Tips on beginner boudoir photography

Written by jessie farkas
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Tips on beginner boudoir photography
When your subject feels at ease, she looks confident and sensual. (Sexy African American woman image by MAXFX from

Boudoir photography is a form of portraiture that captures the sensuality of a (usually) female subject. While boudoir photography may be sexually suggestive and even risqué, it is generally considered tasteful and elegant.

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Make the Subject Feel at Ease

The sexual nature of boudoir photography may cause the woman being photographed to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. But this style of photography is about confidence and strength in womanhood. To capture these elements on film, it is crucial to make the subject feel at ease. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere to assure the model that she is in a safe environment. Find out what her favourite music is and play it during the photo shoot. Invite her to bring along a friend. When the woman feels comfortable, she will be more inclined to let loose and get creative with different poses and looks.

Shoot in a Feminine, Elegant Setting

Whether indoors or out, the set should ooze femininity. A "boudoir," by definition, is the bedroom or private dressing room of a woman. Although boudoir photography is not always conducted in a woman's room, it is generally set in a feminine environment. Decorate the set with soft textures and romantic colours. Use furniture that is elegant yet inviting like a velvet couch, a satin chaise longue or a plush bed. A uniquely crafted vanity or embellished mirror can add both femininity and character to a photograph.

Use Soft, Diffuse Light

Soft, diffuse light is ideal for boudoir photography because it is flattering to feminine features and invokes a sense of intimacy. Most boudoir photography is done indoors and will require some kind of studio lighting. Use a shoot-through umbrella or softbox; this helps avoid harsh light that can make the subject appear washed out. Manipulate natural light using reflectors to create soft, diffuse light. Beginner photographers who lack these expensive toys can create optimum lighting simply by hanging a white sheet over a window.

Be Provocative, But Modest

When it comes to photographing a woman dressed in little-to-no clothing, it is easy to cross the line from tasteful to tacky. Beginning photographers have an especially difficult time creating provocative, yet tasteful photographs. Although taste is largely subjective, many seasoned photographers agree that a little bit of modesty goes a long way in boudoir photography. Refrain from poses that are overtly sexual. Try to capture intimacy in the model's eyes, which often serve as the focal point of a boudoir photograph. Show enough to provoke sensuality, but always leave the viewer slightly curious and wanting more.

Study the Work of Seasoned Photographers

Because of the increasing popularity of boudoir photography, it is easy to find photographers who specialise in this genre. Most professional photographers have web sites featuring portfolios of their work. Browse through them and take note of appealing styles and techniques. Print photographs that are particularly inspiring. Use the work of others as a base but develop a unique, personal style.

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