One of the greatest challenges I hear many photographers face is the lack of creativity in their boudoir photography. They have everything in place in terms of wardrobe, setups, lighting and technical aspects. Yet when they go to pose their clients they are at a loss for ideas beyond a static image.
Boudoir posing does not have to be over the top like a high fashion set, but more subtle and relaxed. This article will take you through ten posing ideas you can use in your next boudoir photography session.
Keeping these posing tips in mind will take your photos from mediocre to thought provoking imagery that sells big.
When I first started shooting boudoir photography about a decade ago, I was confined to a 12×12 bedroom in the back of my home. This small space did not lend itself to moving around my client with ease, nor did it allow her to roam without static posing.
This was due in part to only one wall being easy to photograph. Posing creativity had to come from one to two positions on the couch. This would allow me to get the maximum looks in order to create a full album.
Fast forward to present day where my studio has ample space for movement. I still opt for simplicity of posing rather than making a client create complicated posing that looks forced and unnatural.
Boudoir Posing Tips
If you are just getting into boudoir photography consider looking back at great painters. Dating back to even before the more iconic works of Albert Arther Allen, boudoir photography has always had a role in the fine arts.
Renaissance, baroque, romanticism movements are a great place for your research to begin. These works of art showcase both posing simplicity and the beauty of your subject.
1. Put Her Back Into It
I often do project pieces with models to recharge my own posing techniques for my clients. My personal favourite is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ The Odalisque.
The curve of the woman’s back gave way to my adoration of photographing one’s back. This pose is not only simple but intriguing to the viewer. It’s as if they’re looking in on a private moment.
Have your clients keep a pillow under the arm closest to the bed. This will prop them up and give curvature to their spine.
A small glance over the shoulder along with knees slightly bent can bring focus to a more artistic piece. This type of image sells every time. Why? Because it creates the feeling of a work of art. Many feel empowered and excited to hang such a photo in their homes.
Wall art can be over the bed, in a private closet, or an acrylic piece in the bathroom over a large tub. Helping your client feel confident to accept their bodies as works of art is the main objective of every seasoned boudoir photographer.
Coming back into our own century with a more modern pose focused on the curve of the spine, we can see here another angle for boudoir photos.
If your client is flexible, she will be able to bring a fantastic arch into the pose. For those clients who have difficulty in obtaining a dramatic arch, shoot at an angle slightly above to create a more curved look.
Moving back and having her twist her hips to one side will also improve the arched look.
2. Get on the Floor
Floor posing is one of the simplest ways to gain more than one look. In these poses you can add rugs, throw blankets or keep it clean with a bare floor look (especially if it has a shine for reflections).
I always start on their backs for the arched pose. Lift their shoulders to show the arch of their back along with elongated legs.
Have them use their arms for stability or if they are comfortable have them move their hands up and down their body for multiple posing.
These shots create a whole layout spread for their albums.
3. Pose With Chairs
Selecting the right chair for each image is important, especially in terms of colour. If you are using print lingerie, keep the chair simple and choose complimentary colours.
I prefer to have larger chairs not only for comfort but also to give texture behind the client.
Here, I placed my client with her legs propped up, bottom tucked to the back edge and arched her back to bring the chest upward. I never place hands inside the hair, rather on the outside pushing upwards in order to give volume and movement.
The hand closest to me always brings attention to a part of the body such as the lips, chest or leg.
Another option is to use the outer edge of the chair. Having your client sit on the very edge will give them the ability to “fall” over slightly in posing.
This position allows them to bring attention to a softer posture with arms placed gently in front. This pose is best when in front of a large window with eyes fixed on the camera for a confident gaze.
Adding a robe or an oversized sweater will expose the shoulders and collarbone, adding story to the image.
4. Elongate Those Legs
Whether your client is tall or not, elongating the legs will create killer poses for every body type.
Placing the leg closest to the couch with the top leg pulled up will create a curve on the hips. Your client can use that curve for arm placement.
From here, have them roll to their side keeping that leg elongated while shifting their arm straight out.
You can have them move the back arm from the neckline down to the hip to create several looks on the same pose.
You can use this pose on couches, beds or even the floor.
5. Details Are Key
Detail shots should not be overlooked when posing for boudoir. Many large wall art sales will happen if the images have an anonymous feel for your more modest clients.
