How I Got Started Shooting Boudoir

I lived in Los Angeles for many years before moving back to Virginia. During my time there I became interested in photography, which quickly grew into a passion for me. I knew from the start that I wanted to photograph people and faces so I started shooting headshots for actors and models.

Some of my repeat female clients who were both actors and models began requesting modeling shoots with me — the Calvin Klein underwear kind. I obliged and really thought nothing of it as far as boudoir was concerned. I just filed it under “model shoot”.

I did that for a few years but felt something was off… just a hair. Something wasn’t aligned within me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until a client asked me to photograph them against a gray background in somewhat dramatic lighting that things changed for me.

After the shoot I kept going back to those images. They were quietly drawing me in. I finally realized that those shots were more like portraits than headshots. For an in-depth look at the difference between the two, you can read an article I wrote here entitled, “What’s the Difference Between a Headshot and a Portrait?”.

I soon had an epiphany and realized I wasn’t a headshot/model photographer but more a portrait and environmental portrait photographer. I loved the drama and mood that type of photography produced.

Environmental portraits are portraits of people taken wide enough to see their physical surroundings and helps to tell the story of that person.

I began experimenting with my lighting even more, trying to get a moodier vibe, and I loved how shooting wider would capture more of the subject’s body language. I really liked how one’s body could “speak” just as loud as one’s expression.

It wasn’t until I came across a male boudoir photographer in Los Angeles by the name of Michael Sasser on YouTube that the idea of being a boudoir photographer even entered my head as a possibility.

I took a close look at his unique approach to the genre (being male) and immediately became intrigued. I was curious as to how applying the aesthetics of my moody environmental portrait work would translate into the world of boudoir.

I wanted to give it a try. I began posting TFP requests on some Facebook groups I belonged to whose members included makeup artists, models, and photographers and attracted some women who were interested.

Wow, this was really going to happen.

My first shoot went really well and I had a great model who worked out perfectly and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. In fact, I loved what I saw.

For the next year I continued with my headshot/portrait work while honing my skills in boudoir… and there was a lot to hone. Boudoir is a deceptively easy looking genre from the outside looking in but in reality it’s been one of my most challenging.

I like to compare it to sculpting with glass. It requires a lot of finesse, delicacy, and nuance or the whole thing can “shatter”.

As I got more into it I discovered that boudoir was becoming more and more popular, moving from a somewhat obscure form of photography into the main stream. In fact, a lot of women now routinely get bridal boudoir shoots to give as a gift to their soon-to-be husbands.

Another element that goes hand-in-hand with boudoir is the psychological benefits many women gain from getting a boudoir shoot. It’s not just about getting sexy pictures taken.

It takes all that fear, doubt, and insecurity a lot of women have about themselves and their bodies and transforms it into confident sexy empowerment. And I’ve experienced this myself with my clients. Boudoir is the most psychologically impactful form of photography I’ve ever been a part of… and that’s pretty cool.

Being the one responsible for such a positive outcome, along with satisfying my own artistic vision as an artist is a one-two knockout for me. I love being able to apply my approach to photography and create a lasting impact in the lives of my clients.

When I made the move back to Virginia (where my entire family lives), shooting actor headshots was not going to be very practical for obvious reasons. I then made the decision to focus entirely on boudoir since any woman is a potential client.

And that’s how I got started shooting boudoir.

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