1. Do it for you
One of the many things I love about doing the work that I do is getting to know my clients and hearing the diverse reasons they have for wanting to do an boudoir photo session in the first place.
Some are crossing an item off their bucket list, celebrating a milestone, or even surprising a loved one. Though the stories and reasons are widely varied, one thing they often have in common is they are doing it for themselves first and foremost.
Sure, they might share the final images (or some of them) with a special someone, but creating and celebrating these images makes them feel confident, beautiful and empowered. Everything else is just gravy.
2. Make it fun
If we are not laughing, smiling and giggling during your photo session, we are doing something wrong. As a photographer, I find that many people assume the hardest part of my job is making beautiful images – lighting, posing, camera settings, etc. I’m not saying that all that stuff isn’t important, but it all falls far behind what I consider my number one job:helping to create a comfortable, fun and judgment-free environment so that you can feel totally comfortable being you.
Think about your photo session like going clothes shopping with that friend who dresses a bit outside your fashion comfort zone, but always finds the coolest outfits. You are going to spend the day trying on some outfits that you might never have thought to try out. Some you may fall in love with, others not so much. At the end of the day, you are going to find a few new styles you wouldn’t have dreamed liking so much. The ones that didn’t work simply get tossed aside but most importantly, the entire process was fun and you look great!
So have fun with your session, laugh, get creative and be open to trying on some new looks.
Secret boards are a hidden gem. Figuring out what types of images you are really drawn to can be super helpful. Do you like black & white or color, or both? Do you like studio settings or furnished settings? Are there poses, looks, outfits, backgrounds that catch your eye more than others? Figuring this out is simpler than it sounds and I like using Pinterest to aid in the process.
If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, it’s free to sign up and super easy to use. I like using it on my phone and iPad most of all, but the desktop site works great too. Once you have logged in, create a pin board to save your ideas too. Call it “My photo shoot ideas” or something similar and check the box to make the board secret (only you or others you designate can see it). If you would like add me as a collaborator so I can see it too my Pinterest account is “photoconnelly”.
Now search Pinterest for images that you make you go WOW – you can follow my account and use my “Boudoir Studio Ideas” board as a starting point if you like, or just search “boudoir” and save pins that catch your eye to your secret board. Don’t think of it in terms of images that you necessarily want to recreate, maybe you just like a particular outfit, pose, or background. Don’t hold back, pin lots of images, just pin what you like whether wild or mild. Before your shoot, you and I can look through the pins and it will give us a good idea of how to tailor your photo session specifically for you.
My Pinterest page is: https://www.pinterest.com/photoconnelly/
Don’t overthink it but a bit of planning goes a long way. Number one question I get once clients book their photo session: What should I bring? First, bring outfits that make you feel great. I don’t care if it’s a little black dress, a special piece of lingerie, your favorite tee shirt or a parka (yeah, we can even work with a parka). If you look in the mirror and say “I look pretty good in this!” bring it!
Lingerie, bras and panties are often on the list. Don’t obsess about ensuring they are all matching sets, if you like the way they look, bring them. Bring a bunch of them if you want, they take up very little room and more options are always better. Remember, your favorite bras or panties that are super comfy and offer support all day might not be the best for your images. Think about texture, sheer and lacy things tend to photograph well. Maybe an item has really cool straps or ties or maybe it has a cute bow on the back.
Above all, bring things that fit – If it is too loose or too tight, the most amazing bra will not magically look great in a photograph. From a variety standpoint, mix it up a bit. For panties, bring a couple thongs if you wear them, and a couple non-thongs too. A couple light colors and a couple dark colors. Again, they don’t take up much space, more is better.
Robes can be great too, not only as an outfit for an image, but for wearing in-between setting changes and during hair and makeup time.
The unsung hero of many photo shoots is the simple men’s white oxford. Yup, clean and pressed – worn open even with a simple pair of white cotton Walmart panties can make a great image. Simple is almost always better.
Accessories can make the image. It’s often the accessories that take an image from pretty good to great. Shoes, scarves, nylons, pearls (if you have them – bring them), boots, hats, anything that speaks to you. If you can imagine it, bring it. Remember, judgment free zone here, if you are thinking about it - chances are one of my clients brought it to a session already. The more creative you get, the more creative I can be.
6. Don’t dress up for the shoot
Don’t dress up for the shoot, dress up at the shoot. Skip the bra, skip the socks, skip the watch, and forget that belt, those tight jeans, and anything else which could leave an impression in your skin. It may seem like a small thing, but these lines can take a while to go away and rarely look good in an image. Besides, you want to relax and feel confident, and tight clothes are only going to restrict you.
If you wax or shave, or are going to for your session, think about how your skin reacts, everyone is different. Doing some girl or guy-scaping is great, but “red-bump-itis” is likely not the look you are going for. For some people their skin looks best immediately after waxing or shaving, for others it takes a couple days for their skin to calm down. You know you – plan accordingly.
8. Don’t fake tan
Stay away from sprays, gels and lotions. If you want a natural sun-kissed glow, and if you’re lucky enough to live near one, head to the beach, get it the right way (but don’t forget to wear sunscreen, SPF 15 or more, and watch out for those ghastly tan lines!), or, even better, book some sessions in a professional salon that has tanning beds, and do it in the nude (no unsightly lines this way). The last thing you want is to a) look like a sexy pumpkin or b) pay more than you have to in retouching fees.
9. Mani Pedi.
Believe it or not, it’s one of the most forgotten photo session preps. Your fingers and toes are going to be in your images, make them look great. Go with what you love, but red almost always works as does a well done French manicure. Hey this is about you feeling great, treat yourself!
10. No New Beauty Products
Don’t try a new beauty product or treatment before your session. I totally get it, this is a big deal and you want to look your absolute best. This is not the time however, to try a chem-peel for the first time or go out and buy a new “makes you look younger” lotion or base. The last thing you need is a bad skin reaction to something new. Besides, most of the time, my professional makeup and hair person will be working with you before you photo session - so don’t stress!