A sample sexy or boudoir photo shoot

Here is what happens before, during, and after a sexy or boudoir photo shoot.  By reading this blog entry, you can know what to expect when you book yours.

Before the boudoir photo shoot

Several things occur before your photo session.  Hopefully, you have had a good night’s sleep and plenty of liquids so you are well-hydrated.  We will have sent you any paperwork you need, and you will have signed the contract.  All of the batteries will have a fresh charge, and everything will have been tested to ensure it is working properly.   If you are coming to one of our locations, before you arrive, my photo assistant and I will be setting up the lighting equipment, prepare props, etc.

At the beginning of the boudoir photo shoot

woman holding a color standard
AzariaZia holding a color standard for use in setting the proper white balance and verifying the exposure.
I will take test photos to test the lighting and ensure that the color balance of your photos will be correct.  If we are working at your location, I will do these tests before we start taking photos. If we are working at one of my locations, I will have a basic lighting test done before you arrive.

Ann Colberg Scheller Furdon applying makeup to Jadyen Haylee.
Ann Colberg Scheller Furdon applying makeup to Jadyen Haylee.
When we first meet, after introductions, my assistant or I will offer you tea, coffee, or anything else that helps you feel more comfortable.  We discuss the photo session, what type of photos you want, and how you intend on using them.  We look at wardrobes, props and choose them for the first photos.  We set up and start any music you want (from your music player).  We assist you with makeup and hair preparations.  If you ordered one of our better packages, you will have your hair and makeup professionally done.

Comfort and safety

Throughout the whole time, your comfort and safety are paramount.  We will make sure that you are warm enough.  We strive to also make sure that you are mentally comfortable.  When I am photographing a woman, I always have a female photo assistant.  Besides helping with lighting, poses, and props, she has your comfort as a primary responsibility.

Taking the sexy and boudoir photos

a man pointing how he wants the model to move.
Kenneth giving posing directions (what direction to move) to AzariaZia in a boudoir photo shoot. Photo by Mel Pardi.
When we start taking photos, I will describe poses, sometimes even being silly and demonstrating them.  We will move from pose to pose.  

a man showing a woman photos on the back of a camera
Kenneth showing AzariaZia some of the recent photos in the boudoir photo shoot. Photo by Mel Pardi.
Frequently, I will show you the resulting photo, showing you how beautiful you look.  For a given wardrobe, we will take 20–40 minutes of photos, meaning we normally go through three to six outfit changes.  After one outfit, we take a break.  While you change clothes, touch up your hair and makeup, we will make any changes needed to the lighting and props so they are ready for you.  We then go back to work taking more photos.  From a normal photo session, we will get 20–30 good photos per hour, so a two-hour session produces least 40 photos.

After the boudoir photo shoot

The photo session is all about you and showing how beautiful and sexy you are.  As we do the photos, you should be feeling really energized, happy, sexy, and beautiful.  A boudoir session is all about the experience and how good you feel.  It is a great ego boost.  It just happens that you also get great photos to preserve your beauty and sexiness.

At the end of the photo session, you will change back into your street clothes.  While you are doing this, we will be packing up the lighting equipment, props, and all of the other gear.  When all of us are done with these tasks, we will deal with any final paperwork and discuss the next steps.  In most cases, this means talking about photo editing and when you can expect your photos and/or any other products you have purchased.  Normally, you will get digital photos within two weeks.  Photo products are often ready within this timeframe, but it depends on what you have ordered.  You leave feeling sexy and beautiful.

Posture and sexiness: good posture is sexy

It is quite possible that a parent (my mother, in my case) spent a lot of time as you were growing up to get you to have good posture, and avoid slouching.  Well, your mom or dad was right.  Besides any other health benefits of good posture, you look more confident, more slender, and sexier when you have good posture.  Let’s look more into posture and sexiness.

Examples of poor and good posture

Compare these two photos of beautiful AzariaZia:

a sexy woman with rounded shoulders
Even though she is beautiful, her posture means she is not as atrractive as she could be. Poor posture also makes her look heavier than she really is.

sexy woman with good posture.
Bringing her shoulders back makes a real difference in her appearance. Notice also the curve of her back, and she looks more slender.

