back to top

Boudoir Photography Checklist: Seven Things to Bring to Your First Boudoir Shoot

A boudoir shoot can be fun and exciting for both the photographer and the client. However if it is your first time it can also be daunting and nerve-wracking. Having a boudoir photography checklist prior to your shoot, whether you are the client or the photographer, will help ease your mind and worries.
This post includes a list for the photographer and one for the client to help prepare each of them for the big day.

A girl posing on a bed for a boudoir shoot

Boudoir Photography Checklist

If this is your first rodeo in the boudoir world, I highly recommend starting out with a model or a non-paying client. It is not a good idea to start off asking for payment when you have never shot a boudoir session, even if you’ve shot other genres.
Boudoir requires a certain emotional connection as well as a trained eye for posing so jumping straight to paying clients could set you up for disaster.
If you have photographed models/friends and this is your first time with a paying client, a checklist and posing guide will help ease your mind.

1. Camera, Backup Camera and Charged Batteries

There is always a chance of malfunction with your primary camera. Having a backup will save you the hassle for rescheduling and the deflated energy of your client especially if she drove or flew in for her session.
Having not only one battery in the camera but also a second charged and ready to go is also important.
There were a handful of times over the years where I thought my main battery was charging overnight only to wake up to see it became unplugged. Having the second was a lifesaver for the session and my clients were none the wiser.

2. SD and CF cards

If you plan to shoot multiple cards’ worth, you need to have backups for these as well. Memory cards can malfunction in the middle of a session. If you notice your camera freezes before showing the back of your screen, you may have a faulty card on hand. Bring at least one extra than you plan to shoot.
Another option is to bring your laptop and download the pictures while switching out cards as well. If you shoot tethered, make sure to bring extra cords if you have a client who you plan to show the work to while on set.

3. Lens Options

There will always be a debate about the best lens to use for any genre, but the reality is each shot calls for a different look. It’s a good rule of thumb to have a few choices on hand if possible.
My top lens is a 50mm 1.4. I have used the 50 in the majority of my sessions, only changing for a wider look.
A 35mm is a great option if you are shooting in smaller spaces such as hotel rooms or smaller bedrooms. Picking up an 85mm is another option for blurring out anything in the environment behind your client.
Each of these lens have their own strong points and it comes down to preference and the final look you are going for. Having at least two choices can be helpful if you have the means to have more than one option. If you have only one lens to spend your money on, the 50mm will always be my go to lens for boudoir photography.

4.  Makeup and Boudoir Shoot Accessories

I have a licensed makeup artist at my sessions. I also always carry makeup remover just in case my client is surprising her significant other and does not want to spoil it by coming home all dolled up.
Some photographers double as their own makeup artist if they are licensed. If this is your case, make sure to have these supplies on hand especially multiple shades of foundation.
Double sided tape is also always on hand for those moments where the outfit is not staying where it should. I also have safety pins, mini clamps and other items on hand to secure the backs of outfits for a more form fitting look.
Close up shot of make up and brushes for a boudoir shoot
I encourage each client to bring their own jewelry to make the session more personal. With this said, I still keep various accessories on hand in case she forgets.
We carry all types of looks for those client who likes the soft feminine look of pearls, up to the client who wants the more daring look of bra harnesses and gloves.
Black and white boudoir photography of a girl in black lingerie - what to bring for a boudoir shoot
Toiletries are a must in the studio. Jen Swehdin carries a line of gifts for your clients. I have these makeup bags that she stocks with everything from makeup to deodorant wipes that I give to each client the morning of their shoot.
The clients love these gift items not only the day of their session, but it also works great for marketing to her friends.
I place my logo on the bags so every time she pulls this little bag out it is right there marketing itself for me.
Close up shot of a black 'elizabeth' case with toiletries, first aid kit and accessories for a boudoir shoot

