Boudoir photography seems to be making a resurgence these days. Women of all shapes and sizes, from ages 18-60, are finding new ways to express their sexuality and sensuality in front of a photographer’s lens. (And these days, couples are getting into the act together, too!) The end results are stunning images that have a powerful impact on the client’s self image and confidence levels. But what does it take to make a successful boudoir photo session happen? In my practice, I have found that it takes approximately 2-3 weeks’ worth of preparation for each client to get to the point of actually photographing in the studio. Most clients express an instant apprehension regarding being photographed with very little-or no-clothing on.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that most people do not understand what is involved in boudoir photography in the first place. So, to prepare my clients for what will take place, I have a process that I follow that I have learned through experience over time and from sharing with other professional boudoir photographers and mentors (thank you, #ChristaMeola! and #jenerationsblog.com!) These steps have proven to create an experience for my clients that I believe is second-to-none, and leaves them with a photo session experience and end products that are literally life-changers.
When a potential client contacts me expressing an interest in booking a boudoir session with me, one of the first questions I ask her is “Why do you want to do this?” Often she states that it is for her significant other. As I talk more with her, she soon comes to realize that she is mostly doing it for herself. Sometimes it is a wedding boudoir session she is looking for, or it may be a birthday or anniversary present she is seeking to make. Oftentimes, though, she is wanting to do it for herself, to boost her self-esteem or to celebrate a milestone in her life (turning 40, overcoming a breakup, etc.). Regardless of the reasons, we speak for approximately 30 minutes for our first conversation. I have a list of interview questions I ask her to 1) get a better understanding of who she is as an individual, and 2) to start visualizing a theme, colors, and setting for the kind of boudoir experience that matches her personality. It also helps her to loosen up and to begin to trust me as her photographer. I ask her if she prefers white wine, champagne, or a non-alcoholic beverage. I ask her what her favorite flower is (I always bring a bouquet of the client’s favorite flowers and incorporate it into her session to personalize her experience). We talk about outfits and venues. When applicable, I ask her if there is any object significant to her partner that she would like to include in the session. I stress to her that nudity is an option only, and not expected. That puts clients at ease immediately, and often leads to enough trust to attempt some nudity, after all!
After we go through the list of my interview questions and we have developed a comfortable bond together, we create a joint Pinterest page where she starts to pin photos of posing and clothing ideas that I also have access to, and I look for similar photos to pin and add, too. (She often includes photos from my own website page, as well!) We share this joint Pinterest page together up to one week before the photo session. I have a clear idea of what she has in mind, and she can also see my ideas for poses and outfits. In the meantime, she begins to shop for outfits and props based on the theme we have narrowed down together. It is not uncommon for me to go shopping with her, especially if she is feeling awkward or uncomfortable about shopping for these items, or she genuinely has no idea where to begin. This is actually a fun event! We laugh and giggle and find great things that fit who she is, based on what I have learned about her and what her theme is for her photo shoot. I also share with her some of my props that she may want to incorporate (pearls, stocking, amazing masks, a man’s tuxedo jacket, and a man’s white button-down shirt, to name a few items). I believe that when a client participates in the creation of her photo shoot, she is emotionally (and financially) invested in the experience.
Professional make-up and hair is included in every boudoir session of mine. On the day of the photo shoot, the client brings the agreed-upon outfits and props. She gets the star treatment! While make-up and hair is being applied, she can choose to partake in one glass of the drink of her choice determined during our first interview. She meets my all-female assistants. Everyone treats her like a queen. I take some test shots while she is getting ready, and also to get some candid shots, while at the same time getting her comfortable being photographed before we begin. By the time we actually start the session, she is relaxed, feeling (and looking!) like a million bucks, and we have established a professional friendship such that she trusts me to guide her through each pose and each outfit change. We are close enough friends that she allows me to try various angles and to be playful and daring in a safe environment.
The end results are not only stunning photos to show off to whomever she chooses, but she also has had an experience that she will never forget. One that leaves her feeling beautiful and confident for some time to come! The time invested in this pre-photo session process has been a tried-and-true approach for me. The impact is long-lasting for them, and I find them to be great referrals and return clients for me, as well as becoming life-long friends as an added bonus outcome!