In the first photo, her shoulders are rounded forward and her spine is not straight.  This means that she does not have a lumbar curve. This curve adds to sexiness when it is visible.  Even when it is not visible, the effects of having a good curve in the lower part of the spine show up in much of the rest of the body, and it’s all good.  You can see the curve showing up in the second photo.

Having her shoulders and spine rounded in the first photo means that her chest is concave.   For a woman, this hides the breasts and makes them look like they are sagging.  For a man, a broad chest is sexy, not a caved-in one. Again, this is fixed in the second photo.

Supporting data about posture being sexy

I am not the only one who things good posture is sexy. For example, Don R. Osborn said that “posture was comparable to body build in influencing attractiveness” (in Beauty is as Beauty Does?: Makeup and Posture Effects on Physical Attractiveness Judgments, in Journal of Applied Social Psychology 26: 31–51. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1996.tb01837.x). In other words, posture is as important as how your body is shaped in determining attractiveness.

Another person promoting posture for sexiness is Geoff Girvitz, a gym owner and fitness blogger notes “Posture is a significant indicator of youth, vitality and mental state.” (in The First Sexy Posture Article). This article has specific advice on how to improve your posture for improved sexiness. And, there are some sexy photos to back it up. You need to undo the effects of spending a lot of time sitting at a desk, so go read it (as soon as you are done here :-).

Speaking of exercises, Isaac Odim also has an article about exercises to help you improve your posture. In The Power of Posture: Easy exercises to look more confident and sexy, he provides several exercises that address specific posture problems. It’s another article worth checking out after you finish reading mine.

Finally, Health Habits notes in Physical Attraction, Sexiness and Health…The Female Edition that posture is a general indicator of good health, a trait that is attractive. After all, a healthy mate is likely to produce healthy offspring.

What this means for photography

What you want in a photo is to have a chest that is open, both vertically as well as horizontally. Many of us in the US are unaware of our posture, and hours of sitting at a desk rarely helps. On the other hand, yoga, many (all?) types of dance, and other activities that require that you be mindful of your body help improve your posture. When I was doing at least 30 minutes of yoga a day, a photographer friend commented that my posture was the best he had seen.

When I am photographing someone, I work to be aware of the subject’s posture. This was the case for these two photos—I noticed the problem and she immediately corrected it in the next photo. When I was processing the photos, the difference between the two photos was so striking that I knew it had to be a blog post.

What is Sexy: A connection with the viewer

Remembering the definition of “sexy”, sexy photos cause arousal and imply the (fantasy) that sex is possible or maybe even imminent. This means that, most times, the subject needs to have a connection with the viewer. The easiest way for this is for the subject to be looking into the camera, so there is eye contact with the viewer. For example, here is a photo of the lovely Nikkii:

sexy woman looking straight at the camera creating a connection with the viewer
The eye contact from this beautiful woman really gives a connection between her and the viewer.

However, the arousal can also come without eye contact, if the rest of the photo sets a mood or scene where sex might be occurring soon. For example, in this photo of Chelsea Christian, she is pulling on her top in a way that will expose more skin.

woman pulling on the straps of her sexy top
This photo is sexy even though she is not looking at the viewer because there is the intimacy of being on a bed and her action of pulling her clothing in a way that might make it come off or reveal more.

This connection explains why some nudes are non-sexy or far less sexy than photos showing much less skin, even though the nudes show what is not normally seen. Examples include most bodyscapes, many art models for figure studies and the resulting fine-art nudes, and ethnographic photography.

Lighting and shadows show shape

Here is another example of why having a professional take your photos is better than a selfie or a friend with a cell phone camera. A professional will make use of light to show good parts of your shape and minimize parts you do not want shown.

Professionals have experience with lighting, and they often have lighting equipment to shape the light to what they want. What this means is that they can control the light to highlight what they want to show (your best features), and minimize what they do not want to show (any flaws). Careful lighting means that your shape is visible when that is what should be shows. Shadows define shape, and a careful, soft shadow can do wonders at showing your curves. For example, look at this photo of the lovely DaKarra:

woman looking into the distance, with soft light showing her shape
Notice the shadow on her right breast, how it slowly goes from light to dark which conveys the shape.

