The Best Tips For Boudoir Photo Shoot Preparation (Hint: You Should Start 2 Months Early)

Whether you're planning it as a gift for a special someone or you're doing it as a gift to yourself, a boudoir photo shoot is meant to make you feel amazingly sexy, beautiful, and empowered. But let's face it, the idea of stripping down in front of a professional photographer for a series of intimate photos can seem a bit daunting to the average person.


Fortunately, those who specialize in boudoir photography know how to put their clients at ease before and during the photo shoot, but knowing what to expect and how to prepare for a photo shoot of this nature can also help relax the nerves. Boston-based boudoir photographer Allana Taranto said her No. 1 piece of advice to those who have decided to book a boudoir session is to trust themselves. "Signing up to do a boudoir shoot can be a little scary — but you have it in you," she tells Vienne Milano.

If you're thinking of booking a boudoir photo shoot but aren't sure what to expect, we've compiled a list of the best tips to help you feel as prepared and comfortable as possible before the big day.


Hire a professional

First and foremost, you want to ensure you're hiring a professional who has experience doing boudoir photo shoots, especially if this is your first time. When you choose your photographer, you'll want to feel comfortable with them since you'll be at your most vulnerable during the shoot. You are absolutely encouraged to interview multiple photographers to ensure the person you end up entrusting with your boudoir shoot is a good fit for you.


Alexandra Jo is a boudoir photographer who writes that the connection between photographer and client is extremely important in ensuring you will be happy with the finished product. She suggests chatting with your photographer a few times — either through email, text messages, or in person — prior to your first appointment. "The first step in feeling comfortable during your boudoir shoot is to trust the person behind the camera," she writes on her blog. This will also allow you time to discuss the budget and any other questions or concerns you may have about the photo shoot.

Talk about expectations

You and your photographer will be a team on the day of your photo shoot but for that team to work effectively you both must be on the same page when it comes to expectations and desires. Knowing what look and vibe you want before you go into your session will help your photographer understand what poses will work best and will help make you as comfortable as possible.


Photographer Sasha Reiko suggests browsing the internet to get an idea of what kinds of images you like. "Find boudoir images that you are drawn to and figure out what they have in common, if anything. From here you can begin to visualize what type of session you want," she says. After that, you can discuss your likes and dislikes with your photographer and the two of you can decide on how you want to plan out the session so you're as comfortable as possible.

Tour the boudoir studio ahead of time

Touring the boudoir studio ahead of time will not only allow you to meet your photographer and discuss any ideas with them, but it will also allow you to really start to feel comfortable with the space. "When searching for the right boudoir photographer it is always so important to research the space where you will be photographed in," blogger Jillian Doores writes for Boudoir Studios New York. She adds that feeling safe and comfortable in the studio space is paramount to a successful photo session.


This will also help you envision your photo shoot before the day of your appointment. Seeing the space will help you plan any poses you may want to try as well as get a feel for what props will be available to you. Many studios will schedule online tours if visiting in person isn't an option. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the better you will feel when you arrive on the day of your photo shoot.

Plan any tattoos in advance

A boudoir photoshoot is a perfect opportunity to show off any ink you may have, but if you've been thinking of getting a new tattoo for your pictures, you're going to want to plan well in advance to ensure you're giving your tattoo enough time to fully heal, especially if it will be front and center in your pictures. "This is your last opportunity to get any tattoos you want presented in your session," the experts at Supernova Boudoir say. No less than two months out is the timing they recommend, noting that "it is next to impossible to edit out scabs and flaky skin on tattoos."


The same can be said for cosmetic tattoo procedures you'll have done, including microblading.

Go shopping for outfits

If you've been looking for an excuse to update your lingerie drawer or add a few new cute and sexy outfits to your closet, there's no better reason than a boudoir shoot. Part of preparing for your photo shoot is deciding on what you want to wear, and what the vibe for the shoot will be. Although many women like to wear lingerie for their pictures, others prefer something simple like a plain white undershirt with a pair of boy shorts, or a classic button-up dress shirt.


