Boudoir photography has a reputation for being sensual or even NSFW. But don’t forget that your boudoir clients are not professional models.
They’re everyday people who probably have little to no experience being in front of the camera.
That’s why your attitude is the most important. In this article, we’ll show you how to make your clients feel comfortable during their boudoir shoot in 5 simple steps.
Why Interacting With Your Boudoir Clients Is Key
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 from your clients long before they ever step foot into the studio. I relate and interact with my clients to create an environment that cultivates trust and vulnerability, whether through our meetings before the shoot or social media.
At the end of the day, comfort and trust are what make great photos possible in boudoir photography.
One note about self-confidence. As a woman myself 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 are walking into your studio with an entire lifetime of doubts about their looks and often their self worth. Whether you’re a female or male boudoir photographer, it is your job to remind them that they are beautiful and to create an environment based on trust.
Step 5. Build an Online Presence That Shows Who YOU Really Are
The good, the bad and everything in between. If you want your boudoir clients to be vulnerable, then you need to make yourself approachable. 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 clips into your real life.
I show everything from the time I spend with my daughter, to the construction on my space, to the time I fell on Mother’s Day and gashed my knee open. I allow my clients to see me for the person that I really am.
If you are asking someone to walk into your space and both 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.
I always have clients walk in and ask me about my daughter because I show our relationship on my IG stories. This gives us something familiar to talk about right away and helps to create an immediate bond when they walk in.
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Step 4. How to Create a Clean and Organised Studio Space
This means if you are a home photographer, having a clear separation between your work life and home life through smart storage solutions.
If you have a kid, consider things like Foremost storage cubes for hiding toys. 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 in a short amount of time.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video.
Step 3. 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 a lot more professional, and your clients will be more likely to recommend you to their friends.
Step 2. 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 and this alone can create trust and comfort for future clients.
Step 1. Aim for Subtle Sensuality
While we do have poses that emulate sexuality, we never bluntly make our sessions sexual by any means. Please don’t ever tell your clients to “pretend like they are having an orgasm”. Yes, I know photographers who do this.
It is both completely inappropriate and will not get you the results that you want. Instead suggest they close their eyes and take a deep breath in 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 the time that I went to a boudoir photography workshop at a lake and 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 just things that make me feel uncomfortable even typing them out to you. This is not what boudoir is about.
Boudoir is about empowering your clients and creating a space and atmosphere that makes them feel strong and in control. While we fully embrace and support sexuality, in my personal opinion that is the least of what we are doing here.
Take your time with your clients, 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.
“Ok, let’s have you lay on the sofa with your feet down at the bottom and your head up on the pillows.
Is it ok 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 and then exhale through a widely parted lip and arch your chest up to the sky. One, two, three.”
Snap snap goes the shutter.
Using a friendly but professional tone will make your client much more likely to allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of your camera.
For too long boudoir has had a bad rap from creepy photographers who used the genre to lure in models and want the models to pose nude or semi-nude for their own 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 the shoots.
Following the steps above will surely show your clients that you honor their body, time and energy. And it will lead to more positive testimonials and inevitably growth to your boudoir photography business.