How To Take Your Own Boudoir Photos For Valentines Day
| by Dee Grant | Pictures By Mom | Learn How To Take Better Pictures |
What did you get your significant other last year for Valentines Day?
A new tie?
A card with a Dunkin’ Doughnuts gift certificate?
Laser back hair removal?
Why not get him something he really wants this Valentines Day – some glamorous boudoir photos (of you….not him…unless he’s already had the laser back hair removal…)
Taking your own boudoir photos for Valentines Day is a lot of fun, and its not that hard to do.
If you want to see a really cool step by step video tutorial that will teach you everything you need to know about taking your own boudoir photos, check out the companion video tutorial lesson. Learn how to use natural window light to flatter your figure. Consider locations you can use for boudoir photography in your own house. See step by step details for how to set up your DSLR camera for fabulous boudoir photography. See examples of different lighting setups using simple natural window light and examples of glamorous boudoir photos that you can take yourself.
Ready To Get Started Taking Your Own Boudoir Photos?
So, you are going to feel a little weird doing this at first… Make sure you’ve got an few hours to yourself. Take the time to do your hair and makeup, and while you’re at it have a glass of wine or three to loosen up a bit.
No special gear is required to take your own boudoir pictures, but you will have to have a good knowledge of your camera’s operation and menu functions. You will also have to have a good amount of time and patience to prepare, set up your camera, and take your photos using the self timer function on your camera.
Camera Required: DSLR or Mirrorless System
You will have to use a camera that can be operated in manual mode. That means a DSLR or mirrorless system camera will be needed to take your own boudoir photos for Valentines Day.
You might be able to do something similar with a smartphone camera, but without the control of manual or the ability to manually adjust your exposure, it will be hit and miss (unless you like taking selfies in your bathroom mirror – in which case an iPhone is perfect…)
For comparison purposes, here is a smartphone selfie.
And here is an example DSLR photo using the techniques we are going to show you in this tutorial.
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In order to take photos of yourself, you obviously can’t be holding the camera (again, unless you like taking selfies in your bathroom mirror…).
If you have a tripod – great! A tripod will make things a lot easier.
If you don’t have a tripod, you will have to improvise a little.
Find a chair or small table that you can move around easily. A bar stool is perfect because it is tall and skinny. If you are going to be standing, you will need something as tall as possible but try not to stack things if you can help it.
Next, use a big bag of rice (or similar) to cradle your camera on the chair. If you don’t have a big bag of rice, try rolling up a small to medium size towel and use that to keep your camera in place.
Now set your camera to self timer mode – you might have to check the manual – but the icon will look something like this:
Focusing with the self timer setting can be a little tricky. Most cameras focus when you push the shutter release to start the timer, not when the camera actually takes the picture. In other words, the camera focuses when you are not in the frame.
To work around this, you can set up a small pillow, or one of your kids stuffed animals in the frame so that the camera has something to focus on that is approximately in the same position that you will be in the photo.
Next, turn off your camera’s built in pop up flash. You want to look for an icon that looks like this:
Now lets make sure we have the white balance set correctly. We are going to be using natural window light for your boudoir photos, so we need to make sure that the white balance matches the light.
For the window light, we don’t want bright sun. We want either an overcast day, or a window that looks out onto an area that is in the shade. If it is an overcast day, set your camera’s white balance to “Cloudy”. If it is a sunny day, but the window you are going to use for your photos looks out onto an area that is in the shade, set your camera’s white balance to “Shade”. Take a look at the chart below to see what the proper white balance icons should look like.
Lighting for Your Own Boudoir Photos
To keep things super simple, we are going to use natural window light for your boudoir photos.
Natural window light is gorgeous and tends to be very flattering.
But, we need the right window.
First of all, you need a window that is about the same size or bigger than the portion of your body that you want to photograph.
So if you only want to do a cute head shot portrait, you only need a relatively small window.
If you want to do a nice upper body photo, you need a window that fits your entire upper body. The window also needs to be the right height to approximately frame the portion of your body that you want to photograph.
If you want to do a glamorous full length boudoir photo, you need a full length window – or in this case a patio door works well.
You also need a window that does not have full sun streaming in.
You can either wait for an overcast day – or you can use a window that looks out onto an area that is in the shade. For example, it might be a sunny day, but a window on the north side of a building is usually in the shade (unless you’re in Australia).
