I recently had someone ask me what kind of photography I do. I get asked that quite a lot, and I always seem to "babble" on about it without making much sense because people don't understand this genre of photography. It's almost always misinterpreted as very erotic, or even pornographic.
I think this misinterpretation stops many women from booking that shoot. They're worried and scared of what the outcome will be. I'd like to try and clear things up a little.
What does Boudoir mean?
The dictionary says a boudoir (pronounced Boo-Dwar) is a woman's private sitting room or salon in a furnished accommodation usually between the dining room and the bedroom, but can also refer to a woman's private bedroom.
Well, that already gives a little insight into what Boudoir Photography is. I.e. it's primarily focused on women and is private.
But, does that really answer the question? I don't think so. So, I did a little research, and found some interesting facts:
The nude or sexualised female form has been a theme of photography from as early as 1840 (WHAAAAT?!?, that's a long time ago).
Early erotic photography, such as French postcards in the late 19th and early 20th century, and pin-up girls, influenced the visual style of boudoir photography.
Boudoir art and photography began emerging as a form on its own in the 1920's when it was still generally illegal to have nudity in photographs (no wonder there is such stigmatism surrounding this). Photographers such as Albert Arthur Allen continued making masterpieces, though, by focusing on women, especially larger women, who were posed in romantic ways.
In the 1940's the focus then moved onto pin-up, where the women were delightfully curvy.
Ok, so Boudoir Photography started out quite erotic, but this paved the way for modern boudoir, which is commonly characterised by the empowerment of female subjects who now became the photographer's direct clients and not paid models.
That all seems like a lot of useless info, but from all of that I think I've come up with a pretty good explanation.
Boudoir Photography is a style featuring romantic, intimate and SOMETIMES erotic images in a private setting, such as a bedroom. What makes it so distinct, is that it's usually more suggestive, rather than explicit when it comes to nudity and sexuality. Commonly, this type of photography is intended as a gift for a partner, usually by a bride for her groom on their wedding day, and generally lingerie is worn.
Boudoir Photography generally features subjects who do not regularly model, and more and more of these women (and even men), are booking shoots for their own enjoyment. They're seeing themselves as attractive, confident, and sensual.
"I think the bedroom itself is a place where people feel comfortable, and confidant to be who they are"
- Tiffany Bailey, a New Orleans based photographer
For me Boudoir Photography is:
A long-term investment in oneself;
Loving one's body and feeling sexy, not just for someone else, but, more importantly, for yourself;
A CELEBRATION of real women's bodies;
A representation of REAL women, who, at their most vulnerable and at the same time their most confident, are EMPOWERED.
And that is what I do:
I'm a Boudoir Photographer!