Boudoir sessions, despite the Frenchified name and primarily female clientele, are quite similar to other any other type of portrait photography: they’re all about managing expectations and ensuring a certain level of comfortability. Knowing that your clients need to be educated and soothed and made to feel gorgeous, just the same as any other type of session--family, engagement, or bridal--takes the intimidation factor out of photographing boudoir. Your clients have the same desires and fears--only with less clothes on. Here are Design Aglow’s best practices for a successful boudoir session, for both photographer and client:
BEFORE THE SESSION
Arm your clients with information. A pre-session consultation is a must for boudoir photography. Not only will you begin to establish that crucial rapport (instead of meeting cold at the hotel door), but you can collaborate on a vision, discuss levels of sexiness and exposure, and discern what her most--and least--favorite parts of her body are. An elegantly printed folder that your client can take away from the meeting with your suggestions on “what to expect” and “how to prepare” will help your clients feel in control. Knowledge is power, especially in a situation like boudoir, where your clients are making themselves vulnerable.
Map out your beauty plan. We recommend offering hair and makeup services on location; while you need to factor this expense into your overall costs, it pays dividends in terms of confidence level and the overall pampering experience. If your client will take care of her own primping, make sure you include helpful hair and makeup tips.
Make a list and check it twice. See “Arm your clients with information,” above. We know that lists aren’t necessarily sexy, but they are extraordinarily helpful. Consider providing checklists for tasks that can be completed up to a month before a client’s session (i.e., aesthetician appointments, teeth whitening), as well as day-of considerations (waxing, double-checking garments for tags or tears). Design Aglow already arranged these for you, in the form of beautiful, easy-to-use templates included in our Boudoir Welcome Packet.
DURING THE SESSION
Pump it up. Or keep it muted: your client’s personality rules the day. She may have brought a playlist of upbeat tunes, or she may be more into some atmospheric music. She may want half a bottle of champagne before you get started, or she may just be fine with a bottle of water. Let her direct the mood of the shoot, and remember that not every girl wants to swing from the chandeliers.
Stay inside the comfort zone. While you may have discussed posing during your pre-session consult (and included additional info in your welcome packet), looking seductive on an actual bed, wearing actual lingerie, could prove challenging. Be ready to physically illustrate your poses, while at the same time gauging the comfort level of your client. She may be more sensual than sexual, or not want to show certain parts of her physique. As the expert, It’s your job to guide your client into positions that bring out the best in her, which often involves more observation and listening on your part than actual posing. We hope these suggestions guide you toward a session that is successful for both you and your client. Ultimately, every boudoir shoot will have its own rhythm; while you will have to work to establish the tempo with each client, we think that you will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.
This article originally appeared in Lemonade & Lenses magazine.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.