There are no rules when it comes to boudoir shoots other than you should wear something you feel comfortable and sexy in. Once you decide what look you're going for, you can go shopping to find a variety of options you think will work. If you're unsure about the kind of outfits you'd like to wear, head to the internet to check out other photo shoots to see what appeals to you. You can also pick some of your favorite wardrobe pieces out of your own closet and buy accessories to wear with them. Whatever you choose, make sure you feel great when you wear it.

Don't forget your shoes

You've shopped for a few new outfits, but there's still one additional essential must-have for your boudoir photo shoot that may slip your mind: shoes! You may be barefoot for lots of different photos, but if you're looking for any pictures with shoes, you're going to want to make sure you've packed the best choices.


Rebecca Sheets of Rebecca Sheets Photography is a fan of high heels." Heels elongate and slim the legs and are a perfect touch to any look!" she says, adding that she's always available to help choose which pair will look best, and encourages her clients to bring multiple pairs to their session. 

Even if you don't wear heels on the regular, this is the one time you may want to invest in a sexy pair of stilettos to get the full experience from your photo shoot. Cowboy boots are another fun idea, especially if you have any western-themed photos planned.

Give yourself time for any big hair changes

Are you looking to change your hair before your boudoir appointment? Maybe you're looking for a fresh cut or a new color for the pictures. If so, book these appointments about two weeks before your photo shoot is scheduled. This allows you the time to not only get used to your new look but also enough time for any fixes or updates you may need. Touch up any roots and get any trims done about a week out, so you're not rushed.


If you're thinking of adding some hair extensions for your photo shoot, you will want those done at least a few days before your boudoir session. If you're just using clip-ins or other temporary extensions, make sure you book a trial run with your hair stylist in advance so you know exactly how they're going to look on you. You want to make sure you're feeling the best you can about yourself on the day of your shoot and having any unexpected hair issues can cause a lot of undue stress.

Book hair and makeup services for the shoot

Many boudoir photographers offer packages that include hair and makeup services, but if yours doesn't, you may want to line up your own hair and makeup professionals for the big day. Booking your own professionals also allows you to work with people you're already comfortable with and have a history with, as opposed to someone you're meeting for the first time on the day of your shoot.


While you can always do your hair and makeup yourself, having professionals on hand to take care of these services allows you time to focus on other elements of the day and ensures that you are stress-free and camera-ready when you need to be. You may like how you do your makeup for everyday wear, but that may not be the best look for the camera, and a professional hair stylist can also ensure that your hair looks great for the duration of your photo shoot.

Get limber for poses

Any professional model will tell you that posing in front of the camera isn't as easy as it looks, and boudoir photography often requires a bit more movement than traditional photos. Many of the poses involve a lot of arching of the back and elongating the body to get the best angles for the camera. "To get your body ready for all the weird and unusual ways it's about to move, do some stretches for the entire week leading up to your session to lessen the amount of pain you will be in afterward," says boudoir photographer Candace Perry of Beautiful You Studios.


Perry also says that most experienced boudoir photographers will know which poses will work for you and which won't, and they will work around your abilities to lessen any strain or discomfort you may feel. Stretching beforehand will just allow the poses they set you in to come more naturally on the day of your photo shoot.

Decide whether to spray tan or not to spray tan

Many people simply feel better when they have a bit of a tan, so it can be tempting to break out the self-tanner or go for a spray tan before a boudoir shoot. One thing most professionals seem to agree on is that self-tanning and sunbathing are bad ideas before a boudoir shoot. "Unfortunately, tan lines are not easily removable in post-processing so it's best to avoid the sun altogether leading up to the shoot," the experts at J'adore Boudoir Photography suggest.


Tanning sprays can leave the skin streaky or orange, so if you're going to go for a spray tan make sure it's done by a professional. Photographer Alexandra Jo notes that spray tans can help enhance your figure. "A professional can do a little "body-contouring" to accentuate the features you love and downplay the ones you don't," she says.

