What Boudoir Photography Really is: A Guide for the Hesitant Bride

Do you LOVE getting dolled up, feeling sexy and feminine, and then having your husband ogle you with undisguised appreciation? Are you thinking of doing a boudoir photo shoot to capture this feeling forever -- but you’re just not sure what it is all about?


You are in good company. In fact, most people have no idea what boudoir photography REALLY is. Fear not – I am here to guide you through the process. Spoiler alert: it’s WAY more fun (and empowering) than you think!

Keep reading to find out more…

Historical Background of Boudoir Photography

If you're anything like me, you may find it fascinating that boudoir photography pre-dates the "age of the selfie" by a good 150 years! By learning some historical context, you might find the idea of a boudoir photo shoot even MORE appealing. Here are some interesting historical dates you should know about:

The 1800s

Believe it or not, the roots of boudoir photography dates back to the 1800s. A version of boudoir photography began just after the invention of the daguerreotype by Louis Daguerre. This amazing new technology allowed for incredibly detailed photos to be captured on silver plates (and later paper).

Nude daguerreotype circa 1852. Photo credit: NGV

Author Lynne Warren notes in The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, "Erotic imagery in photography is as old as the medium itself with known provocative and nude daguerreotype being made at least as early as 1840."

The 1920s

By the 1920s, boudoir photography as we know it today began to take shape. Photographer Albert Author Allen is credited with pioneering the style of boudoir photography that focuses on a woman's sensuality and eroticism. His intimate photographs of women captured the natural beauty and allure of the female form in a way that, while controversial at the time, is now considered both tasteful and timeless.

Albert Author Allen 1920-1925. Photos Credit: Artnet

The 1940s

During World War II, the US government used boudoir-esque pinup-type photos to help recruit young men into the armed forces. These photos were typically of beautiful young women in risqué poses and were meant to evoke a feeling of excitement and adventure. Images of Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, and even Lucille Ball were distributed to help "remind young men what they were fighting for" and boost morale. Needless to say, they were very successful in encouraging young men to sign up for the war effort.

Ginger Rogers. Photo Credit: Pearl Harbor Warbirds

The 1980s

Originally, boudoir photography was used as a way for artists to capture the beauty of female models. However, during the mid-1980s boudoir photography began to grow as portrait photographers discovered the desire of everyday women to capture their sensual side with their own private collection of studio-quality portraits.

A couple pages from Boudoir Photography by Mario Venticinque published in 1986

The 2000s to Present

At the beginning of the new millennium, boudoir photography became more mainstream with the advent of digital photography. This allowed photographers to be more creative and produce boudoir images that were both sexy and tasteful. Today, boudoir photography is more popular than ever, with women of all ages seeking to capture their sensuality and femininity in photographs.

So What Is Boudoir Photography?

In short, it is a genre of photography that captures the essence of femininity and sensuality. It is typically shot in a bedroom or boudoir (french for a private room) setting and often features a woman in lingerie or other intimate clothing. That said, boudoir photography can be whatever you want it to be – there are no rules! You could do a "boudoir" photo shoot in shorts and a t-shirt, posing with just a bedsheet, or even go nude – it's completely up to you. The key is to feel comfortable and sexy in your own skin.

Boudoir Photography can be whatever you want it to be -- there are no rules!

Why Do A Boudoir Shoot?

The purpose of boudoir photography is to capture your beauty, sensuality, and confidence in a tasteful and intimate way. It also makes for a great wedding or anniversary gift, or for any woman wanting to celebrate her femininity. If you're feeling hesitant about boudoir photography, rest assured that it is much more fun (and empowering) than you think!

A luxurious photo album makes for a gift you'll both never forget!

Common Misconceptions About Boudoir Photography

While boudoir photography can celebrate your beauty and feminity in any way you want, it is also helpful to address some of the common misconceptions about boudoir photography, specifically when it comes to boudoir photos for your significant other.

Myth #1 - Boudoir Photography Is Embarrassing and Uncomfortable

On the contrary, boudoir photography can be a very empowering experience. It's all about feeling sexy, beautiful, and confident in your own skin. As a professional photographer, I go to great lengths to provide a comfortable and non-judgmental environment that allows you to be and express who you want to be. I'm not kidding when I say I want you to walk away from the experience feeling more confident than when you arrived.

Professional hair and makeup adds to the boudoir photo shoot experience!

Myth #2 - Boudoir Photography Is Only for Brides

The idea that boudoir photography is only meant for brides is very dated. While boudoir photos were traditionally used as wedding gifts for grooms, boudoir photography is quickly becoming more popular with all women and can be used to celebrate any milestone in a woman's life: bachelorette party, anniversary gift for your spouse, and photography with an all-female boudoir group are just a few examples.

Myth #3 - You Have to Pose Nude to Do Boudoir Photography

While boudoir images can include nude photos, boudoir photography does not necessarily have to. Many boudoir images are completely covered – lingerie, bikinis, and high fashion photography can all provide boudoir portraits that still exude sexiness and femininity. In fact, part of our pre-shoot consultation involves asking you what boudoir photos mean to you. This helps us create boudoir images that are unique, sexy, and personal to your expectations.

Myth #4 - Boudoir Photography Is Only for Young Women

Boudoir photography is not just for young women. In today's boudoir photography world, beautiful portraits can be taken of women of any age. From older women to mothers-to-be, boudoir photography is about celebrating your beauty and femininity, no matter what your age. So whether you are a 20-something or 60-something, boudoir photos can celebrate who you are and how you feel about yourself.

Boudoir photography celebrates beauty and femininity, no matter your age


Boudoir photography is all about capturing the beauty and sensuality of women in a tasteful and intimate way. It has a long history dating back to the 1800s but has only recently become more popular with brides-to-be and all women alike. Contrary to common misconceptions, boudoir photography can be empowering, fun, and comfortable - it's all about celebrating who you are! If you're curious about boudoir photography or unsure about what to expect, I hope this article has helped clear some things up for you!

I'm a photographer based in Orlando, Florida that focuses on elegant and tasteful boudoir photography.  My goal is for every client to walk away from our session feeling more confident than when she arrived. What's it like to work with me? Click here to find out!

- Patrick Michael

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You'll Both Never Forget?