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What is boudoir photography and how does it work?

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

What is boudoir photography and how does it work?What is boudoir photography and how would you define it? Boudoir photography is sometimes called lingerie, sensual, or sexy photography and is a genre that is sensual, romantic, semi-erotic and emphasizes a woman’s beauty and particularly her curves. The finished images typically are for private enjoyment by clients and/or their partners.

This blog will explore just a few of the many reasons why someone would/should schedule a boudoir session and a few ways to prepare, including what to consider bringing to your session. Remember these are the basics but it will give you a sense of what is discussed at a pre-session consultation call.

Why would you want to sit for a boudoir session?

woman sitting on a bed with head tilted
One of my usual poses to get the session going. A tasteful necklace to enhance the look

There are a hundreds of reasons to consider a boudoir session. Here are a few. I will be posting more of these in future posts.

For yourself because you are worth it! Ultimately, these sessions are for you, yes you! Many gift the prints to someone else but the session is so much more than just getting images in an album, framed wall art or archival prints.

You deserve to be treated like a diva - whether you think you are or not! If you are a diva and you know it, you know what I mean!

For your partner! The images from your session will be for your private enjoyment. Sharing or gifting an album from your session is an ideal gift for a fiancé, husband, partner or to save and reflect upon often throughout years to come. These do not get posted except with your permission.

You’re getting married! Probably the most common reason women book boudoir shoots wit me is to give as a gift to their partner the night before or maybe just before the ceremony as they are getting ready for the big event. Our mini albums will make your partner feel like they’re in on your best kept secrets and will set the mood for the rest of the day.

Because you are passing through an age milestone! Let’s see, turning 21, 22, 23, etc. 30, 40, 50, 60, or ANY age!

Because you have had surgery! You may have had surgery of some kind and are trying to find your new normal. Yes, you look at your body after your surgery and think you don’t like the way you look and your scar is all you can focus on. Guess what my friend? This does NOT make you ugly. You will be pampered, made to feel gorgeous, wear flattering lingerie, and we are going to pose and light you to make you look beautiful beyond your wildest imagination.

You lost weight, gained it or neither It just doesn't matter!! Your current shape is reason enough to book a session. There is absolutely no reason to worry about your weight. We are going to unlock your sensuality, confidence and bravery. This is the time to celebrate what you look like right now, in your own body.

You’ve had an augmentation I will bet that you are going to be shopping for new clothes including a and new bra and panties. Yup – bring them ALL to the session. No better way to celebrate the new you!

woman on bed looking at camera
My favorite style - emphasizing curves, shadows and somewhat mysterious.

There are many many more reasons. In fact, I can’t for the life of me think of a reason that isn’t appropriate for having a boudoir session of your own. Let's take a peek at important Do's and Don'ts for boudoir sessions that can add or detract from a successful session and ultimately your experience and the final images.

Do’s and Don’ts for a session. There are more than these and your photographer will provide you with bigger list of tips and tricks to make this session wonderful.


  • Bring clean dry hair, well-manicured finger and toenails – not necessarily from a salon. Make sure they are clean, well-trimmed and looking presentable. If you come to the session with clean dry hair, let my hairstylist or MUA finish your hair. If you want to do your own hair please wait until you arrive at the session to add products so we can ensure they are the right products that will photograph well.

  • Having a nail salon do your nails would be preferred but you can always do your own.

  • My makeup artist will apply makeup, lashes and finish your hair. You can always do your own hair and makeup however this experience is really focused on pampering you. Makeup and Hair stylists know what works in-front of the camera and what doesn't. If you are going to do it yourself make sure you use matte finish products. if you don't the light will reflect off non-matte makeup and really detract from wonderful images.

Woman in front of a mirror applying lipstick.
I love mirrors and reflections of all kinds. This is one pose done in all my sessions.

  • Bring someone with you. This will make you feel more comfortable and safer. If your photographer balks at this find another photographer! Tell your guest to bring a book or something to occupy their time because these sessions can go 2.5 to 4 hours.

  • Hydrate – drink a ton of water the day before and day of the session. It will make your skin supple, smooth and plump.

  • Bring every piece of lingerie you own.

  • Clothing. While not a must bring a man’s shirt, an athletic jersey, short shorts, a short dress, robes, etc. are all excellent choices.

  • The bottom line is you want wardrobe changes. If all your images are in the same out fit it will not be as exciting as if there are multiple outfits or "looks".

  • High heels - and when i say high heels we are talking 3”+ or higher. Not the chunky ones but the thin heeled ones.

Woman on floor with her feet facing the camera
Another pose that we always do. An alluring shot that emphasizes curves.

Bottom line - Make sure that all the clothing you do bring makes you feel really REALLY sexy, confident, and comfortable.


  • Don't wear tight clothing to the session.

  • Don't wear a bra or panties to the session – go commando. The indentations and marks left by these will take a long time to disappear.

  • No headbands, watches or bracelets that are elasticized. Look to see if your hair tie is is on your wrist. These leave noticeable red marks, lines and indentations.

  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol the day of. I may offer you a glass or two of bubbly at the session but do not have any the day before or the day of the session. You don’t want to be tipsy and alcohol is not a friend of your face and particularly your eyes.

  • Don't get your hair cut. Styled YES of course but not cut. You won’t feel like you – you won’t feel comfortable with your new do for a couple of days after it is cut. If you must get a cut do so at least a week or more prior to the session.

  • DON’T GET A SPRAY TAN within 4 or 5 days prior to a session. You will look orange in the images, and it is difficult to get it out using Photoshop. Trust me on his one.

My eBook has many more tips and tricks for nailing your boudoir session. Get your copy here.

How do you know you can trust a boudoir photographer?

This is particularly important issue for both you and the photographer. Every photographer should have a pre-session consultation call and this will begin the process of feeling comfortable with each other. Take this opportunity to be upfront and honest. Discuss what you want your final images to look like, discuss your fears and body concerns, and really get to the bottom of your concern that the images will be plastered all over the web. I like to Skype or Zoom my pre-session boudoir consultations. I don’t typically do this for family and portrait sessions as they are not as intimate. If after this pre-session consultation you don’t feel super comfortable make a 2nd call or find another photographer. I encourage my clients to call me as often as they need to in order to feel comfortable.


This will, without a doubt, change your life. This isn’t like a normal photo session where you meet in a park and do some casual images wearing something over-sized which hides your perceived faults. Revealing yourself to a photographer, makeup artist, photographer’s assistant, and your whomever you bring, while wearing your favorite lingerie takes bravery and courage. You will be posing in positions that will enhance your curves and make you look INCREDIBLY beautiful. After the session, you will be more confident, easily access your bravery confidence and sensuality. I guarantee you will be a changed woman.


"It's not about seducing men. It's about embracing womanhood." - Dita Von Teese

You Got This!

Arthur Ellis is a Charleston, SC photographer specializing in boudoir. family, & portrait photography. You can contact him at or see more of his work at

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