Boudoir: Take the Leap (Even if You’re Single)

by | Dec 26, 2021 | Personal Style

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“I don’t know how to be sexy” she says as she sips her latte, “I’m just not that kind of girl.”

We are sitting in a local coffee shop, in plush, oversized velvet chairs. 

This is Rachael’s initial meeting with me to plan her boudoir session. I’ve chosen this space for a reason…  The intimate ambiance mirrors how I structure my shoots: inviting, comfortable, relaxing. 

Relaxation is the key to everything in boudoir photography. 

“Okay” I smile warmly. “You don’t have to be ‘sexy’. In fact, you can be anything you want to be.” 

When you take your clothing off or wrap yourself up as a sexy package to pose for my camera, I see you at your most vulnerable. 

But not in the way you might think.

What I don’t see? 

The physical anxieties that worry you. 

I never see wrinkles and cellulite. I never notice stretch marks or the weird mole on your shoulder. 

Instead, I see the vulnerability that comes with being your full self.  I witness your inner strength, your softness, your natural grace. In physicality I behold the curve of a hip and the roundness of a breast- as a visual extension of this self worth celebrating.

Through this transformative process of posing for the camera and the resulting portraits, my clients also begin to see themselves this way. 

Like most of my clients, Rachael is both driven to indulge in a sexy boudoir shoot and frightened of what she sees as a performative demand she cannot live up to. She wonders what sort of editing magic I can employ to take her from ordinary “Thirty Something Mom” to Sex Goddess. She worries she won’t know how to pose, won’t know how to fix her face in a look that beckons, or will simply be unable to turn herself into what she sees on my website. 

Rachael doesn’t yet know my secret. 

The real magic of boudoir photography has nothing to do with the liquify tool in Photoshop. 

Why strip down and take the plunge? 

You’re shaking in your lace corselette and eyeballing the bottle of champagne I’ve put on ice. You wonder if it’s a courtesy or a tool to embolden yourself. Part of you reaches for a glass while the rest is saying you’ve made a terrible mistake…

Don’t worry- you aren’t alone. 

But boudoir isn’t what you fear. 

In fact, most women leave my studio having had the most empowering experience of their life. 

Want to know more?

I’ve rounded up five of the best reasons to just book the damn thing already… 

History Compels You

Boudoir shot of woman Intimate portraiture extends back to antiquity. Female bodies in the nude can be found from as far back as prehistoric times. The human form has inspired the minds of artists since we began creating art.

This sort of art has been used for varied purposes throughout time – to inspire, teach, incite scandal, or to celebrate the pleasures of the flesh. 

From prehistoric statues honoring the divinity of creation and birth to Greek depictions of perfect god-like bodies to the erotic, tradition-bucking explorations of painters in 17th century Europe – women’s bodies have long been showcased for audiences. 

So where does all this history of naked women leave you, the woman thinking about hiring a boudoir photographer? No more are we merely the muse for art meant to provoke or inspire. The modern femme is free to commission her own portraiture, to suit her own purposes. 

The countless women who have walked this path before you reach back to nearly the beginning of human life. From cave paintings to religious iconography, you’re in the company of your sisters when you capture your own sensual form. 

The Birth Of Boudoir: A Rebellious Act

Boudoir shot of coupleWhile intimate images were nothing new in history, the invention of photography brought erotica to a new medium around the turn of the century. 

Credited to Albert Arthur Allen, an American photographer, boudoir photography first showed up in societal lexicons in the 1920’s. Nude photography was illegal in many parts of the world at the time, yet Mr. Allen continued to create what was seen as scandalous art of women who bucked the fashion trend of thin, boy-like bodies by using in his portraits women of size. 

In order to get around the social taboos of nakedness, “boudoir” (or a woman’s private chambers) photography was born and captured women in states of provocative undress, as they would be imagined behind closed doors. 

By the 1940’s, the tides turned on viewing half naked women. 

Pin-up girls hit the social scene. 

Portraits of cute, curvy women were all the rage in France. Popular starlets of the time became muses for this art form. Adorable, prop heavy images dominated for several decades before, in the 1970’s, boudoir photography shifted yet again to a more erotic, glamourous form. 

If “appropriateness” of intimate portraiture has historically been at the whims of society, and your intuition leads you to discover what boudoir could mean for you… then you’ve been born in the right century, my dear. 

No longer do we grapple with questions about the appropriateness of consenting adults sharing their various states of undress. 

But what should be freeing comes at a cost. $250 billion a year, to be exact.

Rebel from Modern Advertising 

Naked woman looking in mirrorYou see, modern advertising sells inadequacy and does it well. It’s a 250 billion a year industry in the United States alone, yet they’ve convinced most of us that our bodies are inadequate. 

And here is how Boudoir Photography still retains its rebellious past:

You may not be risking arrest by commissioning a portrait of yourself nude, but you are participating in dismantling the archaic viewpoints baked into our society. 

To joyfully experience the delight of appreciating your body is to clap back at the cultural demand that we must hate our own flesh in order to be better primed to purchase products meant to “fix” our flaws. 

So what happens when we…

…radically accept our bodies, 

…play to our strengths, 

…and create a photography experience that speaks to the deepest desires of our hearts? 

