Thoughts on Boudoir Photography
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
I don't know about about you, but I cringe when I see images of scantly-clad or nude women in woodland or beach settings being promoted or passed off as "Boudoir Photography!" I see this a lot - especially, here, in Hawaii. Make no mistake, the genre' of Boudoir Photography is primarily shot in the bedroom, in the bath, or some other intimate area in a home... Traditionally, it's done in a tasteful and artistic way in order to accentuate the feminine form, figure and essence! The wardrobe (lingerie, robes, pajamas, shirts, etc.) - or the lack of it - should not be gratuitous... But should complement the mood of the image, idea being conveyed, or story being told. In other words, you don't need full nudity to create a sensual or sexy picture... To me, and I'm sure that you'll agree, the sexiest images leave a lot to the imagination - and induces it to run wild!
While some photographers will primarily pose models in bed, I like to put them in various situations to convey various moods or themes. And of course these may have a serious, playful, or naughty tone. And of course, good Boudoir Photography is never trashy! Most often, giving model various activities to do places them at ease during the shoot, making it a more pleasant or memorable experience for them. Although I generally enjoy shooting Boudoir Photography, I absolutely love shooting them in the traditional "Hollywood Style." This style is typically produced in black & white, which emphasizes shadows, enhances textures, and reveals tonality that would otherwise be obscured in color photography. And while there are many academic styles of portrait shadowing, I usually go with my gut feeling or use light-shaping or go-between devices to create unique or usual effects. On the more humorous side of creating images in this style, if you have a room with a weird color scheme or women with grown-out, two-toned hair, you can easily conceal these anomalies or oddities!
You may ask, "who typically requests this genre' of photography?" All types of women... Models and actresses (of all skill levels) wanting to build or enhance their portfolios... Clothing manufacturers wanting to promote their brand... And women wanting to give their significant other a special intimate gift. This genre' is especially popular for anniversaries and Valentine's Day!
As for my preferences of subjects or models, I'm, pretty much, an equal opportunity photographer... I'll shoot all women, at all levels of experience and skill, and in all shapes and sizes... I've shot published professional models, aspiring semi-professional or amateur models, beauty queens, and average to plus-size women. A good photographer will know to shoot at angles in order to promote and accentuate a model's best and most flattering attributes, while hiding the attributes that your model is self-conscience about.
So what should you look for in a photographer offering services in this genre'? The first thing I'd do, is to take a critical look at their portfolio... In what settings are the subjects shot? Are they shot in a forest? On the beach? In a cheesy, cheap, or run-down hotel room? What about a mattress on the floor? A bed-sheet on the floor? ...Saw an image like that last week! Good grief!! In my opinion, the setting and ambiance of an image makes the difference between what is Boudoir - and what's not! If a photographer is not offering to shoot you in a bedroom, bath, or some other intimate area, you're not getting Boudoir images; you're getting something else... Best case: exotic lingerie, nude or implied nude images... Worse case: I'd hate to say! Jeepers! The second thing that might set off flags for me, is if the photographer "specializes" or only shoots Boudoir - and nothing else! This could be a "guy with a camera" looking for a cheap thrill on a slow weekend... OMG! Think about the "guy with a camera" wanting to shoot you alone in the forest... Should I say more? In this
respect, I would hire the photographer that can shoot other genre's of portrait photography; they will probably have a wealth of experience from which to draw and will know how to better handle or overcome technical challenges. Talking about experience, this brings me to another point... If you're finding that there are only 1 to 3 models in their portfolio, this could be another indicator of their experience level. Finally, look to see if they possess basic photography skills (see my article on How to Select a Photographer); common mistakes by beginners in this genre' are the clipping of fingers or toes, and lens distortion (bloating) of legs, knees, or arms. There are a lot of talented photographers, here, in Hawaii. And of course, there are a lot of guys and gals with cameras too! Boudoir Photography is a very personal service... It's always good to arm yourself with enough information in order to make a wise or safe decision. Meet with prospective photographers; talk to other models and photographers... If you'd like a recommendation from me for this genre' of photography, please feel free to contact me; I will be happy to assist you! However, please consider me as well; I provide quality service at a very competitive price. Happy Shooting!