All Photos © Ashleigh Taylor Photography
Boudoir has grown in popularity at a crazy rate in the past 10 years, and if you’re someone who’s always thinking of ways to diversify your revenue, then shooting bridal boudoir might be an option worth considering. Today, we have Ashleigh Taylor Henning of Ashleigh Taylor Photography here to give us 6 tips for photographers interested in shooting boudoir.
1. It’s all about comfort!
Making my clients feel comfortable is one of the most important aspects of my job as a boudoir photographer. I feel it’s really important that my clients feel comfy with me before the shoot, so I always make sure to talk to them on the phone when they initially inquire to ensure we are a good fit, then prior to the shoot they come to my studio for a pre-shoot consultation. During this consult we go over their ideas for their dream shoot, discuss wardrobe, I show them the products I sell and we also discuss what to bring to the shoot. This way they come to the shoot fully prepared for the shoot and familiar with me and my studio. I definitely think that puts them at ease. Having a really awesome hair and makeup artist helps too because she can also relax them and chit chat with them. I find having hair and make up done professionally relaxes my clients because they feel really pampered and gorgeous. Lastly, I give my clients a TON of direction and pose them from head to heel so that they feel confident in what they are doing with their bodies. Most women have no clue how to pose so showing that leadership and expertise makes them feel they are being taken care of!
2. Choose a setting with as much light as possible
I LOVE to shoot natural light for boudoir– it’s so clean and flattering. I am so lucky now to have a gorgeous natural light studio in Santa Barbara, but for the first 4 years of my business I did not have that luxury. For a long time I shot in hotel rooms. I made sure to always have my clients ask for a room with big windows and natural light and we always opened the curtains to let as much light in as possible. Then, I moved into a new home with loads of natural light so I shot sessions in my own home for a time being. I think as long as you have some window light to work with you are golden. You don’t need as much space or light as you probably think either.
Outdoor boudoir sessions can be possible too (think a beach with rocks you can hide behind for privacy, or a quiet forest-y area). I don’t do them often but sometimes a client requests it and it can be so fun!
3. Keep your equipment simple
I am really a minimalist when it comes to shooting boudoir. I use my camera (5d mkii) and a 50mm 1.2 L lens on most shoots. Every once in awhile, particularly with a curvy client, I will pull out my 35mm 1.4 L lens. Aside from the camera and those two lenses, I use a white styrofoam board as reflector…oh yea and a fan for blowing my clients hair! That’s it! I like to keep it simple.
4. Come ready with easy, go-to poses in mind
I love shots of my clients laying on the bed, either on their tummy or on their side. It’s very flattering and just lends itself to the boudoir vibe. My clients love that type of shot. I can play around with crops and angles, focusing maybe on the eyelashes, a close in of just her head and shoulders or a whole body in one pose so that allows for a lot of variety. Another really popular pose is standing– either leaning on the wall or just standing and popping one hip way out. Then I can use the arms to sculpt the body or create space around the body for a slimming look. Again these standing poses lend themselves to a lot of various crops and angles. I really like having a client look at me, look down their body, and then look down and giggle. That gives me three totally different moods in one pose. Another must have shot for my clients tends to be a great booty shot. For this I have my client stand facing away from me, crossing one ankle over the other (so the legs create a nice shapely curve) and then I ask her to pop her butt to me. This gives the booty a great shape. This photo sells every time, even if a client was skeptical of having a butt shot. They always say “how did you get my butt to look THAT good? I don’t know how you did it but I need this photo as proof that my butt once looked amazing!” It’s too funny, but it works every time.
5. A confident client is a beautiful client
My biggest piece of advice is to really take care of your clients and give them a wow experience. Women usually come to a boudoir shoot nervous and hoping to feel beautiful or to celebrate themselves. They can feel quite vulnerable and they can feel excited for the experience yet afraid that somehow their photos will not be beautiful. If you can create a relationship with your clients, hold space for them to step into their beauty and confidence, and you can deliver some images that make them say “OMG THAT’S ME?!!” you will definitely get referrals, repeat business and buzz. Hold your clients in high esteem and you will be golden!
6. Prints are a must!
My other piece of advice is not to send clients away with just digital images! These pictures are very sensitive so the digital format, in my opinion, doesn’t make sense. Most clients are not dying to post their boudoir pictures on Facebook but they are yearning to feel beautiful every day. By selling your clients a gorgeous book or piece of wall art, she walks away from the shoot with a treasure and something to look at on days when she is feeling insecure or down on herself. About 4 years ago I made the switch from selling just digital packages to selling prints and books only to my clients and not only has it made my portrait business take off, it has also significantly changed the experience for my clients. I often hear how much they LOVE their books and wall art and how looking at it reminds them of their shoot and how gorgeous they felt. That’s when I realized, the true service of being a portrait photographer is providing the client with gorgeous tangible prints (not just giving them a bunch of digital imagesand letting them DIY something…which they most likely might never get around to).
Big thanks to Ashleigh for the great advice. Obsessed with Ashleigh’s take on boudoir? Then check out her client tips for boudoir sessions here.