Boudoir Photography Week: Choosing a Photographer

Today I’m excited to kick off a week of talking about boudoir photography!  Boudoir photography (sometimes called pin-up photography) has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I figured there was no time like right now to start some discussions about it, as well as to share my own recent personal experience.

People can choose to take boudoir photographs for a whole host of reasons, but in general the photographs feel intimate and sensual, designed to capture a subject’s sultrier side.  Some people get them as presents for their partners, others to build up modeling portfolios, and still others as an act of self-love.  Lingerie models are exceptionally beautiful people under any circumstances, but when it comes time to shoot a seasonal campaign, they have the added benefit of makeup artists, hair stylists, lighting and art directors, and talented photographers to help create an image of perfection and fantasy.  It can be hard for some of us to look at a model shot, and then at ourselves in the mirror wearing the same set, without hearing a judgmental inner voice.  Boudoir photography can give all of us access to heightened glamour that might otherwise feel unattainable, and it can help to reclaim the inner dialogue and allow us to see our beauty anew.  I’ve seen great photos that show off merely a curve of the hip, and I’ve seen great photos that tell an elaborate, fully-staged story: the possibilities are endless!

I’ve been interested in boudoir photography for a while, but it wasn’t until late in 2013 that I finally took the plunge.  I’m going to take this week to talk about some of the different parts of the experience, from styling and preparation to some tips for relaxation during the shoot, but today’s let’s begin with some notes on choosing a photographer.

****All of the images in this series feature some of my beautiful fellow lingerie bloggers.****

The Lingerie Lesbian.  Photographer: Michi Rezin

Model: The Lingerie Lesbian. Photographer: Michi Rezin.  Lingerie: Myla

There are several ways to go about choosing your boudoir photographer.  Many photographers have active, engaging, body-positive social media presences (I’m thinking specifically of My Boudoir in the UK), many participate in flash sales on sites like Gilt City or Groupon, and many also work in the professional headshot or wedding photography fields.  I chose my photographer because she was a friend first, and then I hired her to do some professional headshots for my media kit, and then we decided to collaborate on some pin-up and boudoir images for our mutual benefit.  Choosing a photographer from a pool of strangers, however, can be hard or nerve-wracking, so here are some tips I’ve gleaned, both from my years as an actor and as a boudoir-photography-newbie:

Rule #1 (this is the only rule): Trust your gut.  This is your guiding principle, your prime directive.  Not only are good photographs a fairly pricey investment, but everything is digital now, and the internet is forever.  Consider the quality and type of images you see in a photographer’s portfolio and make sure they suit your style, for sure, but also make sure you feel good about working with this person.  Know who has the rights to the photos.  If you want to be the sole owner of the photos, ask if the photographer will delete her files once you’ve signed off on and received the final proofs.  Be explicit about whether or not the artist can use your images in his or her portfolio.  If the images are going online anywhere, whether it’s a blog or Facebook or a website, make sure you and the photographer are in agreement about photo credits and terms of use.

Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust.  Photographer: Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell LSWPP, My Boudoir.  Hair/makeup: Sarah Louise Elliott

Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust. Photographer: Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell LSWPP, My Boudoir. Hair/makeup: Sarah Louise Elliott.  Lingerie: Masquerade

Above all, listen to your gut if it responds uncomfortably to someone.  One time when I was headshot-photographer-shopping for acting headshots, I took a long train ride out to Brooklyn, walked many, many blocks away from a train station, climbed a narrow winding staircase, went into a nearly-abandoned warehouse, and had an interview in a loft with a popular, highly recommended headshot photographer who charged $1500/session and treated me like a country bumpkin who was wasting his time.  His pictures were absolutely gorgeous, and he did not get my money.  I did not trust him to make me feel good or confident during the shoot, first of all, and secondly I didn’t particularly trust him to respect my wishes about the use of my images.

Also trust your gut when it comes to price and quality.  If you see a deal for boudoir photography on a flash sale site and it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  I’ve seen stunning boudoir photos used to advertise a Groupon sale, only to navigate to the photographer’s website and realize that they weren’t actually her images– SHADY.  Do a bit of research and familiarize yourself with the photographer’s style, google for reviews to see who’s had a good experience with whom, ask friends who have had portraits or wedding photographs what their experiences were like, and make sure you trust that the price you’ve been quoted will yield the results you expect.

