Bridal Boudoir Photography

Q&AI am still responding to questions left on my Q&A with J at HHH post. Today’s question was left by an anonymous reader who wants to know whether bridal boudoir photography is okay.

Hi! I asked this somewhere on the blog before, but I don’t think I asked in the right place. I basically wondered what you thought about bridal boudoir photography. In some senses, I think it’s a really cute and special thing to do for my husband-to-be (I’m getting married in December), because I won’t always have the body I have right now, and I’d like him to remember our wedding day from those pictures, so maybe bridal boudoir is kind of a way to remember our wedding night in pictures (except we definitely won’t have pictures that night, because I hear it will be messy and awkward.)

On the other hand, I feel really weird about a photographer seeing me in that state of undress, but maybe it’s kind of like a gynecologist, where it’s their job, so it’s not a big deal. And also, I feel a little bit weird about him getting the pictures the morning of the wedding, because (and this is way legalistic of me) then we’re not officially “married” yet. I don’t know. I guess I just wonder if I’m overthinking this and if it would actually be a fun, cute thing to do for him.

Here’s my response–short and sweet.

Bride's Garter

Here comes the bride. Get ready, groom.

This wasn’t popular when I was getting married, so I had to do some research. There’s a wide range of boudoir photography, from an artistic black-and-white photo with a peek of the shoulder and a sexy grin to a come-get-me pic of a naked derrière or breasts. Part of it depends on what we’re talking about here.

However, I agree that these photos should NOT be presented before the wedding. Sexy pictures of the bride should not be thrown at the groom until he can have some of those goodies you’re tempting him with — after the vows are exchanged. You don’t want him standing there uttering “I do” but really thinking “I wanna.” (Yeah, yeah, male readers. Pipe in here and say you were thinking that already, but you gotta agree you didn’t need visual teasers in your brain.)

Yet a bridal boudoir photo as a wedding gift (post-vows) might be fun for a couple.

Remember a few things when taking pics:

You need to choose a photographer wisely. I would not pose sans clothing with a photographer I didn’t know. I’d probably set up a self-timer on my camera or find a close same-gender friend to take shots for me. That said, I know that photographers can be very professional about it. If the photograph is a mild teaser, you can certainly use a professional photographer. If you’re posing in the buff, you might think carefully about whether you want such photos in a photographer’s portfolio. I don’t think it’s wrong because let’s face it — the bikini waxer and the spray tan gal at the spa see as much or more. But I’d be uber-cautious about choosing someone.

You’d better have a great plan for keeping the photos private. You don’t want your in-laws helping you move one day and suddenly they come upon the boudoir photo of you in your hubby’s nightstand. We got some ‘splainin to do! Then again, some parents might just see that and think, “Yay, grandkids soon!”

The photo is a teaser of the real thing. The poses are fun, but it’s the action that matters. You don’t want your hubby attached to a photo of you. You want him attached to YOU. The picture should be like him finding a trail of clothes to the bedroom when he gets home from work: It’s a preview of the main event.

Speaking of all that action, your hubby will still love your body even as it changes with age if your sexual relationship is a good one. Looking at a boudoir photo of yourself later in life would probably be no different than looking at a clothed photo; sure, you’ll both look younger in those early photos, but with age and experience you have a deeper appreciation for one another. In fact, studies show that most couples are happiest with their sex lives after several years of marriage.

Congratulations and best wishes! Next week, I’ll be back answering a question about preparing for the wedding night!

Anyone have experience with bridal boudoir photos and want to add any tips?

21 thoughts on “Bridal Boudoir Photography

  1. Adam Pohlman

    I think it is a great idea as a good photographer can really draw attention to what you like about yourself and hide what you aren’t comfortable with. A good boudoir photographer will meet with you beforehand and try to get to know you so they can make the best images possible to help you feel most confident. I’ve heard of many women getting boudoir photos taken, not for their husbands, but for themselves, because the photographer was so skillful with lighting and composition to make them look and feel sexier than they ever knew they could be. It was a confidence builder for them.

    The one thing I would caution however (as you touched on), is that the photographer owns the pictures, not you. They will be a part of their portfolio forever. Legally, they can use them to show clients what kind of work they do and if you sign a model release, they can use those images in their advertising or for other commercial works. Be sure to spend plenty of time researching and asking questions to make sure that you, your husband, and the photographer are the only ones who will ever see them.

