnerable side of herself that she doesn’t just advertise to anyone walking down the street.
It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are with the human body; shooting someone with their clothes off will not be the same vibe as a regular portrait session, period.
Plus, your boudoir client will be counting on you to capture how beautiful she is from every angle. She’s trusting you to tell the story of how she’s sexy, strong, empowered, and gorgeous—inside and out. That’s a tall order, let’s be real! This isn’t going to be like any session you’ve done before, so it’s naturally going to require a different approach than you might be used to.
Good news! That approach is exactly what we’re talking about in today’s post.
I want you to walk into your first boudoir session feeling like the confident, experienced, caring photographer you are, ready to give your first boudoir client the experience she’s hoping for. And since this is not your ordinary portrait, we’re not going to treat it as such.
Ready? Let’s do this! Here are five tips for shooting your first boudoir session.
During my first boudoir session, I did what any wedding photographer would do: I warmed things up by getting some outfit detail and flat lay shots.
For real! I staged that piece of lingerie like it was Princess Kate’s wedding gown draped across Buckingham Palace and started snapping away. 🤣 And why wouldn’t I?! That was the exact process I followed for weddings, after all.
But when it comes to capturing details, boudoir and weddings are not the same.
At your weddings, you are documenting the day with flat lays—the rings, the invitations, the dress, the shoes. During a boudoir shoot, the only outfit and prop detail you need to get is how that black lace brushes the curve of your client’s thigh. What I mean is: The details are on your model. The swoop of her eyelashes. Her hips, her smile. She is the story. Not the lingerie or the bed or the couch or anything else.
Bottom line? Ix-nay on the flat lay, Boo. 😉🥰
Wedding photographers, I know you have your arsenal of lenses, and they are like your babies. You love them. You can’t imagine your life without them. They need you….
….and you need them.😂
I get it. I do! But trust me when I say that when you shoot boudoir you need just.one.lens. I’m being completely serious here. I use a Sigma Art Lens 35mm 1.4 when I shoot boudoir, and she’s all I need.
I move around a ton during my sessions, and this is the only lens that is versatile and quick enough to do everything I need it to do. Sticking with one lens also allows me to keep the story and feel of the shoot consistent throughout, so as to not confuse the viewer.
When you’re shooting families or weddings, you can get a ton of variety in your images by milking the heck out of a beautiful location. In boudoir? Not so much! After all, you can’t just shimmy over to another tree grove when you need a set change.
During your session, you’ll be in the exact same location the entire time, so unless you want your client gallery to have 50 identical shots, you’re going to have to get creative in adding some variety to your images.
How? With outfit changes and using all your set props.
Have your model wear 2-3 different lingerie options throughout her shoot to change things up. And when you find a pose that’s striking, don’t just get that shot on the couch and call it a day. Have her replicate that pose on the bed, the floor, the chair!
Use what ya got. In this case, that’s outfit changes and posing your models in all the places.
It’s more like tush to face.
For real. And I’m not telling you this to be silly or for an excuse to say the word tush on the Internet! When you’re used to capturing standard portraits, this drastic change in how you face your subject can catch you off guard if you’re not ready for it. Lucky for you, you’re reading this blog post, so you’re way ahead of the game. (Yes!!)
My best quick and dirty tip for getting the most flattering shots of your model is to walk around her in a horseshoe and see all your angles. More often than not, you’ll find yourself shooting at a 45-degree or 90-degree angle from your client.
Or Kesha. Or whatever playlist will get you into the zone of feeling brave, confident, empowered, and having a hair-down good time. Your client is trusting you to show up with this level of energy. She literally cannot turn on her confidence until you do it first. Is it gonna take some moxie to feel this way before shooting your first boudoir session?
Yes. But you can do it. And, when all else fails, crank that playlist, let the music do the talking, and just do your thing.
Do you wish there was a crash course you could take on shooting boudoir that would leave you feeling 100% ready for that first shoot? So you knew the ins and outs of posing, structuring your session, creating a client experience, establishing your pricing and products, and presenting galleries without the nerves?
You know I made that exact course just for you, Boo!
Boudoir 101 is a self-paced online course for established photographers who want to absolutely wow their first boudoir clients. Want in?
Boudoir photography celebrates all the ways your crazy beautiful body has held you up, moved you forward, and turned you into a woman who can get. it. done. Sis, that is something that should make you proud.
I’m Emma, a Sioux Falls Boudoir Photographer. Helping people feel their best has always been part of who I am. Before focusing on photography, I worked as a nurse, and now I use that same expert care to help women feel like a million bucks. Oh my gosh, it is the best.