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How to Star in Your Own Boudoir Shoot: Tips From the Pros

The Philantropy Babydoll from the Lola Haze Spring 2013 shoot

Recently, I called in the troops for our semi-annual battle-against-the-clock party: the lingerie photo shoot. The shoot punctuates the end of the design process — once an item has been shot, it cannot be changed — and begins the great coming-out party for the collection. I had finally stopped redesigning and fiddling with my Spring/Summer 2012 collection for Lola Haze™ and was ready to send her off into the world.

It was great fun. This time there were eight of us squeezed into a New York City studio, madly trying to get through all the looks in the collection within the day, before heading out to shoot on location.

Maria, our makeup artist, referred to adjectives about mood and images I provided, as well as the garments themselves, to come up with a playful, bright-lipped look. After she created her look, her job was to vigilantly watch the shoot and run in to fix lipsticked teeth or flattened hair. The photographer, Dan, set up lights and kept the model framed, lit, and focused. Tanya, our gorgeous model, is a pro. She somehow survived standing for eight hours in heels and rotating through an endless variety of poses while looking incredible and poised. The assistants, Alyssa, Andi, Guylene, and Isabel scurried around managing the garments, preparing accessories, holding reflectors, and generally being indispensable. I kept the show on the road.

Lola Haze photoshoot Spring 2013, Brooklyn

Working with pros, when everything runs in smooth harmony, it’s easy to get thousands of beautiful shots in a day. Seeing my creations come to life on Tanya, gussied up by all the talented people around, is always exciting. This time it got me thinking about how other women can create sexy boudoir photoshoots.  No, we’re not all 5’10” 120-pound fashion models, but we all have something hot to show off, and there’s nothing more fun than showing it off in front of a camera!

Since we can’t all assemble a professional team to beautify and retouch us, I asked my team for tips to help everyone stage the perfect home boudoir shoot.

MODEL: Tatjana Sinkevica
A NYC model who has appeared in Project Runway All Stars

Q: How did you learn to pose?
A: I’ve learned to pose just by watching others: dancers, ballerinas, models, magazines, commercials, and adding my personality and my own twist into it. The same comes with the facial expressions — I try a few so clients have a variety to choose from.

Q: What do you think about when you’re posing?
A: When I’m posing I’m thinking about all kinds of things, usually not modeling at all! Far from it, since posing comes automatically, especially if it’s a catalog shoot [instead of editorial].

Q: What are some tips you can give to regular women to feel and look sexy in front of the camera?
A: Every woman can look great in pictures — it’s all about confidence!!! Flirtation also helps a lot, so play with the camera, tease it! Imagine that it’s your boyfriend/husband and fantasize!

Q: Can you tell a story of your most interesting or challenging job?
A: One time I was in China shooting for a cover of a Chinese magazine. I was shooting in a swimming pool and none of the crew members spoke English so when he wanted me to smile, the photographer leaned over the pool and just squeezed my cheeks. That was so funny! I take these situations with humor and as adventures.

Maria unlipsticks Tanya’s teeth, Lola Haze Spring 2013 photoshoot

Website: www.mariaortegamakeup.carbonmade.com
Maria Ortega is a self-taught, freelance makeup artist based in NYC. Some of her notable past clients are: Project Runway designer Viktor Luna, Snoop Dogg, NBA Championship player Kevin Willis, celebrity stylist Nole Marin and Miss Jessie’s hair care products. Maria Ortega has also done makeup for NYFW runway shows and presentations. Some makeup companies she has worked events for are: L’Oreal, Covergirl, Physician’s Formula, Almay, Maybelline, and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.

Q: What’s the difference between everyday makeup and boudoir shoot makeup looks?
A:  Everyday makeup and daytime makeup is subtle and enhances a woman’s natural beauty and best facial features. Boudoir makeup brings out the sexy in all women independent of age, size, and shape. It releases the inner vixen and provides a sultry look. Usually Boudoir makeup involves a smoky eye, false lashes, cat eye liner, and a bold lip.

Q: What are some tips you can give everyday women as they prepare for a boudoir shoot?
A: When a woman is planning a Boudoir shoot it is of the essence to prepare by properly hydrating the skin and having a good skincare routine both for face and body. Eye cream is a must to keep hydration and prevent/repair early signs of aging. Day and night cream on both face and body is of ultra importance. I also recommend and suggest a good facial exfoliator and body polish. Supple skin makes every woman feel beautiful. A Boudoir shoot is an intimate shoot celebrating the beauty of a woman; accepting your shape and size and loving yourself is the best preparation. Confidence is the best accessory.

Q: What products are essential?
A: My favorite makeup products to achieve a boudoir makeup look are: Make Up For Ever HD Foundation, Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette, Stile Smudge Pot gel liner, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in “NSFW” for that ultra seductive red lip.

