15 Tips To Make Your Boudoir Client Feel Comfortable

Young Asian girl lying on bed giving OK sign

It’s not uncommon for a woman to feel a little nervous before her shoot. Especially if she’s never worked with a professional photographer before or if she’s self-conscious about getting her picture taken. Some of them will tell you outright they’re a little nervous. With others, they may not mention anything but you’ll be able to sense it based on their behavior and body language. 

In this article I’m going to go over 15 tips you can do to make your client feel comfortable and at ease during her boudoir session. And if you’re a male boudoir photographer, there’s a special section just for you at the very end. 

First, here’s a quick guide to all the points I’ll be addressing below for quick reference.

So, what are 15 tips to make your boudoir client feel comfortable?

They are

Build Comfort Over the Phone First

Keep In Touch the Week Before Their Shoot Day

Text Them the Day Of To Confirm Time, Address, and Parking Info

Welcome Them to Your Home or Studio

Make Sure Your Space is Clean and Comfortable

Give Them A Tour

Offer Them Water and Snacks

Tell Them What the Plan Is

Play Some Music

Start the Session With Them Mostly Clothed

Use Non-Sexual Language

Keep the Conversation Going

Show Them Images From the Back of Your Camera

Ask Before Touching

Why It’s Important Your Client Feels Comfortable

The main reason you want your client feeling comfortable and at ease as quickly as possible is because her state of mind will reflect itself in the images you take. It will become evident in her expression and body language that she’s experiencing some apprehension.

We want to eliminate this as much as possible, but it doesn’t start when she walks through the door. It starts when the two of you first talk over the phone or exchange text messages.

Build Comfort Over the Phone First

Woman talking on smartphone

If the two of you have been texting, try and move that communication over to the phone at least once before the shoot. I realize texting can be more convenient, especially when relaying addresses and parking info, but you really want to have at least one good long conversation between the two of you to get a sense of each other. 

You can pick up a lot of information about someone from talking with them over the phone, and you want to take this opportunity to build rapport and comfort. When they’re getting serious about booking a session, ask them what their reasons are for doing so. This will tell you a lot about where they’re coming from and what they want to get from their session.

By the time the two of you meet in person, you should already have the feeling of being friendly acquaintances. As a boudoir photographer, you’re also playing the role of being a confidante in some respect. Entrusting someone to take half-naked pictures of you with a near-stranger you’ve never met before is a huge responsibility and requires sensitivity. Getting to know each other over the phone initially is the first step in building some comfort.

Keep In Touch the Week Before Their Shoot Day

It’s good to send them a text or two after your initial phone conversation in the days leading up to their shoot. This lets them know you’re thinking about them and planning accordingly. 

If you’ve spoken about wardrobe previously, just send them something like, “Hey, I think that black bra and bottoms you mentioned the other day will look great with your skin tone in natural light.” 

Or something along those lines but be genuine.

Blonde Asian woman texting

Text Them the Day Of To Confirm Time, Address, Parking Info, but Also…

To make sure they have the correct time and address, text them a few hours before their scheduled time. I do this for a number of reasons.

First, it confirms the time and address so there’s no confusion whatsoever about when and where they’re supposed to show up. Clients getting this wrong will arrive late and not be in the best state of mind when they do arrive. We want to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Second, I like to include some helpful parking info.

And third, I’ll send them another text right afterwards with something like, “Hey, if you need any help carrying stuff from your car, just text me when you arrive and I’ll meet you outside.”

This is a nice touch and let’s them know you’re making that extra effort to take care of them. People are paying a lot of money for their boudoir session, make them feel they’re getting more than their money’s worth. I feel providing this little detail is important and means a lot. 

Welcome Them To Your Home or Studio

When they step foot into your home or studio, welcome them.

“Welcome to my studio!”

If you’re using a hair & makeup artist, this would also be the time to introduce everyone to each other. 

