According to The Daily Mail, the age of the boudoir portrait has arrived. While the article questions whether the trend is a tacky or wonderful celebration of the human body, I want to offer that it’s not the trend that has potential to flounder – boudoir photographs are by nature a beautiful erotic, vintage art form. It’s our outlook on the set that counts. Boudoir photography can make an amazing anniversary present, wedding gift, and what I like to call a “let’s have better sex” gesture, so it’s important that you’re happy with the result. If posing stark naked in front of a stranger under lighting equal parts intrigues and terrifies you, read on. We spoke to three New York-based boudoir photographers about everything you could possibly need to know before a boudoir shoot so that you can have the best experience possible, by yourself or as a couple.
Acknowledge How Awesome You Are
“Congratulations are in order. In a culture where 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies yet only 5 percent posses the body types presented in the media, a woman or man’s decision to seriously consider intimate photography is worthy of applause,” say Constance and Eric, a Brooklyn photography team who have photographed hundreds of couples in their “beyond boudoir” shoots. They’re right. You need guts to want to take a sexy photograph outside of a bathroom selfie, so pat yourself on the (naked) back for recognizing your beauty.
Rest and Stay Hydrated
While the anxiety of a shoot could keep you up the night before, Constance and Eric advise, “Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water beforehand. Hydration and sleep do wonders not only physically, but emotionally. Being in your birthday suit is a naturally vulnerable state, add to that lights and cameras and you have all the makings for some classic stress responses.” Staying hydrated and being alert keeps your stress levels down and keeps you happy. That confidence and wakefulness will be much more flattering in front of the camera.
Get Undressed Quickly
It may be the oddest suggestion, but it works for two reasons. “When you arrive to your shoot we will strongly encourage you to get undressed and in a robe immediately. It will give your skin a chance to lose the indentations caused by all clothing. It also gives you a chance to get used to the feeling of being nude, well, semi nude. The comfort comes across clearly in photographs,” suggest Constance and Eric.
Don’t Get Drunk
The overwhelming advice from boudoir photographers is don’t get trashed before a shoot. While some may think having a few cocktails before you meet your photographer will help quell the butterflies, it never translates well. “Definitely don’t drink before – maybe a little in the process of the shoot. But it’s a really bad idea to start shooting being a bit tipsy.” warned photographer Victoria Janashvili of Winks Boudoir. Constance and Eric explained,“You can have a glass of wine to calm down but do not, we repeat do not have the bottle. If the bottle is empty by the time we finish, that’s fine, but if it’s empty before we start, we may have problems. In fact, there are some instances where we would reschedule if our client became intoxicated to the point where we felt their decision making faculties were hampered. It’s kind of like sex in that regard, we require constant consent.” Your face doesn’t look that great flushed with alcohol, anyway.
Bend Your Knees
There’s no one-size-fits-all boudoir pose, but there is a rule of thumb to ace a standing shot. Irina Mednik of French Kiss Boudoir Photography revealed, “The major things I have my clients do during standing shots is for one of their knees to be pointed inwards (like when you want to pee and you’re holding it in). It slims the legs and adds a nice curve to the pose, making it look very feminine. They can also criss-cross their legs completely – it gives an impression of that hourglass shape.” The position of your legs can change the entire shape of your body.
Arch that Back
The other universal boudoir tip is to arch your back in shots. Yes, it might be tiring, but “an arched back accentuates EVERYTHING; the bust and bottom. It looks super feminine and either exaggerates their curves or creates them.” says Irina of French Kiss NY. Boudoir is all about curves, celebrating and accentuating them.
You Don’t Have To Bare All
If you have an area you’re not comfortable with in your body, don’t stay hung up on it. Professional photographers will have suggested poses to best hide or cover up parts you don’t want to expose. A common question is whether a client needs to show their tummy. Remember, you don’t have to bare anything you don’t want to. Irina commented, “There are laying down poses and sitting poses that hide the tummy. Most clients are shocked that I can hide their mid-section in a sitting pose, but it works great. If sitting on the floor, or rug, I have them bend their knees in front of them so that the legs look long and sexy”. Laying on the stomach is also a favorite of her clients.
You Can Always Say No
A big part of a boudoir shoot is trusting the photographer you hired and knowing your rights. Your confidence might be the most important aspect of your appearance, and part of that is staying comfortable on set. “You can say no to anything you don’t like and stop at anytime. The number one most important thing to remember is that this is your shoot and not the photographer’s. Any good photographer will present themselves as humbly as possible and not try to talk you into something you are unsure of,” Constance and Eric urged. On that same note, Victoria of Winks Boudoir stressed staying casual. “At the end of the day if you don’t like the result – you don’t have to use the images. The images are absolutely private and discreet, so the model is in complete control. Given all that, there isn’t anything to be nervous about,” she says.
Be Yourself and Keep It Natural
Perhaps one of the biggest debates before a boudoir shoot is whether to come as yourself in your basics or doll up to the nines with corsets, fishnets, and false eyelashes. The expert photographers say while they encourage you to look how you would like to, natural looks actually translate best on film. “The reality is, discomfort can come through in the images we are making together,” point out Constance and Eric. Victoria echos their idea, “Trying too hard usually doesn’t work. I would say be natural and show less. I certainly believe that especially in boudoir images, less is more.”
Should you leave the lingerie at home? It’s up to you and what you usually wear on your day-to-day. “I think that most of the times even complete nudity and natural make up looks a lot classier than leopard print, a lacy corset with stockings, suspenders, and huge fake eyelashes. Boudoir pictures should be taken to celebrate one’s natural beauty and grace. Accessories and lingerie are welcome, but only when they compliment the model’s own features and colors,” advised Victoria.
You’ll Learn Your Best Positions and Angles
Unless you have modeling experience, everyone who walks into a shoot as a boudoir virgin isn’t expected to know exactly how to pose from the start. That’s where the photographer’s expertise comes in. You might think you look best in profile, but a professional will be on hand to course correct you. “Every woman’s body is different, so not every pose is flattering on every woman. During the first few minutes of the shoot, a client usually starts to get the hang of what the shoot will be like as I start giving her directions, while I observe what her body is like and what types of poses would be good for her. Every pose is customized for each client.” explains Irina. By the end of the shoot, you’ll know exactly how to position your body for the most flattering shots. It’s not something we all know naturally, but it can be learned easily.
Have Fun With It
All these rules, suggestions, and anxieties might be making it seem like you’re going to jury duty and not actually posing for sexy photos as a novel way to treat yourself. Which brings us to the final tip: Just have fun. If you’re having fun, the humor and happiness will come across in your face. Constance and Eric suggest, “Have as much fun as you can! There is no such thing as having too much fun or being too silly. At the end of the day, our shoots can seem less about the final images and more about the liberating experience that is a celebration of real human sexuality.”
Images courtesy of French Kiss NY.