Is Plus Size Boudoir Any Different From Regular Boudoir?

Is plus size boudoir any different from regular boudoir? 

That is a good question… and the answer is — it depends.

It depends on the woman and on one thing. Does the plus size woman want to appear thinner in her boudoir images or does that not matter to her?

If appearing slimmer doesn’t matter to her then the answer is “no”, plus size boudoir for her is no different from any other boudoir shoot with any other woman. You’ll do everything you’d normally do with any other client. 

The poses will be the same, there won’t be any consideration with regard to concealing wardrobe, and the lighting will be exactly the same as in any other boudoir shoot.

If, on the other hand, she does want to appear slimmer in her images then there are a number of things both the woman and you as the photographer can do that will help your plus size subject look thinner.

The thing is — you have to ask them. 

You have to ask the plus size woman if she would like to appear thinner in her shoot. You can’t assume that they will want to, and you can’t assume that they won’t want to either. You really have no idea so that’s why you should address the option from the start. 

Your plus size model may not even be aware that’s there’s anything you can do to help facilitate her appearing more slender. Your job as a boudoir photographer is to capture your client’s best version of themselves with the use of lighting, posing, and wardrobe choices — and with plus size women, this is something you should talk about well before any cameras start clicking.

My Most Popular Article

The reason I’m addressing this topic is because of another article I wrote that is my most popular piece of content I’ve written to this date (and I’ve written just over 100 articles thus far).

The article is entitled, “How to Hide Belly Fat in a Boudoir Photoshoot”, and if you’re interested in checking it out just click on the title above.

The reason I chose those exact words was because after doing some keyword research, I discovered that those words in particular were the ones most people used when searching on Google, by far, on this topic.

So, I know there’s big interest out there on this issue and it’s the reason I’ve decided to write more about it. 

By the way, my second most popular piece of content is, “Plus Size Boudoir Outfits That Make You Look Thinner”.

Breaking It Down

We’re going to break this down into two parts. The first part is what the woman can do and the second part is what you, the photographer, can do to assist in making your plus size subject appear thinner.

Part I — Things Your Plus Size Client Can Do

Outfits That Fit

One of the first things a plus size woman can do is to make sure her outfits fit properly. Clothing that is too tight will only accentuate areas of her body with cinching and puckering of the skin that should be smooth.

This is a boudoir shoot after all and everything should be wavy and sinewy. The female form is curvy and undulating and we don’t want anything interrupting those flowing lines.

Having properly fitting intimate apparel will not only make her look more comfortable but she’ll also feel more comfortable and that will affect her overall expressions during the shoot.

A Properly Sized Bra

Plus size women are usually bigger up top and it’s vital that your model has bras that fit her just right. Her cleavage is an area that will be featured prominently and it’s important that that part of her body is in top form (no pun intended).

The Right Colors

Another thing your plus size woman (or any woman for that matter) can do is find out what colors look best on them, so their skin tone, hair color, and eye color work together to complement the color of their outfits. 

I’m a big advocate of color theory and there are plenty of resources for your client to do this on their own. They could pay a professional lots of money to have it done for them, but there are plenty of books and online articles that will help her in this area that are much cheaper. 

One such book I can recommend is, “Life In Color — Guide to the Perfect Palette for Fashion, Beauty, and You!” by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo. In it, she’ll discover what category she falls into with regard to her skin tone, hair color, and eye color, and what color palettes work best for her.

There are plenty of examples of fashion and colors and it’s almost like knowing your zodiac sign of color. With a section on makeup, as well, this book will give her all the answers and solutions to her fashion choices. 

It even has thirty color palette stickers for each color type she can use to assemble her own portable color palette guide to take with her on shopping excursions.

Choosing outfits with the right colors that complement her skin, hair, and eyes is similar to having clothes that fit. The “fit” however, is visual with regard to aesthetics. 

Does Black Makes You Look Thinner?