A light hand placement leading the eye to the legs, chest or middle thigh will keep the classy look while creating drama and emotion.
Bringing attention to other items such as engagement or wedding rings has also been a huge seller for wall art or album covers here at the studio.
In this pose, make sure you have your client lightly place her hands under first. This is in order to create a slight lift. Then, make sure your client keeps the fingers un-clawed with wrists straight not bent.
This will give a feeling of ease, while not pressing into the skin creating pressure marks.
6. Use Props in a New Way
I will admit I loath props in most circumstances. Sports gear in hands, books and glasses, or just about anything that takes away from the client is something I try to avoid if possible.
However, using props in another way can give a different kind of emotion. The more sultry feel of looking through a floor mirror, or shooting through sheer curtains can create a separate emotion. It can set your photos apart from other boudoir images.
I have this six foot floor mirror in the studio that I can easily move around to different locations. It can either be in the background for decor, or I can shoot against it as in the nude image below. I
t is a tricky set up. You want to capture the body in the mirror, a part of it on the side, all while not seeing yourself in the reflection. I posed my client to show the curvature of her spine as well as hiding all parts that will get myself banned for a week on many social media platforms.
Turing the mirror on its side, you can create a new angle. Use a step stool in order to keep yourself out of the frame as well. Lying on the floor with her will also reduce your reflection.
7. Use the Wardrobe Or Furniture for Posing Assistance
If you search high and low for unique pieces to pose your clients on, you might find a piano in a thrift store for $20 like I did many years ago! It has become my signature piece and every client who does a session with me always wants to pose on the piano.
I will sometimes have them lay down, show the back off, or in some clients who are skilled in contortion; arch!
This first image I had the client simply pull down the straps of her bodysuit to expose her back. Always ask your client to arch their back. Even if they are not laying on a surface, this is key to popping the bottom and pulling back the shoulders.
In this second image, she was extremely skilled in body movement and balance. Keeping her head and bottom on the piano, she only lifted her shoulder to create this fantastic arch.
Using her arms to brace and balance she was able to point her legs and toes out for a more elongated look. Body suits are important in any pose that creates an arch. Otherwise you lose sight of the arch. The clothing must be form fitting here.
8. Pose for Over the Head Shooting
One of my favourite posing options is the overhead look. It brings the viewers’ eyes to long lashes, chest and legs, all in the same shot.
Have your client arch their back and chin at the same time. I tell them to bring their chin back until I can see everything lined up.
Once in this position, have her breathe in deeply to pout the chest upwards. Then ask them to breathe out slowly with lips parted. This relaxes the mouth.
At this point, they feel the tension slide away and move their hands more freely down the body line. This is perfect to add movement in your shots. Any implied movement is better than a static pose!
The old saying KISS “keep it simple silly” has always been something I keep for one of the last poses of my session. The client will lay on the bed with a white sheet under them.
I then pull another white sheet over the top of their heads in a tent like position This gives the idea of what I call the “lazy Sunday morning” look. Imagine coffee in bed, Sunday morning papers and simple conversations.
This was all the inspiration I used to create this look that every client now buys for the end image in their albums. Make sure your client places her face on the arm without resting it there.
If she rests it completely, the pressure will create a push in the cheeks and eye causing an unflattering affect. You can add to this same pose by having her smile or laugh for a more fun lighthearted shot.
10. Posing For Nudes
Not every single one of your clients will want nude looks for their session. Prior to their day, I send out a questionnaire asking all about them in order to be prepared on all their interests. Questions include:
- what kind of music they like (we play it in the studio)
- what are their favourite colours (I have that lingerie set out for them)
- do they want to shoot implied nudes?
Many answer “I would like to decide the day of the session”. This allows me to know they are not completely against it, but not sure how comfortable they will feel just yet.
At the end of all the lingerie looks I will simply ask if they would like to try a shot either fully nude or implied.
In the end, whatever you decide your go to posing is for your sessions, try to incorporate one or more changes in your daily routine.
It will not only keep things exciting but also create a rush of inspiration for yourself and keep you out of a creative rut.
For more great boudoir tips check out our boudoir photography checklist. If you are feeling creative, try our article on yoga photography for a totally different posing style!
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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