10 boudoir photography mistakes

Getting better at boudoir takes a while

 

There is no mistaking that boudoir photography is my passion. However, like all crafts, the skill of doing it well takes a little while. Each boudoir photography shoot makes us a bit better because we learn just a little more from the last shoot we did. Nothing beats experience – plain and simple.

My motto? Just do it!

 

In boudoir photography, you learn how to develop a good relationship with a model, get the right camera settings, and set your shooting priorities by just doing it. The act of just doing means learning from experience but it also means learning from your mistakes.

pensive woman looking out a window
@anthrisque_dbois posing at the Atelier in Québec city. Boudoir does not always have to be done in a bedroom.

Learn what not to do with these 10 boudoir photography mistakes

 

 

Mistakes are a necessary evil to becoming a better boudoir photographer. You can only get better if you do wrong and find out how you did wrong. So, to get you on the road to improvement, I’ve identified the 10 mistakes I made in my boudoir photography. Hopefully, by knowing these mistakes, you can avoid them and elevate yourself quicker to boudoir photography perfection.

 

So, without any more delay, here are my 10 boudoir photography mistakes everyone should and can avoid.

Number 1

Not Prioritizing advanced fittings

 

So many think that boudoir photography is all about what you do not wear. However, what you do wear is even more critical when you’ve got next to nothing on. I’ve discovered this by doing a couple of shoots where, by just having a model change heels, a whole look was altered. Clothing is to boudoir photography what accessories are to fashion photography.

 

Clothing fittings are all about seeing what works ahead of time. Put the odds in your favor by getting the model to try clothing on. How clothing flows and accentuates a body is important. Therefore, seeing what clothing fits and how it fits will benefit everyone. 

Woman posing provocatively in front of a door
The body lines of @anthrisque_dbois are accentuated by this simple one-piece leotard.

You can do pre fittings in person, but this can sometimes be inconvenient. In the digital age, merely asking a model to send a selfie is just as effective. Photographers should not be shy to ask for the model to pose several selfies with different clothing kits to get an idea of how the body will look. My advice for models is to make sure that you trust the photographer. If you do, don’t be shy to send selfies. It will help in getting the final product that you want.  

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera 

*Power tip

Accentuating a look can happen with the pull up of a pantie or the holding of a bra strap. Sexy needs all the help it can get. Making the right clothing choices at the beginning of a photo session can change everything. Keep in mind that clothing choice is as important as your choice of boudoir model!

Number 2

Putting less priority on location scouting

 

With boudoir photography, scouting locations is essential. Sexy, beauty, and sensuality have to do with the body and its relation to the space that it is in. How a space overpowers a person can demonstrate vulnerability. How a body fills a space can demonstrate power as well. 

 

Never underestimate how much a photography location can convey a visual message. At the beginning of my boudoir exploits, I underestimated the importance of ensuring a location was right for my visual message many times. Factors like

 

  • Lighting in a room
  • How much furniture is in a room
  • Wall color, texture, and reflectiveness are so important in highlighting the human form
woman on her knees looking back at camera
@xelahuh_model poses from far away. The space speaks as much as the model.

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*power tip

My advice? Open up your mind to a whole lot of locations. With Airbnb, the options have expanded quite a bit. Even office space apps can really have some cool locations for you. When shopping for what you might think will be a good place for your shoot, propose these places to your model or your photographer. Also remember that location can also mean the great outdoors.

To see a blogpost on how location scouting was important click here

Number 3

Expecting way too much from a boudoir shoot

 

Life is all about expectations. In boudoir photography, you need to manage those expectations. Two things are sure to happen at the end of a photoshoot. You will either be pleasantly surprised or disappointed; there will be no middle ground. 

 

The expectations you need to manage are at the photoshoot and at triage. Images you thought amazing can sometimes disappoint later, and images you thought terrible end up being some of your best photography yet.

woman posing on table with back toward camera
Mariette Reina was one of the most pleasant surprises I ever had. Sensual, artistic and giving.

So, both the end of the actual shoot and the review of your shoot in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom can yield outcomes that are far from your expectations. 

