What is Boudoir Photography and how should you prepare for a shoot?

A Boudoir Photography session is a very emotional experience and a gift that keeps on giving for the women, and their loved ones, who have the courage to book a shoot.

The benefits go far beyond seeing gorgeous photographs of themselves– it is much more about feeling truly beautiful .  It is feeling beautiful that leads to the powerful, dramatic and transformative change in self-esteem and confidence that I see.  Without doubt your body image will improve but more importantly so will your self-image.

My style and way of shooting boudoir photography is sensuous, artistic and inspired by fashion editorial imagery.  I celebrate the unique beauty of each perfectly imperfect woman who puts their trust in me. The Editor of Professional Photography Magazine was kind enough to refer to me as ‘one of the UK’s finest boudoir photographers‘ which is a huge compliment and from your perspective means that you are in safe (and creative) hands.

For many of my clients the timing of a boudoir shoot reflects a milestone in their life

  • Getting married
  • The end of a relationship
  • Turning 40, 50 and even 60
  • Recovering from illness

I thought it might be helpful to answer some of the questions that get asked in relation to boudoir photo shoots and also produce a behind the scenes video to sum up what boudoir photography means to me and show you the location where the boudoir shoots take place. I LOVE to photograph women and truly believe a shoot like this is something every woman should experience once in her life.

1) What is ‘boudoir’ photography and how does a boudoir photo shoot work with you?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question and this is why it is essential to do your research. In the right hands it is the absolute opposite of glamour photography – a celebration and not objectification of female beauty where the aesthetic is inspired by women. There are many different styles of boudoir including studios who specialise in pin up. I would describe my boudoir as being editorial and directly influenced by designer lingerie brands and magazine advertising. A boudoir shoot is an indulgent treat, a journey of self discovery and hugely empowering. Women leave on a high with confidence levels through the roof. I have learnt, with interest, that the end result is only one element of the return in investment and probably the least important. Women choose to do shoots for various reasons but one of the most popular is in order to give their husband to be a completely unique, personal and beautiful wedding gift.


Lingerie for brides used in a boudoir shoot

A bridal boudoir shoot with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture

2) What about location – where do your boudoir photography shoots take place?
You have the option of going to the photographer’s own location or studio, book a hotel room or base the shoot in your own home. I have decorated two bedrooms specifically for boudoir with a stylish palette of silvers, greys, whites and soft greens. It is important to know what the colour schemes and styling of the location is like so that you can choose your lingerie with that in mind.  It also feels much more natural to be within a house and ‘real’ environment rather than in a photography studio where a set is created and you have to be lit with studio strobes.  Where possible I use natural light but I also like to create some lit images that feel like they have been shot at night.


Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

Kate Hopewell-Smith shoots boudoir at her home location.

3) How do I prepare for a boudoir photography shoot?
Your boudoir photographer should provide you with a tips list of how to best prepare for your shoot. Skin preparation is important, hair should be in great condition and manicured hands are also essential. A tan isn’t necessary but I always recommend some additional eyelashes because they make a real difference to the portrait shots. Also spend some time looking on pinterest, lingerie websites and in magazines to see what inspires you.


Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

The beauty of natural light for boudoir photography.


4) What should I bring to my boudoir photography shoot?
I recommend that ladies plan around 3 different looks but often they bring more than they need to give us choice on the day. What you choose is entirely personal and I have taken beautifully simple shots with just white vests and knickers, cashmere cardigans etc. I love to introduce some colour if possible and many people finish the shoot with a super sexy suspender and stocking ensemble. I like to start with some natural, gentle shots and work towards the sexier imagery as the women relax and really begin to enjoy themselves. Many brides to be bring their veils, garters and ‘first night’ lingerie with them. Jewellery and shoes and equally important to the final looks – you should be thinking the kind of shoes you love but can barely walk in on a night out!

