12 Boudoir Photography Tips Every Beginner Should Know

New to boudoir photography? Here are 12 tips to help you master the art of shooting exceptional, exquisite boudoir photos.

Boudoir photography is a unique genre of photography that captures an individual’s beauty and sensuality in an intimate setting. Albeit exciting, this type of photography isn’t usually a walk in the park.

As a beginner, you must equip yourself with the right information to stay on track. On that note, we have outlined beginner-friendly practical tips below to help you create stunning images.

woman posing in draped fabric for outdoor boudoir photography

1. Use flattering lighting to highlight your client’s features.

Good lighting is essential for defining your subject’s natural features and creating a gentle ambiance in the shooting area. Luckily, the natural light from your window or door is an excellent source of flattering lighting. 

And when it is in abundance or when using artificial light, you can use a curtain or reflector to modify and control the light for a more flattering, soft effect. You can also use directional light (for example, a spotlight) to highlight specific features of your client’s body. 

2. Experiment with different poses and angles. 

The secret to taking the most flattering photos is trying as many boudoir photography poses as possible from different angles. The proper posture and angle enhance your client’s natural curves and create a more appealing view.

Accordingly, encourage your clients to move naturally and avoid stiff or unnatural poses. For example, take random shots from above, below, behind, and on the sides. Moreover, switching up the angles and poses will give you better variety when selecting the images to edit.

3. Pay attention to small details such as hair and make-up.

As with any other type of portrait photography, small elements like hair and make-up influence the outcome of your images. So, endeavor to provide an on-site professional hair and make-up artist or ask your clients to come with theirs for the shoot. 

Having your client’s hair and make-up done professionally beforehand can boost their confidence and make the photoshoot an exciting one. 

4. Use props to add interest and variety to your shots.

While boudoir photography focuses on the body, little props here and there could add context to your images. However, you don’t need too many props to avoid drawing attention away from your subject.

Suppose you use a bed or a couch; use sheets, duvets, and pillows. Likewise, add some rose petals and elegant bubble bath bottles when using a bath theme. A glass of champagne, candles, and an erotic book could also come in handy.  

Overall, go for natural, simple, and spontaneous props that fit your client’s personality.

5. Consider your subject’s body type and personal style when choosing poses and wardrobe.

When selecting outfits and poses for your shoot, you must be artistically thoughtful about your client’s body, clothing style, and personality. Their wardrobe must complement their body type and poses and vice versa.

Given that your client’s comfort is paramount, you must also work with them to understand their preferences. For example, have them try on various outfits in different colors before the shoot.

It mustn’t be lingerie—it can be a formal dress, an oversized tee, nightwear, or anything they feel comfortable in. This will help you determine the perfect props and location needed to create a stellar image of your client.

6. Utilize different lenses and focal lengths to create depth and dimension in your shots.

Taking several images with two to three lenses improves your versatility as a boudoir photographer. You can use lenses with wider apertures—such as f/1.4 or f/1.8—to create a shallow depth of field, making your client stand out while blurring the background.  

Additionally, you can use a zoom lens to get close-up shots and highlight specific features of your client’s body. A zoom lens will allow you to get up close up and personal without having to physically do so. 

If you want to capture your client in a setting rather than close up, try the 50mm lens (a standard prime lens). It is adjustable based on the lighting and composition of your boudoir portraits, with little to no image distortion.  

You can also try vintage lenses that produce unique bokeh and unusual colors if your client fancies the vintage, retro style.  

7. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things.

As a boudoir photographer, keeping your work fresh, engaging, and distinctive is essential. One way to achieve this is by taking risks and trying new poses, locations, techniques, lighting setups, and props. In other words, view boudoir photography as an adventure. 

Doing so will enable you to expand your creative nest and challenge yourself to do better, distinguishing you from other photographers. This can be rewarding and fulfilling, both personally and professionally.

However, if you must take risks or try new things during a photo session, endeavor to discuss your ideas with your clients beforehand. Seek their consent, and ensure they are comfortable with any new concepts you want to try before going on with them. 

8. Use editing software to enhance the final images.

With editing software, you can remove any distracting item in the background, retouch skin, reshape some body parts, and enhance your final images. Yet, your choice of editing software depends on your preferences. 

While Lightroom and Photoshop top the list for most seasoned boudoir photographers, you can opt for other free online photo editors if you’re working on a budget. 

In addition, you should always resist the urge to over-edit your images. Otherwise, you risk giving your clients a doll-like appearance, defeating the entire idea of boudoir photography. 

9. Use the background to add context and depth to your shots.

The background of an image offers so many visual clues and adds different layers of meaning and nuance to your photos. It can reveal your photoshoot’s location, time, and social or cultural context. Thus, it is imperative to leverage it in your boudoir photography. 

Whether you’re using a bedroom, a studio, or an outdoor setting, look out for specific features in the background that you could use to tell a story and evoke emotions—from the props to lighting to colors. Don’t just focus on poses and facial expressions and ignore a messy background.

10. Build rapport with your subject to create a comfortable and trusting environment.

The key to achieving beautiful images during a boudoir photoshoot starts with building a good rapport with your clients, allowing them to drop their guard around you. Fortunately, practicing open and clear communication at every stage of the shoot is one way to do that.  

Enquire about their expectations, concerns, and needs for the shoot, and work collaboratively with their responses. You can also have conversations on random topics of interest. This will help your clients relax, and you, on the other hand, learn more about them. 

Moreover, giving your clients the impression that they can call the shots, too, helps them warm up to you. This builds trust and creates a comfortable atmosphere for your shoots.

11. Provide guidance and direction throughout the shoot to ensure the best results.

Your job as a boudoir photographer goes beyond clicking the shutter—you are to coordinate the entire photoshoot. That involves guiding and directing your clients on what they are supposed to do from start to finish to achieve the best results. 

Direct them to take the ideal positions and convey the right emotions and expressions using specific parts of their bodies. However, your mode of directing will significantly determine your shoot’s success. 

Given that most people are body conscious, while providing direction for postural adjustments, always ask for permission before touching your client’s body. Better still, you can demonstrate poses, give verbal instructions or use reference photos to guide your client. 

You can also provide clients with a list of do’s and don’ts to help guide them on what is expected for the shoot. Most importantly, ensure you offer guidance respectfully and don’t trample on your client’s free will and right to choose.

12. Always prioritize the comfort and safety of your subject.

Your client’s body language, expressions, and dispositions can positively or negatively affect the outcome of your shoot. Hence, ensuring they are comfortable during the shoot is important for the best results. 

Most importantly, ensure the location, equipment, and props used for the shoot do not, in any way, pose a threat to the safety of your clients. Go for comfortable poses that do not require them to go overboard and probably sustain an injury. 

In addition, you could play some music and provide random essentials, such as coffee, snacks, and toiletries. Prioritizing the comfort of your clients also involves respecting their boundaries and not pressuring them to do anything that doesn’t sit right with them. 

In the long run, you create a positive experience for yourself and the client. 

Get started as a boudoir photographer.

To begin your boudoir photography career, you must put yourself out for the world to see. And that requires building your portfolio. Moreover, these boudoir photography beginner tips mentioned above are only relevant when you put them to work. 

As a beginner, you may consider taking free shoots for friends and acquaintances so you’ll have samples to showcase your expertise. Then, get a website to host these samples, your contact info, and other details about your brand.
Thankfully, Format’s portfolio website builder has all you need to create a comprehensive boudoir photography online portfolio website. It has a variety of customizable templates to choose from, allowing you to find one that portrays your unique style.

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