Setting Up A Boudoir Photography Business


Whether you choose to specialise in boudoir photography from the beginning or add it to your current offerings, later on, you’ll find it can be a lucrative business opportunity. Many photographers shoot only boudoir sessions and make an excellent living doing so, while others find that it’s a natural addition to their existing business. The exciting news is that some couples want really explicit photos taken!!!

The popularity of boudoir photography is very much on the rise, but it’s still a relatively new photography niche that just a few photographers are filling. Compared to wedding or newborn photographers, boudoir specialists are rare. The uniqueness brings less competition, which makes it easier to find a market share and soar to the top of the search engine rankings.

Boudoir sessions are tremendously popular with clients and a great deal of fun for a photographer – and we seldom hear complaints when the finished results are gifted to lovers! This post will help you decide whether boudoir photography is the right fit for your business and provides all the information you’ll need to find success:

  1. Fitting Boudoir Photography into Your Repertoire

  2. Hosting Your Boudoir Sessions

  3. Lighting for Boudoir Photography

  4. Posing for the Boudoir

  5. Choosing Your Products

  6. Launching Your Boudoir Business

  7. Marketing Your Boudoir Business

  8. Should You Create a Separate Website?

  9. Some Final Pearls of Wisdom

Fitting Boudoir Photography into Your Repertoire

If you are a general photographer, adding boudoir to your offerings will entice new clients and keep your existing ones coming back. A boudoir client is often a bride-to-be who has plenty of milestones ahead of her, from her upcoming wedding to her first newborn baby – and the infant, child and family portraits after that. Delight her with boudoir images and it’s likely you’ll have a client for life!

It’s natural for a wedding photographer to add boudoir service so a bride-to-be can surprise her new husband, but boudoir photography also is an excellent add-on for clients who are already parents. If they’ve reached a moment in their lives where all they seem to do is carpool and make lunches, boudoir photography can be a way to bring the “sexy” back and delight a significant other in the process.

Of course, if you prefer to specialise there’s nothing stopping you from making a living solely from this genre – you wouldn’t be the first person to find a life’s calling as a boudoir-only photographer.

Hosting Your Boudoir Sessions

If you already have studio space available, then you have the perfect location for your boudoir sessions. An inflatable mattress with luxury sheeting is one of the few things you would need to purchase to start you off. You probably already have the other props you need, such as a sofa and other furniture.

If you don’t yet own or rent your own studio, there are other options to consider:

Hotel Rooms

Hotel rooms are often utilised for boudoir photography, but be aware that they can be a challenging prospect – particularly where timing is concerned. Check-in usually begins in the middle of the afternoon, so the day will nearly be gone by the time you set up your equipment. Conversely, check-out is scheduled for the latter part of the morning. At most, you’ll be able to squeeze in a couple of shots before it gets dark. That being said, you can certainly work out an arrangement with the hotel to book a special time slot for your business.

Lighting conditions can sometimes be problematic, especially if you aren’t able to use the same room on a regular basis. You’ll want to hone your skills so that you shoot well in any lighting condition and are adaptable to different locations.

Despite those challenges, the benefits of a luxurious hotel room outweigh the drawbacks. You’ll have a large space, beautiful bedding and opulent furnishings to work with, all of which create a sublime setting for your client. As many nice hotel rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, the lighting conditions will, for the most part, be ideal.

Hotel rooms are the perfect choice for marathon days or weekends with several sessions. You can rent an adjoining room for makeup and hair stylists and use it as a waiting room for your clients. Remember to bill the expense of renting the room or rooms directly to your client or factor the cost into the session fee.

The Client’s Home

Some clients prefer to have their sessions in the privacy of their own home, which makes the final images more personal. But this can also pose a problem: While many claim to have lovely lighting in their home, it’s not necessarily ideal for photography. Learning to shoot with strobes can completely negate this issue.

Lighting for Boudoir Photography

Natural light is beautiful but it’s not always available or the best choice for your boudoir sessions. Most hotel rooms have large windows, but what happens if you want to shoot in the front doorway, hall or bathroom? What if your boudoir session continues into the evening and then there’s no natural light from the window?

An important skill for a boudoir photographer is the ability to use studio light. This allows you to shoot in any situation, under any circumstances. You can also use your studio lights and other tools to shape and control the light more efficiently, which allows you capture flattering images that focus on your client’s best features.

Subtractive Lighting

Subtractive lighting shapes the light to cast a shadow on one side of your subject. This produces drama and interest in the image and creates a beautifully slimming effect.

Side Lighting

As shown in the example below, lighting that’s somewhat straight on usually isn’t as flattering as side lighting. Lighting from the side enhances features, in this case, the bust line and stomach muscles, while diminishing the perceived size of her legs. Side lighting helps to shape the body by augmenting certain body parts and conveniently throwing others into shadow.

Overhead Studio Lighting

Overhead lighting creates dark shadows on the camera side of the subject, which has a slimming effect and simultaneously pulls those sexy curves and details into the foreground. In this example, you can see that overhead lighting elongates her midsection and legs and creates dramatic curves, creating a flattering effect for any body type.

Posing for the Boudoir

A boudoir photographer must have an arsenal of poses and posing techniques that are flattering for all body types and comfort levels. It’s important to create a large repertoire of poses and vary them between sessions, choosing the most appropriate for the situation. You might find that the hotel room you are using has a large mirror or a clawfoot bathtub, so you’ll want to call upon poses that make use of the unexpected props. Modify according to the setup: For example, poses that work on a bed also can look great on the floor.

