10 Useful Tips For Male Boudoir Photographers

Black & white photo of male photographer with camera

(plus the one thing no one ever talks about)

Being a male boudoir photographer is kind of a unique thing. First of all, you’re a male operating in not only a female dominated field but also an almost exclusively female customer base. As a male boudoir photographer myself, and because of the social dynamics between men and women in society, us males have to approach things a little differently. 

In the following article I’m going to go over 10 useful tips that male boudoir photographers can use to help them in their boudoir businesses. I’m also going to talk about something that no one has ever mentioned before with regard to being male in this female dominated industry which I think is extremely important for men to understand — but more on that a bit later.

A lot of these tips are going to revolve around the issue of trust, not all of them, but a significant amount. I also think it’s important to put this into context and to understand the reasons why that is… not that we aren’t aware, but we’re only aware on a surface level. 

As male boudoir photographers we need to understand this issue of trust from the female perspective because it’s visceral for them. Many have experienced sexual harassment or worse, mostly by men (according to a number of various statistics including the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

For us, it mostly isn’t a threat, it’s intellectual — facts, statistics, news reports of sexual harassment and violence against women, stuff we hear about or see on the news. Unless you’ve had a female close to you who has experienced something like this, it then only rises to the level of affecting us emotionally. 

Women live with a constant “radar” on when among men. They have to because men are the leading cause of violence and sexual harassment against women. Things have become better with the #MeToo movement but it still exists. 

Don’t Be a “GWC”

Male photographer

“GWC” stands for “guy with camera” and since cameras went digital there have been more and more of them popping up everywhere like Whac-A-Moles at a state fair. The GWC is any creepoid or sleaze bag pretending to be a professional photographer or building his portfolio to become a professional photographer in order to hit on women… or worse. 

They’re usually easy to spot because their images are not that good and consist entirely of photos you’d find in the worst kind of amateur “girly’ magazine. Many aspiring models and actresses run into them early in their careers when they don’t know any better, and they smear the reputation of true professional male photographers like us by association.  

So, the first thing a potential boudoir client has to do is determine if you are one of these GWC dudes. She can most easily ascertain that by taking a look at your website and social media, and it would be a good idea to have both that are primarily about your photography. This lets her know that you are indeed a professional and that you’re proud to display your images on a public platform when appropriate.

Building Trust

Your Website

Your website is probably the best place to go for a woman to determine if you’re legit or not because a professional male photographer will have a professional looking website. He also won’t be hiding his identity so make sure you have an “About Me” section with a clear picture of what you look like. More than one is preferable, but at least one really good picture. 

It’s All About Me

A woman can get a preliminary sense of you from your picture and will probably base whether or not she wants to continue exploring the possibility of shooting boudoir with you based on how your picture makes her feel. This is all done subconsciously, heck, it’s how we all do it. We all have a reaction, whether positive, negative, or neutral, when we view someone’s picture. 

Be true to who you are with your image. Don’t try and present yourself as something you’re not. The person she meets in the picture is the person she expects to meet in person. I’m not saying your image won’t change over time, just make sure if it changes enough that you update it. 

It’s kind of like internet dating sites. The picture someone uses to represent themselves with is the person you expect to meet if the two of you ever go on a date. If that person looks radically different when they show up, not only will you be (usually) disappointed, but you’ll also feel betrayed. These are not feelings you want your boudoir client to experience when they first meet you face to face. 

Video

Having video of you on your site is great in many ways. It’s the second best thing a woman can use (aside from meeting you in person) to determine if she’ll feel safe with you if she decides to book a session.

Providing video on your website of you just talking into camera answering questions, or explaining the reason why you shoot boudoir, or how you got into shooting boudoir, will show a woman your personality, demeanor, and “like-ability quotient”. 

Video of you shooting a boudoir session will present to her how you work with other women and will show her how you’ll be with her. That’s what she’ll be thinking when she watches these kinds of videos. 

It will also instill confidence in her that you know what you’re doing by directing the client and guiding her with posing and expression. Video is very powerful and for a male boudoir photographer it’s a safe way for a woman to decide if she’ll feel comfortable with you.

So, in addition to getting to know you, to witness how you interact with your clients, video also shows her the space in which her shoot would take place. You see, what’s really going on in her head is that she’s saying to herself, “Can I see myself in her place?” “Do I want to be the woman I see in the video… experiencing what she’s experiencing?”

Make sure your video convinces her that she does. 

But Why… Why?

