Boudoir Pose Breakdown — The Boudoir Portrait

Boudoir Portrait

In this episode of Boudoir Pose Breakdown we’re going to take a look at the Boudoir Portrait.

The boudoir portrait is a nice break from concentrating on just the client’s body. It’s a chance to get to know the person because we’re focusing on the face and, more importantly, the eyes.

And when I say “get to know”, I’m talking about the viewer who is looking at the image gaining insight into who this person is. Even if they know the subject personally, it doesn’t matter, the effect is the same.

Taking someone’s portrait allows us to connect with another human being, and there’s an unspoken message that is communicated that informs us of the humanity of that person.

Believe or not, the boudoir portrait is one of my favorite shots to capture and I’ve gotten some unbelievably authentic images because I believe the subject’s guard is down. In other words, they don’t know I’m taking their portrait when I capture it.

If I was scheduled to shoot someone’s standard portrait, the subject would have their guard up… at least sub-consciously. 

“Oh my god, I’m going to have my picture taken.”

This is what’s usually going through someone’s head along with all their insecurities and fears of how they look, or what bothers them about how they look. These thoughts have time to percolate in their brain the whole time leading up to their shoot and even during their shoot.

Boudoir Portrait

A boudoir portrait, however, is different.

They’re not thinking about their face because they’re more concerned about getting into the pose that you are guiding them into. Their mind is preoccupied.

However, a funny thing happens during a boudoir session that I’ve noticed time and time again, and that is, once the client has gotten past their initial jitters and they’re loosened up because they’ve seen a few shots from the back of the camera, and they’re starting to relax because they feel everything is going to turn out even better than they thought… they transform before my eyes.

I see it every time.

They become loose, carefree, uninhibited and the shoot jumps to a whole other level. Their participation becomes real, or rather, their real selves emerge… no longer constricted by fear, anxiety, or nerves.

Again, I never tell my client when I’m taking their portrait.

I’ll just step in or zoom in and capture a more intimate crop when I feel the setup and time is right. They’re usually standing though… against the wall or next to a window.

You see, they’re not thinking about their expression. They’re thinking about the pose I’m guiding them into and the scenario I’m having them imagine in their minds, and usually that manifests itself into an organic and genuine expression that I capture with a portrait… a boudoir portrait because they’re still wearing sexy lingerie. (Hey, it’s still a boudoir shoot after all.)

What Is The Pose Saying?

It’s saying whatever the subject is thinking about or feeling at that moment, which may be a mystery to the viewer or somewhat ambiguous, however, their expression is fueled by the pose they’re in along with an internal thought that is real

The point isn’t to know exactly what they’re thinking, but to be drawn in because something is going on.

In fact, it’s better (I think) for them to have an expression that could be interpreted several different ways. 

The boudoir portrait says, “Stop, look at me. I’m a human being just like you. I share the same hopes, dreams, and desires as you. I’m a mirror to your own humanity, and right now I’m feeling this” if you want to get philosophical about it. 

Structure of the Pose

Backlit boudoir image of mixed race woman in stretchy top

As I mentioned earlier, grabbing a portrait while your subject is standing or sitting is usually best. They can be looking into camera or not, both can work. I feel they need to be upright though, as opposed to lying down and framing a shot from that position. 

Traditional portraits are always upright, so retaining that element for a boudoir portrait is important.

Benefits of the Boudoir Portrait

The biggest benefit is that the viewer of the image gains a connection with your subject on a human level. They’re not just a sexy body anymore… they become a real person because you can see it in their eyes.

The boudoir portrait adds depth of meaning to your shoot… and this can be very powerful to include in an album. 

One or two boudoir portraits sprinkled here or there in a collection of boudoir images raises the level of the entire collection.

Its effect lingers and influences the more traditional boudoir images as well, because you have that memorable face with that unforgettable expression still fresh in your mind as you view the “sexier” images. 

Variety of Mood

Variety of mood is something I mention a lot when it comes to these boudoir pose breakdowns. The boudoir portrait certainly gives your shoot a different mood than your more traditional type of boudoir images.

Beginning or ending with a boudoir portrait can set the stage or leave a lasting humanistic impression in an album and make it that much more personable and impressionable. 

Wrap Up

Boudoir portraits can add a deeply felt and personal touch to your collection of images, so try capturing a few during your next session. I guarantee they’ll have a profound effect with both you and your clients. 

Thanks for your time!

Charles Mitri  

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

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Charles Mitri

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

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