Flattering Your Client

Find out before the session begins what insecurities your client has about her body and which parts she likes best. This information will help you design the shoot to enhance those positives and diminish the perceived negatives. All women want to look gorgeous in their boudoir photographs, but keep in mind that plus-size woman doesn’t necessarily want to look stick-figure thin and it’s entirely possible a skinny client wants to accentuate her curves. Above all, clients will want the photographs to flatter their bodies and celebrate their womanhood.

Choosing Angles

As you may already know, the first rule of posing is never to take a picture straight on. This mistake presses body parts together and makes them appear chunkier than they are. Turn the client’s body at an angle to the camera; this will elongate her body and give a true impression of her beauty.

Creative Cropping

Cropping is a wonderful tool for emphasizing the features your client is most proud of. As you can see in the second image below, a little cropping works wonders to pull the focus away from the body parts your client is not as happy with (upper arm and thigh) and puts the attention on the sexy features she would prefer to see accentuated.

Flow Posing

For a well-organised session that captures a range of different looks, use an array of poses that flow easily from one to the next. Flow posing is especially convenient for long sessions to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.

Choosing Your Products

Once the boudoir session is over, your clients will want to take their images home to enjoy and give them as a gift to their significant other. You will ultimately decide which products to offer, but an album should always be included on the list – it’s the most popular item by far. It’s usually best to offer two or more albums at different price points.

Calendars also are a good choice for your product list. Smaller albums, loose prints, and digital files work well long sessions, while many clients also will purchase a wall canvas or print for their bedroom wall.

Finally, consider bundling your items into collections to encourage your clients to purchase more of them!

Launching Your Boudoir Business

When you’re ready to launch your boudoir photography business, you’ll need to take care of a few important details before you welcome your first client into the studio:

Portfolio Building – Practice your skills on different body types and in different locations to perfect your boudoir posing and lighting. When your portfolio is packed with sexy shots you’re proud of, you’re ready to open your doors to paying clients.

Pricing – There are plenty of pricing guides and learning materials available for photographers, such as Joy Vertz’ Pricing Workshop (affiliate). Make sure you’re neither undervaluing your talent nor pricing yourself out of the market.

Contracts – It is important to set expectations for your photography clients and protect your business with appropriate legal contracts and releases. A great resource is the Boudoir Contract Bundles by the LawTog. (affiliate).

Product Samples – To sell, you must be able to show. Have samples made up of the albums, canvases, prints and other products you plan to offer to your clients.

Complete Client Information – Gather and publish all the information your client might need to prepare them for their session. For example, they will want to know what to wear, what to expect, how to prepare and what your business policies are. All of these will lead to a smooth session and help avoid misunderstandings.

Marketing Your Boudoir Business

Not too long ago boudoir photography had all but disappeared – but now it’s making quite the comeback. It continues to grow in popularity, but it’s still a niche: You have plenty of time to build your reputation and gain the highest rankings in those all-important search engine results. Working on your SEO and publishing regular, interesting content is a must for a successful online marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, wedding shows will help you snap up those brides-to-be while their heads are filled with dreams of love and passion. Partnering with local businesses to cross-advertise is another phenomenal way to spread the word: spas, salons, lingerie stores and wedding shops are excellent choices.

Finally, don’t forget your social media presence. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and whichever other sites are popular in your part of the world to get the word out and attract the attention of your potential clients.

Should You Create a Separate Website?

If you plan to offer boudoir photography alongside your wedding, baby or family sessions, a question you’ll want to ask yourself is whether you should offer all these things on the same website or create an entirely new site for your boudoir business.

The answer is in the type of photography your current website showcases. If you are a wedding photographer, boudoir sessions are a natural fit with what you already offer and a bride-to-be will be excited to see it on the list. But if you photograph children and families, it might be best to opt for a separate site.

Your location is another consideration. Some communities are more conservative than others, and mixing boudoir images with family photography may or may not be perceived as appropriate. Big cities tend to be more receptive than rural areas, for example.

Some Final Pearls of Wisdom

As an experienced photographer, I’ve learned a few lessons along my journey that have been integral to my success. Before I send you off into the exciting world of boudoir photography, allow me to share some of the tips that helped my own business thrive:

Find an excellent makeup and hair stylist and ensure they can be available for all your sessions. This will make all the difference in your post-processing, and there’s nothing quite like being pampered and prepared by the professionals to put your client in the mood for her session.

Supplying a wardrobe of corsets and lingerie can be helpful, but it’s expensive to buy every style in every size and multiple colors. Especially when you are starting out, ask your clients to bring in their own wardrobe and request they provide extras (just in case their choices aren’t very photogenic – mismatched colours and ill-fitting items are difficult to hide).

Have a playlist of upbeat, fun and sexy music to help your client get in the mood. Include everything from Katy Perry to Justin Timberlake – with a bit of luck, you’ll hit on a few of their favourites!

Most important of all, make sure you pamper your client. A boudoir session is more than just pictures in an album. It’s all about the experience of feeling pretty, looking gorgeous and becoming empowered as a woman.

Boudoir photography might seem a world apart from garden parties and weddings, but the same skills and talent apply. And when you focus on the ultimate goal of showing a woman how beautiful she is, from her head right down to her toes, it’s a business that brings joy and fulfillment to both of you.


I trust that all the above has given you a few ideas on where to start recruiting your nude models. Now let us start to look at what to do with them now you’ve recruited them. Obviously take some nude photos which you want to sell.

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