Wearing black (or any dark color for that matter) can make plus size women look thinner by hiding bumps and bulges better than something lighter in color.

It’s also good to know which dark colors work best for her. That’s why I went through the previous discussion on color first. So, if your boudoir shoot consists of a dark and moody look, she’ll be prepared with outfits that not only match that tone but will also make her appear slimmer. 

However, if she just wants to wear something dark, she’ll know which color will look best on her.

V-Necks

Another fashion tip to help the plus size woman look thinner is to find outfits with V-necks. 

The V shape will create the illusion of lengthening your subject, and also break up her upper body so it won’t appear as one large section. 

The exposed skin where the V is will interrupt the area, while on either side there’s color from her garment. She’ll now have three smaller sections as opposed to one large section that will give her the illusion of appearing more narrow.

One-Piece Garments

Wearing a one-piece can slim a plus-size woman down by offering more coverage than a two-piece outfit will. 

A bustier, babydoll, teddy, or silk kimono or robe will lengthen the appearance of her, and help create the illusion of a more extended figure. 

You always want to avoid horizontal stripes in fashion since they make you look wider. The one-piece avoids that by covering up the horizontal lines formed with a bra and bottoms outfit, with the skin-bra-skin-bottoms-skin pattern that naturally appears with a two-piece combo.  

The Body Suit

If your plus size woman is interested in really slimming down then a tight body suit worn underneath will certainly do the trick. She’ll be limited to outfits that hide the body suit, like one-piece garments and such, but she’ll get the desired effect. 

As you can see, there are many options a plus size woman can explore with regard to wardrobe that can help her look more svelte (don’t you just love that word?).

In part two we’re going to explore things you as the photographer can do with lighting and posing that will make plus size women look thinner in their boudoir shoot.

Outfit With Sleeves

An outfit with sleeves can do a lot to hide larger arms, whether that’s a robe or some other type of garment.

Ideally you want one with an interesting neckline be to even more effective (like a V-line I mentioned earlier). The sleeves will hide the arms while the neckline will draw attention up to the face.

Part II — Things the Photographer Can Do

Short Lighting

There’s something called short lighting that makes people look thinner and can also be used in a boudoir session. 

It can be utilized with both natural light and artificial light, but really works best with artificial light so let’s start there.

Short Lighting Using Artificial Light

Most boudoir photographers shoot using natural light, but there are some of us that use artificial light as well. Artificial light is nothing more than using a studio strobe or speedlite to give a pop of light onto the subject when shooting.

The strobe or speedlite should be used with a softbox or other light modifier which will soften the light. Without one, the light will be too hard and typically isn’t the effect you want.

Short lighting works best with a dark and moody look with lots of shadows while the woman is lit either brightly or dimly with a strobe or speedlite. 

To set up short lighting place your light source at a 45 degree angle to your plus size subject and have her point her nose in the direction that the light is coming from. At this angle the side of the woman’s face furthest from camera will be lit, while the side closest to camera will fall into shadow. 

This effect will slim the face since more of her face fades off into shadow than is lit.

Her body, now, needs to rotate in the opposite direction from the light, so most of it will fall into shadow while a smaller portion of it will be lit, the part furthest from camera.

NOTE: This works best when the background is dark. So, shoot against a dark wall or backdrop. The goal here is to have the subject’s body that falls into shadow blend into the darkness of the background so you’re only seeing a portion of her entire body and face, thus making her appear thinner. 

Short Lighting Using Natural Light

Short lighting using natural light works when the room you’re shooting in is darker, in other words, there’s not a whole lot of ambient light in the room. It works because there’s more contrast between the light and the shadows that fall onto your subject’s face.

If there’s a lot of ambient light in the room, there won’t be as much shadowing that falls onto your subject and the contrast between the lit and the unlit part won’t be as great.

When using short lighting with natural light, have your plus size model stand next to a window facing you, with her face angled towards the light. This will naturally cause the side of her face closest to camera to be on the shadowed side, slimming it.

