The ultimate guide to DIY boudoir photography

There are lots of reasons to get sexy, therefore, there are lots of reasons to do a boudoir photography shoot. Weddings, anniversaries, your partner’s birthday, a self esteem pick-me-up, or just ‘cause! You could have a “valid” reason to strip down and stand in front of the camera, but you don’t really need one. 

If you’ve been searching for the right place to have your boudoir photo shoot but feel discouraged at the high costs or feel insecure about posing for a complete stranger, have no fear. We’ve got you covered with the best guide to DIY boudoir photography so you can get sexy affordably, and comfortably. 

What is boudoir photography and what does it normally cost?

Boudoir photography is a style of sensual, erotic, romantic, or intimate photograph where the subject is captured in a studio, a personal space, or private environment. Most of the time, these photos are for the subject’s enjoyment and private collection. These photographs can be taken in many ways and edited to the subject’s liking. 

While the content or theme of these shoots will vary, most likely the subject will be dressed in some form of lingerie or can even go nude. 

A professional boudoir shoot can dramatically range in price and the number of photos you get. You should expect to pay around $200-500 for a shoot that includes 5-10 edited images. Your photographer will then charge you for each additional image you want. Some boudoir photographers work on a sliding scale and others give you all the good pictures you shoot. 

One of the biggest advantages of taking your own boudoir photos is saving money on top of having a sexy good time. 

All the essentials needed for DIY boudoir photography 

1) Set the mood and intention

Clear your schedule, make a playlist, have a glass of bubbly. Taking photographs of yourself can be a daunting challenge! You are your own worst critic. However, making sure you’re taking the necessary steps in order for you to be at your most comfortable will go a long way, and inevitably show in your photos. 

If you feel stressed, rushed, self-conscious, or not at your best, those emotions will shine through in your picture. Remember that this time is to celebrate you! Have fun, play around, and your mood will make the images look that much better. 

2) Find a quality camera and a steady tripod

In the age of the iPhone, it seems like only those truly interested in photography invest in digital cameras. However, for these photos, you may want to lean on a digital camera if you happen to have one. Your phone’s camera may be able to capture a good photo, but in the editing process, you might be kicking yourself. 

While newer phone images can be blown up to 30″ x 45″, any editing may be hard to achieve for non-professionals. A point and shoot with a tripod can go a long way towards the end result. If a digital camera seems far out of reach, it would be wise to invest in some phone accessories. A tripod, external lens, remote shutter release, and external light source should all be priorities. 

Propping a phone up for a good angle can get tiresome, as you’ll have to keep moving to check the quality of the image. The same goes for setting a self-timer! The key to DIY boudoir photography is being comfortable in your space. Having to constantly reset the timer can get tiring and have you in your head. 

As well, those photography beginners will quickly figure out the importance of a good light source. Lighting can make or break a photo, so make sure there’s some sort of soft light that can be controlled. 

Many modern cameras from brands like Canon and Nikon also support a remote shutter option. This allows you to press a button in your hand to activate your camera shutter for easier high-end solo shooting. Remember, digital photos let you take as many as you want. There’s no risk in experimenting. 

3) Choose your location wisely

A great boudoir photo has many components, one of them being the background. The best set is one that won’t distract from the main focus of the image: you! A quick hack for a clean studio look is seamless paper backdrops. These are non-reflective rolls of paper that are fitted on a stand behind the subject. 

If the studio look isn’t for you and you’re looking for a more intimate background, your home can be easily transformed. White sheets and minimal clutter can do wonders for bedroom shots.

A strategically placed throw or a couple of melted candles on the coffee table can transform your couch, and an elevated kitchen counter shot can have your partner’s mind running. 

The most important aspect of shooting in your home is to elevate the space with simple props. Remember, the focus is on you. Throw all the extras to the side and opt for simple additions like candles, soft drapes, and plush blankets to add that lush expert touch. 

Another great option is getting a hotel room. This allows you to relax in a space that isn’t your home and hotels often have clean, simple, yet fashionable looks. Even better, someone else cleans up after the shoot. 

4) Choose an outfit you’re comfortable in and bring in some extras

You might think these shoots are all about showcasing your body in slinky lingerie. While that can definitely be the case, don’t feel obligated to bear it all. The matching bra and panty sets aren’t the stars of the show, you are! The key is to be suggestive without having to be overly explicit if you don’t want to be. 

Pairing your lingerie set with an oversized t-shirt or off-the-shoulder sweater still oozes sex appeal while not demanding as much. Playing with layers is always a great way to go as well. An oversized blazer with nothing underneath or a loosely tied silk robe are just as sexy as a set of lingerie. 

Playing with your bedsheets or throw blankets is another safe but sexy way to go. You can choose just how much or how little you want to show with a peak of a bare shoulder or thigh. 

