Boudoir Photo Shoot Ideas: Start with a Bare Wall

December 22, 2021

By Shawn Black

© Shawn Black

Looking for boudoir photo shoot ideas that will “wow” your clients and have them desiring every image from their session? The good news is, it doesn’t require an elaborate studio or a million different lighting tools or props. It just takes some imagination and a willingness to experiment within the space you have. Challenging yourself to incorporate more of your own space into your sessions will also increase the variety within your images, resulting in an ability to increase sales, particularly with regards to wall art.

First off, don’t feel confined by your space. When I started out I was shooting in hotel rooms (which were often be small with immovable furniture). Working in these environments forced me to be more creative with how I approached each shot. I didn’t have the luxury of shooting particular lighting set ups or even using specific furniture within a room. I had to take advantage of what a space gave me and optimize the amount of images I could create from it. Back then when it came to boudoir photo shoot ideas, there may have been a funky chair, an open hallway space or cool open floor space to work with, but no two studio spaces are the same. Don’t feel limited by what you may or may not have to work with.

[Read: Dynamics of Boudoir Photography Posing: 5 Key Elements]

To get started, let’s work with something that all of us should have access to—a bare wall. When I made the jump from shooting on location to having my first studio, one of the elements I wanted was a long, dark wall to shoot on. Backdrops are great to shoot in front of, but you cannot shoot down the length of a backdrop like you can with a wall.

Boudoir photo shoot ideas starts with a bare wall and your subject against it.
Having your subject lean forward with elbows back allows for the light to come through defining the curve of her lower back.

This first image (above) illustrates what I mean about shooting down the wall. I love using the negative space in the foreground with fall off from my light leading us in the frame to the client who is about 12 feet away from camera. I’m a huge fan of using dark walls, because of the way that I light they add to the drama of the image. I lit this with a single Geekoto GT-400 strobe in a 1×4 strip box placed about 45 degrees past the plane the client is on and slightly above. Positioning the light here allowed it highlight the contours of her body on the front side while providing a semi silhouette along her back. This type of lighting allows for a level of anonymity which in a lot of cases helps in creating choices for wall art during the sales process.

[Read: Teri Hofford on Building Body-Inclusive Boudoir Photography Brand]

These next two images show how to use the wall as a posing tool to simply lean against for support allowing for a dynamic pose with the rest their bodies. The minimalist nature of the bare wall allows the eye to be drawn directly to your subject with no distraction from the curves and angles you craft in your pose.

A boudoir shoot if a woman against wall showing her bottom.
Separation of you subject’s legs with her weight pushed back into her hips and a slight arch of her pelvis. Secondary is the sliver of light that falls on her left forearm creating separation from her chin, nose, and lips.

Image one (above) features an extremely popular pose for wall art in our studio. This is the case because of its level of anonymity, but also for the fact that we have a large number of clients who’s number one request for their session is to have a great booty shot. Aside from the Tushy Tuesday worthiness of this pose it is a wonderful way to showcase legs, back, and shoulders depending upon what your client desires to see in her images. This is another single light set up with a Geekoto GT-400 strobe in a 1×4 strip box placed about 75 degrees past the plane the client is on and slightly above to create a beautiful highlight and conturing shadow, while sharply defining her expression in complete shadow.

[Read: Boudoir Photography Posing Guide: How to Flatter Every Client]

In this next image (below) the client is able to lean against the wall so as to push all of her weight out into her outer hip. Then by driving her inner knee across her support leg along with the outer arm on her hip a beautiful reverse curve is created both in her body as a whole and also repeated within her arms. The single 1×4 strip box lighting this was placed above and a few degrees behind the client to create the dramatic fall off into shadow on the wall side can be used to narrow a profile in camera if desired where many clients may be hesitant about a straight on shot where the number on concern I hear is about their midsection.

An elbow lean against a wall for a boudoir shoot.
Having your client’s straight leg as far away from the wall so when she leans it creates an accentuated curve to that hip. Secondly, the place of the hand on the hip/waist to conceal the crease that we create in her side. Lastly for me, the two shadows created in the negative space combined with the highlights on her arms lead the eye to her face.

Lastly, a wall can simply be use as a seamless backdrop to shoot on and due to the reflective nature of most paints it made interesting lighting elements to the final images. This final image (below) is lit is such a way as to create a lighting gradient that starts brightest on the wall feathering across the client fading into total shadow. A similar effect could be created with a backdrop, but would require far more time to set up, instead I just had the client stand at the wall captured the poses I wanted quickly and moved on. When you are limited in the size of your studio having to then break down to utilize that space in a different way could hinder the energy of the session and shorten the amount of time you have actually shooting.

A men's boudoir session.
When looking for boudoir photo shoot ideas when working with men, I really like the tension to match the expression. Pulling the elbows away from the body and shooting from the low angle allow the abs, obliques and pecs to be showcased.

This was lit with a single 1×4 strip box above and and almost parallel to the wall to provide the book of light and then create hard highlight and shadow transitions across the client’s body accentuating his muscle definition.

So the next time you are looking for boudoir photo shoot ideas and head into your shooting space, take a look at your walls—hopefully you have four of the—and try to figure out new ways to incorporate them into your sessions fo more than just holding the ceiling up!

Shawn Black is an award-winning wedding and boudoir photographer in Boston, MA. Couture Black, his boudoir brand, grew out of his established wedding business with a focus on body positivity and female empowerment, helping all women see themselves as beautiful and confident, hence his business tagline: #BeBoldBeSexyBeYou! When teaching other photographers how to establish successful photo brands, Black is focused on educating them on the dynamics of boudoir posing and what works best for each individual client.