In trying to research the history of boudoir photography I found quite a few articles but none of them very helpful. In fact, most of them seemed to be blogposts from other boudoir photographers that were simply taken almost word for word from a less-than-in-depth Huffington Post article from 2014. I’ll admit that it’s tempting to take the easy way out and just get those words on the blog but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Mostly because: plagiarism. But also what I learned is that it seems that boudoir photography as we now know it does not have a very long history to report. History is filled with examples of artwork of all kinds depicting the female form in various states of undress. The main difference is that those works were rarely, if ever, commissioned by the subject themselves.
The way it worked was that an artist (almost always a man until more recently) worked with his own inspiration and a (hopefully) paid model to bring about his own personal vision. The women involved were either celebrated or exploited, depending upon the piece or your viewpoint, with little or no control over the end product. They were simply a resource.
The Venus de Milo. The Birth of Venus by Boticelli. Luncheon on the Grass by Manet. The works of famous pinup artists like Vargas and Elvgren. All of these are celebrated around the world as superior examples of the female form. But all of them stem from this same lack of power for any women involved. This type of relationship between creator and model still exists in many forms from fine art all the way through to pornography.
I’m not saying that there is anything inherently wrong in this type of artist/model relationship. It can take many different forms and being very gratifying for all involved. However, modern boudoir photography is the exact opposite of this. Women are empowered to take the process into their own hands. You are in control.
You choose whether or not to have boudoir photography done. You choose your photographer, and with that the style of photography. You choose your wardrobe. You choose how to style your hair and makeup. You choose to be photographed alone or with your partner. You choose which images to keep. And, most importantly, you control who to share them with. Maybe they are just for you.
I can imagine that in a more repressive time in history, posing nude or semi nude for an artist could have felt like an empowering experience. Sometimes, the women who did this were breaking through cultural restrictions and exerting their own wills. But, due to their society’s oppression of women, they often found themselves with few choices. Whichever the case they rarely had any control over the process or the end product. Or who saw it.
Today we have more choices than possibly ever before. There are still pockets of resistance to the idea of women celebrating their own bodies, but our opportunities to do so are growing every day. Boudoir photography can be an extremely empowering experience. It is you. Super hot. And super powerful.