Think about the style of pictures you want.  Are they a gift for someone?  Are they for your own pleasure?  Are they for a portfolio or publication?  Are you looking to share something private and intimate with a small group of people, or do you want to create a fun fantasy-fulfilling image of yourself for your eyes only?  Are they to mark a special occasion, like an anniversary, or a pregnancy, or a birthday?  Are you interested in a setting a scene with a background and props and costumes, or do you want something simple and sleek?  See you if you can find a photographer who seems in tune with your vision.

Do try to meet, or at least correspond with, your photographer before making your decision. Some of you may be exhibitionists who love taking your clothes off, and some of you may feel intimidated by the prospect of having your picture taken at all, let alone in your undies (or less).  Check in with yourself– you don’t have to find a soul mate, but you should feel a sense of rapport and trust with your photographer.  You’ll be spending at least two hours with this person, so it’s totally fine to want to find someone you’ll ENJOY spending two hours with, you know?

Finally, make sure you review the fine print of any package you want to purchase.  Make sure you know exactly how much money you’ll be charged, whether hair and makeup are included (many photographers (rightly) encourage this, as makeup for the camera can differ from everyday makeup, especially if you want a stylized, specific look), how many images you’ll receive, when you’ll receive them, how many looks you should plan for, where you’ll be shooting, and approximately how long it will take.  Be sure you have these details in writing– it’s in both your and your photographer’s best interests if everyone is on the same page.

Tomorrow we’ll talk a little bit about how to prepare for your shoot once you’ve booked your photographer.  If anyone else has done a boudoir or pin-up session, I’d love to hear about your experiences this week!  Any photographers you love, or any tips you’d like to share?  Share away!

10 Comments on Boudoir Photography Week: Choosing a Photographer

  1. PersephoneUnderground (previously firelizard19)
    January 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm (9 years ago)

    Hi there Sweets!
    This looks like the start of a cool series- boudoir photography is so sensual and lovely. I love the shot of the Lingerie Lesbian you picked, especially. Quick question- when you were researching shoots, what was the price range you found for them? I know this is google-able, but that isn’t the most precise info., and won’t take into account the quality aspect like it seems you have. I’m curious how much I’d need to save up for something like this.

    • Sweets
      January 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm (9 years ago)

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately I’m going to be about as vague as Google, because it really depends on the photographer, the location, and the package (how long the shoot lasts, how many looks, etc.) My photographer and I had a private arrangement, since we’re friends, but in general I think you can get a good “budget” package around the $250-300 mark (1-2 looks, simple set-up), with fancier/more elaborate packages going up to around $1000+. If I were going to do it again, I’d probably look for someone who could offer me 3-5 looks and 8-12 fully retouched images for around $400 (and for NYC, this is kind of a “budget” option, alas), although I would expect hair and makeup to cost more. That’s for New York, mind you: I bet there are excellent photographers in different cities who offer different price points. It’s definitely worth checking out flash sale sites, and many photographers will offer special rates around holidays or if you book multiple shoots or refer a friend. I hope that helps!

      • PersephoneUnderground (previously firelizard19)
        January 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm (9 years ago)

        Thanks- that’s not too terrible, so if I found a nice flash sale package it might be something to ask my lovely boyfriend for help with as a birthday present. Not that he wouldn’t benefit from the results, too :P, but it would definitely be a treat for me. The prices in my area are probably similar, since I’m in the DC area. No small-town deals for me, but more choices. Thanks for the run-down!

        • Jackie
          January 23, 2014 at 8:17 am (9 years ago)

          If I could butt in here, my friend is a great boudoir photographer in the dc area. Look up Alison Curtis, photographer on Facebook! We’ve been friends since we were 5, and she has an exceptional eye 🙂

          • Sweets
            January 23, 2014 at 9:41 am (9 years ago)

            Awesome! Thank you for the recommendation!

  2. Caroline CurvyWordy
    January 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm (9 years ago)

    The photographer is SO important. Nicola (My Boudoir) was AMAZING to work with and of course I had seen her fabulous work from Georgina’s previous shoot. I think getting a personal recommendation is always a good starting point but even then it’s no guarantee that all will be well. Trust your instinct and only work with someone who makes you feel comfortable, relaxed and at ease. When that magic comes together the resulting pictures are stupendous! xxx

    • Sweets
      January 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm (9 years ago)

      Nicola’s work looks so, so dazzling– every client looks so gorgeous, and yet so individual.

  3. Megan Holdings
    April 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm (8 years ago)

    Hi Sweets,

    Do you have contact info for your photographer? 🙂

    • Sweets
      April 20, 2015 at 10:02 pm (8 years ago)

      Hi Megan, if you look at the bottom of any post featuring me, I provide a link to each photographer’s website, where you should be able to view their portfolios and contact information. 🙂


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