Tips for Shooting Boudoir All Shapes and Sizes

Tips for Shooting Boudoir All Shapes and Sizes

Boudoir clients range not only in background but also shapes and sizes. She may be a model or the stay at home mom that wants to feel like a model. Knowing your client and how to pose for flattering looks as well as creating a lasting experience is what one boudoir photographer is about to explain.

In last weeks article on the Fstoppers featured artist group winner there were a few comments about women in boudoir portfolios not being an everyday woman. This led me to think back to the one artist who could help show that indeed boudoir clients are everyday women.

Natalie Kita is an internationally published, award-winning boudoir photographer, speaker, and author based out of Bear, DE.  She has an extensive background in both creative and performing arts as well as the beauty industry. Kita brought her talent into the boudoir industry nearly 10 years ago with her style of shooting to make the every day woman look and feel like a supermodel centerfold. Her clientele ranges from the celebrities to the soccer mom next door of all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and backgrounds. Kita's expertise in boudoir creates each woman to feel as if they are a model for the day. Anyone who has ever shot or been shot in boudoir knows this feeling lasts longer than the session time. Kita wrote that these women all have one thing in common: "An understanding of the amazing, life-changing experience that boudoir can be, in the right hands."

I am a photographer, speaker, author, coach, and mentor. I am a mom, friend, lover, daughter, sister. I am an avowed feminist and an unapologetic sex goddess. I am an amalgam of myriad walking dichotomies, who is passionate about social justice, personal development, female empowerment, sisterhood, beauty, and transformation. I live at the three-way intersection of art, sexuality, and spirituality. My biggest challenge — and my biggest aspiration — has always been achieving and maintaining balance in my mind, in my heart, and in my life. I am not who I am because I'm a boudoir photographer. I am a boudoir photographer because of who I am.

Technical Side

Kita's style in shooting has the feel of fashion magazines creating the allure for each client. Each aspect of the shoot is carefully chosen, from the wardrobe to the posing, to flatter each client in her own way. Kita feels that there is more of a difference for posing body shapes and proportions rather than just sizes. "For instance if a woman is top-heavy, pushing her hips away from the camera (as so many 'experts' suggest is a universal rule) is only going to make her upper body look larger, and her hips look off-kilter in comparison," Kita wrote. "In addition, if a woman is bottom-heavy with a small waist but a somewhat protruding tummy, turning her hips away from the camera will only make her middle look thicker, while shooting her straight on will emphasize the hourglass shape she is proud of."

Kita wrote that there is an art to flattering skinnier women just like there is an art to flattering fuller figures. She suggests that if a woman’s figure is rather straight up and down there are a couple of things you can do to give the illusion of an hourglass.

  1. In a standing pose, twist her body at the waist while turning her hips more toward the camera to give them a curve and turn her upper body away from the camera while squeezing the breasts up and in with her harms while she hugs herself.
  2. Use her arms in a V formation in front of her body to visually take the eye in at the waist making her hips and shoulders look wider in comparison.
  3. With a very slim client you have the luxury of trying out new poses and shooting angles according to Kita, because often (not always of course) slim women can get into poses that are not always possible for larger bodies. Shoot from the clients hip straight on from the floor with her eyes down at you (slim, tight jawlines make this shot work well).
  4. Have her pull her bottom wardrobe down lower to create a strong horizontal line that will visually widen the widest part of her hips.
    Client pushing her right hip towards the strobe to create the left side into the shadows. This creates the viewer to assume symmetry and creates instant curvature. 1/160, f4, 1SO 640, shot at 55mm on 24-105.

For fuller figure women she has suggestions as well.

  1. Do not shoot down on her in every shot. Use placement of your lights to get the shadows that give her jawline definition instead of “cheating” with a high camera above every time.
  2. Do not give her only closeups of her breasts and face. Not only can this be considered insulting it will also affect sales and the confidence of your client.
  3. Do not focus on seated poses. Stretching out will elongate the body.
  4. Do not shoot a lot of full-length standing shots. When they eye doesn’t have a length to compare width to, it makes a length up that make the body more proportional height-to-width wise. There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, she finds that framing from just above the knee and up is more flattering for average-thicker body types.

Rim light only for this one, turning her face and pushing her hip into the light (which stretches and tightens the side of her waist). The rest of her body is in shadow and I use a dramatic crop too, to further slim the figure.

Light is placed behind her camera left and feathered forward. 1/200, f4 ISO 100, shot at 60mm on 24-105.

Special Setups

The setup below for this shot was a 4x8 piece of plexiglass (about $80 from Home Depot). It was held between two light stands with alligator clamps. A 50/50 mixture of water and glycerin in a spray bottle was used to spray the plexiglass. To create a more reflective look she sprays dry body oil on the client and has them rub it into the skin. Immediately after is a spray of the same 50/50 glycerin and water mixture.

1/250, f4, ISO100 shot at 80mm on 24-105

More to Learn

Kita has put together ebooks and guides to further your learning as a boudoir photographer. These are not for just beginners but also for long standing boudoir photographers who want to fine tune their posing and selling.

"Shoot to Sell" is her posing book geared to photographers who struggle with posing, those who need guidance in learning sets of poses that flatter all shapes and sizes as well as creating a variety for those sales. "The Naked Truth About Your Prices" takes learning your cost of doing business and transforms it into a pricing menu to achieve your business goals. Use code FSTOPPERS15 for $15 off.

All images courtesy of Natalie Kita.

Jennifer Tallerico's picture

JT is known throughout the International Boudoir Photography Industry and the region for her unique approach to Fine Art Photography. Her underwater work as JT Aqua is ethereal based and conceptual. She is an educator, writer and currently teaching workshops for underwater and boudoir.

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Nicely written.

Great article and insight!

I'm saving this one. Thank you.