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*Power tip

This advice might sound a little sappy but take a Zen approach to your photos. Do the best you can when you can and let the universe guide you. You will be calmer and less stressed during and after a shoot. When you need a model to feel at ease, having a laid back attitude can get that result quickly.

Number 4

Being late on rush deliveries

 

There are a couple of agreements I have with my models. Most contracts are TFP (Time for print), where there is no money is exchanged and the model and photographer agree to help each other. In cases like this, a photographer has got to understand that a model puts in a great deal of time and effort into modeling for you. If they see nothing as an end result of all their work and effort, they might be reluctant to shoot with you again.

 

For the sake of keeping the initial energy of a photoshoot, take the time to at least rush a few of your favorite photos to the model as soon as possible. My method goes a bit like this:

 

  1. Triage and rate my photos (on the night of the shoot or the day after)
  2. Find 4 to 8 personal favorites, edit and send to the model.
  3. Send all rated photos in jpeg original size to the model

*Remember that your name will be going on these photos via an Instagram tag or a photo credit. Bear this in mind when exporting to a dropbox, WeTransfer or Google dive file.

 

However, when you have a paying agreement with a model, all bets are off. You can take all the time in the world because you paid the model and a deal was met. I still suggest getting some rushes out to encourage a good relationship with the model you just worked with.

Number 5

Never re-evaluating boudoir shoots

 

Your first impression is not always wrong, but it can be a little foggy. Assessing shots right after a shoot is essential but should be done with caution. Our eye has a tendency to see what it thought looked great through the visor or the LCD on shooting day only. Because of this, we miss some really key shots that might have potential. 

close up of woman's posterior

These crops are all from the same image, yet reflect a different feel. Just by playing with crop, a whole new photo can appear

woman laying on her stomach on a bed
This shot was the exact opposite of what I expected. I had taken it from far and did it never really clicked for me. When I went back to my shots almost 4 months later and used the crop tool, I discovered this.

When I revisit my photoshoots, there are always at least two shots that stand out. Perspective like this only happens with time. You have to let time take its toll. 

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*power tip

While you import your photos, mark a day in your calendar to re-visit and assess what you initially did. I guarantee that you will find stunning photos where you thought none existed.

woman posing in neglage on the floor against a wall
Another cool page
5 Boudoir Photography tips
Read more

Here is a small video about improvised 5 boudoir Photography tips when shooting an improvised shoot

Number 6

Forgetting to shoot  for context (Get out the wide-angle lens)

 

This mistake goes back to not having a sensibility for space pointed out in point #2. When shooting boudoir, context becomes important. Although it is vital to get closeups on body lines, how your model interacts with a room or environment can have an impact on the sensuality you are trying to convey in your photos. Keep a wide-angle lens around to make sure you get that context in your shots 

Woman sensually looking into the camera while lying on a bed
Never ever forget the sensuality of a close-up shot. Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Fujinon 35mm f/2.0. Shot with @bendnotbreak42 during the same photoshoot
woman leaning back on a bed with legs in the air
This picture says a lot because of where the model is in relation to the space. Shot with @bendnotbreak42

A woman on her back in bedsheets can be beautiful, but if we notice that the woman is alone and on a bed in a large room posing for the viewer, a sense of waiting is communicated. 

Top image of a canonL 16-35mm zoom lens
This CanonL 16-35mm f/2.8 is the perfect full frame match when shooting boudoir shots that are wide

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*power tip

Carry around a wide-angle lens and try to get a wide-angle equivalent on any picture you take. You may not always have the time but, if you do, you will love the results.

Number 7

Not giving time leeway (When the magic is there you have to stay)

 

Some boudoir shoots start off slow. However, as a relationship builds between the photographer and the model, shyness usually fades away. Depending on the photographer and the boudoir model, this buffer time can sometimes be quite long. If a photoshoot is too tight, not enough time is left to develop a rapport. So, if you’ve booked something too close to your shoot time, you might just be in the swing of things when it is time for you to leave. Do not let that happen.