If you think you'd like to be sun-kissed for your boudoir shoot, go for a trial spray tan first to ensure the color and quality are what you're looking for. Do not wait for the day before your photo shoot to get your spray tan; try to do it at least 48 hours before so you know if there are any areas you're not happy with.

Consider the best time to wax and shave

If you've never waxed before and think that a boudoir session is a perfect excuse to book that Brazilian you've been tempted to try, you may want to rethink your timing. Your waxing appointment should be booked a few days in advance of your session to ensure you don't have any adverse reactions. Unscripted, an app for posing and photography, recommends against waxing or shaving immediately before your session as "these processes can sometimes cause inflammation, drawing undue attention to your bikini line or underarms." You may also be tempted to book a dermaplane appointment before your session, but you should also do this a few days in advance to avoid any potential reactions.


Fine baby hair will be much easier for your photographer to edit out of a picture in post-production than razor bumps or burns, so make sure you are giving yourself some time between waxing or shaving and your appointment.

Indulge in some self-care

A boudoir photo shoot is a perfect excuse to indulge in some serious self-care. (Not that you need an excuse!) If you want to make sure your skin is looking luminous for your photo shoot, book a facial a few days in advance and go for some pampering. 


Your hands and feet will also play a prominent role in boudoir photo shoots, so you want to make sure you put as much time and effort into making them look good as you do for your hair and makeup. Book your manicure and pedicure for the day before your photo shoot and pay attention to the colors you choose. Boudoir photographer Suzy Goodrick suggests choosing your polish colors carefully, noting that neutrals are a better choice than bright colors.

Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol

Starting about a week before your photo shoot, you'll want to ensure you're staying properly hydrated. This is going to make your skin look amazing and you'll feel better too. You're paying a lot of money for the shoot so you'll want to make sure you're doing everything you can to look and feel your best. That may also include cutting out any alcohol as well for a few days before you step in front of the camera.


Drinking enough water can literally help your skin glow, and cutting out alcohol can ensure you're not puffy or bloated. "There is nothing worse than a severely hungover person at a photo shoot," warns the team at Wonderland Boudoir. "There are a lot of things we can fix in post, but hungover isn't one of them." If you know you have a big event planned or an occasion where you want to be able to indulge in a few drinks, plan the timing of your photo shoot accordingly.

Exfoliate to reveal glowing skin

You want your skin glowing the day of your photo shoot and that means getting rid of any dead and dry skin. Starting around a week before your appointment, begin exfoliating your skin regularly. On the morning of your appointment, get out that sugar scrub and exfoliate from your head to your toes. Not only does this make your skin glow, but it also makes it appear more youthful.


Once you're done exfoliating, make sure you moisturize. The team at Sugar & Spice Photography notes that this is an important step because of the shimmer, sheen, and suppleness it will add to your skin, which will look great in your finished photos. They also suggest avoiding any Retin-A or alpha hydroxy skin creams before your shoot as they can cause your skin to dry out and peel.

Get lots of sleep

A lot goes into preparing for a successful boudoir shoot so it's important that you show up on the day of your appointment feeling great. That means in addition to having your outfits planned and your glam scheduled, you're also well rested. Try to avoid scheduling your photo shoot the day after a big event or after an evening when you know you're going to be out late, especially if it's an event where you're going to want to indulge in a cocktail or two.


Try to make sure you're getting enough sleep not only the night before the big day but for a few days in advance to ensure you look rested and fresh. You don't want to be dealing with dark circles and bags under your eyes for these pictures, and getting a good night's sleep before your photo shoot will ensure you have lots of energy to get through the day.

Make sure you eat well; don't stress about your weight

Boudoir photography is about loving your body and embracing how you look, so stressing out over your weight or trying some crash diet to lose a few pounds before your session is not the way to go. Everyone wants to look and feel good during a boudoir shoot, but you also don't want to deprive yourself and be left with no energy. 


