Guide to sensual and elegant boudoir photography


3 Oct 2023

Today we would like to talk to you about boudoir photography, a type of reportage that has been “on the rise” for some time now and which is increasingly in demand by the female public and lately also by the male public.

Whether you want to specialise in this subject to become a great boudoir photographer or you are thinking of expanding your business and starting to offer this type of photo shoot, it is important that you discover all the secrets of these special sessions before you start doing them.

The important thing in boudoir photography is that you learn to create certain moments of intimacy during the session, making the model feel totally comfortable. In these shoots, scenes are recreated where the woman is dressed in her “bedclothes” and the photographer has to transmit in the images a very sensual atmosphere that enhances the feminine side in a subtle and elegant way.


Learn how to capture the feminine side of your models with boudoir photography.

What is boudoir photography and how can I specialise in it?


Boudoir photography is very much associated with a female audience and the truth is that, although this trend is slowly changing, most boudoir photo shoots are done with women in a boudoir setting, where they prepare themselves for dressing, make-up and hair styling.

It must be said that in the first boudoir shoots that came to light, the protagonists were usually professional models, where they posed with intimate garments for major lingerie brands. But nowadays, a new public has emerged around this type of sessions. The ordinary woman who seeks to enjoy an experience and images of herself in a much more intimate and subtle environment where her femininity is enhanced.

Whether you are a professional model or a woman who has never had a photo shoot before, boudoir photography is synonymous with guided or posed shoots.

For a boudoir shoot to be perfect, the choice of wardrobe (lingerie or clothes in which the model feels most attractive), the accessories (heels, necklaces or earrings), as well as the location (indoors or outdoors), will play a very important role in these sensual shoots.

It is also true that this type of reportage is starting to become fashionable among the male public with semi-nudes or full nudes. Because nowadays men don’t want to give up expressing their sensuality either.

And another variant of these sessions that is also gaining momentum is the boudoir photo session for couples. A new trend that is beginning to take off.

What are boudoir photographs like?

In boudoir images, close-up shots are often used to highlight the female body and the finest lingerie. In this type of session, the setting is essential to recreate an intimate atmosphere for the woman. The boudoir photographer has the task of advising and guiding his model to achieve very elegant and natural poses.

It is also important not to confuse boudoir sessions with other types of more explicit photographs, such as nudes, where the purpose of the images is usually to convey a more transgressive message that is totally different from that of boudoir photography.

Within this discipline you can find many variants such as: semi nudes, full nudes, couple sessions or thematic reportage. The idea is always to show the most intimate side of the woman with elegance and class.

A guide to elegant yet sensual boudoir photography style


To plan a photo shoot in this style, it is important that you schedule a meeting with the model beforehand to establish the style of the photographs and study possible ideas for the day of the shoot. To better organise this session you can also take into account this small guide that we have created in Arcadina with 10 simple steps to make your boudoir photoshoot a success.

1# Choose the most appropriate place for this intimate type of photography

Boudoir photography is usually associated with interior spaces such as a hotel room with a certain aesthetic touch, in the photo studio or even in the model’s own home. In these spaces you can play with different scenarios such as: the bed, an armchair or simply using a simple background in the studio.

But more and more, both boudoir photographers and models are opting to take these exotic shoots outdoors, where femininity and sensuality blend more spontaneously with natural landscapes such as a forest, the banks of a stream or even the exteriors of an Indian-style house.

Study possible locations, both indoors and outdoors depending on the style your client wants to recreate and check the type of lighting of the place you finally choose.

2# Make sure your equipment is the most appropriate for this type of imagery

When preparing your photographic equipment for this type of portrait session, it is important that you choose lenses that are as bright as possible, such as prime lenses with wide apertures (like a 50mm f/1.8 or an 85mm f/1.4). This type of lens will allow you to focus on the model and create a bokeh effect (or background blur) with the rest of the decor.

If you will not be able to take advantage of natural light, use soft lighting, e.g. softboxes and reflectors to minimise shadows as much as possible.

In case you organise the photo shoot in your studio or, for example, in the client’s private home where the decoration may not be the most appropriate, you can use a neutral background placed next to the bed or an armchair to eliminate the excess of elements in the images.

3# Advise your clients on the importance of make-up and hairdressing

When planning the photo shoot with your client, you have the obligation to leave a series of points to be well thought out beforehand so that there are no unpleasant surprises on the day of the shoot. The choice of make-up and hairstyle together with the clothes will be fundamental for the success of the photo shoot and they will have to be well thought out if you want your client to be pleasantly satisfied with the final result.

Depending on the type of look you want to enhance in the images and which will be marked by the model’s personality and the place where the session is going to take place, you will have to set a very specific make-up and hairstyling aesthetic.

This does not mean that you have to tell your clients exactly how they should style their hair for the shoot, but you can guide them with recommendations by showing them some examples from other shoots you have done or even by looking at fashion and catwalk related photos.

To make this easier for your clients while ensuring that you get the results you want, you can collaborate with several stylists.

4# Don’t neglect the wardrobe and accessories your model will use for the photo shoot


As we already mentioned in the previous section, the model’s aesthetics will be essential for the shoot to be a success and talking about the clothes she will wear in this shoot will also be very important for the images to be to her liking. If she doesn’t have a definite idea, you can do the same as with make-up and hairdressing, show your client part of your boudoir portfolio so that she can see what kind of clothes she can wear and which ones will suit her best. Keep in mind that this kind of intimate garments have to be related to the aesthetics of the place where the photo shoot will take place.