Along with your “About Me” page you’ll also want to mention your “why”… the reason you shoot boudoir, or how you got into shooting boudoir. To further eliminate you from being a GWC, your reason why should be genuine, authentic, and organic to who you are. 

A lot of female boudoir photographers express their reason “why” as wanting to help women feel better about themselves, to help women of all shapes and sizes to feel empowered, and that’s great. 

Although that’s a worthy reason, it didn’t ring true for who I was. Not that I don’t think those benefits are wonderful, it’s not what drives me in this particular genre. I had to stop and really think about what felt authentic and genuine for me… and that turned out to be the art itself of the images.

My reason “why” is summed up nicely and succinctly on my website as “shaping light onto the female form”. I love painting with light — natural light, strobed light, gelled light, and I love shaping it onto the female form to create an artistic image. And if you check out my website, that’s my message and that’s what I emphasize. 

Now, a side benefit of my reason “why” is that women get a renewed sense of confidence and perhaps a better self image, and feel more empowered, but that’s not what drives me to shoot boudoir. Once I recognized that, everything fell into place as far as my own unique style, and that’s what rings true for me. 

So, find your reason why and be honest with yourself. Don’t try and borrow someone else’s reason why, you have to do some self-analysis, and if it’s because you just want to shoot women because you think they’re beautiful, then state that. 

You have to be true to yourself first in order to “vibrate” at your authentic frequency, and by “vibrating” at your authentic frequency, you’ll attract others on that same frequency and everything will be in alignment. It all fits together like a big vibrational cosmic puzzle, at least that’s what I believe.

It really all boils down to being true to who you are and embracing that… and then giving that gift of you to others.

Your Social Media

An area where you can show more sides of yourself is on social media. While your website will probably showcase a more professional image, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. is a place where you can unbutton the collar and loosen the tie a bit. 

Showing more of your lighter side is always a good thing and perhaps your professional website isn’t ideal for that, but it’s perfect for Instagram and Facebook. A good rule of thumb is to mix images of your everyday life along with images you want to post to promote your photography. 

Now, don’t go overboard here. What I’m saying is present the side of you that’s your everyday self… how you’d be if you were hanging with good friends. If you dress up like a circus clown and dance to ragtime tunes on the street corner for spare change, that’s something I wouldn’t share on your social media to promote your boudoir photography. In fact, I probably wouldn’t share that with anyone. 

Showing a bit more of your personality on your social media is perfect for women to check out who you are outside your boudoir photography and gives them a more well-rounded version of you. If they like what they see, then more comfort and trust is built and somewhat of a relationship with you starts to form, although cyber in nature. 

Testimonials

A way to showcase that others had a good experience with you and trusted you, is to have testimonials… on your website, on your boudoir Facebook page, on your boudoir Instagram account. 

Whether in text or video format, having someone else vouch for you is a powerful endorsement. It’s social proof that you’ve done a good job and that women like your work. It will help convince other women to do the same.

I usually ask for testimonials after I’ve delivered the final product. By that point, we’ve gone through the pre-consultation, the shoot, the reveal, the picking of images, the ordering, and the delivery together. Our relationship has changed from being just photographer / client, to something that more resembles a friendship. She’s gotten to know me over a longer period of time and that can only assure a better testimonial.

I also want her to have gone through the whole process before I ask for her endorsement so she has more to comment on if she chooses, and to make sure she’s completely satisfied from beginning to end. 

Appearances Are Everything

Male photographer

I want to address one’s appearance for a moment while still under the broader heading of building trust. As a male boudoir photographer it’s important that you don’t look like a psycho, or to put it another way, as someone who she perceives is dangerous or could do her harm.

I’m not going to sit here and make a list of what exactly that is, because I think it can take on many different forms but use some common sense and look professional. If your image is more edgy, you can still come across as that, but also professional. There’s a big difference between edgy scary and edgy professional and if you can’t tell the difference then I suggest you seek out the advice of a professional image consultant to work with you on this. 

If your heart is true and your intentions are true then that should come across in your picture and “About Me” section, and it should also be reflected in your eyes. 

 We all judge people by their appearance because that’s just how we operate as human beings. It’s a survival mechanism for self-preservation probably ingrained in our DNA from millions of years ago. So, take note on your appearance and get some advice from some female friends for their opinion.

I actually did this with a picture I had on my website a while ago and got some useful feedback from it. So, give it a shot. Our client base is 100% women so don’t you think it would be wise to get some feedback from a few of them on how they perceive you based on your picture? 

Are You Comfortable Around Women?