  2. Megan

    Future bride-to-be here. I’m also planning on doing this. I’m not very fond of cameras on most occasions, so I know it will absolutely shock the socks off my future dh. Personally, I plan on leaving it out for him to discover while I’m getting ready for the night.
    I’ve selected a very close friend of mine to do this with, her for her anniversary, mine for my wedding night. We had a lot of fun going out and picking lingerie and props for the photoshoot, and are looking forward to getting dolled up and posing for our husbands.
    I wanted to post something that other Christians need to be aware of when getting these things done: Be very, very careful with these pictures. Its so easy for them to get on the Internet. Personally, I’ll have mine taken with my own camera, with my own memory card, and will be editing the pictures with my own laptop. Even though I trust my friend, I wouldn’t want these pictures to get online, even by accident. For those of you going the professional route, see if you can bring in your own memory card, and make absolutely certain that your pictures aren’t going to be used for advertising purposes.

  3. Jess+the Mess

    I’ll be brave and say that this is actually something I did for my husband’s birthday last year at 35 years old and 7 kids!:-) He loved it, it was very tasteful, woman photographer (which I think makes a difference)and it is locked away in our safe for him to enjoy in his old age when we’re wrinkled and gray!

  4. Rico

    “The photo is a teaser of the real thing. The poses are fun, but it’s the action that matters. You don’t want your hubby attached to a photo of you. You want him attached to YOU. The picture should be like him finding a trail of clothes to the bedroom when he gets home from work: It’s a preview of the main event.”

    Indeed. My wife did this for our last anniversary; and while I was thrilled that she did something outside of her comfort zone for me, in retrospect I’m wondering if it was also a passive-aggressive way of trying to get me off her back wanting sex so much.

    1. Jess+the Mess

      I doubt that was the reason, that’s not at all why I did it. I wanted to give my husband a very unique gift that only I could give him. I finally, in my thirties, felt brave enough and secure enough in myself to just do it! I think it takes a lot of guts to do it and it didn’t detract from our sex life at all, actually probably just enhanced it.

  5. april

    A couple of thoughts:

    I looked into this when my husband was deployed – we had been married for almost a year by then. I didn’t actually end up booking a session with a photographer. The hubby and I had fun with our camera when he came back on R&R (wink wink). Anyway, I did look for a female photographer – I would have felt more comfortable with a female (and besides I think it’d be wrong for another man to see me in the way my husband does). The other thing I would have done is to bring a really good female fried with me. I even asked a couple of close female friends what they thought to make sure I wasn’t totally off base.

    I think it would be really thoughtful and sweet. And i’m sure your husband-to-be would love it. Although maybe your own private photo shoot at home would be more fun.

  6. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for the input! I’m not sure I’ll ever find a photographer I’d be comfortable using for this, but I appreciate the tips and advice! Maybe someday I’ll do some of my own, but it will probably be after we’re married 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    I am a photographer that does boudoir sessions. Yes I own the rights to the photos but if you do not want me to share them in my portfolio I will respect your wishes. If I have a photo I would love to use I always ask first. I may own them but it is your body and that should always come first. Most of my photos are “teasers” and some don’t even show your face. I try to use those for my portfolio as to keep you identity private. Another thing I do instead of a photo book (which are wonderful) I offer DVDs set to music of the clients choice. That way its a bit more private and if there are special songs for the couple it just makes it that much more special. I get to know my clients before hand and most I have known for a long time. I let them choose a setting they are comfortable with. Most of the time its in their own home or a hotel room. I always encourage them to bring a friend along, whether it be for support or even to share the cost of a session. There is a safety in numbers idea. I believe that doing these types of photos for your husband or soon to be is a very special and wonderful thing. I do think you should give them to your husband the night of your wedding when it is just the two of you. Its something special to share. I do many photos even for single and married women just because they want to feel beautiful. I personally believe every woman should feel beautiful no matter what size or experiences they have had in life. To end my long winded post 🙂 I say make sure you research your photographer and meet with them first. I also strongly believe that they should be taken by a woman. There are many wonderful male boudoir photographers out there, but that is a temptation as a Christian woman would should not subject ourselves or the photographer to.

  8. Hanna

    When I got married a few years ago, I really considered this for a while. Finally I still decided not to do it, because for me it would have felt weird to give my husband provocative pictures of me before we had started our sex life. I couldn’t know how our wedding night would go and those photos would have given me too much pressure to be as bold, sexy and self confident when in reality I was a bit unsure of how things would go. And yes, our start was a bit clumsy. 🙂 Now when our sex life is going strong, boudoir photos would make a great anniversary gift.

  9. Anonymous

    Make certain your man isn’t going to be one to be “so proud of you that he shares the pics!”. One if hubby’s friend showed hubby pics of his wife’s boudoir shots. She apologized to me later. I saw the pics, too. No nudity, but still sultry. I do self shots with my timer for hubby. No explicit private parts. Those are for him to see in person and to keep the pictures less embarrassing should someone come across them. He is very cautious about them, though. NO sending through the phone or internet. Often, he likes to just look and delete, although we found out the deleted pics can randomly hide in my smart phone!

    The general rule is that nothing is ever truly permanently deleted, so proceed with caution.

