Boudoir Photo Sessions: A practical guide to beautiful you.
Hey, wonderful people and welcome to Michael Jacobs Photo's blog. If you're just joining me for the first time, a big HELLO! My name is Mike and I'm a fashion and arts photographer turned portrait photographer based in the Raleigh area of North Carolina! My specialty is people and I use my years of being a therapist (I've heard it all) as a strong back bone to how I work with my photo clients and I don't even charge an additional fee! Ha! Sorry, you will have to get used to my humor, or lack thereof. Here, I love to chat about various topics in the photo world, showcase some special sessions and generally try to give some valuable (albeit sometimes tangential) information to my clients. In today's topic we will be covering boudoir photo sessions. You'll learn some great insight into the process of having boudoir pictures taken, what are some things to look for when selecting a boudoir photographer (raises hand), planning, photo shoot etiquette and what to expect after the shoot is done. As always, if I miss something or you have a specific question I did not answer, leave a comment at the bottom! Also if you book, redeem to get your special free gift.
1) Boudoir, it's more than a bedroom.
Yes, "boudoir" simply means a (woman's) private quarters or bedroom. Therefore the link it shares with its photography counterpart shares that same intimacy. Boudoir photography is definitely intimate. It allows a person to reveal more than just themselves. It allows them to open up, in some ways create empowerment over one's body, and gives an individual certain control over their image. To say boudoir is just sexy pictures for a significant other would be doing it a disservice. Boudoir photography does not have to be for anyone. It does not have to only be for women(although it is heavily marketed towards them). It doesn't have to look like anything specific. All it has to do is illicit a response that is more intimate and deep than a simple portrait. Someone who poses for boudoir photos is in the driver's seat and in control of their own fantasy.
2) What? Where do I even start?
The very fact that you are even reading this puts you a lot farther ahead than others that are curious about a boudoir photo session. Generally, setting up your iPhone or even (classic)camera to take pictures of yourself is ill advised. The sentiment can be sweet but the execution might just leave you with images that cut your head off or crack your phone screen. I mean, you want these images to be a lasting testament to YOU. Let someone help you with this vision. Googling "boudoir photographer" is going to give you a whole lot to mull over. You will get Joe schmo's, big box studios, landscape photographers who also say they do boudoir, and everyone in between. What I really feel people should begin their search for is an aesthetic. What kinds of images draw you in? Does the photographer's work make you giddy? Fall in love with their work first, because that's an indicator you could be on the same wavelength as them. As a small side note Pinterest has become a pretty good resource in understanding what you may like when it comes to boudoir photography, just type "boudoir photos" in the search bar.
3) Customer service is more important than you think.
So you've found someone who's work you can identify with. That's great! The real process begins now. Are they a business? Sounds silly but being an actual photography business employs certain safety protocols (within reason of course). You can expect most (I should say all but I won't) to pay their taxes, use quality optics/practices and be fully insured. This is so important in today's world. How did they make you feel when you emailed them? Picked up the phone to chat? Did they spend time understanding what you wanted? Or did they just try and sell you something? Do they offer cosmetology services? (more on that later) What happens to your photos while they are stored? Does the photographer have any safety precautions? Cloud storage? Privacy? Expectations in a service are so important in business. Make sure you have them. Boudoir tends to be more intimate in nature so I would hope a photography business would keep this in mind. Some offer a check list, some offer phone or in person consultations but it's important for someone who is photographing you to have an understanding of your vision and what you want out of these photos. We are supposed to be available to help you navigate a world that not a lot of people are usually comfortable in. Comfort, what a word! Do you feel comfortable? If not, please find someone else. Comfort and trust are the most important links in a successful shoot.
4) Hair and makeup, the specter of possible anxiety.
Personally, I am a human that loves convenience. I pay extra for direct flights(and maybe that extra leg room), I enjoy having things taken care of for me. Anxiety in this world is so real. Why even attempt to give yourself more? A photographer offering boudoir services should also offer hair and makeup. Why? I will give you a couple important reasons. First, having a licensed cosmetologist for hair and makeup takes an important stress off of you. There's no running to Sephora and trying on that new lip color that might work. No, getting eye lash glue stuck in your pupils. No burning your hair off with a curler. A cosmetologist allows you to focus on yourself. You don't have to think about superficially doing all these things to get ready. Secondly, a cosmetologist, like a photographer, is another set of professional eyes on you. They aren't going to tell you what you want, they are going to listen and help you realize what your best attributes are AND PLAY THEM UP! Last but not least, you're paying for a service! This is about looking and feeling amazing. Let yourself be pampered. I hope you aren't one of those people that goes on vacation and actually cooks. Shame on you! Don't do the work that professionals have been hired by you, to do.
