I have been a boudoir photographer for nearly ten years now – and can you believe that it took me SIX years into my career to have my OWN boudoir shoot? I had photographed hundreds of women, and had been teaching other professional photographers about boudoir photography for years before I ever put myself in my clients’ shoes. Looking back, I definitely regret that I didn’t have my own shoot experience sooner. I feel like this is a requirement for ALL boudoir photographers, so that they truly understand the experience from the other side of the lens. In any case, when my husband & I hit our 1-year anniversary, I knew it was time to go for it – no more excuses or putting it off. So here are the top five things that this Boudoir Photographer Learned in FRONT of the Camera:
1. Plan & prep. This is SO important, because you don’t want to walk into your shoot feeling like you are just ‘winging it.’ Our last blog post from a member of our writing team shares 7 ways to plan for your boudoir shoot, so definitely go check out that article. From my experience, the importance of planning was especially true when it came to outfits. Since I had had six years’ experience shooting different types of lingerie and all kinds of ‘looks,’ I knew that I wanted my shoot to have tons of VARIETY. Now, I also understand that if you find a lingerie set or style that you love (and looks amazing on you), that you would probably tend to get a few of those styles that look similar. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion, a boudoir shoot is also a chance to step a little outside your comfort zone. So why not try out something that’s totally different than what you’d normally wear? You might be surprised by what looks good on you in the dressing room!
For my own shoot, I created a Pinterest board to gather ideas on what three different ‘looks’ I wanted from my shoot. This really helped me as I was shopping for outfits, because I knew that I had certain vibes I was going for, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed while browsing in lingerie shops. Keep in mind that as you’re creating Pinterest boards, that you aren’t trying to completely re-create a specific shot that you see. I definitely don’t recommend bringing an image in to your photographer and asking him or her to give you that exact image, because that’s just not realistic. Rather, use Pinterest to help you narrow your focus and create a few distinct ‘looks’ or ‘vibes’ for the inspiration for your own shoot and styling. Here are a few of the images that I grabbed off Pinterest for my own shoot’s inspiration:
2 – Enjoy the experience. YES it is nerve wracking… but try to relax and enjoy the experience! I had told my clients for six years that ‘everyone feels a little nervous, don’t worry, etc…’ but I never truly understood that nervous/excited energy until I was in their shoes, walking into my own shoot, and sitting down for my own hair & makeup appointment. I mean, I KNEW what the experience was going to be like. I was intimately familiar with what was going to happen, and yet I was still nervous on that morning of my shoot. My only advice for you is to channel that nervous energy into excitement, and try your best to soak in the experience. Listen to the music playing, look around at the studio’s environment, have a glass of champagne if your photographer offers you one (this last one definitely helped ease my nerves). And then while you’re getting your hair and makeup done, just chat with the HMU artist, and enjoy getting pampered!
3 – Trust your photographer. After your hair & makeup is done, and you’re ready for the photo shoot itself, now is the time to fully let go. For me, this meant letting go of my insecurities, and letting go of control. I know that for a lot of my clients, this step can be very difficult – because, let’s face it, most of us have a little insecurity about one thing or another. But as soon as you let yourself think about those insecurities during your shoot, you give them power over you. Take back that power and tell yourself to let go! If your photographer puts you into a pose that initially makes you think something like ‘ugh, this is going to look horrible and show off my ___’ (fill in the blank with whatever body part or feature you don’t love about yourself). But instead, let go of that control, let go of the negative thoughts, and TRUST your photographer. Your photographer is going to give you plenty of images to choose from, and I promise that you will love so many of them. If there are one or two shots that you don’t love, that’s ok! But during the shoot, allow yourself the freedom to let go and just embrace the entire experience.
4 – Get an album. I can’t emphasize this enough. Please don’t just get one or two prints, or a disc of digital images that will sit on your computer for years. Please, get an album to show off your images! I purchased a gorgeous album to give as an anniversary gift to my husband, and of course he loved it. But more than just a gift for him, that album is now a keepsake for ME, to look back on this time in my life and remember the experience.
5 – Carry that confidence. Even now, 4 years after my shoot, I will pull it out every once in a while and remember how much fun it was to get glammed-up, feel pampered, and rock my photo shoot. At this very moment while I’m writing this blog post, I am in my PJs… my toddler is alternately sitting on my lap and playing with his toys on the floor at my feet, and I am 4 months pregnant with baby #2. I haven’t washed my hair in a couple of days, and I’m not feeling entirely glamorous right now. BUT, I have my boudoir album sitting on the table next to my computer and coffee cup, and I just glanced through it again. And the thing that sticks out to me is the confidence that this experience has given me. It’s not just about putting on false eyelashes and lingerie. It’s more than some sexy poses and pretty photos. What I walked away with, after all of the planning, the shopping, the nervous energy, and the photo shoot, was a sense of confidence in myself.
So, beautiful, as you leave your boudoir shoot, I hope that you leave behind your insecurities and feelings of not being ‘enough.’ I hope that you walk away and take with you a renewed sense of confidence in knowing you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, you are enough. You are uniquely YOU, so carry that with you in your everyday life. xoxo, Kimberlee