Perhaps you’ve been considering a boudoir photo shoot for an anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift. Or, maybe you’re thinking it’ll be the perfect wedding present for your soon-to-be spouse. Alternatively, you might simply have realized it’s a spectacular way to practice self-love and celebrate your body. Whatever your reasoning for finally planning a boudoir shoot, there’s no doubt that it’s an exciting decision. And there’s also no doubt that you’ll have a lot of questions if this is your first boudoir experience. Will you feel awkward? Should you bring two outfits or five? What about hair and makeup?

The more you know ahead of time, the more prepared you’ll feel — and that preparedness will provide you with confidence, which is so key to achieving natural, stunning photos.

In this guide, we’ll answer all your burning questions about boudoir, and hopefully, give you a better idea of what to expect.

Do I have to get naked?

One of the biggest misconceptions about boudoir photo shoots is that you’re required to strip down to your skivvies. Ultimately, you can wear whatever you feel best in — whether that’s a bra and panty set, a nightgown, a robe, or nothing at all. Should you choose to wear nothing, photographers can get crafty with posing you so that nothing really shows — with your arms crossed over your chest, or by photographing you from the back, for example. After all, boudoir photography is meant to have an element of tease, so the idea is to leave something to the imagination. But rest assured that if you don’t feel comfortable going naked, you definitely don’t have to.

Where should I shop?

There are so many incredible options when it comes to shopping for your boudoir shoot, it can almost be overwhelming.

Start by taking a peek in your own closet! Look for those special pieces that make you feel sexiest — not your everyday lingerie. For example, a black demi-cup bra with allover lace is far more fitting for a boudoir photo shoot than a basic nude T-shirt bra.

Next, it’s time to go shopping for pieces to complement what you already have. Bra and panty sets are a safe bet, but consider other types of lingerie as well — a teddy, bodysuit, or babydoll, for example, are universally flattering and can offer a super sultry look.

As for where to shop, department stores will obviously offer the most variety in terms of brands and products since they have a larger inventory, but there are many benefits to shopping at independent local lingerie boutiques. These stores may be more likely to stock hard-to-find designers and sizes, as well as unique items you won’t find anywhere else. And those are precisely the kinds of eye-catching pieces that can make your boudoir shoot. Plus, the staff at a small boutique may be able to provide more personalized attention during your shopping experience, which could prove helpful when you’re making decisions in the fitting room about what to purchase.

Speaking of your outfits, another common question revolves around how many to bring. It’s a good idea to ask your photographer for advice on this, as it will likely depend on which package you choose, and how many “looks” are included. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to bring more than you need to be on the safe side. For example, my shoot included three “looks,” and I brought five outfit options to the shoot to choose from.


I have no idea how to pose… will that be obvious?

If you’re not used to being in front of the camera, don’t fret! You definitely won’t be expected to arrive with specific poses planned out. A good boudoir photographer will help to guide you throughout the entire process. When I did my boudoir shoot, I was surprised at the level of direction the photographer gave me — not only did she explain in detail how to pose, but she also suggested subtle adjustments, like a slight change of my hand placement or the angle of my torso. If it helps to ease your nerves, you can practice a little posing in the mirror beforehand to get a sense of what you like, and what looks good to you.

Should I get my hair and makeup done professionally, or can I do it myself?

When I was planning my boudoir shoot, I was conflicted over whether to do my own hair and makeup or hire professionals to help. Due to budget constrictions, I ultimately decided to strike a compromise: I did my own hair, and had my makeup done. Personally, I felt it was worth it to have a pro do my makeup — the fact is, that doing your makeup for a photo shoot is very different than doing it for everyday life. You’ll likely need more skin coverage, and a more dramatic eye look in order to make your features pop, and a skilled makeup artist will be able to accentuate everything in such a way that it shows up on camera. I felt confident in doing my hair since I only wanted to style it the way I typically do (loose curls with a curling iron). But if you don’t feel confident in your ability to achieve the hairstyle you want, I’d definitely suggest getting your hair done by a pro as well.

You’re likely investing a lot in these photos, and you obviously want to look your absolute best. So trust me: it’s worth investing a little bit more into getting the best glam squad to make you look — and feel — like a goddess. Not only will you probably feel more confident at the shoot, but that will come across on camera.

Hopefully, you feel a bit more at ease about your upcoming boudoir shoot now that your burning questions have been answered. Remember: The right photographer will do anything in their power to help you feel confident throughout the process — so all you have to do is show up and have fun!