  10. Bob

    Speaking as a photographer who has done this sort of work before, the photos would be as private in my possession as in the clients. Perhaps even more so. In this age of digital photography where anyone with a DSLR thinks they are a photographer, much of what I have for an advantage is word of mouth and reputation. I safe guard those much like I do the password to my bank account. I have some sessions on file that go back over a decade and to this day no one has seen them but me, the model and whoever she has shown them too. I am pretty sure most photographers would agree with me on this too. Business is too hard to come by and you want your customers to both enjoy the experience and the photos you provide enough to recommend you to their friends who might be considering this sort of thing. Having photos you shot show up on the internet is a fast way to guarantee that your name gets around in a bad way.

    Having said that, do your homework. If the photographer isn’t securing the work so that it remains private or is using it against the wishes of the model, that sort of thing gets out. Make sure your photog isn’t that guy or girl. I know a number of photographers who do this who don’t even ask for a model release because these are not photos that will be shared. Ever. (this is how I work) It is easy for photographers to get professional models to do sessions for them in order to set up a portfolio for boudoir work, no need to use your clients.

  11. Jen

    We have quite a few nude photos of me – some hard copies, some on the computer, some on the cell phone. We also have a video of ourselves, which was fun. I will say, the first photos we took were when he was in the military, and (according to my husband) some of the other guys in the barracks “found” the pictures and proclaimed loudly, “Your girlfriend has nice boobs!” But we were really young back then (still 18), so I excuse that to youth.

  12. Anonymous

    J, I am a recent reader of your blog. Actually, I came looking because of a reference in another blog on another subject. Your advice and attitudes are very good. Too often within the Christian community we see only condemnation of far too many things. Most of the advice here about caution and selectiveness of the photographer is very good.

    One observation that I have, because of the topic that I was originally drawn to your blog for, is that your advice here and the advice you have given in the last month or so about au naturale beaches seems to be inconsistent. In this case you provide reasoned encouragement, even to very unclothed poses — “I don’t think it’s wrong because let’s face it–the bikini waxer and the spray tan gal at the spa see as much or more”, but on the nudist beach issue the tone took a far different course. Just an encouragement to rethink the beach scene ideas.

  13. Post-it Note

    I’m not sure if I agree with anonymous or not but I think bridal boudoir photography is wrong. I don’t mind disagreeing with you, J because I think you do your best and deal with a lot of difficult questions and provide some discussion of topics in a safe environment/site. The marriage relationship should be based on more than just the physical so some people would argue that it’s okay because you have this whole relationship developed and these are just pictures, and one aspect of the relationship but that is just wrong.

    Encouraging your husband to look at you like an object or like his own private porn when he is away (or not away) is tempting him to need or want the unnatural visual stimuli to be aroused, which is already a huge problem for men these days. Is masturbation okay in your marriage? Is it okay for him to masturbate to these pictures because they are of you?

    This crosses way too many lines for me. What are you going to do when your teenager accidentally finds these? You’re seriously going to let another person take suggestive pictures of you?

    I don’t have a problem seeing this as evil. It begins blurring lines about pornography and artificial stimulus as well as the damage it can do to the woman feeling like she can’t measure up in real life to those pictures she had done when it comes to weight, interest in sex in the moment, make-up, hair, lighting, as it seems in the pictures. It’s just not a natural part of your relationship.

    I know people disagree with me and that’s okay. I tend to be old fashioned for someone in their twenties. My mom taught me to never write anything I don’t want shared with the whole world. I feel the same way about all media. We all know nightmare stories where tapes have been leaked. I would tell any of my friends, just don’t go there.

    1. Jenny

      Despite us having nude photos and a sex video, my husband and I actually agree with you. We’ve had fun with the various things, but as a rule he doesn’t look at the pictures of me very often at all, and we only watched the video once, right after we made it. The thing we got from the video is that it was so obvious that we loved one another, that there was a deep love, when we were making love – it wasn’t just sex. You could see it on our faces and the way we touched each other. Which is something I’m guessing you don’t see in porn – but even so, we only watched the video once, because we actually talked about it beforehand, how we didn’t want porn to become an issue. It was something fun to do, just to say we did it, and it was interesting to see what we looked like! He knew what I looked like, and I knew what he looked like, but we didn’t know what we ourselves looked like. haha. The pictures he liked to look at when we couldn’t be together, when he was in the military, just because it….hm, I don’t know exactly how to say it. He missed me, and the pictures kind of comforted him, I guess. It wasn’t strictly “erotica” – it was more something that made him feel close to me even when we were far away and maybe couldn’t talk on the phone. So I think that, yes, it can be a bad thing for a marriage if you approach it in the wrong way, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

  14. Sara

    I did these pictures for my husband while he was deployed. We married the week before he left and waited until then to have sex. While he was gone, I know it was difficult for him, and I also know the kind of stuff that goes around over there (pornography and such). I had a female photographer (who offered these sessions free to military wives and then sent them for you and everything), and she even had a hair and makeup artist for me. It was a wonderful experience, and the pictures she took were very classy and not too sexy. My husband loved them! With us being apart, it was a great gift for him to receive, and I was happy to provide that for him. No one else has seen them (except for a couple of close female friends that I showed them to), and my husband doesnt sit around staring at them all day! When he does deploy again, it will be something he can take with him–and I’d much rather him have that when we cant see each other and can barely talk, than to resort to the pictures and Internet the other guys are looking at!