5) It's showtime, I'm wearing what?
The day has come for your shoot, are you ready? No? That's okay. What location did you pick? Remember, boudoir can be anywhere, studio, your bedroom, hotel room, a barn, I've seen it all. As long as it's important to you and makes you feel good, it's boudoir. Have you picked out a wardrobe? As photographers we do more fashion consulting than we would like to admit. I am personally bombarded with, "what do I wear?" questions for boudoir shoots, engagements, and portrait shoots. Don't worry, it's part of our job. I love helping people figure out the right outfit. It's okay to get advice. Though I can't tell you what to wear, I can tell you what not to wear (read Stacy and Clinton). Do not go out and buy something that you've never worn before and expect yourself to be totally comfortable the day of the shoot. Do not wear something because you think it looks good on someone else. Do wear things that make you feel comfortable and, yes, sexy. Do pick a variation. Don't be afraid of simple things. Sometime a t-shirt wins over the most complicated looking lingerie. Do make the most of variation. More is better and we can always edit what we use.
As a side note, do take care of yourself. This means, keep your regular grooming habits or if you are removing hair of any kind, please do so a couple days before the shoot and not the night of. Drink plenty of water, sleep, watch your salt intake and moisturize like whoa!
6) During the boudoir photo session...
We all understand that this may be the first time you've done something like this. We totally get it! Some people have varying comfort levels and it is important we, as professionals, respect every ounce of that. Communication in any professional relationship is key and we will do our best job to make sure you're the one in control. Do not imbibe any sort of alcohol thinking it will "loosen you up." Alcohol makes for absolutely awful images. Music is big on my boudoir shoots and I always ask the client to give me songs or artists they love and we put together a playlist that works with their theme and mood. Sometimes when you're in your skippies dancing it's the most fun! I like to converse with clients, talk about things that make them happy or feelings they've had. Don't worry if you don't have the posing down. In the end expression and emotion come through way more than a contrived "sexy" pose. A good boudoir photographer will give you a few "outfit" changes during the shoot. Use them to become something or someone else. My most favorite clients were the ones who became actors for a moment. Even if they looked silly doing so it was way better than being caught frozen. It's okay to try and fail. It's not okay to not try at all. This goes without saying or maybe wait, no this has to be said. Photographer/client boundaries are so important, remember, trust and communication? Yes, a photographer should never go into your personal space, touch you in any way, or make commentary that focuses on a person's body. I generally always have the makeup artist with me because of touch ups needed and they will do any adjustments you can't readily reach, with your complete permission first. If there is no comfort or trust, we might as well pack up because it won't be the experience you are paying for. That's the last thing I want.
7) Whew! That was easy! What's next?
You survived! What, survived? Was this the sinking of the Titanic? You had a boudoir photo shoot, you should be thrilled. You were pampered, you looked your best. We came up with awesome ideas and poses together and now you have beautiful images! All photographers have their own workflow. I'm not here to say one is better than the other but they should follow up with you shortly. You should receive some sort of (private encrypted) proof gallery and an option to buy prints, unless not included in your package. Let me just be a cheerleader for prints, rah rah rah. Yes I know everything is on the computer or phone nowadays. I may be really old school but prints are forever. Trust me, when the robot apocalypse happens, you'll still have your boudoir photo album. Neat huh? I thought so. There is something so beautiful about good quality photo paper and your amazing images wrapped up in a little black book. So, GO PRINTS! If you had a great experience, photographers love referrals, we really do. Word of mouth is still one of the biggest movers of our business. Don't be afraid. Small business is good, support us!
When I started to write this blog post I wasn't sure how many bullet points I would end up with. Seven sounds like a good number to me! I hope I was able to shed some light into the process of boudoir photo sessions. Trust me, they can be wildly fun and the tone is always set by you. You will end up feeling like a diva(or divo) for a day and get to have something you can be proud of. I really stress that boudoir shouldn't always be for that special person in your life. It can just be for you. It's alright to look at yourself and feel amazing and accomplished. If you are still curious or actually feel like booking your own session, I am working all this winter and spring for you! You can click the link below to learn even more about my specific packages, what's included, or even drop me a note to say hi! Thank you always for reading and commenting. Clients make my world go round. Happy clients make me shoot for the stars.