Tips + Techniques

Boudoir Photography Posing Guide: How to Flatter Every Client

February 24, 2021

By Jacqueline Tobin

© Jen Rozenbaum

When it comes to improving both your boudoir image results and client satisfaction, posing plays a big role. Most photographers would likely agree that posing is one of the most challenging aspects to master. That said, learning the ins and outs of posing women can take your images to a new level and also allow your clients to connect with their personas like never before. Learn how to flatter every boudoir client with this handy posing guide and tips.

Photographer Shawn Black says that “whether youʼve been shooting boudoir photography for years or are just starting out in the genre, knowing how to pose your clients dynamically will produce more impactful images and result in larger sales.”

© Shawn Black

Before your sessions progress to more difficult dynamic posing, though, Black says there are a few things to keep in mind. First is having a thorough understanding of your clientʼs expectations from the session. Secondly, knowing the clientʼs physical limitations. Not everyone is capable of every pose and it can quickly dampen their confidence should they not be able to complete the pose. Lastly, clear communication is vitally important. “Most clients do not innately know how to move their body to create the pose you are envisioning, keep in mind, they may get frustrated. So besides instructing you also need to be instilling confidence at the same time.” Discover the five moves he relies on in every shoot here.

[Read: 3 Ways Natural Light Can Shape Your Boudoir Portraits]

Boudoir photographer and author Jen Rozenbaum has often told us in interviews that arms are one of the hardest body parts to pose on your subject because they can add bulk. “Keeping them away from the sides of the body,” says Rozenbaum, “helps slim a woman and show off her curves.” There’s in-body arm posing, out-of-body arm posing or a combination of the two to help in your poses—and don’t forget about the subject’s fingers, wrists, legs, feet and hips. After all, the goal in boudoir photography is to flatter your clients best assets—at any shape or size.

[Read: Successful Boudoir Photography: Finding Your Style, Starting Your Business]

boudoir posing for plus-size model on bed.
© Jen Rozenbaum

Boudoir Photo Posing: Size Doesn’t Matter, Proportion Does

When it comes to posing your clients for flattering boudoir images, size doesn’t matter; proportion does. “If I asked ten women to come to my studio that are size 4 and lined them up side by side and took a photo of them, it would be clear that even though they all share a common clothing size, their bodies are all different,” explains Rozenbaum. “The same would happen if I did this with ten women that are a size 18, or any size for that matter.”

Before a photographer can determine what poses will work for a particular boudoir shoot, knowing what doesn’t determine a pose is just as important as knowing what does. Says Rozenbaum: “A woman’s clothing size doesn’t determine how to pose her. It doesn’t tell me where a subject carries her weight. It doesn’t account for how long her legs are. Clothing size doesn’t tell me if a client is an hourglass shape or more square, if she is more curvy or straight. I need that information before I can decide what poses will work.” Discover Rozenbaum’s tired-and-true posing techniques here.

Getting Boudoir Photography Clients Comfortable

Many of photographer Jess Pereira‘s clients have never been in front of a professional camera before, so needless to say, they are usually a rack of nerves at the thought of such a session. That is why she places such importance on assuring them that it will be a wonderful and enjoyable experience—from creating a comfortable atmosphere to making chit-chat to help them relax and progress into poses that are comfortable for them.

a boudoir client in natural pose in bed.
© Beautifully Undressed Boudoir

Pereira, whose runs the studio Beautifully Undressed Boudoir, says that while the conversation is still flowing, her boudoir subjects will eventually begin to forget their desire to “pose” and will loosen right up. She shares how she gets a variety of different shots from having her clients stay in the same position and pose very minimally here.

6 Natural Boudoir Photography Poses for a Candid, Natural Look

a boudoir portrait of subject on a stoll in natural pose.
© Jen Fairchild

The number one lesson photographer Jen Fairchild says she’s learned in shooting intimate portraits is to avoid giving any instruction that’s tied to the subject producing a specific “look,” as this generally leads to “awkward, tense facial expressions and static energy, not unlike a deer in the headlights.”

Fairchild says what has helped her accomplish concise, natural posing in two or three minutes—versus shooting for two hours and wistfully hoping that a strong pose or image would present itself—is to specifically address what you admire about your subject’s position (“I love the way your head is tilted,” or “Oh man, the way your hands are draped right now is stunning!”) and work with it. The second is to ask subjects to engage in and act out tasks. Find out what other posing suggestions she has for photographers here.

Top Tips for Boudoir Posing from Jen Rozenbaum

woman at window in boudoir pose.
© Jen Rozenbaum

Rozenbaum, whose tips we can never get enough of, developed her “8 Points of Posing” methodology from armature dolls she used in her art classes when she was growing up.

“These are the major joints in the body that move, and we can manipulate the body to create our desired pose,” Rozenbaum says. “During my shoots, I pose the eight points. If each of them looks good, I take the photo. I look at the back of my camera to make sure everything looks good, and if it doesn’t, I make adjustments. This takes muscle memory. The more you do it, the better you will get. Scan for the eight points every time you pose, even if you are only capturing a certain part of the body in the photo.” Before she presses the shutter, every single time, she checks these 8 points.

Hip Action: How 3 Subtle Body Moves Can Transform an Image

posing with the hips in front of a mirror..
© Jen Rozenbaum

These three before-and-after examples in which Rozenbaum focuses on the posing of a woman’s hips shows how changing their position—even just a touch—can change the whole image. By asking the client to push her hips all the way back as far as she can in the image above, Rozenbaum was able to change the shape of her subject’s torso to give her more of an hourglass figure. Read more hip action tips and tricks here.