At this point the most common is to use fine lingerie, but it is not the only option. You can propose other types of garments depending on the style you want to give to the photo shoot, such as: male shirts, lace gowns, garter belts, more sporty underwear, etc.

Other elements that can give a lot of play in the boudoir reports are the accessories with which the model will be able to interact with some of them, for example: stiletto heels, long necklaces, lipsticks, earrings, ties, hats, gloves, etc. The possibilities are almost infinite.

5# Learn about decorating rooms for this type of photography in which every detail is taken care of

As part of your pre-advice service, you also have to discuss the space and decoration with your clients. If, for example, you agree to carry out the shoot in a hotel, you can propose to your client a list of hotels in which you have already worked or that you know that the decoration of the rooms is in the style you were looking for.

If, for example, it is agreed to hold the session at home, it is ideal that you go to the home beforehand to see the style and type of decoration and propose some adjustments.

And if you choose the option of taking the photos either in your studio or outdoors in the middle of nature, having a series of elements, such as a boa, a feather fan, cushions, an antique coat rack, a large mirror, a wooden chair, a top hat, etc. will give your session a much more refined touch. Ideally, don’t overuse this type of elements so that the main protagonist remains the model.

When it comes to advising on these issues, avoid strong colours in the decoration and accessories. A hotel room with large windows overlooking the city and a white duvet can be a great option to plan these reports without too many complications.

6# Make the most of natural light to convey charm in photographs

When choosing, if you can use the natural light of the sunset with those soft and warm tones at the right moment when it enters through the large window of the room, it will be much better since you will be giving a point of warmth and romanticism to the boudoir photos. But, as you might expect, not every time you are going to have large windows or your clients are not always going to have the opportunity to meet at that time of the day.

For these cases, as we mentioned in the section on preparing your equipment, softboxes and reflectors will be essential to try to simulate an indoor sunset so that the light is as high quality and indirect as possible.

7# Teach your models how to pose for boudoir shoots

For this type of session to have good results, especially if we are talking about clients who are not models and have no experience in posing in front of the camera, the ideal is that you try to create a bond of trust with the model and set certain guidelines when posing so that on the day of the session everything goes according to plan.

To do this, it is essential that you meet with your client before the day of the shoot so that she has a detailed explanation from you about how the session is going to take place, if there are going to be any changes of wardrobe, etc. The idea is for her to have as much information as possible so that she can go to the shoot as relaxed as possible.

On the day of the session, try to start the shoot with simple poses in which you see that your client feels comfortable, then, little by little as the minutes go by, you can try other types of more elaborate poses. For the latter you can have a gallery prepared on your Tablet so that the client knows what you are referring to in a much more graphic way.

When it comes to being creative in this type of boudoir photography, try to take a series of shots that are a little different from the expected ones with close-ups of hands, lips or highlighting the expression of her eyes looking out of the window.

8# Offer different boudoir stories from the traditional ones

It is clear that the most typical boudoir shoot is done by a woman but nowadays all photo shoots advance along with people’s thinking and offering a series of boudoir shoots that are different from what is expected can bring you pleasant surprises. Here are some examples of boudoir sessions that are a little different from the more traditional ones:

  • Photo shoots with the couple. It can be a variant of the couple sessions or even pre-wedding sessions.
  • Boudoir pregnancy sessions. If you already do pregnancy sessions, you can get started in this discipline by creating more sensual pregnancy shoots.
  • Male boudoir photography. These sessions are becoming a trend and a great opportunity to break into a new market.
  • Boudoir themed: in addition to creating a boudoir ambience, you can propose some kind of theme that is in keeping with this type of sensual imagery.
  • Boudoir in the water: you can organise these sessions next to a swimming pool or by the sea. The result can be surprising.
  • Etc.

9# Learn how to retouch boudoir photos

Once the photo shoot is over, it’s time to start the post-production process. In this type of images where sometimes very close shots are taken, small skin retouches and correction of small imperfections are inevitable.

In this type of photo, for example, highlighting the eyes or lips can also be a common touch-up or even if the model opts for loose hair, giving the hair a shinier and more voluminous touch.

In addition to the typical retouching of any type of portrait photography, such as: adjustments of contrasts and tonalities, elimination of imperfections, etc.

For all photos you take, it is important that you seek permission from clients, but for these types of images, seeking prior permission for publication is essential.

10# Explain to your clients what this type of intimate session is like


For those clients who are clear about it, this type of shoot is just what they need at this stage of their lives, but on the other hand there are other types of clients who want to do a session of this style but are wary that it might look like too explicit images.

So that there are no doubts about the type of work you do in these boudoir shoots, the best thing to do is to take care of the type of images you take on your website and create a boudoir-only gallery. In addition, these photographs should be accompanied by a service page where you can explain to your future clients the dynamics of this type of report.

Finding information about it or even testimonials from other clients will only reinforce their desire to try this type of photography and get them to book more of these types of photos for you.

Learn how to make boudoir photography: the most refined images for your portfolio

Learning how to direct each scene in boudoir photography and recreate a relaxed, refined and classy atmosphere is essential for your clients to bring out their most sensual side during the session. To do this, always look for elegance in each photo, take care of the details and don’t be afraid to innovate. This is the only way to become the best boudoir photographer of the moment.

Today we would like to share with you the interview with the Otra Fotografía Boudoir team.

>> Other Boudoir Photography talks to Arcadina

And to end this very elegant article we would like to know what you thought of this little guide to get started with boudoir photography. We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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