What Makes a Good Boudoir Photograph?

by | Feb 21, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Boudoir and glamour photography has its roots in the pin-up or cheesecake photography of the 1940’s and ’50’s but over time it evolved. While early glamour photography was studio bound and many photographers still prefer that style it doesn’t mean your images can’t be made on location.

Any successful boudoir photograph can include some of the following elements:

  • Sexiness. Boudoir and glamour photography focuses on the depiction of a subject with a strong emphasis on sensuality but today’s trend is toward a more natural look.
  • Technique: The use of make-up, camera and lighting techniques to produce an appealing and sometimes romanticized vision of the subject. While some photographers prefer gritty realism, put me in the former group.
  • Sharp focus? Some photographers such as the late Peter Gowland preferred crisply rendered images while others like to add touch of softness along with filters, lenses or retouching to the portrait in the digital darkroom. It’s up to you because ultimately it all comes down to the…
  • Subject: Having rapport with your subject helps create the uniquely collaborative effort that’s required in boudoir photography. Your subject must be comfortable being photographed wearing less clothes than normal and it’s the photographer’s job to make sure they are relaxed because it will make the session go smoothly and let you both create the best possible images.

How I made this shot: I photographed Pam Simpson, outside the door to my home studio using an Olympus E-M10 Mark I. See my post, Boudoir & Glamour Photography with Entry Level SLRs. Lens was the wonderful Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8. Lighting was a from a Purple Haze Paul C Buff Alien Bee B800 monolight with an 18-inch OMNI Reflector and diffusion sock in place. Tip: I seldom shoot at full power, typically aiming to get a working aperture of f/8 and adjust flash output accordingly. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/8 and ISO 250. Image processed in Silver Efex Pro and toned using PhotoKit 2.

If you would like to learn how to shoot better portraits and would like some hands-on training, please check out my 2019 1-on-1 workshops.


Pam is featured in the pages and on the cover of my book Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography.  There are several posts about posing on this blog. Use the Search box in the upper right-hand corner and type “posing” to find appropriate posts. If you want something more lasting, take a look at my book that’s available new from Amazon for $18.38 or $13.50 used as I write this, Kindle version is $20.99 for those who prefer a digital format.