Male Boudoir: The Ever Changing Definition of This Art Form

Male Boudoir: The Ever Changing Definition of This Art Form

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Boudoir photography is not a modern concept nor is the evolution of its ever changing look. Throughout history there has been a desire to paint or photograph the human form. As the genre moves forward from early Renaissance painters, the works of Aurther Allen in the 1920s, to today with the modern day version of bodyscaping, there has been and will always be a fine line of the differences of how people view the boudoir art form.

Boudoir has become very well accepted in the photography community as not only an art form, but also as a way for women to feel empowered. However, a trending new form has emerged with men. I contacted a Jen Swedhin, who has carved our her new niche in Colorado to discuss more about the increase in male boudoir. Her story into this new area starts when she moved to Denver and knew she wanted to reinvent her work into something that was not being done in this way among the majority of specialists.

There are many differences she says between shooting with men and women. Posing for men in such a way to showcase the definition of the masculine form. Light sculpting is key to work with the shadows of the clients bodies. Even the IPS (in person sales) differs in the type of final product they wish to purchase. Swedhin says that typically her male cliental prefer an ala carte option because they want the control and simplicity rather than collections. The majority of her wall art tends to be anonymous or bodyscaping.

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Most of the work done for post however for is very minimal, Swedhin says. She utilizes zero portraiture in her male cliental. Her post work instead is done with minimal skin clean up, healing, dodge and burn to etch out highlights.

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin
Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Video of Portraits for Men - Jen Swedhin Photography

While she prefers the darker portions of her studio, natural light can still be manipulated to bring in depth of the shadows for more softer looks. She utilizes her curtains in many ways to control the lighting as seen in the image below.

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin


The More Intimate Side

Swedhin pulled from her background in female boudoir photography in order to bring the intimate side to this niche. Utilizing environmental or emotional factors in the image such as cooking, playfulness, or even just a simple laugh during a bedroom scene, took the imagery from being about the body and moving more into the client himself that she was shooting.

Video of Jen Swedhin Photography Bedroom Photos For Men

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

Image Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

IMage Courtesy of Jen Swedhin

The Similarities

While there are many technical issues that differ from shooting women versus men, Swedhin describes the reason she shoots with similarities that we are custom to producing with women. In regards to posing, while the look might differ greatly from the way one would shoot a female client, the reasoning behind it matches. Posing men is all about trying to celebrate the masculinity but yet still bring a soft intimate side while in the bedroom. As boudoir photographers, we are often working on shooting to empower women, and Swedhin is no stranger to shooting men for the same reasons. While the community of artists has embraced this form of boudoir, the male population outside of photographers has still some ways to come in terms of acceptance.

Some of my clients are hesitant to post their images on social media, or even in their home as readily as my former female clientele. This is because social pressures on men's body image is not as flexible as it is for women. While women are hearing all body types are sexy and beautiful, those standards aren't as widely accepted for men.


Carving The Niche

While there are other highly specialized photographers in the industry such as Michael Stokes, or Furious Fotog, who work mainly in the licensing and commercial side, there are few who specialize in the male boudoir private setting. There is not a plethora of community forums for male boudoir industry, however Swedhin is trying to change that. While Swedhin plans to branch out as well for the licensing imagery type of work, she still will remain a boudoir male specialist for those more intimate clients.


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Lee Morris's picture

Serious question: Do women actually like images like this of their men or are these gay men taking pictures for their partners?

Crystal Brandy's picture

I have taken images like these of my husband. I view them daily. :)

Melissa Ann's picture

Both. Women like it of their men and not of their men. And also gay men very much like it. :-)


jenn smith's picture

Is that a serious question? This picture is HOT.

Lee Morris's picture

Ok glad to hear that. My wife told me to never take a picture like that ;)

Mr Blah's picture

I guess you're not hot, Lee!

It would make for a VERY funny Fstopper post though!

Jen Swedhin's picture

This comment thread really illuminates a big part of my struggle in this niche.

1. Yes, women are visual creatures as well, and many love images like this of their man. Some don't. Just like some women don't want boudoir images done of themselves, and some men don't like boudoir done of their wife. There are also men that book me just for themselves - to celebrate fitness goals, or just experience something new. Gay men taking pictures for their partners is a very small percentage of my work.

2. Something my clients and I have to deal with that was never an issue when photographing standard female boudoir is the shaming by fellow males. Every image posted can be expected to come with shitty comments about them by their friends or strangers, belittling or bullying them. This comment thread is no exception, and by FStoppers staffers of all people. Would you take a boudoir image of a woman and make a joke out of it? Do you think the vulnerability goes away just because its a man?

3. Really, man? A fellow creative taking one of my images and photoshopping someone else's face onto it as a joke, and then posting it on such an interesting article? Bad form, and really demeaning and offensive to me, my work, and my client. Unfortunately this isn't the first time this has happened. This isn't even the first time by a fellow photographer. And this isn't even the first time to this specific image.

Thank you for the feature, JT!

Rhonda Phillips's picture

I've been following Jen's work for a long while. Her eye for lighting is a true art form. These photos are not only a representation of handsome masculine men, they showcase personality and creativity. If anyone thinks that ladies don't enjoy photos of our husbands or creative artistic photography in general, you are sadly mistaken. Great article, amazing photography.

Lee Roy's picture

This has always been a thing. It is called "Dudeoir."

Melissa Ann's picture

LOL! Brilliant!

Brad Barton's picture

Beautiful work that suffers from the same problem as examples of female boudoir...

All the models are beautifully sculpted people - a body style limited to a very small niche of people.

In order to sell this in a way to make a living, don't you need to show how you make a less than perfect body look good?