We’ve been specializing in boudoir photography in the Boston area for more than four years now and we have found that the most important thing for a boudoir photographer to master is posing. Assuming that every professional photographer should already have generalized photography skills and talent, a strong knowledge and experience with boudoir posing is what can mean the difference between snapshots and art. When you go in for your session, you should not be left to your own devices. This is not a reality tv modeling competition. You’re paying someone to make you look your best. Posing for the camera is something that can take years to master and you’ve only got an hour. You’re going to need some help here. You need to be able to relax in the knowledge that you’re in the hands of and experienced professional. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.
When considering posing for boudoir there are quite a few things to think about but the most important things are:
1. The intended viewer of the images
Women (and men) seek out boudoir photography for different reasons but it can generally be broken down into two categories: for themselves or for someone else. Of course, it can also be both. Whether the intended viewer of the images is male or female can effect the posing. While we are all moved by different things and not everyone falls into stereotypes, some generalizations can be made. We have found over the years that there are specific poses that appeal more to men and those that appeal more to women. And poses that appeal more to the subject and those that appeal to their partner. Men tend to respond to full body images that feature their favorite body parts. Women seem to enjoy images that feature the face while flattering part of the body and obscuring other parts. As with all things, no large group of people can be successfully lumped together with no exceptions but this is just one small aspect of posing that is taken into consideration. This is why when you come in for your session one of the questions we’ll ask before starting is, “Is this for someone special?” When we know who our audience is we can use that information to plan the session.
2. Body Type of the subject
We humans come in all shapes and sizes. Our style of boudoir is about celebrating you just as you are. We really do believe that everyone is beautiful and sexy in their own way. Many of us are just unable to realize that through all the noise of our society. We are always being told that we aren’t the proper weight, age, shape or shade to live up to some invented standard of beauty. We become very critical of ourselves and begin to feel that we’re undeserving of an appreciative gaze. Everybody shines in their own way, and every BODY shines in different poses. A pose that may just kill it for a curvy woman with a romance-novel-worthy heaving bosom may not be right for someone with a more athletic body type. We all have our assets. Boudoir is about showing those assets in the best way.
Not all parts of our bodies are created equal. At least in our own minds. A great majority of our female boudoir clients want to hide their tummies. Childbirth or a penchant for red velvet can be unkind to anyone’s midsection. A twist of the waist or a different camera angle can be all you need. By making your best features the focus of an image, we can take the pressure off of some of your insecurities.
3. Personality of the subject
We’ve all had that friend who loves to be the center of attention. Whether it’s girl’s night out or a quiet double date she wants all eyes on her as much of the time as possible. But maybe you’re a shy introvert who would rather go unnoticed. No matter what your personality it should come through in your boudoir photos. A coy pose probably isn’t right for the life of the party and not everyone is comfortable in the sex kitten role. But you could surprise yourself. The overall character of an image can be changed by something as simple as a change of facial expression or the tilt of the head. Raise your knee and you’re demure, lower just a few inches and you are positively debauched. A subject’s personality and, by extension, their comfort level is a very important aspect of posing. It can be the subtleties that make all of the difference.
The wardrobe you choose for your boudoir session can be very important. It can portray your personality, seduce the viewer or have sentimental meaning. We encourage our clients to bring “outfits” that make them feel sexy and comfortable. Every item needs to fit properly, especially the bras. An ill fitting bra can make some poses impossible. Get a professional fitting if necessary. Your wardrobe should reflect your personality, as well. If you’re not a lace thigh and garter belts kind of girl then you don’t have to wear them. If your partner loves you in mismatched bra and cotton panties then you should bring that. Stepping out of your usual comfort zone can be good as long as you don’t feel too self conscious. That can show in your photos.
Posing is also effected by your wardrobe. A pose meant to show off the arch in you back will require something form fitting or midriff-baring. While a seated pose may be best in a looser fitting teddy or a cozy sweater. Bringing options to your shoot allows the photographer to plan the best possible shoot.
5. Props and set
Another thing that can influence posing is the setting where you’re shooting and any props you’re using. In our studio we have various pieces of furniture to be used for boudoir sessions. We have chairs, stools, a sofa and a queen sized bed. And the architectural elements of the room itself such as the huge windows, exposed brick walls and hardwood floors can also play a part. We encourage clients to bring things that may hold special significance to them or their partner. A guitar can be used with implied nudity for some pretty sexy results, but we’ve also done some creative things with baking utensils, a fishing pole, comic books and some record albums.
One of the things we always say is that boudoir is all about the hands and the eyes. Maybe it’s not ALL about that. Some other parts are important as well, but the hands and the eyes can make or break it.
The eyes are the windows to …blah, blah,blah. We all know how important the eyes can be in non verbal communication. And what is photography or any visual art if it’s not non verbal communication?
Fact: most people hate having their picture taken. When they get in front of the camera they want to look their best so they start thinking about what their face is doing. Unless you’re a model or an actor who has spent countless hours studying your face in the mirror, nothing good can come from thinking about your face. But all you have to do is follow some simple advice. You need to SQUINCH. Not squint, squinch. People often get wide eyed in front of the camera. This can make you look blank or terrified and that’s probably not what you’re going for. When we are engaged with someone and not thinking about our face we tend to have a slight tightening at the corners of our eyes. That’s what we call a squinch It really helps to create a connection between the subject of the photograph and the viewer. Tyra calls it a smize or smiling with your eyes. Try it in the mirror. You’ll see.
Hands are pretty much the opposite. You mainly just need to relax them. You’re probably nervous and tense and that can make this harder but no one wants to have claw hands in their boudoir photos. In most poses you’re going to want to have a nice relaxed curve to the hand and fingers. If your hands are tense you can shake them out a bit and re-position.
Our other main piece of advice for clients is: If you have a joint, bend it. In most poses a straight arm or leg can look stiff and unnatural. With women, it’s all about elongated and elegant s-curves and with men it’s all about angles.
Unless you are getting a mugshot or a passport photo, straight on to the camera is not the way to go. You can accentuate the natural curves of the body by angling the hips and shoulders in opposing directions. This can lengthen and stretch the body while creating emphasis on the lines and curves.
Being a model is all about looking comfortable even when you’re uncomfortable. You may have your back arched, your booty popped, your toes pointed and your eyes squinched but you still need to look relaxed and confident. It’s not an easy thing and it doesn’t come naturally to most people.
A good photography team will coach you through your boudoir session and bring out your best. Trust is key. You have to find people you can feel comfortable with. You’re going to be in your underwear for pete’s sake! We have been specializing in boudoir photography in the Boston area for more than four years. Our first job is to help you feel comfortable with us and our second job is to help you feel comfortable with yourself. And we’re really good at it.