Her body, then, angles away from the window so most of it also falls into the shadowed side as well while a smaller portion of it is lit by the window on the side furthest from camera.

Having her body angled towards camera is also another technique that will make her appear more slender, rather than having her face you head on.

This technique and pose slims both the face and the body. Other lighting set ups can also be used to the same effect as long as you follow the same principles as the set up just described.

Always have the shadowed side closest to camera with the lit side furthest from camera. 

Adding Artificial Light To Natural Light

You can always add to your natural light coming through the window by placing your strobe or speedlite outside the window pointing in. This will give you an extra pop of light and look completely natural. (Granted you’re on the first floor.) 

To read more about this type of set up, refer to my article entitled, “How Do You Replicate Sunlight For a Boudoir Shoot?”.

Posing

Posing is probably the most vital area where you, the photographer, can direct your plus size subject into poses that will make her appear more slender. 

Plus-size-boudoir-model-next-to-window

Standing At An Angle

When posing your client standing, never shoot her full-on facing camera with her shoulders square to your lens. Always angle her so her shoulders are at 45 degrees or even more. Rotating her around in this way and shooting her in this fashion will immediately slim her down in images.

Pushing Her Hips Back

One technique when your subject is standing facing camera (at an angle, of course) is to have her push her hips back. So, instead of her hips being directly aligned below her shoulders, she shifts them back, leans forward a bit, and arches her back.

This places the lower half of her body slightly further from camera than her upper half, and anything further from the camera lens will appear smaller. 

It’s a subtle difference but a difference none the less. If you were to compare two images side by side, one with hips aligned directly below the shoulders and one with them pushed back some, you would definitely see a change.

Plus-size-boudoir-model-on-bed

Lying On Stomach

Have your subject lie on her stomach on a bed resting on her forearms. Photograph her from in front near her head, off axis, with a shallow depth of field so her face and cleavage are in focus but her body falls out of focus in the background. 

If lying atop a fluffy comforter, she’ll sink somewhat into the bedding further reducing her body’s profile in camera. 

Standing With Back to Wall, Arms Extended 

Plus-size-boudoir-model

Here’s a pose that lengthens and slims the body.

Have your model stand with her back against a wall so only her bottom and shoulder blades make contact, arching her back. Instruct her to extend her arms above her head and to reach up which will lengthen her mid section. Have her cross her ankles or pop one hip out to break up the symmetry which adds more curvature, and have her angle her head slightly. 

Not having her arms by her sides and having her stretch upward will narrow her length-wise. Add to this some dramatic short lighting and this pose is lethal. 

For extra spicy, have her close her eyes, separate her lips, and while she takes a deep inhale lifting her chest — click away. 

Lying on Side Resting on Sofa Arm

This is a pose you don’t see that often but is great for plus size women. 

You need a Chaise lounger or sofa with big round arms, something the model can comfortably rest her forearm on and support her upper body with as she lies on her side length-wise. 

With her upper body propped up, her legs extend down the length of the lounger (or sofa) with her upper leg bent more at the knee than her lower leg, staggered. This gives the shot some nice angels while the line from her shoulder down her arm to her hip forms a sinewy curve. 

Position yourself near her feet and shoot up the length of her body. Frame the bottom of your shot just above her top knee, or mid thigh capturing just a portion of her lower body, but all of her upper body.

This pose works to slenderize the subject because you’re shooting her length-wise slightly at an angle while cropping out most of her lower body that’s closest to camera. The reason you crop out most of her lower half is that anything closer to camera will appear larger.

With a shallow depth of field on her face and upper torso, anything closer to your lens will fall out of focus, de-emphasizing the portion of her lower half that’s in frame. 

Summary

There are many options a plus-size woman has to make herself appear more slender in a boudoir shoot if that’s what she desires. With proper outfits, lighting, and posing, these methods work not just for plus-size women but for any woman who’s looking to make herself look slimmer in a boudoir shoot.

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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