An introduction to boudoir photography
Despite being around since the 1940s, boudoir photography has never been more popular than it is today. Many women see it as an opportunity to empower themselves and have some beautiful portraits taken that help to create a body positive image. Although saying this, it’s not just women getting involved – a growing number of men are having boudoir sessions too!
What is boudoir photography?
Essentially, it’s a sub-genre of portrait photography that uses elements of glamour, fine art, fashion and even erotic portraiture to create a uniquely beautiful set of images taken in a boudoir – a French word for a woman’s bedroom or private space.
These images are often taken in the finest underwear the client owns and with subtle lighting to create a sense of mystery and highlight the things the client loves about their body. Let’s take a look at some of the gear and techniques you need to master in order to make this style work for you…
The gear you’ll need
As with any genre, you can get by with almost any gear, but there are some items that really help to create the atmosphere of a boudoir session. For example, shallow depth of field is regularly used to blur out areas of the client's body that they don’t want to draw attention to, so you do need a fast lens. A 50mm prime on a crop body, or an 85mm on a full frame DSLR both work perfectly to give you the speed, depth of field and control for a session.
We also recommend some decent speedlights or studio flash units alongside the biggest softbox or umbrella box you can fit into the space you’re working in. Soft light is essential to create flattering and moody images, but don’t discount window light if you’re on a budget and/or the light is good. Window light through white net curtains can be beautiful if the sun isn’t too direct and harsh, and it’s always a good idea to use available light where possible because it makes the client feel more relaxed.
As with any portrait session, developing rapport with the subject is crucial, and if they’re going to be posing for you in underwear it’s even more important. It’s a good idea to meet them beforehand and ask them if they know what they’re looking for, or if they want you to lead the session. Ask them to do some research on Pinterest or Google for poses and images they like, and to send them to you in advance so that you can work out if they’re possible with your gear and location.
There’s so much more to boudoir photography than this, but this quick introduction should give you all you need to get started with this fascinating subgenre of portraiture.