The key to shooting boudoir is to emphasis the female form, primarily the curvaceous outline of a woman’s body. Standing poses can be particularly challenging since there is little for the subject to work off of.
Unlike lying on a bed, sitting in a chair, or reclined on a chaise lounge, where the energy is directed against something solid, standing poses can feel a bit like working in zero gravity. All the subject has to work with is their own body.
(I have a newfound respect for professional models who are able to make standing poses look so natural and effortless.)
I’ve witnessed a lot of awkwardness and stiffness with a good portion of my clients when first trying to shoot sensual standing poses, and realized this was challenging for many everyday women.
Over time I learned to give these women something to work with, like a wall, door frame, or corner and that has helped a lot.
It’s similar to giving them something to do with their hands as opposed to them not knowing what to do with them.
With this concept in mind, all these standing poses (except one) use a wall, doorframe, or corner which helps a great deal.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the five most popular standing boudoir poses that flatter the female form and the various structures used to help them look more natural and relaxed.
1. Against the Wall
This is one of my personal favorite standing poses probably because light plays such a big part in making it look so awesome.
Position your subject so her upper back and butt are against the wall. There should be a window or some kind of light source hitting her at about 30 degrees on one side, while you’re positioned on the opposite side at about 30 degrees.
You want the light to be skimming across the front of her as opposed to being directly behind her like in a backlit silhouette.
Give Her Hands Something To Do
There’s a lot you can do here with her hands.
Have her start to pull down her bottoms with both hands, or tug at her bra straps, or one hand on each, or have both hands running through her hair, or one hand caressing her neck while the other starts to pull down her bottoms.
Giving her hands something to do energizes the shot as opposed to just loosely hanging down, which will drain energy from the image. You also get some nice triangles with bent arms with the previous examples, and that always looks good when posing females.
This is also an easy pose to do anonymously by just cropping her face out of frame, or having her turn her head away from camera.
The light skimming across her body is going to create highlights and shadows drawing attention to all those curves we talked about earlier.
For even greater effect, make sure she arches her back. That will emphasize the bust as well.
A variation on this pose is to position yourself so you’re shooting her in profile.
Have her bring her arm closet to camera up to frame her face.
This pose works particularly well with her positioned perpendicular to a window right next to the window frame so the light coming in feathers across her.
2. Head On, Against the Wall
Instruct your subject to stand against the wall with you positioned directly in front of her. The light can come from the side at 30 degrees, from above, or a combination of both.
Have her raise her arms above her head stretching upward with her weight on one leg so one hip pops out. She can use the wall to lean against as she does so.
She can also position her arms above her head in a bent fashion to avoid having them extend out of frame.
Pulling on her bra straps will create energy, along with running her hands through her hair like the previous set up.
This is a great pose to capture head to toe, as well as, moving in close and grabbing a few shots from mid-range about waist level up.
3. Casual From Behind (Lazy Sunday Afternoon)
This standing pose is effective because it looks so casual and candid, like a photojournalist capturing an image without the subject even aware of them.
It’s also the one pose that does not use a wall or other structure to work off of.
Position your model in front of a window with a sheer white curtain to act as a solid white backdrop, while you position yourself either directly behind her, or at about 45 degrees.
Instruct her to stand relaxed and comfortable, weight on one leg, calming gazing out the window as if it was a lazy Sunday afternoon.
With this pose you want her arms hanging loosely at her sides, or one up, one down, but very relaxed with no tension.
The backlight will outline her form against the white curtain while exposing for your subject, or it can be shot as a silhouette if desired.
This also works well if your client wears something sheer and see-through like a slip or robe. The backlight will illuminate her form through the garment adding another level of interest to the image.
I always like working with sheer see-through garments because it teases the viewer as to what can be seen and what remains hidden. This cat-and-mouse engages the viewer even more and acts as a kind of subtext to the image.
4. In a Doorframe
Using a doorframe where a portion of the body is hidden can be used to tease the viewer as well by what remains hidden. It’s also a pose any woman can do because it’s such a natural way to stand when peeking through an open door.
This serves women who are self-conscious about her size as well, and who want to minimize their presence on camera.
Framed By the Doorframe
Having your subject lean against the doorframe is also effective in that the straight lines of the rectangular doorframe are juxtaposed against the curvy outline of your model.
Use the Doorframe Like a Pole
You can use the doorframe in a similar manner as a pole by having the woman lean in profile against the frame with her hands above her head grabbing onto the frame on either side, much like she would if she was up against a pole.
Or have the arm closest to camera tug on her bra strap or down on her bottoms so as not to obstruct her face with it.
Make sure she arches her back to create space between her and the frame, and stagger her legs a bit for more interesting angles.
5. The Standing “S”
A sinewy, elegant, graceful pose, I call this the Standing “S” since its line reminds me of the letter “S”.
Have your subject stand in a corner or against a wall perpendicular to camera with her weight on her back leg. Her front leg should be bent resting on the ball of her foot.
Her upper body should rotate back towards camera, twisting at the waist some.
The arm furthest from camera can reach across her body and grab her hip closet to camera, while her arm closest to camera can grab the shoulder furthest from camera, almost like she’s hugging herself.
You can also direct that same hand to be pulling down her bra strap for added interest.
Have her look directly into camera or down upon herself.
If done correctly you should see an undulating sensual “S” line that runs down the length of her body from head to toe.
Make sure her chin closes the gap to her shoulder to complete the look.
Standing poses can be a challenge for many women, but with the help of a wall, corner, or doorframe to give them something to work off of, it makes standing poses much easier and more natural looking.
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Thanks for your time!
Founder / Lounge Boudoir