Lindsay Adler is a renowned portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City. She has written several educational books for professional photographers and recently released her Boudoir Posing Guide.
Boudoir is all about the eye exploring the female form. In a boudoir composition, we want visual curves for our eyes to follow throughout the frame. Your subject has placed their trust in you to help flatter their form, create shape, and establish an alluring mood in their images. Posing becomes absolutely essential to successful images in boudoir. Although some rules are meant to be broken, here are 5 essential tips to help improve your boudoir posing.
Tip 1: If it bends, bend it! If it curves, curve it!
Straight lines usually work against us in a boudoir photograph.
If the subject’s back is straight, consider a little arch in the lower back to add a subtle curve. If the subject’s knees are locked and legs straight, introduce a slight bend to the knees. If they are laying down and both hips are even, pop up on a hip up to introduce shape. In general, if it bends, bend it! If it curves, curve it! Give the viewer’s eyes beautiful shape to follow.
Tip 2: Right Angles aren’t “Right”
Right angles in poses are often aggressive, rigid and break up the flow of a pose. In general, avoid bending joints at right angles in your boudoir images. For example, arms at right angles with the hands on the hips are usually static and don’t encourage the eyes to move gently around the frame. Instead, create more gentle bends to the arms by elongating them slightly or bend them further and pull them in close to the body. Right angles often distract the eye in a pose meant to be full of curves.
Of course, don’t forget that rules are meant to be broken and an aggressive pose (with right angles) could be exactly the mood you are looking for.
Tip 3: Relax, Repeat
Sometimes with all the bending and curving you have your subject doing to achieve a flattering pose, they can get tense and uncomfortable. This discomfort will most certainly show up in your photos whether in their expression, in their hands, or in the overall feel of the photo. Once you find just the perfect pose, have your subject remember all the key elements and have them relax. Let them “shake it out” and then repeat.
Tension is usually visible in the hands, shoulders, jaw and forehead, so pay special attention to these features.
Tip 4: Use hands to caress
When posing hands in boudoir, you want them to look natural, soft and as if caressing the body. This is hard to do just by placing or posing the hands. To overcome the “too posed” or “too tense” look with hands, have the subject actually move and caress the hands around the body, and have them pause or stop when they reach a flattering hand position.
For example, if you want the hands posed on the thigh in a natural and sensual way, actually have the subject move their hand lightly up their thigh until a desirable shape has been achieved. If you want the subject to pose their hand beside their face, consider having them trace their hand around their face repeatedly to get relaxed and natural looking poses.
Tip 5: Change your perspective
You don’t need a dozen different poses for a dozen drastically different boudoir photographs. Instead, if you have your subject strike a pose, consider varying your angle and lens choice to help create a wide range of images. This way you won’t feel like you have to memorize a ton of different poses, but instead, really explore all the photographic possibilities once you get the subject into that perfect pose. Try narrow depth of field, try a higher angle, move in closer with another lens– each can create an image that looks fresh and creates visual variety.