Selecting your Boudoir Photography studio

So, you’re at the stage now where you are hoping that special Valentines present (or Birthday or Christmas present) you kept meaning to buy and kept putting off, seems too late? You are hoping your significant other will think the teddy bear holding a heart that says “I wuv you” is cute, funny, and not a last minute gift which you grabbed because honestly. Who has time?

We get you. We really do. Everyone is super busy and nobody has time for making that super special gift that we all dream of delivering. That “wow factor” gift that you know you have been dreaming of but; even more, that they have been dreaming of as well.

Anyway, teddies are nice. Cute and cuddly and oh so easy.

You may have toyed with the idea and forgotten it because it just seemed a bit too scary. But we are here now, standing with our hands on our hips and our metaphorical capes flowing in the breeze to help you. We are your boudoir advice superheroes and this is the ultimate guide to booking a session.

Making the Decision.

Let’s face it. Nobody is going to make it for you, and so the first thing you need to do is decide if boudoir is for you. You may not be as tall as Heidi Klum and you may not have the same measurements as Giselle but who cares? Nowadays boudoir is for everyone. Forget supermodels, it’s all about celebrating who you are and having the confidence and body positive image which the magazines are so full of nowadays. Yes, in-between “40 things do with a fruit cake” and “12 ways to please your lover” in this months Cosmo, there’s a section on body positivity and you need to read it! Read it carefully and don’t get confused as I did. I just tried 40 things to please my lover and the results were, let’s just say, messy! Cake batter and dried fruit everywhere.

So, push past those doubts and gather enough confidence to say “Today I am booking a boudoir session”.

Well done you!!. Good choice. Now what?

Finding a photographer

We really like this new confidence in you. Full of assertiveness and decision-making ability. Nothing can hold you back and who would try. Well, maybe we would – just a little because this is the important bit. This is the bit you really want to get right and so let’s just take a deep breath and think. There are a few important things you need to consider and be aware of when looking for a boudoir photographer.

1. Boudoir is not just lingerie and hot shots. Make sure when you select a studio, you select one that understands beauty photography, lighting, posing etc. It’s great to get the nice sexy shots but they need to show your beauty as well. There is a difference in the two genres and you need to make sure your photographer understands both.

2. Anyone can tell you they are a boudoir photographer, there’s no exam that they have to pass. All they need is a camera and a business card or a Facebook page. Ask for advice on Facebook and you’ll get a million and one recommendations – most of whom are not boudoir photographers at all. Check if they are a member of the Association of International Boudoir Photographers, that’s a good place to start.

3. You may want to take a friend with you. A friend can be a super morale and confidence booster. At the very least you will want to ask if you can take a friend with you. If there is any issue in doing so, go elsewhere. A reputable photographer will not mind in the least. Friends can always be very useful with a role as a HLS (Human Light Stand).

4. Look at the photographer’s website, check they have some history and that they have a variety of shots you can view. See if they have various shapes and sizes of people. This is where you can really build your confidence by identifying with the studio or photographers work. There are a lot of different types of boudoir, from very modest to implied nudity and even fully nude. Some photographers specialize in one type or another. If a portfolio shows all nudes, and you are more of a modest kind of girl… It’s all a case of what you are comfortable with and what style you like. If it resonates with you and if you think this is the kind of image you’d like then that’s a huge help. If on the other hand, all of the photos are of ropes, ball-gags and leather corsets you may have taken a wrong turn on your Google search! It is a good idea to check to see if they have other social media accounts. In this very connected world, you’d expect them to have at least an Instagram and a Facebook account which they take the time to update. Check the images and see if they are they match your style and expectations.

5. Ask about the privacy policies in place and ask about contracts. The contract you sign with your studio will generally cover payment and a detailed list of the services which will be provided. They should generally cover the outputs from the session and if these are covered in the cost of the session. It is important you understand what is in the contract. While we don’t know anyone who has a contract which tries to hide anything it’s your responsibility to understand what you are signing. If in doubt ask! If you really do not like something in the contract ask if it can be removed or go elsewhere. Companies want your business and they may be open to negotiation on some points.

6. You’ll be putting a lot of trust in your photographer. So you really want to be sure they can be trusted. Ask about their privacy policy. This will generally be separate from the contract and will detail what they do with your images. What happens at the end of the engagement after you have all your products? Are the images stored for a period of time or deleted. Do you get the images? Many will have a clause where they can use some shots for publicity unless you specifically opt out. A good privacy policy is important to give you confidence that your images will be safely handled because, the images will be, in most cases the property of the photographer so you should have a firm agreement on their use and storage.

7. Session outputs (prints, albums, wall art, metal prints etc.) are obviously important and you need to fully understand what is included in the price you pay. This should be clearly shown in the contract so hopefully, you’ve understood all of the options before you signed. A lot of professional studios have separate costs for the studio session and for the images. This means you’ll pay $x for having the photos taken (Studio time, photographer, make-up artist, hair etc. etc.) and then purchase the images separately. The advantage of this is that you can buy a little or a lot and control entirely what you purchase. The disadvantage is that there are two fees. You’ll have a good idea of the cost prior to starting but if you are tempted to buy more than you’ll pay more and, you can always buy in stages with this method. Just check how long your images will be held for. In other cases the photographer may include images in a package. The upfront cost should be higher in this case and again, check very carefully what is included. Whatever you go for, the most important thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. So beware of someone offering you all the options for a too low a price.