Notice that her cleavage is really obvious. This is due to the shadow on her right (away from the camera) breast. It slowly goes from a highlight to dark, showing the shape. You can also see similar shadows showing the shape of her cheeks and the curve of the side of her body.

As another example, here is a beautiful backlit photo:

backlit woman silhouette showing her lovely shape
You can see the wonderful shape of the model in this silhouette.

Her shape shows because the light is used to create a silhouette. Since she has a great shape, I used the back light to highlight it.

What this means is that by working with a professional, you will get better photos. Pros use lighting to create shadows to highlight shape when it is a good thing to be showing.

Lighting is one of my best skills, so maybe you should contact me to schedule your boudoir session.

A phone camera snapshot vs a professional photo session

You have decided you want to have some sexy photos of you.  You can take selfies in a mirror.  You can have a friend use their phone to take photos.  What makes these photos different from the photos you might pay someone to take?  There are several differences, some of which we will discuss in this blog entry: image quality, lighting, poses, camera angles, editing skills, and photographer experience. In other words, let’s do a camera image quality comparison. This is a longer post than my normal, but I needed the space to show all of the photos for comparison.

The photographer takes the picture, not the camera

The first, and most important factor to remember is that the camera does not make the picture, the photographer does.  I use professional equipment, but the camera does not choose when to fire the shutter.  It does not chose the lighting or pose.  In my case, it does not even make many decisions relating to the exposure.  My experience guides me in picking the lighting and poses that will show you at your best and minimize the areas I do not want to show.  I compose and light an image with a plan of what I what the viewer to see and think as they look at the photos.  I know how I want their eye to move as they look at the photo, where I want it to linger and where I want it to move past.  I am the one who removes zits.  All of this makes me smile when someone asks me, “what camera do you use?”.  In reality, the camera is but a small part of what went into producing the final image you see.  And, there are other cameras made by different companies that will produce photos that look just as good.

Better cameras record better images; a camera image quality comparison

Having said that, I do use a professional camera and lenses.  It produces very sharp images (when that is what I want), and it allows me to produce images that can be printed large, 2×3 ft or more. These large images will look good even when you look at them up close.  If you do a side-by-side comparison of a photo taken with a phone camera, my photos will look better every time. Here are some examples. My apologies to the lovely AzariaZia, because these first photos do not show her true beauty.

All three photos were taken at the exact same location in the room. The point-and-shoot and the DSLR photos were both mounted on the tripod at the exact same location. I held the cell phone right above the tripod so the location would remain constant. The cell phone has no optical zoom, so it shows more of the room than the other two.

First, my cell phone, a Samsung Galazy S3 (8MP):

woman on a bed holding a sheet
This photo is straight out of my Samsung Galaxy S3
woman holding a sheet in front of her
I adjusted the brightness levels of the photo to produce this image.

While these might look more-or-less OK, when you look at them in more detail, you see that they are grainy and not sharp:
dark, grainy photo of a woman's face
This is what the cell phone photo really contains
grainy photo of a woman's face
This is what the cell phone photo really contains, but with the brightness levels adjusted.

OK, so the cell phone is not so good. How about a point-and-shoot camera (Canon SX30-IS)? It has a built-in flash, but on-camera flash tends to be poor light:
woman holding a sheet in front of her
A photo, taken with the flash enabled, on a point and shoot camera

And here is a natural light (no flash) photo:
woman holding a sheet in front of her
A photo, taken without the flash (natural light), on a point and shoot camera

By the way, notice the color difference between the two photos. We will return to that in a moment. For now, look at the full-resolution extracted parts of the image:
This is a full-resolution extract of the flash-enabled photo taken with the point and shoot camera.
This is a full-resolution extract of the flash-enabled photo taken with the point and shoot camera.
This is a full-resolution extract of the natural light photo taken with the point and shoot camera.
This is a full-resolution extract of the natural light photo taken with the point and shoot camera.

Again, they are really grainy and not sharp. Compare the photos up to this point to the photos from my Canon 5DmkII and using off-camera lighting (you can click on it to see it larger):
nude woman holding a sheet in front of her
This is what it looks like when you use a higher-quality camera to take the same photo.

