Any boudoir photographer will tell you that creating a successful session for a client involves much more than just presenting a final set of images; in this industry, you really are selling the whole experience. A good photographer will walk into a boudoir session with a camera in hand, memory cards ready to go, and poses in mind, but a great photographer will walk in with the understanding that when it comes to women and lingerie, it’s best to be prepared for any beauty or wardrobe malfunction.
Enter the boudoir bag; a savvy photogs “grab-bag” of essential items that are not typically found in a photographer’s equipment stash, but can make all the difference when making your client look (and feel) like a million bucks.
Much like a first date, a boudoir session can quickly turn uncomfortable if filled with the pressure of trying to fill in those awkward silences. Compare it to being at the dentist’s office; just like you can’t chit-chat while the dentist is prodding around your back molars (though it seems we are often expected to try), a client cannot properly hold a certain facial expression or pose if constantly being asked questions that require a significant response. Music is the ship that sails the session through those hushed moments, so hop on board with a service like Pandora or Spotify to make a list of a particular genre, or invite your client to bring along her own iPod to ensure she gets to listen to all her favorite tunes.
Champagne or Wine
Many boudoir clients will request to bring a special beverage along with them to a session, but providing the goods yourself is an effective way to not only make a client feel pampered, but also to restrict how much is actually consumed. A glass of bubbly can be a good way to calm pre-session nerves and jitters, but one glass too many can quickly spell trouble. Keep portions under control, and always avoid serving teeth-staining red wine (or you may find yourself stuck with extra hours of post-processing work!)
Hairspray and Hairpins
When it comes to hair, “always be prepared” is a chant that should already be engraved in a photographers mind, but especially in regards to boudoir clients. In a session that already leads many women to feel self-critical, the tiniest details can make a huge difference in client satisfaction. Most women will want a chance to “touch-up” throughout the session, but many will actually forget to bring these essential items along. Having these things on hand will keep your client looking good, feeling confident, and most importantly, happy with her salon style throughout the shoot.
Snacks and Water
One of the most common mistakes a client will make in preparing for a boudoir session is not eating anything several hour prior to shooting in an attempt to avoid water weight and bloating. While it is wise to avoid eating a large, carbohydrate-heavy meal immediately prior to a session, avoiding food entirely will leave clients feeling weak, tired, and unable to fully enjoy the experience. Purchase almonds, water, protein bars, and other healthy snacks in bulk, so you always have something on hand to provide potentially famished clients.
Jewelry & Accessories
One benefit of being a photographer is having the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t when styling a shoot. Many women come into a session with a ton of potential outfits, but ultimately will look to you for guidance on what to wear. Variety is the spice of life, and it certainly provides the spice to any successful boudoir session. By bringing in different necklaces, scarfs, and other accessories to spice up an outfit, not only are you giving yourself more options creatively, but you also will give your client a wider assortment of looks to choose from in the end.
Straps will break, nylons will tear, and corset seams will rip. Don’t let a wardrobe malfunction negatively impact a client’s experience or your photographs—knowing a quick slip-stitch and having the tools necessary to do so will get you out of many beauty binds.
A Sense of Humor
Not an item, but definitely essential in becoming a successful boudoir photographer. Clients tend to take their social cues from the person behind the camera—if you are outgoing, personable, and friendly, a client is much more inclined to relax, allowing you to capture the personality and style that make her unique. Beauty blunders and wardrobe malfunctions will happen, but the ability to handle issues with grace and a sense of humor will put a client at ease and allow you to get back to the task at hand—creating beautiful images and an experience your client will never forget.
All images provided by Shutterstock
Author Bio: A former full-time professional photographer, Alyssa enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with those looking to break into the business. A proud resident of the PNW, Alyssa can often be found pursuing thrift shops, taking pictures, or enjoying a venti pumpkin spice latte.