5. Bottled Water and Food

This one really should be before anything else. Keeping your client hydrated is important to keep her safe.
Many times clients will fast before a shoot to lessen the bloated look. However this can be very dangerous for her in that she may not realise just how quickly she can feel light headed. I also keep snacks in the studio at all times as well.
When they first arrive for hair and makeup, a tray of water, juice, champagne, and light snacks such as granola, apple chips, cheeses, and cookies are set out.
Not only do they feel the pampered treatment already starting, they will also feel better knowing they have this all on hand.
In the questionnaire I send out, I ask their preferred food and drink choices in case of any allergies.
If you are unsure whether your client is over 21, make sure you ask prior to serving alcohol.
I have shot a few clients who looked 18 only to find out they were well into their mid twenties. Never once were they offended when I asked for ID. It made for great laughs and peace of mind for me to offer champagne.
Overhead shot of a luxurious plate of fruits with golden cutlery to be used as photography props for a boudoir shoot

6. Boudoir Checklist for Your Client

Going off number 3 on this list, sending your client a checklist of how to prepare for her shoot will help with her own preparation.
My list includes encouraging them to drink plenty of water, not to fast, and other items such as no spray tanning prior. These lists can include anything that will help you and your shots.
These lists have expanded over the years to include issues I have come across in each shoot.
The latest additions to this list have been to remind them to come with clean nails, or fully done as any cracked nail polish will have an extra retouching fee. This fee also applies to sunburns.

Email correspondence regarding a boudoir shoot

7. Ladder or Step Stool

I prefer to have both. Many times a step stool doesn’t always give me the height I need to shoot directly above her. These are great to get angles such as full floor poses, bathtub shots, and getting to shoot through chandeliers.
Step stools are also great if the client is taller than you. Having the angle straight on or a bit higher will be more flattering for many looks.
If you are worried about space saving options, hang these from the walls that you do not shoot against so you are not worried about taking up floor area.
When I first started into boudoir, I made sure to use the vertical space in my studio so I could move around my client and not trip over equipment not in use.

8. Disposable Items

While I am more of a fan of barefoot and natural looks, I do keep heels in the studio just in case a shot calls for it.
I also keep a set of disposable slippers that I give to each client at the start of their session to use to get from the shooting area back to the changing rooms. This helps eliminate my editing time later cleaning off dirty feet.
We also keep baby wipes to clean up the feet as well if anything gets on them. Many pieces of wardrobe I have in the studio are covered in sparkles and those will transfer to just about every body part!
Diptych photography of white slippers to be used for a boudoir shoot

9. Lights and Modifiers

If you are a natural light shooter, you will have to make plans to shoot when the light is best in your studio. During 2 hours of the day, the sun shines in across the top of my windows casting the shadow of my signage outside onto my floors. I avoid that at all costs if possible.
If you prefer strobes in the studio, make sure you have all your modifiers, cords and transmitters ready to go. No client will want to wait around while you are fumbling with wires.
Always have back up batteries for your transmitters in the studio as well. I carry a full box of AA batteries for my Pocket Wizards as I shoot daily, and there is always that one time that I forget to shut them off before the weekend. A completely drained battery on a Monday morning is just the worst.
A fan is also a great option on have on set. Not only will it help with cooling the client down under the lights, but also give movement to the hair as well.
A small floor fan with a around three speeds works well for boudoir. It is not a fashion set so we are not looking for the fully wind blown hair, but just enough to get the hair moving and some volume.
Studio setup for a boudoir photo shoot

10. Posing Guide

If you are new to boudoir having a posing guide on hand can be extremely helpful. You do not need to have it right out on display, but maybe tucked in a section of your studio you can refer to while your client is changing. There are numerous guides available depending on your style.

These are just a few of the many out there that can help a new shooter, or even a seasoned one who is looking to break out of their creative rut.

Bonus: Client’s Checklist

If you are the client wondering how to prepare for your big shoot ask your photographer if they have any special requests from you. Each artist might require something unique.
These few tips below are a good starting point.