Or a window on the west side of your house is in the shade in the morning, a window on the east side of your house is in the shade in the afternoon.
Finally, if you don’t want to flash your neighbors, you can use a white sheer curtain, or a thin white sheet (really inexpensive, low quality white sheets work great). You want to cover the entire area of the window with the sheer curtain or white sheet. I often use thumbtacks to pin it to the wall.
You also want to make sure that there are as few pleats or wrinkles as possible.
And don’t forget that boudoir doesn’t necessarily mean “in the bedroom”. (Well I guess it kind of does…but that’s not the point…)
You can shoot anywhere in your house – anywhere that has great light.
Here is an example of a fabulous boudoir photo that is not in the bedroom (well for boudoir, I guess I would be dressed a bit differently…but you get the idea…).
Camera Position for Natural Light Boudoir Photos
With a directional light source like a large window, you can shoot directly into the light, to the side, or from the front.
It will be a bit more difficult to use natural window light from the front since you will have to back up in order to get your camera in front of you, but looking towards the light from the side is usually very flattering.
Back lit natural window light portrait.
Side lit natural window light portrait.
Side lit natural window light portrait looking into the light.
Set The Scene
First of all – get rid of all background clutter that could potentially be in the photo. Alarm clocks, bedside lamps, your husbands tee shirts on the floor – everything.
You want a flawless clean space. You don’t have to clean the house – just toss everything to the other side of the room so that its not in the photo.
You can’t create fabulous boudoir photography on top of a cluttered mess. Take the time to clear out every single thing that you can from the frame.
Now here is a nice clean background that will look great in your boudoir photos!
Next, take some time to prepare.
Professional models spend hours having their hair and makeup done – so it pays to spend some time doing your own hair and makeup.
Or better yet, spend a nice relaxing morning at the salon and have them do your hair and makeup.
As far as makeup goes, wear makeup that is much much heavier than you normally would.
Heavy makeup looks far better in photos than it does in real life.
Trust me on this. Apply your makeup – then apply more.
If you want to see some more tips on how to prepare for photos – check out our article “Makeup Hair & Clothing Tips To Look Your Best In Photos”.
What To Wear for Your Own Boudoir Photos
If you want to look glamorous – you have to play the part!
Most people think of bra and panties when they think of boudoir photography.
In realty, very few people look great in just a bra and panties.
Instead, go for a bustier, chemise, a slinky cocktail dress or other forms of lingerie that might suit your body type a bit better than just a bra and panties.
You can also wear something fun, like a sports jersey from your significant other’s favorite team, or even just his business dress shirts.
Have some fun and go shopping for some great new lingerie.
Don’t Forget About Accessories!
Accessories totally turn a good boudoir photo into an unbelievable boudoir photo.
Start with a killer pair of heels, or boots.
Nylons of course – but gloves look great too.
And go for a big chunky necklace and earrings.
This is my favorite necklace – and it totally makes this dress!
Post Processing for Your Own Boudoir Photos
Boudoir photos that are taken into the window light will look washed out and dull without post processing. Photos taken with the light to the side should look much better right out of the camera – but all photos need some editing.
If you are using an image editor, such as Adobe Photoshop Express, follow these steps:
First tweak the exposure, using the exposure slider. Bring the picture into a range where your highlights are not too bright and your shadows are not too dark.
Use the burn tool – choose shadows, select a large brush and a high change in exposure setting. Paint over your picture with the burn tool to add detail and definition back to into the shadows. You might have to do this more than once for areas of your picture that need even more contrast.
You can also use a white/blacks slider or the contrast slider to do this in more sophisticated editors. The goal is to increase the blacks to darken the shadows and add definition.
Adjust the white balance. Use the white balance tool to select a white balance that makes the pure white light in your photos look pure white.
Finally, increase the saturation to accentuate any colorful clothing or lingerie you might be wearing.
Be careful increasing the saturation too much, because it could have an undesirable effect on your skin color.
Examples Of Boudoir Photos That You Can Take Using This Tutorial
Here are a few more examples of gorgeous, tasteful boudoir photos that your significant other will LOVE – and you can take them yourself using this tutorial.
Leave a comment below with any questions you might have – we’ll do our best to help you out.
And we’d love to hear about how it goes!