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Thinking About a Boudoir Shoot? Necessary Questions, Answered

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With boudoir photography trending on wedding blogs and in fashionable circles, baring it is no longer confined to your bedroom. Here in Boston, a crop of specialized photographers are capturing images for women to gift a significant other or to pamper themselves in a particularly glamorous way. The shoots are sophisticated and generally veer toward girl-next-door rather than ultra-sexy vixen—though if that's the look you're going for, they'll gladly accommodate. We spoke with photographer Katherine Henry about how to best prep for a boudoir shoot, especially the shopping part.

How did you first get into boudoir photography?
I started doing weddings. My husband and I shot them together for about six years. And I'm a big fashion person so that inspired me to build more in the fashion realm of photography. I had brides asking me to do boudoir, and it spun off from there. Since then I've stopped doing the weddings and I focused completely on boudoir.

Tell us about your studio in downtown Reading.
The studio is great. It has huge windows, on the second story which is nice for the privacy level, and it's multiple rooms with each room having a different setup. The first room when you walk in is where I meet with clients, try on clothing, look at accessories, and having our post-shoot viewing party. One of the rooms has pretty backdrops: lace, glitter, furniture for a lot of standing up poses. In the back room is the bedroom setup. I have a bed, more furniture, huge windows. We do a lot in front of the windows. I'm all about the airy look, light and girly. It's so much fun to decorate and put things I can't in my house with a husband and a son. I get to put all the sparkle and rhinestones and everything in the studio.

To what degree do you encourage clients to bring their own props? What do you have available?
I encourage them to bring a lot of their own things. I think it helps them customize it and who they are giving the photos to if it's a gift. I have a pre-shoot survey where I'll ask their favorite sports team or hobbies and we'll talk together to build up what fun props could be. I've had sports things, furry handcuffs, lace masks. All kinds of fun stuff. I have some gloves and stockings at the studio but most clients bring their own.

What's the weirdest prop you've ever had someone bring in?
I've had footballs. A lot of team jerseys.

How many outfits should clients bring to a shoot?
I tell them to bring three outfits that are their favorites, and we always finish the session with implied nudes, say, holding up a sheet in bed. With those I always say bring a really fun panty or something for the bottom. I do encourage to bring more. Sometimes when you get there, you don't like the outfit you thought. Most of my sessions are an hour long and that comfortably fits three outfits and implied nudes.

Are there any colors, shapes, or textures of lingerie that photograph better than others?
I'm a big fan of lace. It's funny because I never loved it before doing this. I thought it was pretty, but now I love how it photographs. I think black lace especially. It doesn't look dated and it's so pretty on. It always falls really nicely.

You mention shoes on your website. How do they fit into the boudoir shoot and what are your recommendations?
I think they are really important and kind of get overlooked. I recommend a nude heel and a black heel. They go with everything, and even if you don't necessarily see them in the photo, they help you stand taller, they correct posture, and you feel a little sexier. I like to tell clients to make sure they're not scuffed up at the bottom. Don't bring that black shoe you wore to every wedding last year. It's also a fun excuse to get new shoes. A lot of clients are in jobs where they wear a more practical shoe (teaching, nursing) so they don't have that sky-high heel or out-there shoe and it's a fun excuse to buy that sexy shoe.

There seems to be quite a bit of shopping involved.
And I think they are things you don't consistently purchase for yourself all the time. It's fun. I like when I have brides-to-be come in. It helps them get this great repertoire of lingerie to bring on their honeymoon and gets them in the mood. The shopping and getting your hair and makeup done are so fun and out of the ordinary for most people.

What beauty prep do you typically recommend for your clients?
I'm a natural person and I don't recommend going tanning or even spray tanning right before. I don't think it looks great on camera. If it's you and you're used to it, you probably have it down pat. But don't do it at home, you might not be happy with the results. My big thing is wearing sunscreen, especially in the summer—you don't want tan lines. Stay hydrated, get your beauty rest. I also recommend getting your nails done, especially with brides-to-be where we try to focus on the engagement ring. Your hand will be in there.

Waxing also goes hand-in-hand with prep, right?
I recommend doing that a week or so before in case you have a reaction to the waxing. And touch up your hair roots!

Do you encourage clients to practice posing beforehand?
I recommend looking around online. I'm a big Pinterest fan, I have boards I send around to my clients with outfit and posing ideas. A lot of my clients will send boards to each other as well. I love seeing inspiration because it gives me a good feel of what they're looking for in their session: lots of black and white pictures, what styles they want to emulate. It helps feel more at ease.

What's the most surprising thing that you've learned about Boston area women through this line of work?
There's really beautiful lingerie out there in Boston. Before I did all of this I knew Victoria's Secret, it's a common go-to. But so many of my clients step outside Victoria's Secret and play with different boutique stores. There's a nice variety of shops in the Boston area.

Lingerie trends have also crossed over into fashion brands.
I think that Boston clients are very creative. People have brought in beautiful sheer sweaters and it's so sexy and not something you'd see in the typical mall store. I've just met really amazing women. I love learning everybody's stories. The majority of my clients are brides-to-be, they're young and it's their first wedding. But then I also have a lot of women turning forty, or who just had a child. So that's a neat side to it, too. It's fun to think that everyone wants to step out of the everyday routine for a glamorous experience.
· Katherine Henry Boudoir [Official Site]