Take some time to look at existing boudoir before your shoot so you can get ideas for poses. This site is a great resource for example. 

Some items that can help set your DIY boudoir photography experience up for success

1) Best candles for setting the mood: Lelo flickering touch massage candle 

This massage candle from Lelo is everything you’ve been looking for, we promise. A product that can fill the room with a tantalizing scent, and double as an oil for a sensual massage, could you ask for more? 

Lelo’s Flickering Touch Massage Candle comes in three different scents, Vanilla and Creme de Cacao, Black Pepper and Pomegranate, and our personal favorite, Snow Pear and Cedar-wood. Light it up, take in the aromatherapy, and get your mind relaxed and ready. Pro-tip, leave it burning during your shoot and slather it on at the end for a set of oil photos. 

Price: $34.90

9 in 1 seemless paper for photography backdrops


2) Best backdrop for DIY boudoir photography: 9-in-1 Seamless photography backdrop kit

Why settle on one color when you can experiment with nine? This seamless photography backdrop set includes nine different colors of matte PVC paper. Crafted with quality materials, these backdrops will last you through many DIY boudoir photography shoots. Their durable and water-proof surfaces will let you experiment and play with any props of mediums that tickle your fancy. 

Including red, blue, grey, black, white, brown, yellow, green, and pink colors, you’ll have a roll to match any outfit you choose. 

Price: $64.93

Canon m50 camera for photography and 4K video blogging


3) Best budget-friendly digital camera for DIY boudoir photography: Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera Kit with EF-M 15-45mm Lens

Tired of relying on your iPhone to capture studio-quality photos? This Canon EOS Mirrorless digital camera is the answer to your budget-friendly prayers. You get 4K video, amazingly crisp 24.1-megapixel photos, and some of the best autofocus in the business. This small, yet powerful camera, will deliver sexy shots that will stay stuck in your memories. 

The photos you’ll get out of this camera rival mirrorless cameras that cost over $1,000. But with incredible low light, tons of features, and Canon’s amazing mirrorless sensor, you won’t be able to tell the difference.  

Price: $649.00

A hand using a selfie stick to show off a selfie stick that can also be a tripod


4) Best selfie stick for easy solo iPhone images: Selfie stick, tripod, and wireless remote set 

This might be the best accessory set you’ll ever purchase for DIY boudoir photography. If you don’t feel like spending money on a new camera, this set will transform your phone into a photo capturing machine. 

Complete with an extendable selfie stick, phone tripod, and wireless remote you’ll be able to capture your best angles with no help. It’s important to note that this set is only compatible with iPhone devices. 

Price: $14.99

Lovehoney Fantasy pink satin tie-up bralette set


5) Best sexy two piece outfit for steamy photos: Fantasy Satin Tie-Up Bralette Set

For those looking for a softly sexy bra and panty set, this is the perfect option. The satin straps sit perfectly on the shoulders, and the self-tying bow offers the adjustability needed for varying chest sizes. The bottoms are made of the same silky satin and have two ties at the hips allowing for a high, or low-waisted fit. 

Beyond being useful for adjustment purposes, the satin ties also turn undressing into a sexy game. Pulling tentatively on either strap to slowly loosen the fabrics and make for a picture-perfect moment. Coming in both light pink and deep blue, this set is out of this world perfection. 

Price: $36.99

Lovehoney Dreamgirl blue chemise top

6) Best silky slip for sexy comfort: Dreamgirl Silky Cowl Neck Blue Chemise

This Cowl Neck Chemise is sure to make a couple jaws drop. It’s perfect for lounging about in front of the camera at your most comfortable and sexy. The deep cowl curls elegantly inward to create a deep V at the chest, and a stylish T-back strap leads the eyes downward.

The silky dress is ringed in beautifully delicate eyelet lace, and the bias cut hugs in all the right places. This dress will become a staple piece in any wardrobe as it’s perfect for any occasion. 

Price: $49.99

What happens after?  

Once you have all the necessities and the photos have been taken, what comes next? 

The editing process is usually where most of the magic happens. This is the only part of your shoot you might want to consider outsourcing! A skilled photo editor with the right editing programs can completely transform your image. 

However, if you’re on a budget, or simply want to try your hand at editing, finding a good photo editing program is key. If you’re going to blow these images up or hang them on your wall, your free phone editing app most likely won’t cut it. Adobe Photoshop, Luminar AI, and Exposure X6 are among some of the best programs you can find. 

Ultimately, the end result of these photos is up to you. It’s important not to let your preconceived ideas of what this photoshoot should be direct or influence your shoot. Edit your pictures however you want. They’re there to make you feel hot. Sexy or sweet, racy or modest, don’t be afraid to go either way! 

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By Indana