Artistic Nude,  Boudoir,  Boudoir Nude,  Bridal Boudoir,  Burlesque,  Glamour,  Makeover Portraits,  Maternity Bump,  Model Portfolios,  On Location Photo Shoots,  Pin Up Shoot

What is Boudoir Photography?

I continually get asked “What is Boudoir Photography?

Well Boudoir Photography is a growing Marketing the world wide, all photographers have to continually keep up to date with new styles and fashions as todays women find photography as flattering at they did getting a portrait painted in the 19th century.

I was on the search for some inspiring information when i found this great article from another website.

I hope this assists in your knowledge of Boudoir Photography.

Boudoir Photography

A Directory of Boudoir & Glamour Photography Specialists

Perhaps it was Samantha in ‘Sex in the City’ who put the idea of boudoir photography into the consciousness of UK females, or maybe it was a pre-wedding trend that was picked-up through the bridal industry, no one is too certain?

What’s not uncertain though is that boudoir photography has become a very popular form of portraiture. Although there seems little definition about what boudoir photography actually is? A cursory browse through the various websites of boudoir studios shows clearly that the genre is open to interpretation.

This is not necessarily a disadvantage, you may have your own set ideas of what you want to achieve when booking your photo shoot and having a very broad range of images to choose from may reinforce your own ideas, or may even give you inspiration that may not have been the case if the genre was too rigidly defined?

However, some of you may not be too certain and would prefer a simpler method of classifying the many types of poses and styles that are available?

The various phrases and descriptions you’ll be familiar with are boudoir, make-over, vintage, pin-up, nude, for your eyes only and so on. All of these terms are used quite liberally and sometimes it’s not always clear what these terms actually represent? As already stated, there are no specific rules and everyone’s ideas will vary, but this is how I would classify each individual term:


A classic boudoir pose by Mark DaughnThis is the main term which is used although, in my opinion, the images which spring to mind are quite specific. Traditionally the ‘boudoir’ was a lady’s private bedroom or dressing room. The word drives from the French ‘Bouder’ meaning ‘to pout‘.

I think of Boudoir as defining a style of image that shows a woman in a partial state of undress, usually her underwear. The idea is to imply nudity in a provocative and tasteful manner without crossing the line into actual nudity.

Looking for an image which defines how I think of traditional boudoir I came across this photo from Mark Daughn As you can see, it’s a very sensual image but almost everything is implied. There are many similar examples, but this image represents my ideas, people will have their own view, of course?


Vintage Boudoir is a curious term which seems to have found it’s way into the photography lexicon without anyone being able to explain why? A simple web search for the term ‘vintage boudoir’ returns a wide range of results from furniture to fashion.

Champagne, for example, can be described as vintage if the grapes used to produce it were from a specific year’s harvest. The Champagne could be only 2 years old but would still be correctly described as ‘vintage’.

Similarly, I think of the term Vintage, in the context of boudoir or fashion, refers to a period in the past. It could be the 1960’s, 1950’s, 1940’s and so on. The term isn’t referring to any specific period, only a period in time when a certain style could be considered to be iconic. Different photographers will have their own interpretation of the vintage style which will be influenced by their personal preferences.


Perhaps one of the broadest descriptions applied to many forms of glamour portraiture a ‘make-over‘ can imply all manner of styles. A classic make-over, to my mind, can be best exemplified as photo session which shows you at your best. Often it involves a make-up and hair restyle together with a collection of fashion clothing. The images can be sexual but I tend to think they are more family orientated and can be a fun idea for all ages?

Makeovers have become popular mainly though TV shows such as What not to Wear. These kind have shows have spawned an entire industry and there are literally hundreds of companies in the UK offering their take on the makeover genre.


For your eyes only‘ or ‘FYEO‘ is a play on the phrase used in the James Bond novel and movie of the same name. It was coined by Alexandra Burns of FYEO who were one of the first commercial photography studios to offer boudoir style photography to women in the UK. FYEO is a marketing term and doesn’t, as such, define any style of photographic imagery.


Burlesque and the Art of Teese by Dita Von TeeseBurlesque is a style of theatrical entertainment which originated in the 19th century music halls and vaudeville. Traditionally the term means to turn social norms upside down and encompasses a variety of acts includingcomedy, mime, dancing and striptease. It was in the US that Burlesque developed into a form of striptease reminiscent of the famousMoulin Rouge stage shows of the late 19th Century. The burlesque style that we know today is a theatrical version of striptease which aims to titillate without becoming subject to censorship.

Dita von Teese is perhaps the most well known exponent of this genre and has been much credited with the revival of the style.

The music world seems to have embraced the concept of burlesque with the theme being prominent in many pop videos and stage shows, most recently in Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl promotional video. US pop group The Pussycat Dollsactually began their career as a burlesque ensemble in the mid 90’s.

In terms of a photographic style, burlesque could be best described as aiming to emulate this style with elaborate costumes and props, being saucy and provocative rather than overtly sexual in nature?


One of Gil Elvgren's Classic Pin-Up ImagesPin-up photography refers to calendar or poster type images of glamour models and actresses. It can also be used to describe drawings or illustrations depicting glamorous women.

Pin-up art originated in America in the late 1930’s and became popular when iconic images of scantily clad females were recreated en-mass on magazine covers, calendars, playing cards and even adorning the side of aircraft – a tradition known as nose art and upheld to this day by Virgin Atlantic.

A term often associated with pin-up imagery is ‘cheesecake’, said to derive from an American term used to describe a pretty woman (as in ‘better than cheesecake’).

The genre remained popular right through the late 1960’s until the interests of feminism and political correctness brought about it’s demise.

There were many famous pin-up artists, each with their own distinctive style, and there are still many collectors and admirers of this style of imagery even today, hence it’s resurgence in demand along with the boudoir trend.

Image right – a classic Gil Elvgren pinup image ©


Boudoir photography encompasses many styles and each specialist photographer will have his or her own ideas and interpretation. The message here then would be to find a photographer who’s style appeals to you visually, rather than be swayed by any particular label or phrase which may or may not be in fashion at the moment.

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