Q: What are some sexy makeup trends right now?
A: This Fall will be all about dramatic and bold liner. By adding a cat eye, double wing tip or dramatic gel liner not only will you be making a fashion statement but you will also display strength and a bold feminine expression. As always, a bold lip in a statement color always is trendy. My favorite trend to follow is what looks good on you. If you like your cheekbones… play them up, if you love your eyes, then play them up. Knowing your best facial features and playing them up never goes out of style.

Q: What do you love about being a makeup artist?
A: My favorite thing about being a makeup artist is being able to enhance beauty, transform, innovate, and create beauty with cosmetics. I love editorial and working with talent and models. However, there is an incomparable feeling to working with the everyday woman and transforming not only her face with makeup but also her self esteem. That feeling is one like no other. The smiles my clients have when they look at themselves cannot be compared to any other type of joy. I feel pretty when I do makeup on others.

Maria’s makeup table!

Lola Haze™ Intern extaordinaire

Q: What were some challenges you faced when doing your boudoir photo shoot?
A: Lacking the right equipment! Luckily for me, I’m good at photoshop, so even though we were using an iphone, I was able to tweak lighting. I recommend taking a few test shots and seeing which angles/parts of the room give the best lighting.

Q: What did you wear?
A: Everything from panty hose and heels to a silk robe. My favorite shots were the ones of me wearing Lola Haze™ lingerie — notably the Liquid Lace Romper and Be My Valentine Chemise. Having colorful pieces gave the shoot a lot of character.

Q: Do you have any tips for readers who want to do their own boudoir photo shoot?
A: Test lighting! If you have someone to take photos for you at different times of day, this would probably add a lot of variety to the shoot. Also, get creative. Use a mirror, heels, props-anything! It also helps to have someone you are comfortable with taking the pictures.

Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: Make an afternoon of it-plus cocktails. I was thankful to have a roommate who is good at hair, makeup, AND photography. It ended up being a blast!

I regard Alyssa’s thong styling work, Lola Haze Spring 2013 shoot

DESIGNER: Myself, Laura Mehlinger
Owner/Designer Lola Haze (and someone who has directed a lot of photo shoots)

Q: What kind of lingerie should women choose for a boudoir shoot?
A: Aside from the clear answer that you should find something you feel comfortable and sexy in, there are a few tips for ultimate flattery. Know your best body part and find lingerie that displays it. Some near-universally flattering garments are stockings and garter belts (you may worry about the upper thigh show, but there’s nothing sexier), corsets, balconette bras, diaphanous robes, dark-colored teddies.

Q: What about color?
A: For color, I would generally avoid white, which can often catch light on body parts you would rather recede, and can appear transparent when you don’t want it to. Black is always sexy, but can also blend into the background and not define your body if the lighting isn’t great. I would choose a color.

Q: Other tips?
A: Practice beforehand! Models aren’t perfect, but look amazing in photos because they already know their best angles. Get out a mirror and flirt with it. This is especially true for facial expressions, which can convey discomfort or stiffness if that’s how you feel. If your poses are already figured out, you can just relax when it’s time for the shoot and put your best… something forward!

Please share your boudoir shoot stories and tips with us!

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

5 Comments on this post

  1. Ann Courtney says:

    A very interesting and useful article. I have the triple whammy of being the photographer, model, makeup/hair stylist and general gofer as I shoot Self Portraits. It’s immensely rewarding as it makes me feel good about myself. I’m definitely a Plus Size and over 50 – Ladies, neither is a prohibitor of getting in front of the camera and showing how beautiful you are!

  2. Thursday says:

    As someone who is often the “unpaid muse”, aka, test model, for her photographer boyfriend, there are some great tips here! I think it’s also worth remembering to relax your face between shots, rather than trying to hold an expression that turns your face wooden. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, think about how you should feel, and then open your eyes for the camera.

    It also helps to think about the story you want to tell – incorporate your props and your pose to tell the viewer something about yourself.

    And hands – it can be hard to make them look natural in photos. Try running them along your body to where you want them to rest, allowing them to stop where it feels natural.

    And a beautiful robe is always a great piece of lingerie to start with!

  3. Annmarie says:

    As someone who had a boudoir shoot as “a birthday present from myself to myself” couple of years ago, my best advice is: HAVE FUN!!! It’s all about you, and nothing else matters!
    Yes, make some preparations and be sure to team up with a photographer you feel comfortable working with. I would also suggest bringing along a supportive friend and also a bottle of wine… maybe two if needed.

    But in the end it’s you and the camera and how you feel about yourself, how you project it, and what kind of memories you want to take home.

    I did just that and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. At some point the photographer turned to me and said: “you’re so much better than most others I’ve worked with, you’re so confident and know what to do”. I just giggled and kept on going…

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