Here is what a 100% extract looks like (note that you can see her pores on her cheekbone and forehead):
beautiful woman's face
This is what a small portion of the full-resolution image looks like
The photo shows her face closer because my DSLR has more pixels in an image than the cell phone and point-and-shoot cameras do. Which would you rather have?

Professionals produce photos with good color

All of my equipment from the camera through the printer is color-calibrated. Before I start taking photos,  I test the color of the light.  This means that your photos will not have a color cast from the lights.  Many cameras have what they call “automatic white balance”.  What this means is that the camera is picking the color correction that it thinks you will want.  It turns out that few cameras get it completely right, and their photos can have a color cast, making you look a bit green, blue, yellow, or red.  Did you really have an orange tan from the salon, or was it just the lighting?  When I take your photos, the images you get will have colors that make you look your best. Here is an example showing AzariaZia holding the white balance card before we started a photo session:

woman holding a color standard
Before we start, I use a color balance card to ensure that the colors are correct.

If I produce prints for you, I work with professional-quality printers, ink, and paper.  They produce better prints that what you can produce at home.  Because all of the equipment is color calibrated, neither you nor I will be surprised when we see the result.  Your local discount store saves money by not doing the calibration, nor do they use the highest-quality papers and inks.  The result shows in their photos.  Set up an appointment, and I will be glad to show you the difference between the printing options.  Side-by-side, the quality is clear.

What all of this means is that, when you choose me (or any qualified photographer using quality equipment), you get better photos.  In other words, you get what you pay for.  Be cheap and you get cheap results.  Buy quality and be happy with what you get.

You can contact me to get your own high-quality, sexy photos taken. Why put it off any longer?

What is sexy: showing what is not normally seen (NSFW)

In my (over-)analysis of what is sexy, my next observation is that showing things that are not normally seen can be sexy. By showing something not normally shown, a certain intimacy is implied, and the sharing of it with the viewer can be quite special moment. The idea is that if you see these areas, you might be moving closer to sex, at least in the viewer’s mind, if not in reality. This is why a low-cut dress is sexier than one with a high neck, and why a short skirt is usually sexier than a floor-length one.

Examples of showing what is not normally seen

Think about underwear. Pretty much by definition, it is worn under other clothing, and hence not seen. However, a glimpse of it can be quite sexy.

Another example that really turns some people (and not others) on is tan lines (marie claire, Betty Confidential, the Frisky, Yahoo answers). Areas that are light are areas that are normally covered. Tan lines imply that the person is normally more modest than in the photo; they are something that is not normally seen. The untanned areas are a dual eye attractant—they are both light and they are an area normally unseen.

Yet another example is the area between the breasts. For example, think about a dress with a neckline that plunges to the navel. The “between-boob” area, while shown more often than some other areas, is still not something that is shown in most day-to-day life (unless you live a very interesting life or in a warmer climate that I do :-). Similarly, underboob and sideboob are much less often shown. Therefore, showing them can be quite sexy without showing nipples.

The next-to-last example is the butt. Most swimsuits cover more than “absolutely necessary”; the minimum seems to be what I have heard called, “butt floss”, where a single string goes in the butt crack and widens just enough to cover the genital area; basically, a g-string. Since this much butt is not often shown, showing it can be sexy.

Showing more implies intimacy

Finally, one of the major reasons that nudity can be sexy is that showing everything implies a great deal of intimacy. This can be an obvious prelude to arousal and (imagined) sex, concepts discussed in earlier blog entries (1, 2). One of the few times that nipples and the genital area are normally (in the US) seen is when about to engage in sex. This is what sexy photos are all about—creating the illusion that sex is possible and maybe even imminent.

Showing what is normally hidden can easily be combined with removing clothes, a subject of a prior blog post. After all, if something is coming off, whatever is underneath is showing—underwear, tan lines, or skin.

Another thing that strongly affects this topic is the culture. I live in the US, where showing breasts and the pubic area is frequently against the law, even if done in a completely non-sexual way. Whether or not I agree with this (I don’t) is immaterial. Normally, more than just pasties and a g-string are required to be out in public. What it means is that in the US, more-or-less everything in this blog post applies.

