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Top Tips for Boudoir Photography

written by: digitaldan1•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 10/9/2009

Soft, intimate, inviting, properly done, boudoir photography shows a woman in all her grace and sensuality. This article provides a beginning look at this type of photography.

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    Introduction

    There's something to be said for boudoir photography. It takes a woman and puts her the most intimate room in the house and shows her beauty and sexuality. Most women will feel much more comfortable and sexy in the comfortable surroundings of their home and the soft cushion of their own beds.

    There are some challenges to working in the boudoir, particularly for the novice photographer who doesn't have access to the best of equipment. This article takes a look at some of those challenges and offers some solutions.

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    Boudoir Photography Pictures

    Cassie lit by an off camera strobeCassie lit by a nearby windowGeorgette lit by a pair of studio strobesGeorgette lit by a single studio strobesScarlett lit by an off camera flash
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    Image information

    The shot of Cassie laying on the bed was made with a Canon flash positioned on a light stand to fire into an umbrella from the photographer's right. Cassie also received some light from a window to the left acting as fill. For the second photo of Cassie she was lit entirely by window light, no supplemental lighting or fill was used at all.

    The first shot of Georgette was lit using an Alien Bees B400 flash fired through a Photek Softlighter II (the 60" model) pointed straight at her and fill was provided by a Medialight strobe to the photographer's left for fill. The shot of Georgette in the hot tub was lit solely by the Alien Bees Softlighter combination, but the mirrors reflected light back into the shadow areas providing fill.

    The photo of Scarlett was made with a Canon flash mounted on a light stand to the photographer's left and fired into an umbrella. A second flash was bounced off the ceiling to provide some fill to the photographer's right.

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    Clothing

    Attire: while it's easy to think "nude" that's not the only choice when it comes to creating beautiful images that capture the sex appeal of a woman in her boudoir. Carefully chosen lingerie can do much to enhance the mood of the image and often helps the subject feel even more beautiful. Be careful though, a little goes a long way. Loading up on garter and panties and stockings and bustier for instance is over kill. If you're going the nude route, consider poses that leave something to the imagination too.

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    Lighting

    Lighting: think "soft" and "diffuse" for lighting. This approach is most flattering to feminine skin and features. Window light can produce compelling images as can a flash bounced off a ceiling or wall (be careful to watch for color casts from painted walls though). Multiple light set ups can enhance the quality of your lighting as can light stands, soft boxes or umbrellas.

    Using reflectors to bounce light into shadow areas can also improve the quality of your lighting. An old white pillow case stretched over a window screen can act to diffuse light coming through a window while the white styrofoam panel from a flat screen tv shipping case makes a nice reflector. A couple of dollars worth of foam core board from the local crafts shop will do the same thing.

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    Poses

    Poses: Think feminine here. S-curves (head tilted one way, feet pointed the other), kneeling or laying on the stomach with feet kicked up behind the head make for good poses. Positioning you subject with her back to the camera and having her look over her shoulder at you is also effective. Encourage your subject to have fun and help her feel attractive. Be careful not to push "sexy" too hard because you can end up with expressions that border on caricature. If you can make her feel like she's beautiful, her sex appeal will come through.

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    Props

    Props: pillows and lace work well so long as you don't overdo it. A strategically placed piece of fabric can also leave something to the imagination while accenting curves and providing a splash of color to the scene.

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    Composition

    Composition: work the scene thoroughly mixing tight shots with wider compositions that show more of the setting. Make sure you strive for eye contact with your subject.