A Quick Overview of Boudoir Photography: Lighting, Posing, Prompts, and Editing Tips and Tricks

April 1, 2021

A Quick Overview of Boudoir Photography 

A guide to boudoir photography

As you can see, I have a love for photography, specifically boudoir photography. This is because of what boudoir photography represents to me. It’s more than just a sexy image – boudoir is the representation of a woman who is feeling good about herself – about her body, her mind, and her soul. It’s capturing that on camera, and that is no easy feat to do. There is no definitive guide to boudoir photography, but there are a multitude of tips and tricks I’ve either learned, or developed through the years. These practices have not only grown my business model successfully, but these are resources that I’ve used to inspire dozens of women to feel good about themselves. 

When creating this guide, I wanted to touch on some of the tips for boudoir photography such as lighting, posing and prompts to ensure the photos are high quality, but the most important part is how to set your clients at ease. It’s easy enough to learn the fundamentals of photography, but to make somebody feel comfortable, confident, and happy within her skin is the most important part of being a boudoir photographer.

What Is Boudoir?

The term ‘boudoir’ translates out to: “A woman’s bedroom, or private room.” 

Boudoir photography is the capture of that powerful moment where a woman is feeling her strength in an intimate setting – her ‘private room’. The sacred space within herself. Sometimes in our day-to-day life, the feminine power that lives within all of us becomes neglected, or pushed aside. At the end of our days, we let our hair down. We become comfortable, we decompress. We retreat to our space within. We allow ourselves to breathe, and to be the powerful woman that we are. We spend time in that private room that exists within us to recharge and regain our strength. 

Boudoir photography is about reclaiming that power, that feminine energy. It’s the witness of a woman’s comfort in her most intimate space – the space that exists within herself when she is feeling at her absolute best. 

The Basics of Boudoir Photography

There is no one way to shoot boudoir photography, but many different options for capturing multiple looks, and styles. Oftentimes a client will come to you with a vision of what they have in mind, or sometimes they want you to design the shoot for them! Either way, there are many different ways to shoot and many different ways to prepare. First, let’s get into the basics of photography:

  • Easy Modeling Poses for Boudoir Beginners

If you’re working with somebody who has no experience in boudoir, you’ll want to offer guidance on posing for her. If at all possible, bring some of your previous portfolio work (with a signed client disclosure and release form) to go over some of the basic poses. Be sure to work with your client to make sure she feels comfortable in her posing, and never force her into a position where she feels uncomfortable – physically, or mentally. 

A guide to boudoir photography: easy beginner boudoir poses

Here are some typical poses I’ve found create a sense of relaxation and comfort within women, which are ideal for beginning boudoir photographers. 

  • Proper Lighting For Boudoir Photography

A lot of boudoir photographers prefer to use natural lighting. This creates that often ‘glow’ that you see with traditional boudoir photography. By using natural lighting and no flash, you can capture that captivating allure of femininity. That perfect play of shadow and light. Tip: have your client face towards the natural lighting to capture the curves of her face.

A guide to boudoir photography: Tips for lighting boudoir photography sessions

When it comes to different styles of lighting for indoor or evening shoots we can begin to look at other lighting options such as using your camera flash. When using a flash, make sure not to point the camera directly at your client as the harsh lighting is not ideal for the boudoir photography style. If you’re using an off-camera flash, point it towards the wall, or use it to highlight her hair. You can get creative with multiple flashes to create some three-dimensional looks using this style. 

You can use one, two, or three continuous lights for boudoir photography, depending on the room darkness and feel you’re trying to achieve with your subject. One of the easiest ways to create a delicate and natural looking vignette is by using an octagonal softbox light. This also means less time spent in editing to achieve that soft mood lighting. Play around with lighting, times of day, and light placement to find what works best for you, especially when you’re starting out with boudoir photography. 

I personally prefer using natural lighting, and in our BC studio, we use fake windows. However, each photographer has their own style when it comes to photography. You’ll discover the style that you enjoy, and what works best for you! 

