Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer

Filed under: Boudoir Photography,Guest Authors,Photography Tips — Larry James @ 7:00 am

1st a NOTE from Larry James: Hey, Brides! Thinking of surprising the groom with a peek at your passionate side? Boudoir photography is a sexy new trend that’s especially popular as a wedding day gift from a bride to her groom. Boudoir portraits or as I call it, “Romantic Glamour” photography is a collaboration between the Bride and the photographer. It proves to be fun for guys, and self-esteem boosts for women. It’s a gift from someone who is taking time to capture their “self” or their essence at a particular time of their life and immortalize it.

It’s probably safe to say that all women have a part of their body that they wish they could change as well as a few that they love. It is the job of the photographer to highlight each woman’s best features while minimizing her least favorite. With flattering poses and lighting, every woman can look her best and overcome any body image issues while seeing herself in a new way.

leannamcdonaldFor a photographer, there is nothing better than helping a woman rediscover her inner and outer beauty through portraits. The thing is that every woman has the potential to look just as beautiful and glamorous as the women in the media. The opportunity exits through boudoir photography. Boudoir photos can be a fun-filled, pampering experience for any woman, and they also make a great gift for the man in your life. Whether you are a size 2 or 20 does not matter. Every woman is beautiful and a great photographer can capture that beauty and give it as a gift to her man or even herself.

Let me introduce my friend, Leanna McDonald, a professional photographer with whom I have worked many times at weddings. Leanna loves the uniqueness of every client and capturing each woman’s own intimate beauty. She is truly the “Phoenix Boudoir Photography Queen.”

For Leanna boudoir photography is about more than providing high-quality fashion portraits – it is about giving each client a priceless look at how beautiful and sexy they are with images that will last a lifetime. Leanna is a professional photographer who knows how to use lighting in flattering ways and discreetly “retouch” photos so that skin tones appear even and blemishes and other flaws disappear.

Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer

Leanna McDonald, Guest Author

Since I do so many other types of photography: weddings, children, pregnancy, high school seniors and even commercial work, the name “Phoenix Boudoir Photography Queen” seems rather limiting. Long, long ago, in the land of the ‘Valley of the Sun’ (Phoenix, AZ) there existed a credo among ‘legitmate’ photographers that photographing women in their underwear was a dirty thing. Not to be talked about or mentioned in the circles of “carriage trade” photography discussions.

But in the shadows there were photographers, including myself, who were legitimate and prosperous and who thought that a client should be able to express themselves to the camera sexually in an artful way. Most of all without being judged as 2nd class or worse yet, low class. Even those who did do it, did not do ‘nude photography’ or alternative lifestyle folks and couples. Boudoir photography was tolerated, but snickered at by my colleagues.

I remember many laughing out loud when I discussed it. When a boudoir photo was entered into a professional photography competition, it was automatically assumed that it was my work. Unfortunately, they were usually right. It was hard to score high in the competitions with boudoir work, and to a certain extent, it still is.

Well, it seems, these same folks are now doing boudoir photography. Some are really promoting it, some are “hiding” it by setting it up in an entirely new business name. If I sound angry, well I’m not, just annoyed. I am also vindicated. I feel I was ahead of my time. I don’t feel, however, that tolerance is revolutionary, or that being open to explore things that make you uncomfortable is something unique to myself. But I do feel that I am more willing than most to be open to what my clients want and to intuit their genuine desires and their image of themselves as sexual beings.

IMG_9536All that being said, I am now still ahead of my colleagues in the boudoir arena. I know how to get to the core of how a young lady REALLY wants to look. What will get her to relax in front of the camera, stark naked. To express herself without fear of ridicule, and to help her to revive the inner confidence in her looks, sexuality and more. All the lighting instruction, beautiful sets, sophisticated equipment and yes, PhotoShop™, cannot replace that look in the eye of the subject that communicates her inner ’seductive’ self. Her sexual ‘womaness’ to be expressed in HER style, is what I seek to get through to the camera.

So… there are the divas and various others who are now “discovering” boudoir. But I AM THE QUEEN. The ‘Grand Dame’ if you will. At least in my little corner of the world. I love photographing weddings and children and all the rest, but what I am most known for is my Boudoir Photography. Now I can finally feel really proud to say that.

Also, my blog will be very honest and sometimes probably too personal and blunt. But as a good friend once told me, “Be yourself, you are beautiful as you are.” She knows who she is, and I want to thank her for reminding me that God makes us what we are. Who are we to question it?

How to Prepare for Your Photo Session

I get asked a lot of questions about Boudoir Photo Sessions. Mostly, about airbrushing, or what a girl should bring to a session to wear. But I don’t get as many questions as I used to about how a girl should prepare for her Boudoir Photo Session. Preparation is extremely important. You think it would be obvious for a girl to do her nails, shave her legs, etc. But you would be surprised how often I get a client who doesn’t want to show her hands because of her nails!!!

Really ladies, it’s BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY! That means showing your body! including your hands! More importantly, however, there is some mental preparation. The mental and the physical are linked and can affect each other. Without your nails done and your hair cut the way you like it, it can affect how sexy you feel. Which is the most important thing! I can help you with expression, I have some tricks, but ultimately, the sexy, comes from you!

