No one wants to live with decision regret, and when it comes to choosing a boudoir photographer, it’s a bit trickier than most of our daily decisions. There’s so much information out there and a lot of amateur photographers advertising great deals. It’s hard to know where to start while avoiding seductive offers.
To help you make your decision, we’ve created two posts to guide you through the process. In our previous one, we shared the three most important things every future boudoir client should consider when choosing their photographer. While checking out reviews, bios, and portfolios is a place great start, to ensure you’re happy for years and years to come, we suggest getting answers to these 20 questions when interviewing a studio or photographer.
THE TOP TWENTY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BOOKING YOUR BOUDOIR SESSION
What is your experience shooting boudoir?
Eh hem, taking sexy selfies does not make you a professional boudoir photographer. Look for someone with experience photographing a broad range of clientele, i.e. age, size, comfort level, etc… Many photographers will have experience with semi or professional models, but it’s much more important to have shot real clients in a variety of scenarios.
Why do people choose you over other photographers? Is the photographer a wiz in photoshop? Amazing with lighting? A goofball and able to make clients laugh? Consider what really matters to you and look for that in your choice.
What’s your experience with posing/directing?
This is suuuuper important for anyone who isn’t a professional model. “What do I do,” is probably the most common question running through a client’s mind. Much like a skilled fitness instructor, a great photographer will not only guide you through different poses but also facilitate a flow/environment where you’re free to express yourself in a way that feels natural.
Who will be shooting me? [If a studio has more than one photographer]
Many studios, like hair salons, have teams of photographers with different styles and varying levels of experience. When you’re doing your research, it’s a good idea to see if you can view the portfolios of the photographer you’ll be working with. When reviewing their work, ask yourself if your tastes align. When reading their captions, do you connect with their voice? If you’re interviewing multiple studios, you might ask about their education, their accreditation, what they feel their strengths are and what sets them apart from other photographers.
At Revealed, Kelly and I, 99% of the time work together. Unless there’s an extreme reason–like one of us being on maternity leave then we almost always work together. This is not because we don’t feel confident shooting solo, but rather because we enjoy working together so much! Part of it is that we’re bffs, so it’s a good excuse to hang out and enjoy each other’s company, but also we have a great flow that we’ve developed over the years. Often one of us takes the lead in directing, while the other captures side angles and detailed photos. We definitely always go for that same coverage if we are photographing independently too. Also, because Kelly learned photography apprenticing with me, our styles are very compatible and we’ve learned so much from each other over the years. We also are constantly taking in new work from other photographers we admire as well as sources of inspiration, from movies to design, music, to food. All of it influences our creative process and is a constant source of growth for us.
How many outfits does my package include?
We recommend at least two outfits, but ideally three for your boudoir experience. Three gives you the chance to have variety in both style and color. More than three can become a bit tiring though and if you plan on using your image for a boudoir album, then more than three can start to make the design a little cluttered. When it comes to sourcing those looks, many, well, actually almost everyone, asks for help. We have recommendations on our Instagram account and also a style prep guide we offer all our clients, but also are always happy to give individual recommendations for your specific needs.
How long will the session last?
This is a luxury experience. You want to feel pampered and not rushed. Our sessions typically last between 3-3.5 hours with hair and makeup included. Factors like your hair length and thickness and how long an outfit might take to get into–yes, some do take longer than others! It’s good to keep in mind that doing a boudoir photo shoot can be a bit physically demanding. You’re gonna be bending and posing in ways you probably don’t do on a regular basis, so with that in mind, we try to keep our session near the three-hour mark so you’re not too tired by the end.
Do you retouch the final pictures?
If so, how much? Make sure your expectations and the studio’s policy are in line with each other. Scroll through a dozen different portfolios and you’ll soon see how an image is retouched can vary dramatically, from ultra-photoshopped to hardly touched up at all. Our approach is two-fold, first and foremost do all we can during the photo shoot to create beautiful imagery that already blows you away straight out of the camera. With the right light, lens choice, direction, and posing, you’ll be amazed by how transformed your look. Seriously, we often show people previews during their sessions on the back of the camera and get the response “What?! How is that me?” So, having a good basis to start with is the first goal for us. Then, we begin a multi-step process of narrowing down the images to our very favorites, adjusting things like color, crop, and contrast in a program called lightroom, then bringing them into photoshop. If we’ve done our job right, you don’t even really notice it’s been photoshopped, instead, you just see a beautiful, finished image, that looks natural and like fine art. This is achieved by zooming in on every single image for a detailed approach, that removes glaringly obvious distractions, like bruises, acne, and garment issues, but also toning-down cellulite and stretch marks (we’re also happy to leave them, if that’s your preference) without removing too much texture that would make your skin look plastic. It takes time, but this refined approach is our preference for the best results possible.
What’s your turnaround time?
The process I described above does take time. Many hours, in fact. All studios are different depending on their time, workload, and how they edit images. Some studios outsource to freelancers or companies. Kelly and I choose to handle all our processing in-house, allowing for the ultimate quality control. Our typical turn-around is 7-10 business days from the time of your session till you receive a gallery to review. We don’t want to keep you waiting too long though for some instant gratification, so we send a sneak peek over a few days after your shoot to quench a little bit of your thirst for photos. If you’re on a tight timeline, let your boudoir photographer know upfront and they might be able to accommodate you with a rush service charge.