Red-headed young man in pink shirt

Okay, I want to talk about something now that I’ve never seen anywhere else with regard to being a male boudoir photographer, and that’s your own comfort level with being around women and scantily clad women in particular. This is after all, our working environment.

Like A Virgin

Regardless of what age you are, if you’re still a virgin or at least haven’t had at least one intimate relationship with a women for some extended period of time, your experience with boudoir is going to be different than a male who has had relationships with women in the past or is currently in one. 

It’s kind of like working in an ice-cream shop… without ever having eaten ice-cream.

You may have developed an “attraction” to ice-cream, or you’re at least somewhat curious about what this so-called ice-cream is all about. You’ve heard many people talk about ice-cream and you’ve heard all these amazing things about ice-cream, yet you’ve never tasted it before. 

One day you decide it might be cool to work in an ice-cream shop where you’re surrounded now by all this ice-cream… yet, you’re not allowed to taste any of the ice-cream or there will be severe repercussions. In fact, the boss said he’ll fire you. 

Yet, there it is… right in front of you… every time you go to work. It’s enough to drive a person crazy because you’re dying to try some ice-cream but you can’t, but there it is, right there staring back at you. 

Ice-cream! Ice-cream! Ice-cream!

That is not a good scenario to put yourself in. 

You’re going to have a different energy about you because you have to scoop ice-cream for others, you have to carry tubs of ice-cream from the freezer to the display case, and you have to look at ice-cream all day long.

Now, compare this with someone who has eaten ice-cream in the past, or perhaps enjoys ice-cream on a regular basis, or occasionally eats ice-cream from time to time and now he gets a job at an ice-cream shop. 

He’s had ice-cream before and may in fact be having some later on after he gets home from work. Ice-cream to him is not an unknown temptation. Sure, he can appreciate the ice-cream he works with, and can abide by the boss’ rule of no-eating the ice-cream because he’ll be getting some ice-cream after work at some point. 

Man with DSLR camera

This second employee is not going to be affected by the ice-cream he works with everyday like the first guy is. It may be that some of the flavors are not even that appealing to him. Some are, some arent’. It’s all in a day’s work and it’s no big deal. 

This second worker is going to have a more relaxed understanding about his job than the first worker. For the first worker, the ice-cream shop may be the only place he gets to even be close to ice-cream and his desire to taste some may start to interfere with his job performance. He’ll have ice-cream on the brain and he may not be fully able to focus on the task at hand, which is serving customers.

Before I worked in an ice-cream shop myself, I once found a very nice flavor of ice-cream. In fact, I liked this flavor so much that I decided to buy enough of it to last me a lifetime. Fairly soon, though, I began to notice that the ice-cream wasn’t tasting the way it had originally tasted. Its flavor had changed. It changed so much that I ended up having to return all of that ice-cream back to the store. 

But I digress…

I think it’s important if you’re a male boudoir photographer to examine your own level of comfort being around women and working with them in such an intimate fashion. If you’re getting into boudoir because you think it will be a way for you to “meet chicks”, then I would advice you to steer away from it. 

The reason being is that you will have ulterior motives… and that is going to rear its head at some point and that could put everything in jeopardy for you. Your photography will suffer as well because you’re not doing it to serve your craft, you’re doing it to serve your own personal needs and desires. Your intentions are out of alignment, and anything out of alignment will eventually weaken, crack, and ultimately break. 

Women will be able to sense if you’re comfortable around them, and if you’re not there’s going to be this weird awkward vibe in the room and that’s going to make them feel uncomfortable and their radar will go off that you’re someone they shouldn’t trust…. for some reason. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but they’ll feel it intuitively. 

Okay, let’s shift gears here and talk about some tips that have nothing to do with the whole trust factor that you, as a male boudoir photographer, can use to attract more business.

Have a Portfolio of Amazingly Unique Images 

One thing that can set you apart and make people want to book with you regardless of whether you’re male or female is a kick-ass gallery of images with its own unique style that separates you from every other boudoir photographer out there.

And that can take some time to develop. Personally, it took me about five years and you can read all about that journey in an article I wrote entitled, “How To Find Your Style As A Boudoir Photographer”.

Nothing attracts customers more than something that is unique and of high quality. That’s why everyone wants to own a Mercedes Benz, Versace or Prada clothing, or Harry Winston diamonds. People want nice things… especially women.

Cultivating your own style will set you apart from the crowd and you’ll be able to charge more because you’ll have something no one else has… and people will have to come to you to get it. 

If you’re an artist and deal in art you can set your own price. If you’re a commodity broker and deal in a commodity, your price is set by the market and your competition. 

