Successful boudoir photography

Location
Hotels are great locations to shoot boudoir, but look for somewhere that gives you more creative options than just whitewashed walls and white linen. I like themed hotels, which give me a variety of different settings to inspire me, and make the client feel more at home in that boudoir setting.

De-clutter
The first thing to do before you introduce the model is de-clutter the room. If it’s a hotel room hide the kettle and cups, and avoid getting things like the TV, trouser press etc in shot.

Clothing
Make sure the model has a collection of different lingerie in a variety of styles colours so that you can pick outfits to complement the room décor.

Hair and make up
Good make-up is vital for successful boudoir photography. If possible hire a professional, or ask a friend who is skilled in this area.

Start off slow
If you’re working with someone who isn’t very experienced start them off in a dressing gown – something sexy but not too exposed to start with. You can build up to that as their confidence grows.

Props
Bring props into play like a telephone, hairbrush or lipstick. They help to provide a distraction for your subject and take the emphasis off being photographed.

Poses
There are certain poses that work for me. Find your own and get those in the bag first because you know they will work. But always be adventurous and try something new too. More experienced models will be able to suggest different poses themselves, which will give you ideas. Less experienced models will expect you to direct them.

Full length shots
For shooting full length shots get down really low on the floor and shoot up – it’ll make your model’s legs look really long.

Primes
I always favour prime lenses, such as my 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.4 as the shallow depth of field they offer gives a much more creative look.

Lighting
I prefer constant lighting like the Rotolight range, over flash. Constant lighting lets you adjust the output to see exactly the lighting you’re going to get and how it balances with the ambient light, and with the Rotolights you can even adjust the colour temperature to match the available light or create a mixed lighting effect.

Have an open mind
Although you should come to the shoot with some ideas already, don’t be so rigid that you’re working to a checklist. Keep your mind open to your environment and let that give you ideas you may not have thought of before.

Inspiration
Study the work of others, and save images that inspire you to a Pinterest board, or make an album on your phone so that you can refer to it during the shoot if you get stuck for ideas.

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