So you’ve just booked your boudoir photo shoot with the perfect photographer, and now you’re wondering how to go about planning for it. What should you do before your photoshoot, and what are the big no-nos? It’s taken many years of photographing boudoir sessions to come up with the advice on my Boudoir prep sheet. Here are the tips that I provide to every one of my clients before our boudoir photoshoot.
Using light weights or body weight, and lots of repetitions, make some basic moves while you listen to music in the morning, or even for just ten minutes before you jump in the shower. You don’t have to do anything crazy like burpees or jump squats, mainly if you’re not used to high impact workouts; just the basics are enough. Some of my favorite moves are pushups on the ground or a wall, squats, side lunges, planks, crunches, butt lifts/bridges, and jumping jacks for in-between cardio sets. Stretching is also essential because there will be a lot of back arching and tall postures. You’ll likely leave your session feeling the burn, and the next day you might be sore like you did an intense yoga class. Stretching and toning ahead of time will not only help you in your posing, but it’ll also help you feel great upon arrival and to not be so sore the next day. You don’t need a huge space for these stretches and workout moves so they can be done just about anywhere at any time. (No excuses!)
To reduce bloat, cut down on foods with sodium and sulfur, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. If you know which foods affect you negatively, stay away from those starting a week before our session. (Dairy, eggs, and bread do it to me!) Eat slowly and mindfully, enjoying every bite, and drink a whole glass of water before and after each meal.
I cannot stress this part enough. Starting NOW make sure to keep up on your water, at least eight glasses per day. Bloating will disappear, the skin will come brighter and clearer; the list goes on. Down a whole glass before each meal, and a full glass once you’re feeling satisfied. Adding lemon or other types of citrus fruits not only makes water even healthier, but it also makes it less dull.
DRINK YOUR WATER!
As much as you think it helps your appearance in person, it only harms your appearance through the camera. It throws off my camera’s color balance (think: Donald-Trump-orange, and muddy black and whites). Also, some spray tans have a glitter in them, which ends up looking like white dots of dust. Spray tans can add hours to the retouching process which may end up being more expensive on your end, so it’s much better if you focus on getting a real, even tan.
Some people think tan lines are super sexy. That’s cool, so do I! Then, some clients warn me 24 hours ahead of our shoot that they just went on vacation and now have wicked tan lines, asking if I’d be able to “edit them out.” I will never say no to the retouching process because retouchers out there can do magic. However, that type of retouching is usually not included with most photographer’s sessions and will likely need to be sent out, incurring extra fees. My advice? If you have a boudoir shoot scheduled, keep your tan line preferences in mind while beaching, and plan accordingly
If you’re ever going to pamper yourself, now is the time to do it. You’ve done all the research to find the perfect boudoir photographer, bought new lingerie, and you've possibly rented out your ideal shoot location. You’re going to want to look your absolute best for this session. Unless you’re proficient in this area, I highly recommend hiring a professional to do your hair and makeup. A professional makeup artist knows that makeup photographs about 40% lighter than it looks in person, and they can also ask you all the right questions and apply techniques that will make you look like the best you. I have a makeup artist I work with closely, and I recommend her for all of my sessions. She regularly works with celebrities through ESPN and other networks, and she’s never failed to amaze my clients and me with her skills. She also adds waves or curls in the hair department so that we achieve that effortlessly sexy volume and movement. I could not rave about her work enough to do it justice. Not only that, but she comes to the shoot location and works with us there, and that allows us time to get comfortable and acquainted. Sometimes this is the first time I’m meeting my client, and more often than not, this is their first boudoir photoshoot, and they’re pretty nervous. Having Dawn there helps ease clients’ nerves and also gives us time to relax, talk, and get excited about the session. My advice: Pamper yourself a little and hire a professional. Make the most out of this experience by easing the pressure of getting yourself ready on your own.
