Boudoir photography is a kind of portrait/bridal photography. The style itself appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century in France and is still very popular.
So, if you’re going to suggest your brides a boudoir shoot or start taking glamour boudoir photos for fashion magazines and advertisement, follow my basic boudoir photography tips about gear, studio lighting, photo editing, and some tricks that will help you take elegant and not vulgar photos.
Boudoir photography is a combination of fashion, editorial photography, glamour, erotic photography and fine art.
The word “boudoir” means the place, where women spend time on their own. It may be a separate room or just a part of it, depending on the budget.
Boudoir photos actually reflect sensual and intimate sides of a person, concentrating on their mood, body, and underwear. Here are the main types of boudoir photography:
An elegant style of boudoir photoshoots is glorious, enchanting, and eye-catching. To create a stunning look, a day makeup is your go-to.
For a sleek style, a model should wear something seductive yet stylish and feminine. The elegant boudoir photo shoot is often styled in b&w, making the model look sophisticated and tender.
For some reason, girls wearing men's clothing or girls being sassy look trendy. Wearing some unusual clothes, will make the shooting more individual and unique for the couple.
This is a shooting that requires choosing a certain style and location associated with some holiday, event, or theme. The most popular holidays for boudoir photoshoots are Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine's Day.
If you are planning to have a boudoir photo shoot, remember to make all the necessary preparations. You will work with a model who should forget about being shy and feeling uncomfortable.
This is you who will help her do it and get elegant and sensitive boudoir photos. Look through my boudoir photography tips that will make your photos special.
People have various reasons for arranging boudoir photoshoots. The first and the most frequent one is taking photos for wedding or anniversary photo books, birthday gifts, or Valentine's Day presents. Some women are likely to have pregnant pictures in order to capture the most beautiful period in their life.
Erotic photography is a big responsibility both for the model and for the photographer. Before taking such pictures, you need to find out whether or not the model feels comfortable. Prepare the list of clarifying questions:
What thing raises your confidence?
Things, which makes us confident, differ, and this could be practically anything. Maybe she feels so in specific clothing. Perhaps she has a personal achievement, which makes her stand strong. Encourage her to talk about this stuff.
Is there any particular angle she thinks she doesn't look beautiful from?
This question displays that you are interested that her boudoir poses will look utterly fascinating, making her proud of her own glory.
Does she want to have any specific props during boudoir photo shoot?
Despite the simplicity of this clarification, it can make the shooting more unique, as the model's individuality would be maximally reflected.
What does she love about her body the most?
Ask what makes her shy. Try to show her body at their best, hiding her flaws in some way.
Actually, every boudoir shoot requires special preparation. First of all, you are to e-mail a client the list of things that are to be done before the session. For example, the client should not wear outfits that may leave marks on her/his skin before the shooting. Moreover, it is advisable to avoid spray tans.
Ask the model to avoid drinking lots of water before photoshoot day not to suffer from skin edema. Remind her that her nails must be clean, as improving nail polish will cost extra.
After talking with the model, prepare the reference photos on your smartphone or laptop so that you can always get inspired by looking at them in case you run out of ideas.
My models usually ask what to wear for boudoir photoshoots. To my mind, it’s up to them what to put on but I recommend bringing convenient outfits. A client will not feel comfortable if her moves are somehow restricted. Moreover, it is important to use clothing that is inside her comfort zone. I mean that there is no use in wearing sexy lingerie if it is completely out of her character.
If you are shooting at home, all the details of your personal life should be removed out of the sight. Children's toys, photos, and personal items can cause a negative impression on the model.
If you organize a boudoir photo shoot on the bed, you need to change the bedsheets for every client. Even mostly, intimate bedroom photography has barefoot women captured in the shots, it is better to keep high-heels in the studio.
Keeping disposable slippers that you give to each client before their photoshoot starts is also a good idea. This is much better than editing the dirty feet. You can also keep some wet wipes in case something sticks on feet. A wardrobe photoshoot collection should include some sparkling items as they look marvelous.
The best camera for boudoir photography does not exist. You may, actually, use any camera for portraits. A professional or entry-level DSLR featuring a full cropped frame as well a mirrorless one are great options. Sometimes, it’s better to buy a cheap camera but an expensive lens.
It is always better to have a backup camera, so this way you won't have to make your clients wait for you if your main camera fails to work properly. Besides have a second battery on duty, since the first one may get discharged pretty quickly.
Nikon D810 is a user-friendly hybrid camera which attracts professionals as well as amateurs. 36.3-megapixel full-frame sensor makes it a quite popular choice among amateur photographers.
The low-quality lens will blur the images and even the most expensive camera will not save the photos. 35mm f/2 prime lens is truly a worthy choice. It is wider than the 50mm standard prime lens, and captures more of the scene. It is suitable for dark environment but doesn’t create great sharpness.
A 50mm lens or ‘nifty fifty’ is one of the best lenses for boudoir photography. It is user-friendly and features minor distortion. Moreover, it is quick and creates sharp images. We recommend choosing an 85mm lens to create a magical bokeh, which results in a mysterious and stunning environment.
It is also a good idea to invest in Nikon 35mm f/1.4G. This lens is suitable both for portraits and landscapes photography as it gives a standard semi-wide-angle view. Intimate photos shot with this lens are distortion-free.
Natural boudoir lighting is certainly the best type of lighting, but sometimes it does not serve as an advantage. It may fall behind or in front of a model, for example. Do, you will have to spend much time editing photos in Photoshop.
That’s why I recommend using additional light. A professional softbox, Speedlight and a photography umbrella may also come in handy. As a rule, two types of lightning are used. Daylight is coming through the window and additional lightning influences the front or side.