5) Nerves are natural
Clients are always nervous when they arrive and this is entirely natural and to be expected. Most women have never been photographed in this way before and have no idea what to expect or what they will be asked to do. The photographer should take 100% control and direct you throughout the shoot – once you are ready you just need to put yourself in their hands and trust them. The best results are always achieved through teamwork.


Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

Kate Hopewell-Smith’s boudoir shoots are a mix of portraiture and full body.


6) Hair and Make Up for a boudoir photography shoot
I always advise clients to add hair and make up to their shoot – It makes a huge difference to how you feel on the day and to the final imagery. I have found 2 or 3 professionals who are talented and that I trust entirely to give each client the look that is right for them. We make changes to hair and make up in line with the outfits and having someone on hand to make sure you are camera ready is a real treat and part of the experience.


Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

Handmade bridal lingerie by Pompadour Couture.


7) What does he most love about your body?
All women have issues with certain parts of their bodies and we can be incredibly critical of ourselves. I have discovered that men just don’t look at us like this – instead they celebrate all the gorgeous parts of their woman. That is why I always ask what men most like about each woman’s body because these are the things we should celebrate through imagery.


8) All in the lighting
The word photography translates to mean ‘drawing with light’ and that is exactly what I want to do with boudoir photography. The female form is best explored through light and shadow and working like this means that you can celebrate the best parts of every woman and let other areas drop into darkness. It results in a beautifully subtle, almost voyeuristic feeling to the photographs. Look carefully at the lighting used on boudoir portfolios – it will tell you a lot about the skill of the photographer.

Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

Natural Light Boudoir Photography.


9) What will he think about me having a boudoir photography shoot?
Just part of what makes boudoir so rewarding has been the response of the husbands and partners of my clients. Because whilst they obviously get to enjoy the resulting imagery the biggest gain for them is a change in confidence in the woman they love. “My wife has always been beautiful to me but I have learned over the years that how women see their bodies and how men view them are two very different things. The revelation through the boudoir experience, is that for the first time in 14 years, my wife now understands exactly how I see her body. The impact this realisation has had on her has been very liberating and the photos which are tasteful, natural and in my view stunning, are an added bonus”.

Bridal boudoir photography with handmade lingerie by Pompadour Couture.

Many women choose a boudoir shoot as much for themselves as for their partner.

10) What will you think?

“Just wanted to say a BIG Thank-you for your time, patience and energy. I had an absolute blast, and felt fantastic. You have a great way to put people at ease. I love what you achieved to make me look and feel really special. It was a real treat. My boudoir pictures blow me away … It is redefining how I think of myself.  I will treasure the memory of our day today as one of my special adventures. Thank-you for making it so.” Edwina.

“Before I came I was looking for something to boost my self worth after a pretty difficult personal time and find that part of me that believed in me. I wanted something to look at daily that would keep reminding me who I was. I actually got all of that and so much more. What I didn’t expect was the huge boost to my confidence and self esteem. I don’t think I could have done anything else that would have done the same in such a short space of time. It quite literally reset my clock and I haven’t looked back since!” Andrea

You can read more boudoir shoot testimonials here.

A styled boudoir bedroom

This is the main boudoir room – decorated in silvers, greys, whites and soft greens.

11) What will we do with the images?
Not hide them away as you might imagine. A small, tasteful and beautiful album is always a popular choice but clients usually want a single statement frame for the bedroom too.

If you still have questions then just drop me an email or give me a call. I can promise you that you will never regret a shoot like this and in the words of one of my clients: “it will do more for your confidence than anything else in the last 10 years“.

Thanks to Pompadour Couture Lingerie for their beautiful handmade bridal lingerie.  Have a look at my boudoir gallery here – despite what you think these are not models – just really brave women who were so amazed with the results that they were happy for me to share them in my boudoir portfolio!

And finally here is a behind the scenes boudoir video that I created to try and help women get a sense of what a boudoir shoot with me entails and to show you the location (my home in Bucks), backdrops and styling.

If you are considering a shoot – get in touch and let’s at least have a chat about what you would love to achieve.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This