 

Buffer time planning also goes for photoshoot preparation and the initial photographer-model meeting. Many subjects prefer to do a little small talk at the beginning to get acquainted. The last thing you want to do is interrupt a conversation with a sentence like “Listen, I only have an hour and a half for this shoot and we need to start shooting” 

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*power tip

Allow a good 45 minutes for the initial meeting an hour for the tail end of the photoshoot for the photoshoot’s human aspect.

Number 8

Letting initial impressions of a boudoir model discourage me

 

Try to manage your expectations of how a model might be during a photo session. Even though you might consider yourself an excellent judge of personality, things become a bit different in the world of boudoir photography. Because the nature of a boudoir shoot is so particular, expected human behavior kind of goes out the door.

 

If you feel that a model is not in a giving mood at the beginning of your photo session, be patient. It takes a little while for some people to let loose. The worst that can happen is that the photoshoot doesn’t work out. Now is that really that bad? If you react negatively at the onset, however, you will guarantee a photoshoot flop. Remember, negativity encourages negativity.    

Woman on her back looking toward camera
@breaghfoxcircus is a good example of how I thought a photoshoot would amount to not much but ended up being excellent. Bree was a charm and within an hour we had a whole bunch of great photos.

Never underestimate how much a model can surprise you. Some relationships can be cold initially and turn out to be long-lasting friendships. Some relationships can be initially warm and end up to be desolate and dead. 

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*Power tip

In my case, 95% of the shoots I thought would not go well ended up being awesome photoshoots because many women who keep their guard up initially are women looking for an opportunity to bring their femininity to light. 

Number 9

Tolerating a poor model-photographer relationship

 

In the world of boudoir photography, the star is the human form. It goes without saying that not all women and men with great bodies have great attitudes. So never equate the look with the feel

Realize that models have a great deal of power. I teach everyone to understand that no matter how good your photographic technique and camera gear is, you need to be shooting a great subject. 

 

Prioritize a positive attitude. If you shoot with someone that gave you great shots but made you live a nightmare experience, do not call that person back. You will always get better images, art, communication, and sensuality from someone who wants to be there shooting photos with you.

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*Power tip

Even though you might have communicated many times by Facebook messenger or Instagram messenger, insist on getting on the phone with the model to get a feel of what they might be like.

Number 10

Lacking clarity about what I expect from a photoshoot (not communicating terms clearly)

 

 

Do not make the mistake of having vague terms for a photoshoot. Make sure that everyone involved in a photoshoot knows what they are getting out of it. 

 

No one does something for nothing. Makeup artists, stylists, models, and assistants need to have a clearly communicated message about what they will be receiving from a shoot. Talk about financial compensation, personality exposure, delivery delays, Instagram tags before even lifting a finger.

 

By having clear terms, not only does everyone know what to expect after a shoot, but those who feel like complaining unnecessarily will think twice.

 

There is nothing worse than getting to the point where you have edited a photo and you post it to Instagram just to get a message from a model that they do not want to be seen or tagged on the photo you just posted. It happens way more than people think and can be a real bummer for everyone involved. 

 

Front view vectorial image of a camera

*power tip

Make a template of what you expect from a shoot that includes all the things you think are important in your photoshoots. Here are some example clauses a photographer might want to communicate in a message: 

  • Model will get 5 rough edits for free
  • Model will get photos after a contact sheet triage by the photographer
  • Photographer is allowed to post pictures of their choice
  • Instagram tags or stories involving other parties should be agreed upon before a post is made
  • Model can ask for 4 edits of their choice

These clauses do not have to be in a contract form. Just make sure that everyone knows what to expect from their participation in a project you manage.

In Conclusion

 

Lord knows that there are other mistakes boudoir photographers can make. But these are the mistakes that I suffered from the most. 

The real goal for the photographer and the model is to come out of a photoshoot a winner. By avoiding these ten points and following many of the power tips included in this blog post, both models and photographers will get great photos and, most importantly, know what to expect.

Jacques Gaines looking in a camera pointing upward

About the author

I am a photographer, videographer, and copywriter living in Quebec City, Canada. I also have a YouTube channel and an Instagram account dedicated to creation and creativity via my main loves of photography, music, and writing.

To get in touch with me and discuss your collaboration, service needed, or advice, either go to the contact page and write to me via the contact form at the foot of this page.

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