However, I was in Copenhagen a few years ago. There, people of both gender would go to the public park, remove their top and often strip down to just their briefs/panties. They would then lie down and soak up the sun. For Danes then, there is less that is “not shown”. Hopefully, someone from Europe will comment and provide more insight about what is “not shown” and how it relates to sexy.

On the other side of the covered/uncovered spectrum are cultures such as those in north Africa and southwest Asia. From several visits to south Asia, this paragraph applies there nearly as much. There, women are often covered much more. This means that people are not accustomed to seeing much skin, and any skin can be sexy, even to the point that some men claim that the sight of female skin drives them insane with desire.

Here are a few photos illustrating this concept. This first one nearly shows “too much”, but the hint at betweenboob behind her hair and the obvious underboob show that Alicia in a sexy way.
a woman's breast, covered but showing the bottom and inside area

Candace has seen some sun, but not always wearing the same clothing. Therefore, her tan line is not a sharp one. There’s also a bit of betweenboob at work to make this image sexy, as well as the implied about to show more, all of which make this a sexy image.

woman pulling her top down to reveal lighter skinon her breast
Some parts of Candace have seen more sun than other areas.

In this photo, there is both the underboob, betweenboob, as well as wearing only underwear. In other words, there is a lot shown here that is not shown in public. Of course, the fact that she’s stunningly beautiful does not hurt either.

woman with hands over her nipples wearing only panties
Showing what is not often shown helps make this a sexy photo.

What is sexy: clothes coming off

Returning to the idea of what is sexy, anything that implies that the potential of sex is getting closer is going to work well. This means that removing clothes can imply that sex is more likely to occur.

This does not mean that all photos showing clothing removal are sexy; think about preparing for a doctor’s exam or colonoscopy. In those cases, sex is (probably) not getting closer. There are always the fantasies about a hot doctor or nurse, but that is a subject for another blog entry.

One way to indicate that things are moving in the “right” direction are either a sexy look from the subject, especially with a “come hither” look or “bedroom eyes”. Another is to use a location associated with sex, such as a bedroom. Or, it could be outside with a blanket at a picnic in a secluded spot. The photo just needs to draw the viewer into the idea of sex and arousal.

Nudity is not required when removing clothing. The clothing can still cover what you do not show at the beach. The photo could show a bare shoulder as the subject removes her or his shirt. It could be the act of unfastening a bra. It could be untying a string holding clothing on. The subject could be wearing clothing that is already unfastened, but still on, for example an unbuttoned shirt. There are also photos of just the subject’s legs, with underwear around the ankles. Even if she or he is still wearing another pair of underwear in the “normal” place.

Here is a photo of beautiful AzariaZia. The combination of the robe coming off her shoulder as well as her facial expression really makes this a sexy photo.

woman with her robe slipping off of her shoulder illustrating clothes coming off
Alicia with her robe coming off

Here is another example of the same concept.

back view of a woman with her hand by her neck and her shirt lowered showing bare shoulders
A beautiful woman with her shirt off of her shoulders.

Here is another one. In this case, her bra is off and she is looking back to see if you are going to follow her. Her look has an invitation in it, making the photo sexy.

woman looking back with her bra handing over her shoulder illustrating clothes coming off
Pyrophilia without lots of clothing.

Finally, here is Chelsea Christian with her top coming off.
woman pulling her top down between her breasts

All people appearing in these photos have signed a written release allowing me to use the photos.

If you are interested in having sexy photos taken, check out my sexy photo web gallery and then contact me. I travel a lot, so you do not need to be in Albuquerque.

Web Definitions of “Sexy”

Earlier, I wrote some of my ideas about what is “sexy”. Today, I am looking at what other people think it means.

A definition I read said that sexy means “Arousing desire” and “Anticipation of sexual activity”. Both of these make me think about burlesque performers. Good ones do a great job of arousing desire and teasing about possible sexual activity that might result, even though (unless the performance is a private one for their partner), nothing will happen. She and the audience both know this, but the sexiness is still there.

