I always encourage my brides to be sexy on their wedding day for 3 simple reasons:
1. They’re usually in the best shape of their life.
2. They’re wearing a dress they absolutely love.
3. They’re in a supremely happy and confident mood.
And if the truth be told, they always come to the party – they’re vivacious, flirtatious and very, very eager to haul out all the sensual prowess they can muster. But what about before wedding day? This of course is where the value of a Boudoir shoot kicks in. A lot of my brides want to give their husbands-to-be a gift. Some go the aftershave route. Some go the box of cigars route. Some go the ‘here honey, tickets for you and the boys to the rugby’ route. And then there are the thinkers – the girls who go Boudoir. Most of the time, when my brides first approach me on the issue, they’re somewhat apprehensive. ‘Do I have to take off all my clothes?’ ‘Whose going to be there?’ ‘What do I bring along?’ ‘I’m really shy and nervous – how are you going to photograph me?’ So I always respond by saying that they needn’t worry, because I’m probably more nervous than they are. I’ve never ever shot a Boudoir without thinking that I might fail – and THAT is scary believe me. So girls, if you’re thinking about a Boudoir, then here are my tips for a great boudoir shoot.
The Naked Truth.
First of all, Boudoir is all about being sexy and voluptuous. You’re doing the shoot to entice, tease and excite your partner. As such, you have full control over how you’d like to be photographed – you can go all the way from fully-dressed and flirty all the way down to wearing very little and if the mood takes you, nothing at all. But that is your decision entirely. I only photograph what you are completely comfortable with. I don’t under any circumstances photograph anything that may be construed as X-rated – if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve chosen the wrong photographer. The um, bottom-line, is that you’re showing off but not actually showing anything off (except of course legs, bums and the odd bit of boob if you’re feeling a bit more risqué).
How do we start the Boudoir session
Right, so the first thing we do when you arrive is unpack your bags and throw all your clothing and lingerie around the room. Then I go through it all piece by piece saying things like: ‘nice, nice, nice, no chance, nice, what were you thinking, cool, awesome, nice, I DON’T think so, incredible, yes, that’s a joke right’ – and so on. So for the first 20 minutes or so we really just look at all your clothing options, select which lingerie we’ll use and laugh a lot. The point of all this is that you may well feel a bit nervous so it gives us some time to just be ourselves instead of me shouting ‘okay girl, drop your kit and off we go!’ Once we’re both comfortable, we’ll decide on a starting point and ease into the first few shots nice and slowly.
The shoot itself
I don’t put a time limit on Boudoir shoots. That’s because it’s actually quite hard work for both of us. Although we’ll laugh and chat a lot during the shoot, the actual poses themselves require intense concentration from me (while you’re draped over a couch falling asleep). But that said, the shoot does also require some intense concentration from you at times. So we go along slowly, talking about the next pose or sequence of shots – it’s all about what YOU want and what YOU are comfortable with. After each sequence you get back into your gown and we select the next items for you to wear. Then I leave you alone to change and once you’re ready we move on to the next sequence of photos. Sometimes (but not always) I bring along an assistant (always a female) to help you with dressing and covering up properly in some of your poses. Some shoots take 2 hours, some take 5 hours, it all depends. I’m also very good at recognizing when enough is enough because you will most certainly start to tire and at that point we end the session.
When to do your Boudoir
The best time to do your Boudoir is anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 weeks before your wedding. You don’t want to leave it until the week before your wedding because your stress levels may be a little higher than normal and you absolutely need to feel calm and relaxed. It also gives me time to edit your photos and create an album for your fiancé should you so wish. Also consider this – you’re more than likely going to have a hair and make-up trial before your wedding, so it’s an awesome idea to either combine this as part of your Boudoir, or have your trial and then come to me immediately afterwards for your shoot.
Where to do your Boudoir
That’s entirely up to you, but I’m always happy to suggest locations. Personally, studio Boudoir is not my game so my locations are always either houses, guest lodges or in the great outdoors where our options are so much greater. A little bit of creative thinking, good timing and wonderful light always goes a long way to fantastic results (think naked girl in distance on desserted beach surrounded by mist).
What to wear
Number 1 – choose outfits that make you feel sexy. Bring something white, bring something black, bring some bright colours so you can mix and match. Bring clothing and accessories that reflect who you are. There are a ton of options available to you – your fiancés work shirt, his old rugby jersey, ripped jeans or shorts, tank-tops, oversized jerseys, really long socks, a corset, garter belt, your gym gear, fun panties or g-strings and thongs, scarves, hats, blah, blah, blah – you’re a girl so be one! And remember, the more effort you put into selecting a really varied wardrobe the more you’ll get out of the shoot.
Now here are some questions I often get asked about Boudoir sessions…
What does a Boudoir shoot cost?
The cost of a Boudoir is R5000-00. Any additional materials such as albums or canvases are charged for separately.
Can I bring a friend along to give me moral support?
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If you want to go nude that’s fine, if you don’t want to it’s certainly not going to make any difference to the quality of your photos or how beautiful you look. Clothed, partially clothed, implied nudity and full nudity can all look awesome – it’s how we approach things that’s important. Your session may be more flirty than anything else with just hints of what’s beneath, and that’s absolutely fine.
Will my photographs remain private?
This is your choice completely. I’ll never load your photos onto my website or allow them to be published if its against your wishes. Not ever – my reputation depends on it. If you are okay with me showing your photos, then I will, but always with your consent.
Are you prepared to shoot friend and couple sessions?
Yes, no problem. I’ve done a few of these and they’re a lot of fun and the results are always just awesome. However, these are costed for on a separate basis.
How old do I have to be for you to shoot my Boudoir?
I won’t consider anyone under 21 years of age and even then I’ll still assess whether or not to undertake the shoot. You need to be emotionally and psychologically mature enough to handle a Boudoir. This is not about whipping off your clothes, flashing your body and having a good time – it’s about a level-headed, rational and informed decision to have risqué and intimate portraits of yourself taken. It carries responsibility from both my side and yours, and as the photographer, I will take the decision as to whether or not you qualify for this.
Do I have to be a bride to qualify for a boudoir?
No, not at all. You may want it as an anniversary gift, a birthday gift, or you just may want a boudoir for yourself.
And finally, here are some tips for your Boudoir:
1. Exercise in the early morning before your Boudoir so that you can release any pent-up energy.
2. Don’t wear any tight-fitting clothing and definitely no underwear for at least 2 hours before the shoot – nothing looks worse than strap marks!
3. Bring along some props. Almost anything works from a garden spade to feathers, bubbles, an old radio, iPod, boots, fruit, your favourite coffee mug, even the remote control that ‘you-know-who’ hogs over the weekends. Use your imagination and I’ll make it work.
4. Make sure you’ve done your hair and make-up, it’s important!
5. If your shoot is for your fiancé (or husband), bring your veil, your ring, your wedding shoes and lingerie – it just makes sense.
6. Wax! Or shave! Or both. Enough said.
7. Manicures and pedicures are pretty darned sensible if you have the time.
8. Don’t lie in the sun the day before and as for those spray tans, if you’re going to have one, make sure it’s from a pro – yellow ankles and white shoulders don’t look overly appealing.
9. No partying the night before! You won’t be at your best and it’ll show.
10. Come excited, come ready, be positive, trust me and you’ll love your photos forever.