Don’t worry if your studio is not as luxurious as in most magazines. As a rule, more lights cause more problems. In fact, you may take amazing photographs applying only one light source. Watch the Mastering Beauty Lighting & Fashion for Portrait Photography course by Joel Grimes to know how to work with one light source.
You are to move only one light setup and substantially reduce the shooting time. Moreover, you clearly see where the light falls and may correct it any minute. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, actually. Focus on your model and create an engaging working climate. Clients are not eager to pay for a 3-hour photo session where 80% of the time you will adjust your lights.
Simple one-light portrait set up
This first image is mainly targeted at simplicity. The light set includes a strobe and a medium sized softbox. It should be put about five feet away from the model, elevated about four feet above, and pointed down at 45 degrees. The soft box is directly above the camera.
Rembrandt lighting setup
Rembrandt lighting is based on creating the triangle or diamond shape of light under the eyes (also known as chiaroscuro). It is used to create a geometric form on the face by means of different types of light. One part of the face is lit with the main light while the other one uses the combination of shadows.
One light clamshell portrait
This very setup is very simple in case you have one studio light, a big light modifier, and a silver and white reflector. Don’t forget about gray paper background while taking the portraits.
During shooting, you can encounter many difficulties, starting from the position of the model's legs, ending with uncomfortable room temperature. Here are some things to look out for:
Mind the Distortions
Each boudoir shooter should control distortions during the photo session since body parts that are closer to the camera look bigger. Better pose your model in diagonals especially using wide-angle lenses.
Control Temperature in the Studio
The temperature in the photo studio is a key element of the successful boudoir photo shoot. Always ask the model whether it is warm enough for her/him because you will be dressed and may not feel coolness.
Use Arms and Legs to Create Beautiful Angles
Lingerie photography is characterized by specific gestures. For instance, models make attractive triangles and shapes with their arms and legs. If you are looking for new ideas for the upcoming shooting, visit a lingerie site and learn the new poses that are popular today.
Photograph from a Distance to Eliminate Distortion
If you stay close to your model, she will appear wider in the shots. You would evaluate the advantage of shooting from a distance, as this brings flexibility to the boudoir photography.
Turn Music On
Don’t forget to prepare a special playlist for the photo session. It should be definitely a continuous playlist in order not to interrupt the working process clicking the songs. Choose light music that will serve as a pleasant background for the client.
Watch Eyes Direction
Erotic photography also has some peculiarities. If your model wants to have sexual images, her chin should be up and eyes should look down at the camera. It implies some domination and power. If, in contrast, the client is interested in innocent photos, then direct her chin down and the eyes should look up towards the camera. It should be noted that direct eye contact with the camera is perfect for the pictures where the model is peeking up (behind a door, through a curtain, etc.). However, in voyeuristic photos, the glance should be directed away from the camera.
Unlike other types of shooting, intimate photography requires minimal image post processing. Use Lightroom for deep color correction or applying Lightroom presets. Photoshop is aimed at detailed, deep photo retouching. You should remove flyaway or distracting hair, retouch skin, reshape some body parts, etc. Keep everything natural. Here are some things to consider when retouching images:
Don’t overdo with photo editing and skin smoothening to get unrealistic boudoir photos. Yes, the model wants to see her best photos, but it would be better to work over poses that photoshopping portraits.
Photo cropping has its own story and should be used in a proper way in order not to spoil the image. Use the Rule of Thirds to make everything look well.
It is very important to find the right balance. Do not focus on the skin too much. However, a light correction of skin defects is also not exactly what is needed for body glamor photography. The truth is that professional photo retouchers spend many hours correcting skin imperfections in Photoshop working with Clone or Healing brush tools.
It often happens that the model's eye color does not fit the color range of the whole portrait and violates its integrity. I recommend changing the color of the eyes for such purposes. View more to know how to change eye color in Photoshop.
Hair retouching is one of the most difficult stages of portrait photo processing. However, beautiful hair can completely change the picture. Spend a few hours to create extra volume and shine. The result will surprise you. This method is very relevant in professional intimate photography. Therefore, do not be lazy to practice and improve your skills.
Sometimes you can notice hair that falls on a model's face or sticks over her head in the photos. It is not beautiful and can ruin a picture. Get rid of this hair. Unfortunately, hair spray and other fixation products cannot guarantee 100% protection, especially if you work outside. View more to understand how to remove stray hairs in Photoshop naturally.
A perfect Hollywood smile is exactly what you need for intimate portrait photography. However, many people do not have perfectly white teeth. In addition, the lighting can also distort the color and make the smile less bright. Whiten teeth in Photoshop or another photo editor.
Remember, the main thing is to find the right balance. Teeth should be white but look natural. View more to find out how to whiten teeth in Photoshop in several easy steps.
Intimate photography implies sexy poses or nude body. Many women do not want their photos to be further shown. Therefore, it is very important to draw up the contract. If you take photographs for commercial purposes, you must take the written permission of the model for the further distribution of these images. You should take it very seriously to avoid groundless accusations in the future.
Boudoir Contract Agreement Template
Order a classic Boudoir Contract Agreement Template and be sure that you are protected from unforeseen situations while shooting.
In order to speed up the process, I offer you these free Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions to edit your boudoir photos fast and giving them a glamour touch.
This free Lightroom preset is the best tool for creating a vintage effect in your intimate photos. It helps highlight the foreground by dint of light colors and dark edges. It allows you to achieve a fashionable vignette effect in a fast way.
If the clarity of the lines is important pay attention to this action for Photoshop. It emphasizes lines and makes colors softer. This effect will make your pictures deeper, sensual and dramatic.
This tool is suitable not only for intimate boudoir photography. It ideally highlights the desired object in any picture. If you like to work outside in the evening, this is the perfect preset for you.