Boudoir photography is a type of photography for intimate portraits. But it can also be used for other types of portraiture. The key to boudoir photography for clients is making them feel comfortable. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Boudoir Photography for Clients: A Working Relationship
I am a member of a lot of photography groups on Facebook. Most of them are focused on boudoir photography. One of the most common questions I see is, “How do you make your clients comfortable enough to do such provocative boudoir poses?” Or even, “How do you get such sensual expressions from your clients?”
The answer is not as complicated as you’d think. It all comes down to creating an experience for your clients long before they enter the studio.
I relate and interact with my clients to create an environment that cultivates trust and vulnerability. This can happen through our meetings before the shoot or on social media. Comfort and trust are what make better photos possible in boudoir photography.
One note about self-confidence. As a woman, I am very aware of what social stigmas have done to the female psyche. Women are constantly in a state of comparison and doubt when it comes to how we look.
Your clients may walk into your studio with a lifetime of doubts about their looks and often their self-worth. Whether you’re a female or male boudoir photographer, you must remind them that they are beautiful and create an environment based on trust.
5 Tips to Create a Safe, Trusting Space for Boudoir Photography
Here are five tips I incorporate into my boudoir photography for clients.
1. Build an Online Presence That Shows Who You Are
Show the good, the bad, and everything in between. You must be approachable if you want your boudoir clients to be vulnerable. You need to show them the human behind the camera. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Instagram stories. Stories allow tiny video clips into your real life.
I show everything from the time I spend with my daughter to the construction of my space to the time I fell on Mother’s Day and gashed my knee open. I allow my clients to see me as the person that I am.
If you ask someone to walk into your space to figuratively and literally strip down for you, you owe it to them to do the same. Showing your real life makes you less of a stranger and more familiar.
Clients always ask about my daughter because I show our relationship on my Instagram stories. This immediately gives us something familiar to discuss and helps create a bond when they walk in.
You can also use testimonials from former boudoir clients. This is the strongest tool you have at your disposal. A happy client will shout from the rooftops about their experience. This alone can create trust and comfort for future clients.
2. Be Consistent in Your Communication
Most professional boudoir shoots are not cheap. Your clients might be investing thousands of dollars into their photos. It is your responsibility to honor this investment and reply to them within a reasonable amount of time.
This builds trust and is one of the simplest things you can do to show respect to your clients. It will also make you appear more professional, making your clients more likely to recommend you to their friends.
3. Create a Clean and Organized Studio Space
If you are a home photographer, it’s best to create a clear separation between your work and home life through smart storage solutions. Consider organizers like SONGMICS storage cubes for hiding toys if you have a kid. These look like shelves but are sturdy and feel elegant. They can also be anchored to the wall if you have young children.
When I used to shoot from home, I would have different bedding that I would change out every time. I only ever used these with clients. I also always put away my family pictures and traded them out for photos of my clients.
At the beginning of my boudoir photography career, I used to shoot at home. This involved a lot of cleaning up after my (then) toddler and flipping the space from home to studio quickly.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video:
4. Aim for Subtle Sensuality With Boudoir Poses
While we do have poses that emulate sexuality, we never bluntly make our sessions sexual by any means. Please never tell your clients to “pretend they are having an orgasm.” Yes, I know photographers who do this.
It is completely inappropriate and will not get you the desired results. Instead, suggest they close their eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale through their mouth while tilting their head back. This will give the photo an implied sexuality without being overt and making your clients feel awkward.
I will never forget when I went to a boudoir photography workshop at a lake. There were about 20 photographers on the dock, and one woman needed to be the loudest and most heard person there.
She would scream things like, “Yeah baby, show me that ass!” and other phrases that make me uncomfortable even typing them out to you. This is not what boudoir photography is about.
Boudoir should empower your clients and create a space and atmosphere that makes them feel strong and in control. While we fully embrace and support sexuality, I believe that is the least of what we are doing here.
5. Communicate in a Direct But Respectful Manner
Take time with your clients to coach them into poses using non-sexual terms and be very direct with them. Here’s an example of instructions I’d use during my boudoir shoots. Note the respectful, clear tone and the constant checking-in that the client is comfortable.
“Okay, let’s have you lay on the sofa with your feet down at the bottom and your head up on the pillows. Is it okay if I move your legs so they are in the proper position? Great! Now, bring your left hand to grab your inner thigh and your right hand to pull at your strap using your thumb and pointer finger.
Bring your chin straight up to the ceiling and close your eyes. On the count of three, I want you to inhale deeply, exhale through a widely parted lip, and arch your chest up to the sky. One, two, three.” Snap goes the shutter.
Using a friendly but professional tone will make it much more likely that your clients will be themselves and vulnerable in front of your camera.
Conclusion: Boudoir Photography for Clients
For too long, boudoir photography has had a bad rap. Creepy photographers have used the boudoir genre to lure models to pose nude or semi-nude for their pleasure.
It is up to us to continue to break down these preconceived ideas through respect for our clients. This means making sure they’re comfortable during boudoir photoshoots.
If you follow the tips above, they will show your clients that you honor their body, time, and energy. It will lead to more positive testimonials and, inevitably, the growth of your boudoir photography business.