  • Prompts and Directions

The idea is to make her feel comfortable, and so barking directions simply won’t do. Try to engage with her, ask her thoughtful questions. Have her act naturally in the ways she feels comfortable. Let her move to get comfortable in her skin. You can reference the beginning modeling poses for boudoir photography. Assess her confidence in herself, and show her yourself some easy poses. Above all else, be gentle with your directions and encouragement. 

If offering props or costumes, give her the time to go through anything you have available so she can bring them to her photoshoot. (I enjoy having options for wings, gowns and specialty sets). She may choose to bring her own props that she’s envisioned for her experience. 

  • Editing Tips for Boudoir

When it comes to editing software, Lightroom is the best program you could use. Lightroom allows you to create preset templates for your photos. However, what works for one photo may not work for another, depending on the amount of space, lighting, and angles. You’ll have to play with each photograph. The biggest key is consistency – you want your photos to all look similar. This means they should all have the same tone and feel, which may require more intricate edits. If you’re simply using a preset overlay from Lightroom, it may appear as though some photos have too much contrast or brightness for example. 

Typically photographers will add their photos into Lightroom, apply the presets, and begin to cull for the best photos. Any fine retouches can be done afterwards in Photoshop.

If you haven’t yet purchased Lightroom, it is one of the must-haves for editing your photos. It allows you to create your own presets and define your unique style.

Ideally when your lighting is set up correctly, the edits between each photograph will be minimal because the photographs will have a consistent feel and look to them. The biggest tip when it comes to editing your boudoir photographs is to simply practice, practice, practice! 

Making Your Clients Feel Beautiful

Get to know your client. Ask her questions:

“When do you feel the most beautiful?”

“What is your favorite part of your body? What is your favorite feature that has nothing to do with your body?”

“What is your greatest strength?”
“What is your greatest accomplishment?”

“What do you feel you’ve overcome in life?”

Don’t be afraid to open up yourself as well. The trust between you and your subject must go both ways. In order for her to feel comfortable in an intimate setting with you, she must feel the same trust towards you. Find that balance. Create that balance. Be as equally raw and human with her as she is with you. This requires you to be your best self, and confident within your own skin. 

A guide to boudoir photography:  Gabriela Cruz emotional prep guide

12-month Self Care Challenge

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If you struggle with self-confidence (everybody does!), consider signing up for my free 12-month Self Care Challenge. Learn about the great resources for creating strength and confidence within yourself through directed self care techniques and exercises. 

What Makes Boudoir Photography Unique

A guide to boudoir photography: What makes boudoir photography unique

The art of boudoir differs tremendously from traditional portrait photography because of its representation to each and every woman who chooses to discover herself through this experience. She may be doing this for a significant other as a gift and when it comes to boudoir photography – it is a gift. It’s a gift for herself. Occasionally clients who come in may feel vulnerable – even inquiring may make them feel vulnerable. It’s important to set your clients at ease. 

Boudoir photography requires a trust between your client and yourself. Boudoir is about more than physical appearance. It’s about you finding the strength of that woman within, and bringing her to the camera lens – and showing her that reflection through the camera. When done incorrectly, it can be hurtful to your client and to her feelings. But when boudoir is done correctly … she becomes invincible within herself. 

Learn More Boudoir Photography Tips and Tricks

In the process of photography, we are always learning in our industry. There’s always new information, new trends, new technology, and new ideas. As I evolve in my journey, I want to share my wisdom with you. Sign up now for our exclusive mailing list for mini-photography guides and be the first to know when we’re sharing our experience and knowledge on boudoir photography. 

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Follow us on social media for all photography-related news, and to see the work we’re able to create with the information I’ve given you in this quick guide to boudoir photography. PS – when you sign up for our photography guide newsletter, you’ll receive exclusive access to our upcoming in-depth guide to boudoir photography coming spring 2021!

Book Your Boudoir Session

Do you want to ignite that feminine strength within yourself? Book your boudoir session and discover the balance of feeling both sexy and beautiful. We offer boudoir photography in both White Rock and Edmonton. 

Questions? View our frequently asked questions page.

Contact us today to book your session, or with any other inquiries.