A great photo site that tries to answer the question is What is Sexy. It is a collection of photos that the web site owner thinks are sexy. I agree with most of his/her selections. I also note that:

  • The subject is nearly always looking into the camera, at least indirectly. This provides more data for my hypothesis that sexiness requires a connection between the subject and viewer.
  • Most subjects are mostly clothed (the site does have a work filter engaged by default). This observation fuels my belief (pointed out first by my wife) that hints are sexier than showing everything. The “tease” is important.
  • Smiling helps, although it is not absolutely required.
  • For me, smoking spoils any sexiness..

One thing I note about this web site is that all of the women are thin. I strongly believe that weight is not a determining factor of sexiness.

Anton Therapy noted that just using the term “sexy” in her blog posts has increased readership. It is a humorous look at society, and worth a read, especially for some of the unusual search terms people have used (“sexy executions”?). All of the photos she posted are of thin women with large boobs, which I think unfairly reinforces the stereotype of what kind of body you must have in order to be sexy. The only one that I think is really sexy is the first one, the one looking into the camera. The others are just pictures of beautiful women.

Dante Feenix (is that a real name?) wrote a blog entry, What is sexy? Because young people don’t seem to know…. He noted that when you dress up to go to a party, you are giving your definition of “sexy”. While I do not think that this occurs all the time (you are attached and going to a party with friends?), I am sure it is true sometimes. He also notes that an attitude of “I’m so much more than you see” is part of being sexy.

At RU Sexy?, they claim that sexiness has three factors image (in particular, self image), confidence, and attitude. They have a “test” you can take to see how sexy you are. How accurate or predictive the test is, I’m not sure.

So, what have you run across that defines “sexy”?

Later additions:
No real definitions, but Gino has good pictures illustrating sexiness.

What is “Sexy”?

Woman wearing a purple shirt and nothing else
Candace in a Purple Shirt

One type of photo that I particularly like is what I call, “Sexy Photos”. This style is similar to boudoir photos, but not necessarily taken in the bedroom (boudoir is French for bedroom). While I am sure that similar observations apply to male subjects, all of my experience to this point is with women.

In going through the photos I have taken so far (not all are publicly available), I have come up with the following observations:

  • Sexy has no age limits. I have met older women who are far sexier than some beautiful models.
  • Sexy has no required body type. I have seen larger women who are sexier than women who are smaller and more classically “beautiful”. Some (but not all) of the women who classify themselves as “big, beautiful women (BBW)” are in this category.
  • Of particular note, big boobs are not a requirement for being sexy. And, a boob job often makes women lo less sexy.

What this really means is that sexy is a state of mind. If you believe you are sexy, you are.

Woman in a cave wearing a bikini and boots, with tree roots hanging down
Roots and Boots

For photos, I have noticed a few other things:

  • When the subject looks into the camera, it makes a big difference. This is not absolutely required (for example, see the photo to the right), but this is true of most of the photos I think are sexy.
  • Sexy is not the same as nude. Many (but not all) nude images are not sexy. Think about artistic nudes. For that matter, very little pornography is really “sexy”.
  • Sexy is not the same as “erotic”. Erotic normally has more sex and less fun as the emphasis. I bet this point is one for debate, because I suspect not everybody agrees with my distinction between the two. Let’s discuss it through the comments.
  • Often there is a tease component to the image, saying, “I won’t show it to you right now, but maybe later.” Contemporary burlesque dancers specialize in this tease part. Many of them are very sexy, and not all are thin.
  • There is often flirting with the camera (and hence, the viewer of the resulting image). I ran across a great book by Violet Blue about flirting, and much of the advice applies to still images as well as being sexy for your special someone.
  • Sexy is fun. The model and photographer should be enjoying the photo session; this shows in the resulting images.
  • Comfort is essential for sexiness. This means both physically as well as mentally comfortable.

Again, it seems to come down to the mental state of the person in the photo. When she believes she is sexy, she is.

If you are interested in having sexy photos taken, check out my sexy photo web gallery and then contact me. I travel a lot, so you do not need to be in Albuquerque.

This topic is one I will be continuing to research, and I am sure that I will have additional blog posts on the topic. Let me know what you think the definition of “sexy” is.

All people appearing in these photos have signed a written release allowing me to use the photos.