What differentiates your style from other photographers?
Remember, boudoir photography is both an art form AND a business. In the best-case scenario, you’ll find a photographer who is talented and highly professional. One thing that sets us apart at Revealed is our passion for creating cinematic images. We love movement! We don’t want too formulaic (aka stiff and cliche), defaulting to the same six poses for every client. We’re inspired differently by each person who walks through our door. We love to leave room for collaboration, but we also have plenty of experience knowing how to create images for everyone.
I’m so nervous, what do you or your staff do to help me feel comfortable?
In last week’s post, we compared choosing a boudoir photographer to finding a great OBGYN. A good “bedside manner” is so important. In fact, your comfort is THE most important priority to us at Revealed. Feeling like you’re with people you like and trust leads to better pictures in the end.
Can I bring a friend?
The answer to this is a bit sticky. Because boudoir photography is such an intimate experience and for many can be a bit nerve-wracking, you want to be surrounded by positivity. Even the best of friends, without meaning to, can actually make you feel more self-conscious. We always say, as long as you know they’ll be 100% positive, then sure!
Also, it’s important to remember why you choose your photographer. If you’re looking to a friend for guidance throughout the shoot rather than trusting the photographer, the final outcome could suffer because your distraction may come through on camera.
Can I bring my significant other?
This is similar territory to bringing a friend. This is your day. Even the most loving significant other can have an unintentional effect on us. You want to be able to move without doubt or insecurity. Unless you’re a professional performance artist, having an audience, especially someone whose approval matters a great deal, can often make us feel more self-conscious.
How will you help me look my best?
Things like hair and makeup, lighting, posing, and prep guidance all factor into how you end up looking on camera. But, for us, we think the MOST important factor is something less obvious. It’s how comfortable you feel with your photographer(s). For Kelly and I, this is something we can’t help but do. It’s just who we are. When we first met, we were selling handbags together at a jewelry boutique near Wrigleyville in Chicago. In many ways, we were terrible salespeople because we weren’t pushy and didn’t care about upselling. But, our boss Mel liked us and kept us around because we were pretty good at helping people feel comfortable enough to talk about the stuff they were looking for, which I guess ended up in the whole them buying things. The same is true now. We just try to treat people in the way we’d want to be treated–which is like we’re understood, accepted, supported, heard, appreciated, encouraged, and also, a little charmed. I mean, doesn’t everyone want a charming friend who makes them laugh and feel comfortable being naked around?
How important is posing?
A great pose can really make an image go from “eh” to “awe!” Being able to guide someone into a flattering pose should not be undervalued. Also being able to direct someone to a place where they feel comfortable moving on their own is a true art. It’s a bit magical when you can achieve both a beautiful form and compelling expression.
How do you choose your makeup artists?
Like photographers, makeup artists have different styles, experiences, and tastes. While their application is very important to us, personality is almost even more so. We want an artist who helps you feel comfortable, who knows how to ask the right questions to make sure you’re getting makeup you feel comfortable wearing, and in the end, who helps you feel amazing when you’re finished.
Do you offer b&w photos as well as color?
Many studios will offer processing for your images. You can review their portfolio to see how they tone and edit images. With digital files, unlike film, photographers are able to convert color images into black and white and back again without too much trouble.
Do you use natural or artificial light? Some studios are all-natural, some all-artificial, and many both. Whatever the answer, make sure the resulting images are in line with your taste.
Where do you shoot? Do you have different sets?
What sort of background do you want for your images? Studio sets vary from modern to traditional and some also go outdoors. For example, our studio is a two-story lofted coach house with white brick walls downstairs and a more industrial setting upstairs. We have multiple couches, a bed scene, and many other posing pieces.
Do you shoot everyone the same?
This goes back to experience and style. A great photographer will be adaptable and experienced in shooting all types of people, and customizing the backgrounds, lighting, and poses to you. We’ve photographed hundreds, which has given us plenty of experience in understanding how to bring out the best in everyone we work with.
What happens with my image files after the session? Do you use them in your marketing?
How much does boudoir photography cost?
Summary: prices range, but a typical investment starts around $900.
Ahhhh, the million-dollar question. Call three different studios and you’ll get three different answers for how much boudoir photography costs. The old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true for boudoir. It’s not like a meal you indulge in, then quickly digest. The impact of a boudoir photoshoot stays with you for years to come, often in ways you might not expect. We’ve had women who’ve struggled with body issues, eating disorders, and sexual traumas, who’ve talked about the healing power of boudoir. One wrote, “I can’t even begin to explain how my photoshoot last year was this turning point with my anxiety. & actually this week I’m tapering off the last of my anxiety meds.”
In this way, we know boudoir photography is so much more than the resulting photos. It’s can be a potent dose of therapy and a true gift to yourself. For this reason, the experience of the photographers you’re working is factored into the rate of service.
Additional questions to ask about boudoir photography cost:
What’s the studio space like? How well-trained/educated is your photographer? What’s the skill level of your makeup artists? What final product or bundle are you purchasing? We just encourage you to keep in mind that there’s a lot more to creating the beautiful images you see above than having a professional camera. You’re paying for someone’s years of experience and unique set of skills in addition to the “fixed costs” they have to consider. To learn more about our rates, visit our boudoir pricing page or contact us here.
See more of our work and behind-the-scenes clips on our Instagram account.