Boudoir – What I learned

So the presentation to the local photography club was last night. It went well.

I think.

Honestly, I was talking a mile a minute and trying to remember the material as well as thinking about how I was presenting. I used to do this sort of stuff for a living, but that was another lifetime ago. Some things are NOT like riding a bicycle. Anyway, I hope the deodorant held up because I was physically numb. lol

Afterward, one of the attendees approached me for a copy of the program and I thought, “Why not!” So in addition to providing the Chaleur Camera Club members with the written document, I would post it here on the blog for others. Hope it helps!

Historically, the boudoir formed part of the private suite of rooms of a lady. Before indoor washrooms, the boudoir was used for bathing and dressing, and was usually a small room next to the sleeping chamber. In later periods, the boudoir was used as a private drawing room for other activities, such as embroidery or entertaining close acquaintances and or family.

Lately, Boudoir is used in photography as a term to describe an intimate, personal and flattering style of photography. Based on definitions, the “boudoir” was considered, personal, private and intimate, so it’s only natural that this type of photography fall into that realm. Nudity is not common in boudoir. Usually the subject is showing part of their undergarments, or hinting at a stage of undress while still dressed.

Just so that the difference between boudoir and pornography is clear in the minds of the readers, I looked up the definition of pornography: Sexually explicit and revealing pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal. Lurid or sensational material.

Boudoir photography it is not to be revealing or sexually explicit in any sense. Boudoir photography should be more “sensual” than “sexy”. In the strictest sense of the term, the common “getting ready” photographs of a bride and her party in the dressing room before a wedding are boudoir photography.

With boudoir photography, keep the poses modest, not sprawled. A slight turn of the head and shoulder can create a very intimate look without being blatant. Straight on shoulders for a pose of a woman usually looks too masculine, but add in a slight tilt or twist and suddenly she looks approachable. The goal is to create a sensual portrait and one that reflects the personality of the client. Models do not have to be lying down nor does a bed necessarily have to be the prop. A relaxed pose on a chaise lounge is very appropriate for boudoir photography. Experiment with angles similar to those you would see if standing close to the subject and speaking to her.
For boudoir photography lighting should be soft and natural as much as possible. Lighting should never create harsh shadows for boudoir photography. Soft lighting will help create a sense of intimacy in the photographs rather than a feeling of intrusion that overly strong lighting can invoke. Augment the light with off camera flash or soft boxes and diffusers (whether home made or store bought) when necessary.
Try to have at least 8-10 changes. Sometimes, a nice dress shirt belonging to the fiancé/husband/boyfriend is nice, as are jerseys from a favorite team and makes the photos very personal. If the man in her life is into any certain sports like hunting, golf, snowboarding, etc. she could bring or incorporate some sort of prop. These are ideas to add to the traditional fun outfits such as corsets, heels, lacy lingerie that are always favorites when doing boudoir photographs. In this type of photography, covering the body can be much more effective than revealing it. “Modest” negligees partially covered with sheer robes can catch the attention of the mind for much longer than nudity.
When post processing, you can choose to augment contrasts to increase shadows and saturate the colours for more impact, or leave them as is. In either case, they look like works of art.
Wearing hair down is always best for this type of shoot so she is not constantly fixing it. The many changes of clothing, moving around so much between poses, and even possibly getting her hair wet in a pool or bathtub. Ultimately, it is the clients decision. As a photographer, we can only suggest. If a client doesn’t usually wear make-up, you should suggest that she do so for a photography session. It will play up her attributes and save you some time in post processing repairing skin. Again, it’s a suggestion that she can choose to ignore.
Boudoir photography experts agree that most of the time, a boudoir session is booked by the woman herself and is usually her wanting to do it for the special person in her life. When they see the photos laid out in a professional format, they soon realize that they not only did it for him, they become ecstatic that they did it for themselves! That’s when you know, that you have done a good job.
Determine to be personal. Plan for the choices of outfit and setting and they will set the undertone for the session. To create a private shot without revealing too much, have the client rest in a bathtub filled to the brim with bubbles. Set up candles along the edges and perhaps sprinkle flower petals on top. Have your client wear an article of clothing or jewelry that holds special meaning.

Many photographers and clients are taking the sensual, intimate feel of this type of photography into different settings. Some clients are outdoor enthusiasts and prefer to set up something that “looks” like a boudoir without walls in a forest or meadow setting. Others prefer beaches or lakes, water settings. In addition to being intimate, it is also considered to be very “artistic”. In conclusion, boudoir is more the style of the image, rather than the setting when it comes to photographic license. I hope that you enjoyed this presentation and I look forward to trying more of this out – I hope you do too.


About Positive Polly

I am a retired Avionics Technician, wife, mother, sister, daughter, and dog owner. I enjoy knitting, baking, photography and photo editing.
This entry was posted in Activity, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Boudoir – What I learned

  1. A fascinating and well written article .

  2. I have always wanted to learn more about this also. Thanks for so much information and I dont think it just come.. Practice I m thinking.
    I too think this is very well written.
    Nice work.

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