So below I have a list of the most important things to consider when preparing for a Boudoir Photography Session.

1. Do your nails and toes. It’s a good excuse for a spa day. Get a good mani/pedi or do it at home. Your nails don’t have to be long, just a nice manicure. Color is optional. It’s usually best to stick with a color that’s fairly neutral, so it doesn’t clash with any of your outfits. If you don’t like nails or have a job that isn’t nail friendly, the Lee Press-on type of nail will work. They look very real in photos.

2. Hair. Your hair is THE most important factor in the style of the photo. It affects the entire tone of the picture. I have the most excellent hair and makeup artist, Lorri, who styles the hair and does the makeup for my girls. But it’s best to have a cut you like and to be mindful of your roots.

IMG_9668I do 3 dimensional photography. The top of your head is likely to show, so make sure you have timed your appt with your stylist correctly. Don’t change your style or color right before a session!!!! Also, you know your hair. Is it best freshly washed? Or does it style better after a day? Do you like your hair best right after your trip to the stylist? Or do you like it better after it has settled in for a couple of weeks?

3. Come to the studio with your hair and makeup as you do everyday. We do not need you to come bare-faced, unless that’s what you want. Do come with dry hair, but you can style it normally.

4. Schedule your appt taking into account your ‘cycle’. Not that I care, but I know you will feel sexier without your monthly visitor.

5. Tanning. Ugh! I get asked about this a lot. Tanning is okay, if it’s what you normally do. The most important thing is an even skin tone. How light or dark you are is really not that important. In fact, a very dark tan really does not photograph as well. If you don’t like tan lines, then the tanning bed just to even things out a bit is a good idea. But don’t overdo! I can’t fix a sunburn! Unless you want all black and white photos! You will not feel sexy with a painful sunburn!

6. Working out. If you normally work out or are active, you know what activities will help you to feel sexy and lean. Do that the day before, but not the day of. Your muscles actually swell after a heavy workout. So unless you are doing a fitness shoot, you don’t want to bulge! If you don’t work out, that’s just fine. I KNOW how hide your flaws. And anyway, working out does not guarantee a flawless body.

7. Shave your legs and take care of your bikini area. The camera doesn’t always pick this up, but YOU will feel sexier, and THAT will show.

8. Eating before a session. I like to do Boudoir Portraits first thing in the morning. Most ladies are thinnest then and they feel thinner. But it is good idea to have a little something before the session. Also, if you want a glass of wine to relax you, you really need to eat a little. I don’t want to scrape you off the floor!

IMG_89309. Clothing selection. This is probably the hardest for most ladies. When you are doing what is probably a once in a lifetime photo session, you want to get the most out of it. So, try on a few things and see what you like. Think of clothes and lingerie as a ‘tool’ to make you look sexy. Check out my post “What to wear for your Valentine’s Day Photography” for some descriptions of different lingerie, and what it can do for you.

Also, use your imagination! I think it was Einstein that said: “Imagination is more important than intelligence”. Look at magazines to see what you like. Raid your closet and your friend’s closets! Play on his profession or yours. I once had a client who worked at the county morgue. She brought a body bag in for her session, and we made it sexy! What does he like? What do you like about your body? Use lingerie and other clothing to show off. You are in the spotlight! Model for the day! Work it!

10. I have saved the most important thing for last. Your mental ATTITUDE! Sometimes a client is just determined that she will not look good. She will tell me about every part of herself she doesn’t like. Point out every flaw (perceived flaw). I will attempt to change her mind, and I am usually successful. But this must occur BEFORE the session is finished. If I haven’t changed her mind about herself before the session is done, it will show in the photos.

No matter how beautiful she really is, you will see in her own eyes what she feels about herself. THIS is the key to good Boudoir Photography. So, my advice here is to believe me when I say, no matter what you think your flaws are, I can make you look your absolute best. Not because I am a magician, but because I see the real beauty that you are. I am not shackled by your preconceived notions of your self image. I simply see what is in front of me, and it is beautiful. Only waiting for me to expose it.

NOTE: All photos by Leanna McDonald.

BONUS Article: Christians and Boudoir Photography

leannaCopyright © 2010 – Leanna McDonald. Reprinted with permission. Leanna McDonald, an Arizona native, has been a professional photographer here in the Valley of the Sun for over 20 years. Her talent and flexibility allow her to expertly photograph weddings, boudoir, bellies and babies, families and children, as well as high school seniors. She was President of the Arizona Professional Photographers Association (AZPPA) for 2 consecutive years. She has received the APPLE award from the AZPPA for leadership and photographic excellence and has received numerous awards including the Fuji Masterpiece Award, Art Critic Award and Judges Choice Award. Leanna has a commercial studio located near 24th street and Indian School Road in Phoenix, but often prefers to photograph her clients on location or in their homes for a more natural feel. Visit her Website ( and BLOG (

Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-205-3694. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. –

NOTE: All articles, and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.


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