    I didn’t feel guilty about it at all. We were married, and I felt that as his wife, it was keeping the focus on me and him, and not letting him be tempted by other pictures.

    Also, the photographers will not encourage you to take any pictures that you are uncomfortable with! Ive seen some where people are wearing a football jersey and little shorts, and then there are of course more revealing ones. Either way, this is for you and your husband, and it was great for us!

    Also, I am glad I had them when I did because I look at them now and realize I had one awesome spray tan and was a few pounds lighter! 🙂 It’s nice to have pictures were I looked good and my husband was happy!

  15. Brian

    Hi all,
    Im a Professional Boudoir photographer in Australia (for the last 5 years) and have been pro photographer for nearly 20 years now. Im married, Christian and my wife supports me in the choice to shoot Boudoir.
    Having photographed many women, it is about finding out what makes them uniquely beautiful. Woman spend a lot of time comparing themselves to others when in reality God designed them to all be uniquely different. My job is to find out what makes them beautiful and show that to them in a creative artistic way… its a lot more than posing in a bra and knickers. Having photographed many ladies, my male eyes get over that very quickly.
    I spend a lot of time on the shoot teaching them about feminine posing… ie using your curves well, where to lean your hips, your shoulders, where to place your body weight etc. Even how you breath, where your eyes are looking and the emotional connection for the viewer. I want to tell a story with each image, not just give them pose number 23 to do!
    Many of our clients have lost touch on what it means to be feminine and sensual. Many are working in male dominated workplaces where they have had to become more masculine in order to compete.

    A boudoir session sees them discovering what it is to be a beautiful woman again and they love it. They discover that they can be sexy with the body they have and actually love who they are.
    Many of them have commented that the album they bought was just a bonus. The real gift to themselves was the experience of the photo session.
    Even the husbands have written thanking me for the confidence it has given their wife to love the body she has and be confident with her sensuality.

    I can understand women thinking they should go to a female photographer, but I do believe as a male I am seeing her quite differently to the way a woman does. I know how to shoot in a way that is appealing to her husband! (and so that she will absolutely love it too!) Of course I would encourage you to be cautious and check out your photographer thoroughly (male or female), read reviews, speak to others who have been there etc.

    We have clients ranging from 20’s to 50’s. Many doing it as a surprise wedding gift for their husband to be, other for a significant anniversary be that the first (paper) or milestone 25th wedding anniversary!
    There are also single women who are just doing it for themselves to give them a wonderful boost when they may have doubted themselves.

    As far as privacy of images etc. Professional photographers whether they own copyright or not should respect a clients wishes on whether the images are allowed to be used for display or kept totally private.
    About half of our clients keep them private and we certainly respect that. Others may allow us partial use so that we can only show images that don’t reveal their identity. Of course I am thankful that some do allow us to show them or we wouldn’t have any display shots on our website!

    Feel free to take a look at our website http://www.boudoirphotographer.com.au

    It is great that people are having this discussion.

    regards
    Brian

    1. J

      Brian, thanks for some great information!

      I am close friends with an artist, and I have talked to the artist as well about how quickly the pursuit of getting the picture right takes over the fact that someone is nude in front of you. I know that my artist friend gets so mentally deep into drawing the breasts or the curve of a hip correctly, not really thinking “hey, that hip is bare!” I would assume it’s the same for many photographers.

      I also assume that you approach your wife’s body in a very different way.

      TO READERS: A caveat that there are some revealing photos on Brian’s site. There are also some very mild but sexy pics as well. Just wanted you to know ahead of time.

  16. Conflicted

    I go back and forth on this all the time, whether I should do this as a wedding gift for my husband-to-be. It’s very conflicting matter and I can’t decide whether I think it a good idea or not. On brave days I want to, but on nervous days I come up with 100 reasons why I shouldn’t. Reading these points of views has helped a little, but I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough. Maybe someday, but for now probably not. Thanks everyone! 🙂

    1. J Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Conflicted! Given your own words, I’d say wait. You need to be comfortable and confident about the idea. There are plenty of other ways to treat your husband! I bet you can think of several. Blessings!

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