How to Plan Your Boudoir Session

Boudoir is becoming increasingly popular, especially among Brides.  A boudoir album makes the perfect gift, but the planning and timing for your session needs to be right so you achieve your goal and get your album in time.  Here’s a breakdown of how to make your boudoir session a success!


The Pre-Game Plan ~ Choosing a Boudoir Photographer

When you’re first thinking of doing a boudoir session, you’re probably looking at photographs online and social media, and comparing prices.  This is definitely the type of photography you don’t want to cheap out on.  True boudoir photography takes skill, experience, the right gear, good lighting, and a friendly personality.  If you want a really good, professional boudoir photographer, you’re going to pay a decent amount of money.  My average boudoir client spends around $800.  Not a single one has regretted it.  Occasionally, I’ll get a call from a woman who doesn’t want to spend more than $250, because her friend did a session she bought on Groupon.  My response is always the same: “I wouldn’t take my clothes off for someone who only charges $250.”  And I mean it.

So what are the things you should look for in a boudoir photographer?

First, comb their website.  Look at the work.  Does their style match what you’re looking for?  Do their clients look gorgeous?  Is their photography flattering (do their clients look curvy and sensual, or frumpy and chubby)?  What about wardrobe, hair and makeup?  If you don’t like the styling… if everyone looks like it’s 1993 and you’re getting the feeling something isn’t right, move on.

Secondly, read their reviews.  Check out their web site for testimonials, as well as their Yelp page.  Ideally, you have a friend who worked with an awesome boudoir photographer and can get a referral.

Thirdly, set up a consultation with your top choice.  I try to get every boudoir client to come into my studio for a full consultation.  That way, I can really help them plan their session.  I can ask questions like, “What’s your partner’s favorite part of your body?”  “What would you like to down-play; what would you like to accentuate?”  We also talk in depth about wardrobe–what would look best on them, styles to achieve their goal of how they want to look, and how to bring both their and their partner’s personalities through in the photos.  Boudoir is an incredibly personal type of photography, so you really need to be comfortable with your photographer.  A consultation will give you a chance to get to know him or her and see if you want to work with them.  Be sure to sign a contract.  NEVER work with a photographer that doesn’t have a contract.  That opens you up to legal problems.  You don’t have protection of privacy, and it’s unprofessional.  Both myself and my stylist require contracts so both we and our client knows what to expect and is protected.


WHEN Should You Have Your Boudoir Session?

When doing a boudoir session as a gift–groom’s gift, anniversary gift, holiday gift, etc–timing is very important.  If you need your album in two weeks and you haven’t had your session yet, it’s not going to happen.  Most boudoir photographers need six to eight weeks from the time of the session to album delivery.  I require a minimum of six weeks.  So ask your photographer what they need, then work with them on choosing a date.  If you’re hiring a stylist for hair and makeup, decide if you’re going to use the photographer’s stylist, or if you’re going to use someone else, and book them as well.  Allow for two hours in the hair and makeup chair.


Planning the Perfect Boudoir Wardrobe & Styling

Once you’ve chosen a date, it’s time to pick out what you’re going to wear and how you’re going to have your hair and makeup done!  This is the fun part!  I mean, what woman doesn’t like to play on Pinterest and shop?  I have several tools to help clients style their session.  First, I start a Pinterest board for that specific client, and I invite her to pin to it (I make the board private).  I pin a ton of outfit ideas I’ve collected from Pinterest that will work on THEIR bodies.  For instance, if my client is a mother of four and her mid-section is her problem area, I’m going to pin corsets and bustiers, which will cinch that waist in, give an hourglass figure, and hide any stretchmarks or imperfections.  I’m also going to pin “Must Haves,” such as nude heels, black undies, etc.  Then they can pin hair and makeup ideas, as well as anything else that inspires them, to this custom Pinterest board.


Two Days Before Your Boudoir Session

This is the time for personal grooming.  Here’s a list of things to consider:

  • Waxing
  • Spray tanning (optional;be sure to get a very natural color, and go to someone good!)
  • Eyebrow shaping
  • Manicure/Pedicure (show your nail artist photos of your outfits)
  • Root touch up on hair color if needed
  • Start drinking a ton of water with lemon juice to get rid of bloat
  • Make sure you have all your outfits, shoes, and accessories; do any last-minute shopping


The Day of Your Boudoir Session

Here’s a checklist of what to do right before your boudoir session:

  • Shave unwanted body hair
  • Exfoliate and moisturize face and body
  • Wash and dry hair, no product other than leave-in conditioner
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and avoid anything that can leave lines like tight socks
  • Pack your wardrobe; plan on bringing more outfits, shoes, and accessories than you’ll need
  • Be on time

First of all, expect to be very nervous.  When I did my boudoir session, I was so nervous I couldn’t stop sweating!  It was terrible and I didn’t know what was happening until my photographer said, “It’s just your nerves.  It’s okay, it’ll stop.”  And it did.  Once we started shooting, I totally relaxed and got into it.  That always happens with my clients.  Everyone says within fifteen minutes of shooting, they became comfortable and started having a ton of fun.

Many clients say, “I don’t know how to pose…  Will you guide me?”  Yes!  It’s your photographer’s job to pose you so you look your best.  Your job is to have fun!  Expect to have a two hour session, including outfit changes.  The poses can hurt, especially when you’re on tippy toes, arching your back, and engaging your ab muscles while in heels.  Us photographers use the term, “Make it hurt!” when we want an extreme arch or bend.  My clients tell me it feels like doing Yoga.  When you get home, take a few ibuprofen or Tylenol and put your feet up.


What to Expect After Your Boudoir Session

Every photographer has different policies and timelines, so be sure to ask your photographer what to expect after your session.  I’m going to explain how I do things so you get a general idea of the process.

The day of your boudoir session, I shoot Polaroid instant film, which means you get to see prints immediately!  (It’s great for your confidence!)  When we’re done shooting, my client gets dressed in the bedroom and packs her things.  In the meantime, I’m in my office scanning the Polaroids so she can take them home with her.  It’s SO fun to look at them and show them to girlfriends.  The next business day, film goes to the lab (I have a female lab tech that processes it), and it takes about ten days to come back.  I upload them to my computer, do any light retouching if needed (remove pimples and any bruises, softening), then contact the client to set up an appointment for them to come back in to the studio and see all their photos.  The day they come in, I show them a slideshow of their photos, help them sort their faves, then show them all the album collections and help them make a decision on what they’ll invest in.  Within a few days, I provide a proof of the album and order everything, and the album company needs three weeks to produce the album.


Now That You Know…

Now that you know how to successfully have a fantastic boudoir session, go choose a photographer!  Don’t keep putting it off, thinking, “If I could just lose this last ten pounds…”  Boudoir is about celebrating your natural beauty, not perfection.  Every woman is beautiful in their own way.  Go for it!

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