In my last article (here) I covered the general aspects that make up the realm of boudoir photography. Knowing these different aspects is a good start to finding yourself as a competent boudoir photographer. Shooting boudoir can present just as many challenges as many other genres of photography. All of which I will try my best to cover in this series. Before you ever even find your model there are several things you must accomplish first. These are not your typically generalizations however, much of what I will lay out here you should take note of, especially if you are just starting out with boudoir.
Safety and Comfort For Your Model
Were I not worried about keeping the content presented here as helpful and unique as possible, I might find myself filling this entire section with one sentence: You need to ensure your model feels safe and comfortable AT ALL TIMES. Seriously, this does not just ensure great photos but may prevent you from dealing with a good deal of legal trouble as well. When you are shooting boudoir photography, you need to limit the number of people who are allowed at the shoot, especially during any nude shooting. Ideally it should only be you and the model, but this can have some backlash on you. If you make your model feel uncomfortable or unsafe she may not only leave but lay allegation against you, and face it the model-photographer scenario will not play to your benefit. So ensure your model is comfortable with what you are shooting, and feels safe having you shoot it.
Image by Vox Efx
It doesn’t matter how attractive your models body is, in or out of their clothes, if they have a dead face. Facial expressions are important in most portrait style photography, but in boudoir it is almost and absolute necessity. Your model needs to not only be posed seductively but also retain an enticing look that together create the suggestive nature of the photo. The look your model should retain is ideally described as that of desire, and while the physical features of each model may change exactly what that look looks like, typically it is best noted in slightly raised eyebrows, slightly pursed lips hinted with a smile, and eyes that are 3/4’s open and seem longing. Do not be surprised if you have to direct your model towards achieving their look, because if they have trouble with it you need to be able to provide them with more direction than “look sexier”.
Image by Elmo H. Love
Sexual not Pornographic
This line between pornography and sexuality I mentioned in my previous article is often crossed by photographers just starting out in boudoir. The easiest way to ensure that this line is not crossed is by adhering to a primary rule: No Genitalia. Even if you are shooting artistic nudes you should never have focus or attention drawn to the genitals. Depending on your clients wants you may be allowed to shoot exposed chests, but that is the model’s decision. To create the boudoir sense of sexuality you need to use suggestive nature. One of the most common suggestive shots using a nude model is having your model sit with their legs off to the side and arm covering the breasts, or having the model lay on their stomach and prop themselves up with their arms, simultaneously covering their aureola and nipples while emphasizing the breast.
Image by Sean McGrath