There’s the Magic. That’s the real secret.

Buck that trend, babe. Your body is glorious, perfectly imperfect, and worth archiving. Yes, even yours. Especially yours. 

Lingerie: The Ultimate Indulgence We All Deserve

I don’t know about you but my favorite set of PJs are nearly paper thin these days. ChecBoudoir of woman's chest

Every night I push aside the little lavender teddy my husband likes to see on me and slip into my well worn, cozy cotton pants and soft-from-countless-washings tshirt and fall into bed. 

Were there days when I swathed myself in lace and silk to lure a lover? Clearly there must have been but I can’t even remember. 

One of the pleasures of booking your boudoir shoot is a sudden and urgent desire to peruse the catalogs of delicate underthings you wouldn’t otherwise purchase. 

Bustiers, corselettes, silk crotchless panties, and cupless bras, oh my! 

A romp through an erotic shop of playthings is a bit shocking and a lot titalating. A body harness? Oh yes. Pick up a few things that make you blush and lean into that heated ardor you’re feeling. 

Selecting items can be overwhelming, especially when you are usually wearing well worn cotton to bed. It can help to think about how you want your final images to feel. 

Not sure where to begin your search for lingerie? I recommend Thistle and Spire and Cosabella

Sexy and bold? Soft and romantic? Are you channeling the power of Cleopatra? Would you like to push your boundaries or keep it simple and classic? The overall theme will emerge to guide you.

This Is Not A Gift For A Lover

Front Boudoir photo Boudoir is a gift for yourself. 

From the Venus of Willendorf to the Italian Renaissance, visual art has proclaimed appreciation for the beauty of women’s bodies. 

But in the age of consumerism, we forget the legacy of the pleasure in our flesh. We appreciate and idolize other women’s bodies while we shame our own. 

Often the mental leap around this objection is by couching the capture of our own bodies as a gift for our ardent lover. Purchasing a product and packaging it up in a sexy red bow feels somehow less vain or provocative to our sensibilities.

This is why I was meeting with Rachael.  

Rachael had booked her session as an anniversary gift for her husband. 

They’ve been married 12 years now and she’s been feeling a little physically disconnected. 

They pay bills, squabble over who last loaded the dishwasher, run kids to practices and playdates, and fall asleep on the couch watching Friday night Must See T.V. Her sexlife is a little drab and she’s thinking this Little Black Book gift might turn him on and bring some spice back. 

The big surprise for her during the reveal appointment was: the person most excited was Rachael herself. 

While your partner is likely to love a gifted album, it’s you who will benefit most from the experience. You- opened up by seeing yourself in this new and sensuous version of yourself. 

And that’s where the real spice lies. Every client, to a woman, has said the same thing when they see the gallery:

I can’t believe that’s really me. 

But what if you’re single? 

Single ladies take note: booking a boudoir session for yourself can also help you connect deeply with the raw power inside your own sexuality. 

Just because you’re not currently engaged in a commitment to a lover doesn’t mean you cannot tap into your own erogenous self. Boudoir photography is a transformative experience, wherein you discover a facet of your being you may never have stopped to consider. 

A Good Photographer Walks You Through Your Session

Nude photo of womanPerhaps you’re like Rachael,-terrified that you won’t be able to “pull off” the shoot? 

You’re picking yourself apart and you’re scared you don’t know how to “be sexy”. 

During our planning, I spend a great deal of time creating space for clients to let go of their normal cloud of critical self-judgement. 

I cannot open up your head and wipe clean all the things you hate about yourself. Instead I encourage you to see the shoot as a sort of pampering. We seem to have a better grasp as a society on indulging in spa days than seeing ourselves as the carnal, sexy creatures we are.

And those carnal delights start with the cozy, warm set up I talked about at the initial meeting and lead to indulging cravings for decadent chocolate and liquors, splurging on physical pampering by hiring professionals to coiff and style your hair and makeup, to layers of sumptuous fabrics on which to position yourself before the camera. 

Our goal is empowerment: To create whatever incarnation you so desire. 

Buried under years of picking yourself apart is a smoldering babe, begging to be unveiled. 

Posing is probably the most frequent question I field during our planning get-togethers. The best images make it seem as if the photographer just happened to stumble into the lady’s boudoir and hit the shutter button on her perfectly aligned body.

In reality, it takes a lot of posing to come up with “natural” looking but flattering body positioning. 

Boudoir may be about presenting your body the way it is in this moment, but it doesn’t hurt to tease it into favorable positions. Lighting, too, creates the mood and enhances what you were given by nature. Boudoir should be YOUR body… but on it’s very best day.

Your Body is Worth Honoring


Woman's legsFar from an exhaustive list, the reasons above only begin to scratch the surface behind booking a boudoir experience for yourself (or even the woman you love!) Exploring multiple versions of yourself could have you taking the plunge multiple times, even. 

After being so delighted to see herself through the lens as my muse, Rachael went on to have another baby and eventually booked another experience after losing the weight from this final pregnancy. 

We planned a completely different feel for her new shoot but one no more or less important than the previous. Ultimately, she unveiled a different version of herself than before – no better or worse but equally as worthy of capturing. . 

All of Rachael’s incarnations are worth honoring, loving, and remembering 

And so are yours.