Did you know that boudoir photography rarely takes place in an actual boudoir? It’s evolved over the years to mean any kind of intimate, romantic, sensual, or erotic photography, so don’t fret if you want to take sexy honeymoon pictures but lack the French-inspired architecture that the name implies. If you’re ready to get a little frisky with your camera, here are just a few boudoir photography tips.
1. Have a Concept
It’s a common misconception that all boudoir photography is meant to titillate. Some photo shoots revolve around themes like glamour, confidence, or intimacy. At the end of the day, it all depends on the subject, so ask them what kind of pictures they’d like to take. A young woman wanting something for her dating profile will probably have different boudoir photography ideas than a married woman seeking tasteful bedroom shots for her husband’s birthday.
2. Use Classic Poses
There are a few common boudoir photography poses that everyone should try. Not only are they flattering for the figure, but they’re also easy, non-challenging positions that your subject can hold for a while without discomfort. The next time you’re shooting boudoir photography, ask her to try the following:
- Sitting on her knees
- Lying on her back
- Lying on her side
- Standing and pressing her hands against the wall
- Looking over her shoulder
- Looking at the camera through her messy hair
Recommended read: If you are looking for more tips on how to take boudoir pictures, you might want to show your subject our article on how to pose like a model.
3. Use High-Key Lighting
High-key lighting is a specific technique that works great with boudoir photography tips.
It uses very light, bright colors without a lot of shadows or contrasting shades, so the result is a flattering picture where most of the subject’s flaws have been hidden by white tones.
If you’ve ever seen photography described as “boudoir style,” this is one of the things that they mean.
4. Create a Calendar
Waxing should be done 3-4 days before the shoot. Nail polish should be applied 1-2 days before. Spray tans should be at least a week old. These are all boudoir photography tips that any professional could share, so take them to heart and draft a customized schedule for you and your clients.
5. Go Monochrome
Boudoir photos look great in black and white, but there’s more to getting the perfect monochrome shot than simply converting it to grayscale after the fact. For example, you might need to adjust your camera filters to increase the contrast between your photo’s lightest and darkest components. Research black-and-white photography tips to combine them with boudoir photography tips and create amazing pictures.
6. Widen Your Aperture
How often do you play around with your camera’s aperture settings? It’s time to start fiddling. A wide aperture like f/1.8 will blur the background of your shots while keeping your focus point sharp and clear, so your model will look like she’s popping out of the photo even if she’s simply lounging on a bed. As a bonus, the whole thing will have a dreamy look that’s well-suited for bedroom photography.
7. Diffuse Your Light
If you’re having trouble with shadows and glares during your photo shoot, it might help to buy a diffuser or softbox that will mellow the intensity of your light. You can also throw away external light sources entirely and use natural ambient light streaming through windows and doors. It will give you gorgeously saturated photos without complicated lighting set-ups.
8. Try On the Clothes Beforehand
Don’t shoot boudoir photography with brand-new lingerie that’s never been worn. You might find that a tag sticks out unattractively or a lace pattern leaves ugly marks on the skin before the next round of photos. Have your model try on all of the clothes and walk around in them while you’re setting up your lights and props.
Recommended read: Check out these other tips for beginners that will help you take studio-quality photos without leaving the bedroom, like the most useful iPhone photography tips or some awesome natural light photography tips.
9. Suggest, Don’t Show
One of the best boudoir photography tips that you can learn is that not everything needs to be explicit. In fact, you can make your images far more sensual if you imply nudity rather than outright showcase it. Have your model hold up a blanket to her chest after she’s removed her bra. Have her curl her leg around a pillow just enough to show the long expanse of a bare leg.
10. Add Objects to the Scene
Speaking of props, they can really increase the visual interest of your photos. Here are a few things that you might consider bringing to the set:
- Lipstick tube
- Wedding veil
- String of pearls
These are only a few ideas; feel free to edit or expand this list as you please. Not every prop will suit every photo shoot, so it’s a good idea to have variety in your prop box.
11. Vary Your Photo Lengths
You never know which composition length will be your favorite, so take multiple shots of each pose:
- A full-length picture of the entire body
- A 3/4 length from head to knee
- A 1/2 length from the waist up or the waist down
- A close-up of a particular body part
- A photo that focuses on her face
Only through experimentation will you realize that, say, certain poses look best with 1/2 lengths.
Don’t be afraid of trial and error, either!
12. Encourage Natural Movement
If you’re looking up boudoir photography tips, you’ve probably realized that many experts recommend making your model as comfortable as possible. This is because stiff, awkward and unnatural movements result in stiff, awkward and unnatural photos. Encourage your model do things like brush her hair out of her eyes and scratch her knee with her foot. Not only will it relax her, but it might just give you a great candid, too!
13. Change the Angle
You don’t have to take every picture from eye level. Get on your knees and look up at her; climb a footstool and look down on her. You can also play with perspectives and reflections by having your model hold up a mirror. When it comes to boudoir photography ideas, the possibilities are endless, so don’t box yourself in with traditional constraints. Be spontaneous and creative.
14. Use a Fan
An oscillating fan is a cheap and easy way to add some pizzazz to your boudoir photography. In addition to creating one-of-a-kind photos, it will also serve as a confidence-boosting tool for your model. It’s hard not to feel glamorous when the wind is blowing through your hair while a photographer clicks away in front of you.
15. Retouch Your Photos
Retouching is done with every type of photography, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see it listed with boudoir photography tips. While Photoshop is the most famous brand of post-processing software, you can also use programs like GIMP and Lightroom. They all offer options for removing blemishes, improving colors and contouring cleavage.
Your location has a huge impact on the success of your photoshoot. Hotels are a great place to choose as they offer privacy and creative decor. Hotels are also an ideal option for this type of photoshoot because you have a variety of appearances and themes to choose from. For example, you can opt for a white background and neutral bed sheets. Alternatively, you can select themed hotels with various settings to help you and your client feel more comfortable.
Once you’ve chosen a hotel or location that stands out to you, research the particular location to discover if there have been any past boudoir shoots there as this will give you a feel for its success.
17. Cleanliness and Tidiness
Your environment should be clean and tidy before your client even enters the room. We suggest de-cluttering the room to remove any distractions and objects from the background. Not only will these features take away attention from your client, but they won’t help to set the mood. Your model needs to feel at their best and confident. A room with a pile of clothes on the floor, dirty walls and unclean floors won’t help them to discover the best version of themselves.
18. Makeup and Hair
Appearance plays a huge part in the overall look and how confident your client feels. You don’t have to be an expert at makeovers, as there are plenty of professional services that can take the stress off of you. However, make sure you book in advance and ensure you’ve checked online reviews so you only spend money on a company/individual you trust.
Speak to your client about the ideas you have for makeup and hair. They should feel comfortable and positive about the overall look, so it’s perfectly acceptable to get their input in the process, too.
Are you ready to try something new with your camera? Use these boudoir photography tips to create interesting and intimate photos for weddings, anniversaries, and “just because” occasions. If you’re already a master of the bedroom shot, feel free to share your wisdom in the comments. We’re always interested in what our readers have to say!