Dynamics of Boudoir Photography Posing: 5 Key Elements

March 23, 2021

By Shawn Black

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.

Before your sessions progress to more difficult dynamic posing, though, 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.

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

Boudoir Posing Element #1: Find The Triangles

If it bends, bend it! This is one of the first things I tell my clients before they even are in front of the camera. Itʼs not just “jump on the bed and look sexy”; it takes work. Finding the triangles will eliminate the rectangular shape of our bodies.

In this pose below, there are 11 triangles created literally or in the negative space all from bending at all the joints. Not only do these visually create a more interesting image, but they are essential in how the light falls on the client highlighting the focus of the image.

boudoir photo posing on bed,
All Photos © Shawn Black

Keys to the pose:

  • Point the toes
  • Arch the pelvis
  • Engage the core
  • Break in the fingers
  • Head turned with eyes to the shoulder

[Read: Getting Boudoir Clients Comfortable With Your Camera]

#2: Create Frames

Another element I love to work into my posing is creating frames that not only add to the composition, but also will enhance light and shadow. In this case, using her arm up into her hair. It allowed me to more dramatically short light her face, carving her jawline with the highlight. Using a pose where you are extending the arm up and over you are lengthening the body and lifting the bust. Also as I mentioned earlier, count the triangles created by the pose. The more you start to think about them, the more you will incorporate them into your own posing.

Boudoir posing at it's best: triangles and frames.

Keys to the pose:

  • Creating a window with a bent arm that doesnʼt obstruct, but frames the face
  • Lips parted
  • Engaged core
  • Deep breath held expanding the bust
  • Soft hand placement on the leg
  • Arching and elongating the body

#3: Find the Length

This pose is extremely popular amongst my clients because, in their words, it makes them “feel like a badass super model.” I asked them why and theyʼve told me that besides the strength it conveys it made them look incredibly tall. It doesnʼt matter how tall your client is, finding or showing length is essential as it highlights the legs and will contour the midsection of the body just by the stretch needed to achieve this pose. If not executed properly this pose may create the unsexy rectangular shape we want to avoid, so it is essential to shoot from an angle that still accentuates the natural curves.

A classic boudoir photo pose: lengthening on chair.

Keys to the pose:

  • Straight leg with a locked knee, toes pointed, resting on the heel
  • Support leg at 90% angle
  • Core engaged
  • Back arched
  • Head in line, not arched back (so as not to lose the face)
  • High cut bodysuit accentuating the hip

#4: Triangles, Frames and Length, Oh My

In this image you are going to start to see a progression that is incorporating the previous 3 elements Iʼve talked about. Most clients think this pose is simple—standing against a wall, easy peasy! Broken down, it is far more complex than that as it requires balancing on one leg in heels with only two points of contact with the wall, the nearest elbow and heel. This pose lengthens the body and accentuates the bust with the lifted arm creating the frame and the curve of her bottom is amplified by the bent leg.

Model against wall with arm over head.

Keys to the pose:

  • The S shape created by the angle of both arms
  • Negative space behind the neck
  • Negative space at the lower back
  • Keeping the curve of her bottom intact by not leaning into the wall

#5: Dynamic Boudoir Posing at its Best: Strength and Support

This seemingly simple looking pose is probably the most difficult of the examples Iʼve shared as it combines all the elements discussed to this point. The deceptive parts of this pose are the strength required in the support arm and the ability to twist the hips to get the top leg to the floor while still keeping the upper body square to the camera. If the support arm is not locked, the shoulder creeps up and the pose either collapses or distorts the desired shape. If the top leg doesnʼt get to the floor it creates a stacked appearance adding width to her lower body and decreasing length.

This boudoir photography pose involves strength in the support arm and leg.

Keys to the pose:

  • Both the support arm and frame arm need to be in parallel planes
  • Enough bend in the knee to separate the feet creating more length
  • Soft fingers on the support hand that convey effortlessness
  • Core engaged

Being mindful of these different posing concepts throughout your session will start to refine all of your posing as there is no such thing as a magical perfect pose that will flatter every woman. It is using all the different elements Iʼve discussed to create a pose that will work with the particular client in front of your lens at the time.

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.