Half-naked in the woods
Define "Sexy" For Yourself
Don't go into this shoot thinking you need to look, dress or pose a specific way to be "boudoir."
The only true definition of boudoir is a private room. So act and dress as you feel comfortable, as if you were in a private room of your own. You decided what that means.
This also means you decide what you look like. Fancy underwear, no underwear, fully clothed? That's your choice! You just have to find the right photographer who is comfortable shooting whatever you decide.
Boudoir is supposed to be sensual. That word is completely subjective to you and your potential intended audience. For me, I had openly discussed doing this shoot as a wedding gift for my now husband, Joel. To ensure we both felt comfortable, I opened up Torrid's lingerie section and told him to pick out what he liked best. Not one for frilly or fussy lingerie, he picked out a bra and cheeky panty set, that made us both comfortable with what would and especially wouldn't be photographed. As long as you are comfortable within the boundaries you set, your photos will be beautiful.
Nowhere in this guide will you find instructions on how to diet or exercise for your shoot. I'm telling you your body is 100% boudoir ready as you are right this second. You are beautiful, captivating and worthy, now you just need to find the right photographer to capture you.
Find a photographer with plus-sized clients in their portfolio
Your preferred photographer may not have had plus-sized boudoir clients, which is not uncommon depending on who approaches them and what the client has determined about how their photographs are shared(more on this later.) But if the photographer has beautiful shots of plus-sized people proudly on display, you can be sure they know the intricacies of photographing a plus-sized body,.
All body types do not photograph the same.
All photography is a mastery of light and angles.
And I'm not talking about that loaded word "flattering," I'm talking about honesty and accuracy. Every angle creates an effect. If your photographer is used to small to average height clients, the same angles will not work on a tall client, unless they were going for a Godzilla inspired look.
The same guidelines applies to different bodies.
I had worked with my boudoir photographer for my first engagement shoot, and knew the diverse range of body types in her work. So I had full confidence that she would photograph me with sensitivity, respect and honesty. The photos from my shoot are 100% honest to my body. Not one lump or roll has been photoshopped... trust me. While mass media would not call them all "flattering", they are my body, which I wholeheartedly love and so does the person who received the photos as a gift.
This is an important rule for all types of photography. I ran into this somewhat when my husband and I chose our wedding photographer. We fell in love with her style first and foremost, which is incredibly important to the end result photos. However her previous clients didn't quite match our body types, but I'd done other photoshoots and didn't think it would be an issue. Our photographer is a bit shorter than my husband's 5'11 or my 5'8 plus 4 inch heels. And so for our engagement/get-to-know the photographer shoot, she was at a height disadvantage, and shot as she typically did from a lower angle. The final photos were not what we were expecting. Luckily for Joel and I, our wedding photographer is an incredible person. We were able to have an honest and open discussion, and we both agreed to do some research, angles for her and poses for me. She also graciously offered to redo the shoot. The results were magical, and our wedding day photos even more so. But this was a special situation; we had months before the wedding to learn. When you're doing a one-time shoot like boudoir, you unfortunately do not have that luxury.
Do your research and talk to the photographer. It is possible that they may have had clients who did not wish to be published online or appear in social media, but their photos are available for prospective clients.
How to Get Comfortable
The way to be best prepared for your shoot is two-fold.
1. Practice your hair and makeup before the day
Similar to a wedding day, you want to feel your best. If the hair and makeup you're trying are out of your normal routine, any discomfort will come across on camera. Unless you're an underwear/bathing suit model, it already feels a bit awkward posing in your skivvies and owning your sexuality. If possible, practice your hair and makeup, and take a whole bunch of selfies. Learn how to work voluminous curls or bat those falsies, without gluing your eye shut.
I have a penchant for looking like the Beast during his makeover before dinner with Belle with fresh tight curls, so for my shoot I knew softer, hand-combed curls would help lessen the awkward. I also decided to do my own makeup so I was able to practice the perfect level of dewy skin.
If you're interested, tune in to next week's video, which will be a make-up tutorial of the look I did for my boudoir shoot. Subscribe to make sure you don't miss it!
2. How to be comfortable during the shoot
Make sure the shoot day is not your first day meeting your photographer in person! Try to meet up for coffee, so you get to know their personality. Are the jokey or are they soft-spoken? It will let you know what to expect of them on the big day.
I had the advantage of my photographer being my maid of honor. But that didn't mean it wasn't awkward, especially for sexier poses.
Music that makes you feel good, or can't help shaking it to, is a great relaxer as well as an inspiration when you feel stuck in the same poses. Posed shots are great, but the real emotion comes from those in-between candid moments, and music is my favorite way to let all the worries go. Plus no one can hear what you're listening to in photos.
Another trick is to give yourself clothing options that don't compromise your vision. So maybe you're not ready to go full on model for the very first click; choose a sheer cover up or a beautiful wrap that allows you a slow reveal, and the time to get comfortable in your own skin. A great photographer will know how to morph your shyness into the most irresistible coquette.
Do You Research & Know What You Want
This shoot was done mostly to make a really cool wedding day present for my then future hubby. But that doesn't mean every shot was meant to scintillating. I also wanted photos that showed how beautiful I felt to be becoming a wife.
My photographer is also an adventurer, so I knew beforehand from discussing our ideas that she wanted to blend the beauty of nature with the beauty of the human body. So after a ton of shots in a sunsoaked bedroom, we continued the shoot outside! Thank goodness we rented a remote cabin, and that the neighbors weren't our neighbors.
FYI, pebbles are not comfy to sit on, but they make for killer shots.
I knew I'd end up with the most beautifully crafted shots of a moment in my life amidst all the craziness of wedding planning, and before that walk down the aisle. My confidence and excitement radiates through every photo. And now I have intimate shots meant for the most exclusive of eyes, but also some incredible photos I can publicly post advocating for people to realize they are worthy of the feeling you get from being photographed in a style meant to showcase your beauty and strength, self-love and maybe worthy of a little bit of worship.
Don't forget, you control what your shoot looks like, the photographer is there to guide you and capture the ride!
I saved the most important guideline for last: Set Your Own Rules (and stick to them)
From what you're wearing (or not wearing); the poses you want and don't want; and what you're willing to let your photographer share, these rules help you feel in control in the most vulnerable of circumstances.
Your shoot is going to be incredible, and if your photographer is social media savvy, they're going to want to show you off- so it's a good idea to discuss with them beforehand, and even put it in the contract, what they can and can't share of you. I set a rule with Victoria not to post any full body shots from the shoot. Close ups, and chest up shots were all cool, though I even ok'd some shots where the shadows made me feel comfortable the image was more art than erotic. Like I said, this shoot was done as a gift for my husband and I therefore wanted the most personal shots to be kept for his eyes only. Even in making this video and blog, I took his feelings into consideration when choosing what to and not to include.
But if she has a plus-sized client sincerely interested in boudoir, but unsure that their body is good enough, Victoria has my permission to show them my photos, as an example of the care and respect she puts into her work.
The most important thing to take away from this guide, is that you get to decide what your shoot looks like. All the adjectives I used mean different things to different people, and that is wonderful. What makes one person feel confident, and beautiful is going to be different from another's, but they are all worthy of being documented.
If you guys have any questions, leave them in the comments below, or click the contact button if you prefer the privacy.