1. Properly Fitting Looks

While you may have seen something on a mannequin in the store, make sure you try it on prior to your shoot. The last thing you want to do is to be swimming in a bodysuit that is too large, or trying to hook a bra that is too small.
Many designers have sizes that are not true to size so be aware to avoid any frustration and disappointment.
If you ordered something online and it does not fit you the correct way, message your photographer and see what they suggest.
If it is something that can be clipped back during the day of the session you may not have to return the item unless you planned on keeping it for further wear in the future.
And don’t forget to bring a few nude thongs in case you borrow you photographer’s wardrobe. While I can guarantee most photographers I know wash all items in-between shoots, why risk it? The more sanitary you can be, the better!

2. Something Personal

Even if your photographer will have a wardrobe available to you, bring something personal. This could be a favourite oversized sweater, your significant other’s tee shirt, or even your wedding shoes.
It will bring that emotional connection when viewing the images and tie the entire look together.
One couple whose session I did this past March brought their fair wardrobe and swords. They frequently go as a couple to these events and wanted to tie in a portion of their session with a look surrounding something they often do as a couple.
Romantic boudoir photography shot of a couple sitting on rocks with the sea behind

3. Bridal Pieces

If you are getting married and decided to do a shoot for your husband or bride to be, a boudoir shoot should always contain a portion of your bridal gear! It makes elegant and classic wall art to hang in your new bedroom.
Your veil, your wedding shoes, maybe even your dress that you do a sexy but classy strip tease out of for major impact in your album.
Ask your photographer if they carry any veils in the studio if you are worried about risking yours before the big day.
Some photographers will even have wedding dresses for shots as well. I keep a few dresses I have found at goodwill in the studio just to have covering up to the waist for showing off the back. It does not distract from the idea that it isn’t her actual dress, just mores that it gives the look of a bridal gown being removed.
In this image, the client did bring her own, but it was short and she was looking for a fully covered look. I keep a long veil in the studio just for these special requests.
Always feel comfortable to ask your photographer anything to help make your session perfect. They may not have it, but it does not hurt to ask.
Ethereal black and white boudoir photography shot of a girl in bridal wear sitting on a rug

4. Your Comfy Sweats

You may not be the person who likes to go out in public “undone” but for your shoot that is the best option. Show up with clean dry hair without makeup. Always wear loose fitting clothing such as sweats to avoid the lines and creases jeans will make.
If at all possible, show up without a bra as again this will help with those pesky marks that your photographer may charge to edit out.
Close up shot of a calendar book regarding a boudoir shoot on a table

5. Pay Attention to Details

If you say the words “Oh you can just Photoshop that, right?” be prepared for the evil eye from your photographer. OK, maybe a bit dramatic there but please do understand those words can be very cliche for a photographer to hear.
Yes we can do it. For some photographers we can do just about anything in Photoshop.
But be courteous and think ahead when you decide not to get your roots touched up, or your nail polish is cracked. These are things that can be edited, but most likely you will be charged an extra retouch fee especially if your photographer warned you ahead of time to have these details taken care of.

Conclusion

For both photographer and client the main take home is to really think ahead on what you might need. It is better to be over prepared than to be kicking yourself during the session wishing you had remembered that one special piece.
I have told my clients I would rather have them coming in with rolling suitcases filled with options, than to be wishing they had packed more.
While we most likely will not shoot everything in her bags, having the option to tie a few looks together not only creates a great vibe in the flow, but also more options for her to choose from for her albums.
Check out our new article on how to make your boudoir client feel comfortable during a shoot (without feeling like a creep!).

[type='text']
[type='text']
[type='password']
[type='password']
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
[index]
[index]
[i]
[i]
[type='text']
[type='text']
[type='password']
[type='password']
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
[index]
[index]
[i]
[i]
[type='text']
[type='text']
[type='password']
[type='password']
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', 'RealPlayer.RealPlayer(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', 'RealPlayer']
[index]
[index]
[i]
[i]