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A DIY boudoir shoot can be an intimidating experience. You have to think about the lighting, posing, outfits, and location not to mention taking the photos all by yourself. My goal is to give you a spring board of information to help you have a great shoot and take images you can be proud of. In this post I will be covering the following topics:
What you will Need
Types of Shots
Note: While this article is specifically written for self-shot boudoir, if you are a couple you will also find it useful.
What Will You Need?
To start with, you don’t need an expensive camera to get good boudoir photos. Most modern phones have a good camera you can use.
If you have a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, go ahead and use it. If you are looking to purchase one you can check out my camera guide here.
There are a few things I think you need to make your shoot go easier.
No matter if you are using your phone or a camera you will need a decent tripod.
If you are using your phone and already have a tripod, you will also need a tripod Phone Mount.
A Bluetooth phone remote or if you are using a camera, some of them have phone apps that allow you to see the photo and adjust your settings. If yours doesn’t then you can get a standard wireless remote.
Note: Some cameras have a built-in ability that allows you to take multiple pictures over a set period of time called an intervalometer. Look at your user manual to see if yours can do this. If it does, set it to take 1 picture every second for ten seconds. This is an awesome feature that will help you a lot during your shoot.
Keep it simple and have 3 looks, a casual look, a lingerie look, and a set of plain, white, bed sheets. Look below to see examples of what I mean. You can get a multitude of shots for each look, I would shoot for 10-20 photos per outfit. Variations of a shot count towards the shot total. No matter what outfits you choose, make sure it fits properly and remove any tags that have the chance of hanging out during the shoot.
Casual: T-Shirt, crop top, tank top, or sweater and a pair of bottoms you feel your best in.
Lingerie: Top and Bottom Set, full lingerie set (top, bottoms, garter belt, and thigh highs), or bodysuit.
Bed sheet: The bed sheet is a classic “outfit” for boudoir. You can do these fully nude, with bottoms only, or a nice top and bottom set.
Bonus tip: Jewelry and other accessories can help you complete your look. High heels are a popular option.
Use natural lighting as much as possible. The light coming through your window on a sunny day is more than enough to get you great photos. With the exception of silhouette images, pose so you are illuminated from the front or sides, avoiding complicated back lighting. You can learn more about natural lighting here.
Types of Shots
To help you get variety into your shots you want a mix of full-body, half-body, portrait, and detail shots.
Full-body: Shot showing the whole body.
Half-body: Shot showing either the top half, bottom half, or middle half.
Portrait: Shot highlighting the face.
Detail: Shot highlighting a detail such as a wedding ring, lingerie, or body part.
Think about the composition of your photos. What are the elements you want in your photo as a whole? Do the background elements complement your pose? I have an article here that will help you understand more on this topic. My favorite composition elements are framing, foreground elements, and changing your angle.
Here are some tips for both before and during your shoot.
Leave yourself plenty of time. It takes longer to self-shoot boudoir than having a photographer take the pictures for you. You might even need to shoot multiple days if you are looking to have a lot of different shots.
Avoid going to the tanning salon or getting a spray tan the week before your shoot.
Where loose clothing the day of your shoot to prevent clothing marks.
Clean up your shooting space before you start and be aware of your background.
Move furniture around if you need to.
Clean your lens. No matter if you are using your phone or a camera, you need to clean your lens.
Set your phone to compatibility/JPEG format.
Be creative in the ways you hide your remote. You can hide it in your hair, under your clothing, or under your hand.
If you aren’t using a remote, take advantage of your phone or cameras delayed shutter feature. This way you have a few seconds after you press the shutter button before the picture is taken.
Play music you enjoy and helps you feel confident.
Check your shots before moving on to the next pose.
Have fun with it.
Posing is one of the hardest parts of boudoir photography. Because a photo displays a three dimensional object in two dimensions it creates all kinds of headaches. This is where the saying “the camera adds ten pounds” comes from. A proper pose will help with this issue as well as many others.
It’s a good idea to look up poses before your shoot and have them handy so you can reference them if you need to.
Take more than one photo per pose and play with the pose slightly for each picture.
Flirt with the lens when looking at the camera.
Experiment with looking at the camera and looking away from the camera for each pose you do.
Feel the shot. What emotion are you wanting to show for your photo?
Relax your face and breath through your mouth slightly.
Adjust your hair for every shot. Try to keep it on the side closer to the camera.
Turn your body at a slight angle to the camera.
Push your hips back to create more curve in your lower back.
Point your feet.
Do something with your hands. You can play with your hair, tug on your clothing, or run your hands up your body.
Editing is where you fine-tune your photos, taking them from good to great. My suggestion is to keep it simple. Start with a filter or preset and then tweak it to your liking. With editing, a little can go a long way. For the ultimate in simplicity try going with black and white. The areas I would concentrate on are brightness and color. You can also crop in on your photos a little to improve the composition.
If you used your phone chances are you will have built in editing tools you can use. For cameras almost any editing program will do the trick. I started out using the Nikon software that came with my d3300 before moving on to Lightroom.
You took the time to take those awesome photos. Why not print them? I recommend you use Mpix.com. They specifically allow boudoir and artful nude photos and you can get them to do some minor color correction so your prints turn out the best possible. Keep in mind that when using your cell phone you won’t be able to get larger prints made due to the lower megapixel count.
Quick note: If you are wanting a photo book made you will need around 20-30 images. A good source for premium photo books is Floricolor.
While a DIY boudoir shoot can be intimidating that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Take it one step at a time and I firmly believe that with a little patience you can take plenty of boudoir shots to be proud of.