Boudoir shoots are meant to be sexy and sultry; whether you’re going for the, I woke up like this look or the Victoria’s Secret Vixen look. Keep that in mind, when choosing any lingerie, clothing, or cover-ups for your session. Lingerie should be form/curve-fitting and up-lifting. Think corsets, bodysuits, and matching separates that fit just right. If they’re too small, the pieces will cut into your skin and create little bulges. Too big, and they won’t do your body justice. You also want to be wearing lingerie or clothing that makes you feel like a million bucks, not just any old piece you bought in a different era, at a different weight, that has sat in your drawer for years. This will make a difference in how you feel about the outfit, which makes a difference in how you look while wearing it, and fabulous is the goal all around. Plus, how exciting is it to buy new lingerie?! There's your permission-- go shopping, girl. You also want to wear something that suits your personality and body type. Make it fun! When choosing your pieces, take into consideration your body type, your best features which you’ll want to accentuate, and your least favorite features which you may want to keep a little more covered up. If you’re a bare it all, regardless kind of gal, keep in mind that while Photoshop is our friend, I’m not going to over-retouch and make you into someone you’re not. Photoshop (like lighting and posing) is used to rid the eye of distractions and make you look like the best version of you. If you’re sensitive about your upper body, incorporate a beautiful robe, shawl, scarf or delicate blanket that we can use to wrap around you when we need to. We can also use one of your partner’s shirts, which can be super sexy if you’re doing this as a gift to them If you’re sensitive about un-toned legs or cellulite, use thigh-highs, tights, or your favorite pair of jeans as part of the look. If you’re sensitive about a dimply butt, come prepared with sexy briefs or bikini-style undies instead of thongs. I suggest you keep jewelry to a minimum unless jewelry is all you’re wearing. Wearing high heels can make your legs look tighter and longer, whether pictured or not, so be sure you bring them along as long! And if you’re wearing black tights or lingerie, you should bring black heels; all of your pieces should match or at least complement one another. If you’re doing this as a bridal boudoir photoshoot, you may want to wear white lingerie and even include some wedding pieces, e.g. veil, garter, wedding heels, your engagement ring, etc. If clients aren't sure what to bring, I always advise that they bring more than less. We can look through it all, I can offer my input, and we can pick our favorite 2-3 outfits together.
Do you like manis and pedis? Great! Book yourself an appointment a day or two before our boudoir shoot, and you should be good to go. If not, that’s cool too. Just beware of dirty nails and chipped polish; think clean and evenly polished or not polished at all.
Worried about splotchy, uneven or ashy skin tone? Exfoliate and use body lotion to soften and even out skin. Dry body brushes feel great and also work wonders. I got mine at TJ Maxx. You’ll want one with soft, all-natural bristles, and use it right after you shower and dry off. Google it! Not only does it feel great, but it helps with circulation and evening out skin tone.
If you’re having your makeup and hair done professionally, come with a fresh, clean, moisturized face, wearing lip balm. Hair should be dry, not straightened, and ready for some curls or waves.
Wear very loose-fitting (or no) undergarments to avoid red lines in your skin.
Try your best to avoid conflict or stress before your session, and come with an open mind! Stress shows up quickly on your face, which is why I schedule my sessions first thing in the morning. I want you to come with a clean slate, fresh and ready to have a good time.
Ideally, after our boudoir session, we'd take a break for an hour or so to grab some food, and I'd get the photos ready for same-day viewing. We can see the photos right away, break them down to our favorites, and choose which ones will go into your album. If there's no time for a same-day viewing, we would meet back in the studio about a week later, and once your order is complete, the retouching process starts right away. An album proof would be sent for your approval within the next 1-2 weeks, and then a week after that you'll have your album in your hands!
I strive to do everything I can to make this a fun, empowering, and smooth experience. For someone who has never had a professional photography session, nevermind a boudoir photo shoot, preparing to be the main attraction can seem very daunting. There are many common and recurring questions and concerns— What do I buy, how do I prepare, how do I pose?! Since I’ve worked with so many real women throughout the years, I’ve taken note of the most crucial pain points and common concerns. It’s important to me to let clients know that they are not alone in these concerns, and here’s how we’ve successfully addressed them each time they come up. The Prep sheet goes over each one of these issues, and when new ones come up, I add them into the sheet. We are real women, with real concerns, and real-life experiences. A boudoir photoshoot is meant to be one of the most positive experiences of our lives. I hope this guide will help you prepare for your boudoir shoot and keep your focus on getting excited!