Simply be mindful of your food choices for a week or two before your shoot so that you feel as good as possible. Try to avoid any foods that may cause your skin to break out or anything that may cause you to bloat. As photographer Alexandra Jo points out, "you have been given this wonderful body and you are beautiful no matter what your shape or size is! You'll get to see that after your boudoir shoot but if your nerves are getting the best of you beforehand, just remember that everyone has something they don't like about their body and no one is perfect."

On the day of your photo shoot, the team at Bella Jade Boudoir suggests choosing certain foods to ensure you have the stamina needed for the day. "[The] best advice for anyone worried about how eating might affect how they look in their photos — choose clean eating," they recommend, adding that "Whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, yogurts, and lean meats are a great place to start."


Avoid restrictive clothing on the way to your shoot

Choosing the outfit you wear to your photo shoot is almost as important as choosing the outfit you're going to wear during your photo shoot. Comfort will be key, meaning you're going to want to avoid anything tight-fitting, including socks and undergarments. "This leaves indents in the skin that will show in your photographs!" photographer Rebecca Sheets says. "Come to your session in a loose t-shirt or sweatshirt, baggy sweatpants, or a flowy dress, and throw on some sandals, furry boots, or even your slippers."


Think about what your skin looks like after taking your bra or socks off after a long day, and you'll quickly realize why you should avoid anything tight on your skin before the session. It can sometimes take hours for those marks to go away so loose-fitting clothes is the way to go.

Keep a schedule

Being relaxed and at ease is crucial in having a successful boudoir shoot, so make sure you give yourself lots of time to do all the things you need for the day, so you're not rushed. This may mean you should keep a schedule of the day and a few days before to ensure everything goes according to plan. Not only do you want to include all your appointments, but you should also allow time for packing your outfits, picking out accessories, and writing down everything you want to bring so you don't forget anything.


Although your photographer is skilled at keeping you on track during your shoot, going in prepared and knowing that you have everything you need will put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy the day. If you're stressing about when your hair and makeup will be done or running around the day of your appointment picking out different outfits, your stress may come through in your photos.

Pack snacks for the day

Just as it's important to have something to eat before you arrive at your boudoir shoot to ensure you have energy and aren't shooting on an empty stomach, it's also a good idea to pack some snacks to munch on during the day. A typical boudoir photo shoot can last anywhere from two to four hours, so having a few light snacks on hand can be helpful and prevent you from becoming hangry. Posing can be hard work and you will probably work up a bit of an appetite.


Photographer Suzy Goodrick suggests bringing something light, like a granola bar or some fruit to snack on when your stomach starts growling. Many photographers will also offer a selection of snacks and some may even offer champagne to help you relax for the shoot. Double-check to see what your photographer offers so you know what to bring. Pack lots of water too so you can stay hydrated throughout the shoot.

Bring multiple outfit options

You've combed through your closet and traipsed through the mall until you found the perfect outfits for your session, so you should be good, right? Absolutely, but you still want to bring extra outfits to your appointment. Variety is always good to have and you never know how you'll be feeling on the day of your photo shoot. It's the same as when you pack for a trip away and you pack a few extra separates just in case you aren't feeling those preset outfits.


Giving yourself options means that if you're suddenly not comfortable in that outfit you brought, or something isn't fitting the way you thought it would you aren't panicking and wearing something that you don't feel amazing in. You'll be able to change quickly if something doesn't feel right. There is nothing more important than you feeling comfortable, sexy, and at ease during this shoot, so having options is a great idea.

Pack a touch-up kit

Even if you get your hair and makeup done for your session, and you've had your nails done in advance, there's always a chance that you may need a touch-up during the shoot. Maybe your lipstick got smudged, you lost a hair clip, or you chipped a nail. Always have a touch-up kit of those essential items on hand for quick fixes when needed. If you booked your own hair and makeup people, forgoing the photographer's team, chances are they won't be there throughout your entire session. Having a few much-needed items close by can be handy.


Changing outfits and poses is hard work so it's not surprising if you start to shine a bit, or if your hair needs a few extra shots of hair spray. Having a kit of those essential items will allow you to keep your look fresh throughout the day, and you won't be stressing about little things like eating or drinking because you'll be able to touch up your makeup as needed.

