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Tips for Planning and Capturing a Boudoir Inspired Photo Shoot

April 7, 2017

Boudoir photo shoots are the perfect way to embrace and celebrate a woman’s beauty, femininity, and allure.

From natural lighting and florals to lipstick, lingerie, and plenty of lace – these are the most common elements which come into play in boudoir photography.

If you’re keen to try your hand at this medium but are unsure where or how to begin, then fear not! You’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve compiled all of our best tips for planning and capturing a boudoir inspired photo shoot below.

What does ‘boudoir’ mean?

Traditionally, a boudoir is a term used to describe a woman’s bedroom or private sitting room. When it comes to the photography realm, however, boudoir photography is explained quite succinctly by Urban Dictionary as “an intimate photo of a man or women, suggestively covered but not fully nude, meant to tease the senses.”

Familiarize yourself with the genre

Firstly, it’s important to truly understand and immerse yourself within this style of photography. Some photographers may have incorrect notions about this genre, so put any misconceptions to rest by doing your research!

A quick search on platforms such as Google or Pinterest will not only give you a great representation of exactly what boudoir photography involves, but will also introduce you to some of the key players (a.k.a photographers) within this field. Be sure to visit their websites, portfolios, and / or social media to gain a wonderful sense of their work. It’ll certainly inspire you!

Tips for Planning and Capturing a Boudoir Inspired Photo Shoot

Assemble ideas and inspiration into a moodboard

You’ve probably read it a thousand times by now, but the planning stage of most photo shoots should begin with the creation of a moodboard. It allows you to assemble all of your ideas and inspiration into one visual form that you can gaze at in order to get your creative juices flowing. From there, you’ll start to envision your own photo shoot ideas, along with color schemes, props, and particular fashion styles.

Be sure to either assemble these images into a Pinterest board, or even into a single document that you can print and display somewhere you look at everyday (such as on your desk, your wall etc.). It’s also a great idea to save your moodboard so that you can access it via your phone or iPad. This allows you to take your inspiration with you and you can refer to it before or even during the shoot.

Collaborating with others for your boudoir shoot

For your shoot, you’ll need a model (unless you plan on shooting some boudoir-inspired self-portraits), along with some gorgeous garments. Depending on your aims for the photo shoot, you might also need a hair and / or makeup artist on-board. Remember, boudoir photography is all about glamour, femininity, and the allure of romance, so if you or your model aren’t skilled in hair or makeup, it might be a good idea to get a professional involved.

Boudoir sessions are often shot using the model’s own lingerie or garments, but if you’re putting together this photo shoot to showcase a particular label or set of designs, you might want to team-up with a brand in order to make this happen.

In order to get these collaborators and fellow creatives on-board, first think to the contacts you already have. Have you previously worked with a local HMUA who you’d love to collaborate with again? Or perhaps you’ve crossed paths with a local model before and have promised that you’d work together in the near future?

Alternatively, if you’re seeking new individuals to assist with the shoot, why not advertise this across your social media pages? Just be sure to mention that it’s a boudoir shoot so only experienced / interested creatives need apply.

You can also scout Facebook groups, forums, and other platforms dedicated to discovering those working in these fields. Who knows what professional partnership will blossom!

Tips for Planning and Capturing a Boudoir Inspired Photo Shoot

Choosing the perfect backdrop and location

As explained earlier, a ‘boudoir’ traditionally refers to a woman’s bedroom or private dressing room. Although it’s a popular choice of location, not all boudoir photo shoots have to take place within this setting.

Some photographers might choose to shoot their boudoir session in a private and pretty spot outdoors among nature, such as in a field of flowers or even in a woodland. Alternatively, some photographers experienced in the genre will often capture their images in a studio so they have more space and control over their surroundings.

If you’re seeking something a little different for your boudoir shoot, why not incorporate water, such as a lake, river, or beach? The dappled blue water will serve as the perfect backdrop against crème lace and pale roses.

If you do choose to go down the more traditional route with your photo shoot by shooting in a bedroom scene, be sure to double-check your surroundings for unwanted objects that might appear in your photos. For example, an understated bed with neutral-colored bedding won’t overpower your shots or take the attention away from the model, but a bright red sock poking out from underneath the bed might, as would any vibrant photos sitting on the bedside table.

