As a lifestyle photographer, I often find myself being asked about different styles of photography and what I prefer to shoot. My answer is always people! The truth is, whether it is a college graduation session or a friend who needs a new headshot, I love being able to help someone capture a moment and provide them with photos they love and want to show off!
Recently, a friend of mine asked me for tips for taking boudoir photos as a wedding present for her fiancé. They’re on a budget, so she wanted to do them herself from home. I compiled a simplified list of what I know and can apply from my photography experience. All you need to get started is yourself and your phone camera.
Pamper yourself before your photoshoot! Whatever self-care practices that make you feel your best will only boost your confidence for your at-home boudoir sesh. Whether you shave any part of your body, never miss a full-body moisturize after a shower, or have a go-to skincare routine (or all three), we recommend a good self-care moment before any other step!
Next, choose the location of the photos. Find a place where you feel comfortable. Whether it’s your bedroom, or another room in your home that feels private for you, make sure you feel free to be completely uninhibited and sexy! Be mindful of backgrounds and clean the area. Avoid busy patterns or bold colors that distract from the main focus of the image – you!
Now that you’ve found the perfect setup, let’s find the perfect lighting for your space.
Lighting is key to making any photo look more professional. If your comfortable place has a natural light source, use that to your advantage! If not, get some cheap ring lights that clip onto your phone.
Utilizing a window as a natural light source is the easiest way to take photos with great lighting – and it’s free! Lighting can also change the mood of the photo. Do you want the photo to feel more dramatic? Or maybe you’re looking to create some mystery and intrigue? It’s completely up to you! The direction of your light can completely change the final image. If you want a silhouette photo, position the light source behind you. This can highlight the shape of your body as more of a tease. Want to show more detail? Position yourself diagonally from the light source to avoid any harsh direct lighting.
Choose your outfit(s)!
Finally, the fun part! Picking an outfit you feel confident and comfortable in is a crucial step in getting photos you love. This can be as simple as an oversized button-up, a t-shirt you already have, or a stunning new piece of lingerie. The amount of skin you show has no correlation to sexiness level… sometimes a little mystery is fun!
I recommend trying a little of both; Start with a button-up or a silky robe for some photos. Then, try some in lingerie or even nude!
Timer + Tripod
Setting up a timer on your phone is not always intuitive. There are three ways to accomplish this.
One alternative I recommend, if you feel comfortable posing, is to take a video with continuous movement and differing poses. Then you can pause the video on your favorite poses and take screenshots! This streamlines the process for the whole shoot.
The third option, which can also be used in conjunction with either option above, would be to purchase a Bluetooth remote for your phone! You can find these on Amazon for less than $10. Then you avoid having to move out of your pose to start and restart the timer/video.
For a tripod, you can prop your phone up on whatever you have or order a cheap, small tripod on Amazon!
While shooting at eye level is always a good choice, a slightly higher or lower angle can help shape the mood of the photo and/or even better emphasize your pose (more on that next). Try shots from a low angle with the phone looking up towards you for a more dominant vibe or, for a more submissive/passive vibe, shoot from a high angle with the phone looking down towards you.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for – the poses! There are endless poses and angles you can try for these photos. Search Pinterest for some you like and save them to a private board so you can refer to them as you take the photos. There are also a lot of ideas on TikTok and Instagram Reels! I do this for every photo session I have, no matter who the subject is. Also, keep in mind that all of the shots do not have to be full body! Try taking a few detailed shots of your neck, back, etc. to get a variety of photos using one position. Alternate between looking at the camera and looking away, smiling and not smiling, and see which combination you prefer!
For this pose you want to start with your back turned to the camera. This works best on the edge of the bed but can also be on the floor or a flat surface. If you are able, kneel so your butt rests on the heels of your feet. The most important piece of this is to arch your back as much as you can which will emphasize your best curves! Switch the placement of your hands between shots: on top of your head, one to your side, hugging yourself, etc.
Between the Sheets
This pose works best on a bed if you’re using a sheet but can be adapted for the floor or a chair with a blanket. Sit on the corner of the bed (or edge of the chair) and arch your back. If you are able, point your toes to elongate your legs. Use the sheet or blanket to cover whatever you want! Leave a little mystery!
On Your Knees
This pose can work anywhere! Kneel on a surface and spread your knees. Tilt your hips forward so that your back arches and your chest is forward. You can also shift your weight more to one side to add more of an angle! Lift your arms above your head – play around with having them in frame or out of frame. If you’re wearing a robe or a button-up, this would be a great pose to grab the shirt with your hands or let it fall off one shoulder.
Have fun with it!
Being in front of a camera can be a vulnerable experience – regardless of whether you are taking spicy snaps or not. Remember you are in control of the situation and what you show and don’t show. The more comfortable you are, the more you can allow yourself to relax and enjoy the process.
Consent is important.
If you’re keeping these photos just for you, great! If you are sending them to another person, remember to ask permission before sending them a photo. No one likes a random NSFW picture to pop up on their phone without warning!