Imagine feeling like a model shooting the cover of a very exclusive magazine. That’s exactly what a boudoir photo session is like. Just ask Danielle Sevey, a two-time boudoir client of Shoop’s Photography.
“It’s very empowering as a woman,” says Sevey, who shot her first set of boudoir photos a few months before her October 2012 wedding. “I wanted a glamorous and sexy look,” she says, explaining she researched boudoir looks from her photographer’s portfolio and online.
Sevey found three looks she liked, including one nude; one in a bra, panties and the groom’s dress shirt; and another wearing garters, stockings and heels.
The groom, Jim, was very happy with the boudoir photos! “I gave it to him the night before the wedding,” says Sevey. “He absolutely loved it. He was shocked that I did it, but shocked in a good way.” The photos were such a success that Sevey decided to shoot more boudoir pictures as a first anniversary gift for her husband.
Anyone can do a boudoir shoot. Some brides hear about it from friends; others read about it in magazines or online.
“It’s usually a secret gift for the groom,” says Carmen Salazar of Carmen Salazar Photography. “But the interesting side note that I hear from every single woman is that the experience of the shoot itself becomes a gift to themselves—as well as a boost in self-confidence and sex appeal!”
Even non-brides are attracted to the idea of posing for these empowering boudoir photos.
“Women want to feel sexy and sometimes from day-to-day life it’s easy to forget your femininity,” says Tammy Nguyen Le of Photography by Tammy. “The idea of connecting with this part of themselves is why most women do boudoir.”
Boudoir photos are sexy, not sleazy.
Lisa Renee of Blush Boudoir says that one of the biggest boudoir misconceptions, “is that boudoir is trashy. It’s just the opposite! It is very tasteful and such a great experience.”
The photos may be a little steamy but they’re not smut, especially because the photos are for the bride and groom to enjoy, not a mass-market audience. “The images are always private unless I am given permission to share them,” says Amber Felts of Shoop’s Photography.
“Boudoir is about being beautiful, being you and being sexy in your own way,” says Nguyen Le, noting it’s not “all about taking off your clothes.”
“If you are not comfortable in lingerie then don’t wear lingerie,” she continues. “In fact my favorite sessions involve very simple things that you probably wear every day such as flowy shirts, tank tops and even a warm fuzzy sweater.”
Another misconception is that you have to be model thin or young. “You do not have to look like a model to do this,” says Felts. “Some say they are too old or don’t have anyone to give the images to. I have photographed women in their 20s to women in their 50s—all beautiful in their own way.”
You’ll work with your photographer to come up with the look and feel of the photos. Photographers discuss poses with you so you’re comfortable and the resulting images play up your best features.
“I use expert posing and lighting to create images that show off a woman’s best assets,” says Felts. “Sometimes it’s her lips, the curve of her hip, a flat tummy or a round tush.”
The goal? To make the client feel like herself.
In fact, Salazar doesn’t encourage body image manipulation in Photoshop. Instead, she focuses on good poses and lighting that flatter the client’s shape so that little to no retouching is requested.
Whether you’re wearing a little or a lot of clothing, it’s not always easy to be comfortable in front of the camera.
“You have to have an element of getting out of your comfort zone and taking a risk,” explains Salazar.
Don’t worry about feeling nervous or awkward. “Oddly enough, I wasn’t nervous,” says boudoir client, Sevey, who explains her photographer, “put me at ease.”
Even if you have a few jitters, they’ll disappear quickly. It never fails, after every session I hear ‘OMG, that was so much fun! You made me feel so comfortable, thank you!’” says Renee.
Sevey advises other brides not to worry about their weight or body insecurities. “Don’t beat yourself up about it,” she says. “You’re gorgeous the way you are.”
Article appears in the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Real Weddings Magazine
Boudoir Basics: Four Things You Need to Know
1. Shoot Time
Most boudoir shoots last about an hour and a half. Shoot the photos about two to three months before the wedding so the photographer has time to deliver the boudoir album to you before the wedding day.
2. Provide Your Own Props
“I prefer that my clients bring their own props because it makes the session very unique to them,” says Nguyen Le, who explains a recent client’s husband loves cigars, “so we did a cigar-themed shoot with smoke and a fedora.”
3. Bring a Friend (if you want)
Shoot the pictures by yourself or as a group, such as with your bridesmaids. You get a few wardrobe changes too. For an individual session with Salazar for example, the client changes up to three times while for boudoir parties, the clients change up to two times.
4. Get Professional Hair & Makeup
While you choose and wear all your own clothes and accessories, it’s a good idea to consider paying extra for professional hair and makeup. “If you’re going to make an investment in professional photography, invest in the hair and makeup too,” says Salazar.
Boudoir Advice: From the Professional Photographers
Amber Felts: Shoop’s Photography ― “Nerves are good! If you aren’t nervous, you won’t feel a sense of accomplishment when you are done,” says Felts, who helps clients with poses.
Tammy Nguyen Le: Photography by Tammy ― “I tell them to come and be pampered and have fun,” says Nguyen Le. “Giving women permission to let go is a powerful thing.”
Carmen Salazar: Carmen Salazar Photography ―Be yourself. “None of my clients are models. They’re everyday women,” says Salazar, explaining, “Every woman has a completely different idea of what’s sexy.”
Lisa Renee: Blush Boudoir ― “I tell all my clients to have fun and let their inner vixen out,” says Renee. “This session is all about them! I also let them know that I’m there to guide them every step of the way, from helping with wardrobe to posing and facial expressions.”
Local Boudoir Photographers to Check Out:
Blush Boudoir | 916-213-4123 | blushboudoirphotographystudio.com
Carmen Salazar Photography | 916-747-3293
Cloverfield Photography | 916-612-6076
Diana Miller Photography | 916-729-5520
Farrell Photography | 209-293-7700 | farrellphotography.net
Heather Adair Photography | 916-969-7324 | heatheradairphoto.com
Lisa Lucia Photography | 916-663-1816
Lovely Boudoir Photography | 916-747-3515
Milou + Olin | 415-513-5761
Photography by Tammy | 916-475-7654
Pyxie Studios | 916-580-5156 | pyxiestudios.com
Shoop’s Photography | 916-804-8578 | shoopsphotography.com
XSiGHT Photography & Video | 916-444-9100
Article by Kristen Castillo © Real Weddings Magazine.