Top Things to Bring to Your Boudoir Session

Boudoir sessions have become one of my very favorite things to shoot. I know the idea may sound weird and uncomfortable, but my experience so far has been that after about 10 minutes, every woman falls in love with how she feels.

The whole idea of becoming a boudoir photographer was sparked by a horrific jeans shopping experience. I'd gained some weight and desperately needed new jeans, but the fit of each pair made me feel dramatically out of proportion to what these designers thought should be the norm. 

I'm generally pretty happy with my body, but I left that mall feeling deflated. 

Then, I came home and changed back into my yoga pants, because that's what we do, right? I looked in the mirror and of course saw my imperfections, but I also noticed that I was not, in fact, built out of proportion. I mean, maybe here and there, but overall, it wasn't that bad. 

But man, can't all the commercials and Facebook ads and YouTube videos and Pinterest posts make us feel that way? I wanted to figure out how to show women that they're beautiful, how to make them feel confident, how to let them know that they are enough. And thus, an idea was born. 

I've been thrilled with each boudoir shoot I've done, and each girl that has booked one has been just as excited as the man they gift their album to, because she saw herself for how gorgeous she really is. I don't do drastic editing (you see your photos the next day) because I don't have to. Any woman's body, when posed in the most flattering ways, is just stunning. 

Having said all of that, I do find that women typically don't know what to bring to a boudoir session, so here are a few tips on that. Not everything here is mandatory, but if you come across something that sounds good to you, let's do it!


This one is a must. Nude heels, especially, elongate your legs in ways that you'd never know were the heels' doing! I also love anything with a little bling, and black heels are great, too. And we're not talking about the 1.5-inch things you may wear to work. Take an excuse to buy some stilettos, girl! 

Perfectly Fitted Lingerie

I definitely recommend going to somewhere like Nordstrom and getting fitted to make sure the lingerie you're buying will fit perfectly. The last thing you want is to lie down and either not fill the cup or have it runneth over!


This can be anything from just a simple necklace and earrings to costume jewelry. We can have fun either way! 

Body Suit

This is a wonderful option for the woman who is self-conscious about her tummy. With some great posing and an awesome cover up like this, you'll never know! I have a few examples on my Boudoir Pinterest Board

Black Bra and Panties

This is a classic, but the photos I take in just a regular black bra and underwear are always among my favorites. This is flattering on everyone and a perfect, classic look! Don't feel locked into black on every outfit, though. Colors are good, too! (Just not fluorescent, please.) :) 

Cheeky Panties

The thong seems to have the reputation for being the sexiest undergarment, but the cheeky, boy short underwear is by far my favorite. It's such a tush flatterer! Bonus points if it's lacy or sheer and goes perfectly with the black bra you're bringing. Also, can we do something about the word 'panties'? It makes me cringe.  Am I alone in this?

Something of His

If you're doing a boudoir shoot more for your fiancé/husband than for yourself, it's great to bring something that's meaningful to him. Let's take it a step further than just a white button up, though. His favorite jersey and some boy shorts? I mean, I've even used a gun. Use your imagination! 

A Tank Top

Don't feel like you have to spend a month's salary at Victoria's Secret just to have a boudoir session. Sometimes a pretty pair of panties and an off-shoulder shirt or a tank top is all you need! Guys are pretty easy to please. :) 

Of course I'm 110% on board with women booking a boudoir shoot specifically for themselves. Something even along the lines of a just-right cocktail dress would be wonderful. Everyone can benefit from the experience of seeing herself with her hair and makeup done in any outfit she loves. 

I truly believe these photos are intended just for the woman in them and her husband. (And maybe an occasional girlfriend.) If you're interested in a session, send me an email, and I'll show you a private gallery of a few girls that have given me their permission to do so privately. 

But because no blog post feels complete without a photo, here are A's killer shoes from her session.

First Look: To See or Not To See?