Helping your model to feel comfortable during the photo shoot

Let’s admit it – a boudoir photo shoot is quite an intimate experience for both the photographer and the model. It can be especially daunting for the model, however, as more often than not, he or she is stripping down to the bare minimum in clothing…in front of a complete stranger. It can be hard for them to instantly feel sexy and alluring (two things the genre celebrates) and they may even appear awkwardly on camera for the first few shots.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can reduce both the anxiety and the awkwardness for your model, so we’ll be delving into these below.

  • Guide your model through every step of the process. Tell them what they can expect from the shoot, along with suggestions for what they should wear, bring, and the poses they might want to try for the most stunning results. We’ll even share some popular poses with you in the next section, so keep reading!
  • Ensure that they’re actually comfortable in the garments they’ll be shooting in. At the end of the day, a model doesn’t even have to be wearing lingerie for a boudoir shoot. Professional photographer Samantha Jackson explains: “Sexy doesn’t always have to mean less clothing…Just get creative with frumpy jerseys, knee high socks or even a shirt and tie.”
  • Play fun and upbeat music in the background to help them relax, have fun, and laugh.
  • Another gem of advice from boudoir photographer Samantha Jackson is to set-up a fan during the shoot to create a wind-blown effect with your model’s hair. Apparently this is an instant way to get them feeling as though they’re the star in a movie or music video!

Tips for Planning and Capturing a Boudoir Inspired Photo Shoot

Popular poses in boudoir photography

Under a veil

Many boudoir photo shoots are requested by brides-to-be who want to put together something romantic and playful for their partner in the lead-up to the big day. Therefore, it’s not unusual to have plenty of wedding-themed décor and garments in one of these shoots, including a bride’s veil.

A really effective pose is to feature the model standing, sitting, or even lying down so that the veil provides a sheer and lacy layer over her lingerie (or whichever garment she chooses to wear). You can create some gorgeous silhouettes with this particular pose, plus close-up shots of her eyes or entire face peeping through the lace are particularly alluring.

Laying upright on a bed

This is a very traditional, yet effective, pose for boudoir sessions. When taken from the correct angle, it also provides a flattering image of the model as her legs are elongated, leading the viewer’s eyes to her bust and face. In keeping with this soft and romantic style, it’s often more effective for the model to be gazing downwards or off to one side dreamily.

The floral bouquet in front of chest

This pose looks particularly alluring when the model is adorned in lingerie or something lacey up top. The floral bouquet acts as a sort of ‘cover up’ or something for the model to playfully hide behind. The flowers further add to the feminine nature of the shoot.

Seated on a grand chair

Do you have an elegant or regal chair that you can get your hands on for your photo shoot? If so, this is a great prop to utilize, as your model will look stunning when sitting or lazing about sideways on it. Drape some flowers over her lap or dress her in something sheer and floor-length for a dramatically beautiful photo.

Sideways, gazing out of a window

This is another popular pose used in boudoir photography, as it shows off the curves of the model and presents her in a seemingly candid moment. It’s also a great way to utilize natural lighting as it streams through the window – bonus points if sheer white curtains are involved too!

Tips for Planning and Capturing a Boudoir Inspired Photo Shoot

Where to submit your boudoir photo shoot

If you’re planning and capturing a boudoir photo shoot in the hopes of having it published and gaining exposure for it, then you’re in luck! As part of the final section of this insightful post about the genre, we thought we’d also shed some light on the various platforms and publications which are known to showcase this style of photography.

Boudoir Collective

This fine art boudoir platform is actually the first exclusive boudoir blog. They explain: “Our focus is on supporting the boudoir artist community and inspiring and uplifting women everywhere. We embrace femininity in all forms, and believe that every woman should be celebrated through all seasons of her life.”

You’ll find plenty of inspiration via their Journal page, along with additional information about submissions.

PHILOSOPHIE Boudoir Magazine

The Association of International Boudoir Photographers also releases a digital and print magazine featuring all things related to boudoir, including beautiful shoots from talented photographers.

You can preview and purchase their issues via their website.

Vintage Boudoir Magazine

Vintage Boudoir Magazine is quite unique as it is “a magazine about retro lingerie and vintage silhouettes from the 1920’s to the 1950’s featuring some of today’s most beautiful pin-up girls and vintage dames from all over the world.” They regularly work with professional photographers interested in this genre and you can view examples of their current and previous magazine issues.

These are three of the most popular publications specializing purely in boudoir, but don’t forget that many wedding-related platforms and magazines often publish boudoir-related photo shoots from time-to-time (especially those with a bridal theme).

Will you be organizing a boudoir-themed photo shoot any time soon? We hope you’ve found these tips for planning and capturing a boudoir inspired photo shoot to be very insightful and educational!


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