8. Ask about Photoshop! Ask what the policy is for retouching and look at examples from social media. In the 80’s everything was soft and blurry but now there’s generally a more honest approach with less retouching. However, ask about specifics, cellulite, stretch marks etc. They may be a proud part of who you are but they may be something you want touched up. Find out if this is part of the service or if there are extra charges. Does your studio do their own Photoshop retouching or do they send it out? Do you want your photos sent somewhere you don’t know about?

9. Finally, ask about printing and production. Are prints sent out for professional printing and production? There’s a real difference between printing at home or having it done professionally. What about album choices? Is there a good product choice and are they quality products? You will be wanting a high quality product, not a cheap, discount product you see advertised on the web. These will become your treasured memories and the presentation should reflect that. Of course, that’s not always as cheap as you like when you look back at your images and albums you love, you won’t regret having spent that little extra for the quality.

Before the session

After you have chosen your studio the fun stuff starts. Number 1, you’ve made your booking and now you’re on a countdown. It’s an exciting time. Number 2 is that you get to do all the “good Prep” – the shopping, the browsing of Pinterest, the shopping, the choice of outfits. Did we mention the shopping? Here’s an excerpt from our guide on pre-boudoir preparation.

“Obviously, you’ll want your favorite bra and pantie sets which are a staple. Make sure they fit well, and more importantly, that you feel sexy wearing them. You’d be amazed how much of that will show through in your pictures. It’s always recommended to get professionally fitted. A majority of women are wearing the wrong size, and a proper fit will enhance your shape and fit more comfortably. You can also get some suggestions on what styles would flatter you most. If you look at our website we list some of our favorite brands.

Variety is the spice of life, so bring a few sets as well as some luxury lingerie, teddies, rompers and stockings and garter belts are all great choices. Think color. We all have that sexy black set, but what about red, white, coral or even a royal blue? If you don’t have it then now is the time to think about a shopping trip!

Have you always wanted to try something more daring? How about a corset or a bustier? This is the perfect occasion! If you’re smaller than a C, look for the type with built-in cups. The kind without may flatten you, and we want the girls to look their best.

Are you a smaller cup size? Bras with lace at the top of the cup can add the look of a full cup size to your photos.

Shoes? Heels and maybe some sexy boots. In this case, the higher the heel – the better. Heels help elongate your legs. Nude color goes with many outfits, and black is oh so classic, but don’t forget colors or even bling. This is your chance to have fun! I’d stay away from platform or wedges. Think classic sexiness.

Is this a gift for him? Why not bring something of his?! One of his dress shirts with a tie, his favorite team jersey, hat or game ball. Maybe order a team jersey with your name on it. Is he a Southern boy? Why not don your cowboy boots with a sexy outfit? Yee Haw!

Sometimes more IS more. That sexy spy look requires a tailored trench coat and heels. Look through your closet for a lace or translucent blouse. Even a soft sweater that can go off the shoulder can make for an intriguing look when worn with a pretty pair of panties.
Don’t forget the bling. Bring your favorite rings, earrings, and necklaces. A statement necklace can really make a photo pop, too. Long necklaces are great props and shorter ones can add some drama. We will have some costume jewelry available but if you have a favorite piece don’t forget to bring it.”

After the session

After the session is over we’ll all go home. You’ll go home and hopefully tell everyone what a great time you had. The photographer will go home and start the next stage of the process. Every photo taken will be examined, checked and selected or rejected. This process, known as “culling” takes the full photo set (which may be 200 or more shots) down to a more manageable set of the best shots only. This will be more in the region of 50 shots generally but that depends on the photographer.

Depending on the photographer or studio they will then either do their standard retouching, color correction and basic edits on all of these or do a complete retouch on all of these. They will then show you the final set of images and allow you to choose the ones you love. (You should ask how this process works up front. The packages may not allow you to select the images yourself but just create a package.) Once selected the outputs can be decided and ordered. For prints and wall art that’s simply a matter of style and size. For albums, you may want to see the album design before it is sent for production. Most customers we have will trust us to design the album from their selection of images but we always show them a proof. You should also get a time for the production. Bear in mind it may take a bit longer around special holidays (Christmas, Valentines etc.).
Once you have selected your images and created your product order you can just wait excitedly for the delivery. Delivery is our favorite part. It is so nice to see the smiles and often the smiley tears when the products are delivered.

Finally, you should be able to talk to your photographer or studio about anything that is to do with your session. They will normally have a good source of information (generally check the website) specifically to do with boudoir and beauty photography. They should be approachable and answer questions in a reasonable amount of time.

All of the points above are really not that complicated, it’s just that in the rush between the “let’s do it” and the booking you need to think through the process. As in all things, preparation is key. Don’t let that preparation turn into procrastination. You’d be amazed how many people say I just wish I had done this earlier” (Hint: All of them).

Burford Studio is a professional Beauty and boudoir studio in Glasgow, Scotland. Susan Burford is the studio manager is always happy to hear from clients or potential clients via the website ( or Facebook (@burfordstudio), The private group Simply Secret – Beauty and Boudoir is a women-only group for discussion of all things boudoir (and some things not). Instagram is and twitter can be found at @BurfordStudio.

Our studio provides full-service photo services including Hair and Makeup, lighting and sets and we are proud to be a member of the AIBP.

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