Make Sure Your Space is Clean and Comfortable

Clean bedroom with hardwood floors

This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Nobody likes walking into a dirty messy space. Make sure everything’s clean and that they’ll have a place to sit if they have to wait between set ups. Especially if you use speedlites or strobes. 

Make sure the temperature is at a comfortable level and check in with her when she’s wearing much less than when she first arrived. Being hot or cold will distract her from the task at hand, which is listening to your guidance with posing.

Give Them A Tour

A good way to break the ice and just get the conversation going is to give them a little tour of your space. Whether it’s your home or a studio, walk them through and give them the lay of the land. 

Many will show up with some type of water bottle nowadays as well, so show them where the kitchen and refrigerator are and offer to keep it cold for them. 

Show them where they’ll be changing and also where the bathroom is, or if it’s one and the same. 

Of course, if you’re shooting in your home, only show the spaces that are appropriate. They don’t need to go upstairs and see little Billy’s Star Wars themed bedroom. 

Offer Them Water and Snacks

Water poured from a bottle

At some point during the tour (like when you’re in the kitchen) ask them if they’d like anything to drink and offer some type of granola bar or something. Most will be too keyed up to want to eat anything just yet, but they may get hungry later on and take you up on that offer further along into the shoot.

Some boudoir studios offer wine or a mimosa before their client’s shoot, but if you’re a male photographer I’d stay away from going down that road. Just stick with non-alcoholic beverages.

Transitioning Into the Shoot

Meeting them outside, showing them around, offering them something to eat or drink, this all serves as a smooth transition into acclimating themselves to their new environment, you, and to the shoot itself. 

Tell Them What the Game Plan Is

After all the niceties are done, it’s time to get down to business. Giving them a brief itinerary will give them confidence that you know what you’re doing. Taking control of the shoot and directing what’s going to happen step-by-step will do a lot in placing your client’s mind at ease. They’ll say to themselves, “Okay, this person knows what they’re doing. They’ve obviously done this before. I can relax.”

At this point I’ll say something like, “Okay, let me show you where you can put your stuff and where you’ll be changing, then let’s get started with hair and makeup. After that, we’ll go over your wardrobe and pick out your first outfit.”

If there’s a hair and makeup person present, get them started with them, then ask if they’d like to listen to any music.

Play Some Music

Having some music playing in the background can ground them with something they’re familiar with, and add to (what should be by now) their growing comfort level. 

Start the Session With Them Mostly Clothed

Boudoir image of young woman exposing underwear beneath jeans

Another thing I do in building comfort and easing into the shoot is to start them off mostly clothed. This gets them used to the camera, posing, taking direction — without the added pressure of feeling somewhat exposed in intimate apparel for the first time with someone they’ve really just met. 

Now, when I say mostly clothed I’m talking about jeans and a T-shirt, or some type of stretchy top. I’ll have them slip it down off one shoulder and also unfasten the button on their jeans and slide them down a bit as if undressing, exposing some of their bra and bottoms. 

This series of shots also adds a “beginning” to an album that will eventually progress to more images that expose more skin.

Use Non-Sexual Language

This is a great time to talk about the type of language you should use when communicating with clients. I use what I consider to be non-sexual language whenever possible. That’s why I say “bottoms” instead of “panties”. Being a guy in this type of situation, it also makes me feel more comfortable as well. 

I never say “ass”, it’s always “arch your back more” or “shift your hips back a bit” (the butt pretty much goes where the hips go anyway). 

If you’re a female photographer there’s probably more leeway with how you speak to clients. The big thing here is that there’s no sexual undertones with whatever language you end up using. 

Your reputation is everything and you don’t want to do anything that could damage that. 

Keep the Conversation Going

When I shot headshots with actors the conversations I had with them continued right through the shooting. There would be natural pauses where I would click away, maybe give a little direction, they’d adjust, and then we’d continue right where we left off. Eventually we got into a rhythm. 