Don't be afraid to accessorize

You can keep it simple during your photo session or you can bring along a few accessories to add a sexy, glammed-up touch to your photos. Many photographers will have a selection of accessories, like long pearls or luxe blankets, to use for your photographs, but feel free to bring as many, or as few, as you want. Even if you don't wear a lot of accessories daily, this is the one time you may want to give them a try.


Experts at Alli Murphy Photography say that "sparkly accents draw attention to your best assets," suggesting that necklaces and earrings are always accessories that add interest to photos. "Necklaces with long chains are ideal for draping around the neck or playing with suggestively with your fingers or mouth," they say, adding that they can "also highlight the cleavage and are the focal point of exciting shots where the rest of the body is out of focus." One unexpectedly sexy look they suggest is a long chain of pearls draped down your back.

Reconsider wearing glasses

Maybe glasses are part of your identity or maybe you've brought along a pair as an accessory, but if you're planning on wearing your glasses in any of your pictures, the team from Sugar & Spice Photography may make you second-guess your decision. According to the photography studio, there will almost always be a glare seen in the lenses of any glasses during a photo shoot. Unfortunately, this can be hard to remove even using editing tools, without changing the actual picture.


They do have a solution for those who were really hoping to wear their glasses in their photo shoot and that's to simply have the lenses removed. This way you still get the same look as though you were wearing your glasses but without any of that pesky glare that can ruin your photos. You don't have to worry about your pictures looking odd either, you can't even tell when the lenses are removed from glasses.

Bring a friend

Being nervous about a boudoir shoot is completely normal, so why not bring a friend for a bit of moral support? This can help make the entire experience more enjoyable; maybe even pack a bottle of champagne to turn the experience into a girls' day.


Having a friend who knows you well enough to watch you pose for a boudoir shoot means they will also give you honest feedback about what looks good and what doesn't. They may also help bring you out of your shell and make you more relaxed as you pose because you know you have a trusted friend there. And this will ultimately help you get the best photos out of your session.

Don't overthink it

Posing for a boudoir photoshoot can be a little intimidating, especially if it is your first experience. It can take some time to loosen up and get relaxed and comfortable, but that is absolutely necessary in ensuring you get the pictures you want. Although no one expects you to be a professional model and understand how to pose immediately, blogger Liz Hanson of Chicago Boudoir says that trying too hard to be sexy doesn't translate well into pictures and you're always better just being yourself. "Think of how you would naturally feel, relaxed and happy, and let that shine through in your photos," she says.


She also notes that you should only do poses that you feel comfortable doing, and only wear what you feel at ease wearing. If you don't, your discomfort will be reflected in your pictures.

Book something exciting for after the shoot

A lot of time, energy, and money go into booking a boudoir photo shoot, so don't let all that preparation go to waste after the shoot is over. Your hair and makeup have been done, you've got a fresh mani and pedi, and you may have even indulged in a few spa services, so why not enjoy the whole day and book a girl's night on the town or a date with someone special? Maybe you can book a hotel room and have a night off from the kids or simply enjoy a day that's all about you.


After all, you've gone through a lot of work to look and feel amazing, it would be a shame to go back to reality as soon as your photo session is done. Take this opportunity to enjoy a bit more time for yourself and book something fun to make the most of it.

Have fun!

A boudoir photo shoot should be fun! Although it may seem easier said than done to relax before you start your session, if you have prepared and planned for your appointment, you should be able to relax and enjoy the experience soon after you arrive at the studio. It's only natural to have some nerves at first, but hopefully, once you start to get dressed and ready for the pictures those butterflies in your stomach will become excitement.


Remember that how you're feeling is going to translate into your pictures, so you'll want to make sure you are relaxed and genuinely having fun. If at any point you're not feeling the pictures or your outfit, don't hesitate to speak up. Your photographer will help you work through any anxiety to ensure you both get the pictures you're looking for. Your photographer is there to make you feel safe and comfortable so all you have to do is trust the process and enjoy those gorgeous pictures once your shoot is complete!