If you want an iPhone there’s only one company that can provide that for you and that’s Apple. If you want a Michael Kors handbag, there’s only one company you can get it from and that’s Michael Kors —  and you have to pay what they’re asking because you can’t get those items anywhere else.

This is the next level of being a boudoir photographer and starting down the path to becoming an artist and establishing your brand. The question you have to ask yourself is if you even want to be an artist… and it’s okay if you don’t. 

I’m sure there are some very successful boudoir photographers who are doing just fine serving the needs of their clients with the level of photography that they’re providing. And I’m not trying to be snarky about this. There’s a spot for everyone in the marketplace.  

However, if you’re a male boudoir photographer, there’s probably a little more of an uphill battle with the whole trust thing, so having a unique style all your own will make you more attractive for women to want to shoot with you… just sayin’.

Transcend Your Gender

Being a boudoir photographer whose work is considered a step above everyone else’s will allow you to transcend your gender. It won’t matter if you are male (for the most part)

Separating yourself like this by having a unique and sought-after style will give you an advantage that any disadvantage that comes with being male will overcome.

Credibility

“Award Winning Photographer”

trophy with bokeh

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? When scrolling through Google’s search results for a product or service, if I saw something like “Award Winning Carpet Cleaners!” that would catch my eye. 

So, become an award winning photographer. It will add credibility to your name and brand because it’s an endorsement from an outside source which always carries more weight than tooting your own horn.

In order to do that, you’ll have to research photography contests to make sure they’re legitimate first, then see if you have any images that fall into one of their categories and enter.

Be careful though, coming from the film world myself there are a lot of scammy film festivals that are just fronts to take your money. Like I said, do your research first. 

WPPI has lots of categories in which to enter and they’re probably at the top of the list as far as prestige goes. Make sure you take a look at previous year’s winners and runner’s up in the category you’re thinking of entering. You can learn a lot from what the judges are looking for by studying these past awarded images.

Some other contests you may want to check out are the World Photographic Cup (WPC), Fuji Masterpiece Award, and the PPA. 

Related Question

Chaperon or Alone?

Should you have another person present during your shoot?

That’s a tough question, and I’ve done both. 

I’ve had my makeup artist stay for the duration of the session, I’ve had the client bring someone with them, and I’ve shot with just the client.

I much prefer to be alone with just the client because I find with another person in the mix, it just changes the chemistry of the space. I don’t mind another person being there but I want them in another room where I can’t see them. I don’t want to hear them (on their phone) and I don’t want to see them.

If they’re in the same room it feels like they’re psychically looking over my shoulder and watching everything I do and I don’t like that. Some even go so far as to comment on how things should be shot — not cool. It also feels like I have to “perform” for them. I know, it sounds weird, and it’s just my ego or something, but I don’t like that feeling either. 

I want to shoot uninhibited. I might be like a painter who just likes to be alone with his subject. There’s a connection there, between two artists. Yes, two. You and the subject. Both of you working in tandem to create something artistic. I don’t want anything interfering with that. 

I also don’t like the fact that this is what we’ve come to in our society. So, a woman can’t ever be alone with a man? Out of fear of being sexually harassed or worse? What if I was shooting a headshot or a portrait for a woman? Could I be alone with her then? Should she have a chaperon during a headshot session as well? 

If the woman feels uncomfortable shooting alone with you, then make sure she brings someone with her or arrange to have your makeup artist stay for the duration of the shoot.

I have to say that this has never been a problem for me, and I’ve never heard of it being a problem for any other male photographer. I’m not going to tell you what you should do in this situation. You’re going to have to figure that out for yourself. 

I just know what works for me. 

Some Will, Some Won’t, Some Might

If you’re a male boudoir photographer there are some women who will just not feel comfortable shooting with you. That’s just the way it is… and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. 

There are those that will shoot with you and even want to shoot with you because you are a male boudoir photographer for whatever reason, and that’s great.

And then there are those who are on the fence about it. They’re open to the possibility of shooting with you, but they need to be convinced. There’s something missing for them that hopefully, by following the advice in this article, will tip the balance in your favor.

Need More Help?

If you’re interested in how the boudoir genre really works and your place in it as a man, then check out my ebook, Shoot Boudoir Like A Man! It will give you an insight into the boudoir industry that is invaluable if you’re a male currently shooting boudoir or thinking about shooting boudoir.

Male boudoir photographer

Thanks for your time!

If you found this article helpful, pass it along to someone who may also benefit from it. 

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of LoungeBoudoir.com, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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