This kept them out of their heads and prevented their minds from doubting themselves and self-analysis, “Do I look okay?” “Oh god, I’m no good at this.” or whatever insecurities might be running through their heads.  

You can do something similar if you find your client is still a little nervous or timid. If the music is still playing, make sure it’s not so loud that you can’t hear each other.

Encourage Them With Non-Sexual Compliments

In every session you want to encourage and give moral support to your client. There is, however, a right way of doing it, and a wrong way.

First off, don’t sexualize any comment. You don’t say stuff like, “Man, your boobs look great in that lacy bra.” 

You can still say flattering things though, just say stuff like, “Wow, the way the light is outlining your shape looks amazing.”

Or…

“That look in your eyes is nailing it.”

Just stay away from mentioning specific body parts and be smart about it.

Show Them Images From the Back of Your Camera

Backlit boudoir image of woman in black bra and underwear
Backlit boudoir image of woman in black bra and underwear

One of the quickest ways I’ve found to eliminate any fear or apprehension is to show them some images from the back of your camera. This, without a doubt, will change their outlook faster than you can say “f/stop”. 

“Oh my god… that looks so good!”

If you’re anywhere adequate with lighting and a camera, this is not an uncommon reaction. They’re used to seeing themselves in selfies, or in the mirror — this is something completely different now. 

You’ll often see a big smile spread across their face and they’ll suddenly have that look in their eyes that says, “Yeah, let’s do this.”

Now, the real shooting begins because now you’ve got them on your side and they’ve been shown evidence that this is going to turn out pretty cool. 

You’ll want to make sure your lighting and everything is dialed in first and that you’re getting some good images before you show them anything. 

Ask Before Touching

If you need to remove some hair from their face or they’re just not understanding your direction and it would be easier to move it yourself, there’s a way of asking them in a confident manner. 

You don’t want to come off as a timid little shrew with something like, ”Hey look, I always ask before I touch someone so would it be like… you know… okay if I touched you? No! That’s not what I meant! I meant, I just need to move your hair to the side some. Would that like… be okay?”

That kind of language comes off as kind of creepy too.

You want to avoid that.

Instead, say something like, “Hey, I need to fix your hair, it’s ruining my shot. Is that okay?” Or, “I need to move your arm. Is that alright?”

You don’t need to make a big deal about it, just casually ask in that manner.

Some people do not take direction well (as you’ll find) and instead of going back and forth and the client feeling worse because she’s not getting it, it’s just better for the both or you to do it for her.

If you’ve garnered enough trust and comfort up to this point, it won’t be an issue. However, if you’re giving off this weird vibe that I talk about further down, it could be. 

Special Notes For Male Boudoir Photographers

Male photographer against wall

(I could have named this section, “Special Notes For Any Gender That Is Attracted to the Female Gender” but I thought that was a bit awkward and wordy.)

People can sense what your thoughts and intentions are. If they’re tuned in enough to their own instinct, they can pick up on your vibration… what you’re projecting. It sends them a message in the form of gut instinct… they’ll just feel it.

Have you ever encountered someone that you just felt was up to no good? There was something about them you were picking up on. It was their thoughts and intentions in that moment, or perhaps it was their essence. They didn’t have to do anything or say anything… you just felt it.

My point here is that women will pick up on your thoughts and intentions, so don’t think just because you don’t say anything inappropriate or do anything inappropriate that you won’t be sending off a creepy vibe… you don’t have to because you’ll be projecting it.

I’m not saying you can’t not notice someone who’s attractive. I’m just saying that’s as far as it goes. You don’t ogle her. 

Related Question

What Do You Do When A Client Starts Changing In Front of You?

There may come a time when some clients will start changing outfits in the same room as you. That’s actually a good sign because it says they trust you a lot. Now don’t break that trust because it’s not an invitation.

It says you’ve done a good job in building comfort and trust.

If you found this article helpful, forward it to someone who may also find it useful.

Thanks for your time!

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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