I'm witty. See that title there? Yeah you do. I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow I found myself listening to an IHeartRadio station about weddings. I love weddings and all, but listening to a radio show about them is a bit much even for me. The thing that kept me listening, though, was that Jasmine Star, a popular wedding photographer, was being interviewed, and the host asked her about the bride and groom seeing each other before the wedding.

What she had to say had me nodding my head like the eclectic, hat-wearing lady in church. You know the one. Mmmmhmmm.

"It really does help the flow of the day. We have these old wives' tales of 'Oh no, you can't see the groom,' and then it begs the question, 'Why?' Who created this rule, and why is it being upheld?"

I could interject here and tell you that this tradition comes from when arranged marriages were custom, and the family was afraid the groom would think the bride was too ugly to marry her, but I won't go there.

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Jasmine went on to talk about her First Look on her own wedding day.

"It revolutionized the way I saw the wedding day. Because seeing each other the first time and having just 20-30 minutes alone made the day about the marriage, not the wedding, and I think that's a huge change in your perspective. From a business perspective — a photographer's perspective — it allows for so much flexibility, yes for inclement weather, for nice, candid, natural photos with your friends, with your family, really embracing the day."

So here's the reasoning behind why I chose a First Look as a bride, and why I recommend it as a wedding photographer.

1. It makes your day about you.

I can't emphasize this enough. I feel like so many couples were raised knowing this is the tradition and love the idea of the groom not seeing his bride until she's walking down the aisle, and I agree, it's a nice thought. In reality, I don't feel like you get the truest reaction from your groom, and the bride doesn't get to show her truest reaction, either. Spending time with each other before the wedding reminds you why you're marrying this person. Why you're committing your life to him/her. Why you've brought all these people here. It allows you to be surrounded by your family and friends all day, rather than being separated before the wedding and pulled away for photos afterward. In short, it makes your day about you together.

2. It allows more time for photos.

This was important to me as a bride and of course is important to me as a photographer. Now, I'm not saying I want your wedding to be scheduled around what's easier for me, and I doubt many other photographers would say that either. I say that because, as your photographer, I want to deliver the best photos you could possibly have, which requires more time, and that works best before the wedding.

3. It doesn't take away from walking down the aisle.

Every couple I've talked to who opted for a First Look say it doesn't at all take away from the moment of walking down the aisle, and I agree with that from my experience as well. Even Jonathan had a tear in his eye as I approached him during our ceremony, and that's really saying something. In all reality, nothing can take away from that final moment that you're walking toward each other, committing to each other forever, not even a First Look.

4. It allows more time for your family.

I once attended a wedding where the bride and groom didn't show up to their reception until three hours after the wedding ended. I've never had anything close to that happen in weddings I've photographed, and I do try to hurry to get you to your reception as soon as possible, but it's such a nice feeling to know that as you walk down that aisle, you're finished with formal wedding photos, save maybe a couple here or there. You can go right to the arms of your loved ones waiting for you and spend your evening with them.

5. We do it right.

I'm a bit picky about how First Looks work. I make sure no one else is anywhere around unless you specifically say it's OK, I put on a zoom lens, and I catch those first initial reactions. Then, I leave. I leave you two, alone, to reflect, to enjoy each other, to pray together, to do whatever you want to do, and we meet up a few minutes later. It's such a special moment, and I think everyone deserves to experience it.

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My friend Jessica (who now owns Creative Cakery and makes beautiful wedding cakes, by the way) was the first person I knew to break the mold, so to speak, and see her groom before the wedding. At first, I thought that was kind of lame, but as soon as I understood how well everything fell together, I was sold. Knowing Jonathan isn't the most publicly expressive person — he is an introvert, after all — I wanted to see what his real reaction would be when we saw each other, to be able to hug him, to tell him I love him. All things you can't do in the middle of a ceremony. If I were to get married 100 times (all to the same amazing man, of course), I'd do a First Look every time.

But I'm always open to the other side of things. Did you have or do you plan to have a First Look or not? Let me know why or why not, and if you recommend it!

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