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An introduction to Boudoir Posing

By Ewan and Brianna Phelan


This guide will provide you with an introduction to all of the details needed to pose a woman for boudoir. This is a detailed list of everything that we are looking at from head to toe. Below each section are examples of images that demonstrate the key points discussed.

Attention to Detail

Posing is one of the most important aspects of boudoir. In this app we will be presenting the key details that we look at when posing. While shooting we are looking at our client from head to toe at all times and tweaking every possible aspect that will make her look her best. Even if we can not see the certain body part in the frame, we are still instructing the client what to do with it. For example, the effects of a pointed toe, even when not seen, can have an effect on the rest of the body seen in the image. Our clients are not models. For a lot of them, this is the first time that they have ever been in a studio or in front of a camera. Posing is where you can make a woman feel beautiful about herself while still showing her what she looks like.


Boudoir is about empowerment, so using liquify to change a woman from a size 12 to a size 4 does not give her a realistic view of what she looks like. We believe that a woman should walk away from the shoot saying, “Wow, I can’t believe that’s me!” Not because it looks nothing like her, but because it is her and not an overly photoshopped version of someone she does not recognize. This is where posing comes into play. You need to stretch out a woman to make sure you are not seeing any rolls in the skin. As well, get her butt lifted, her chest out, and her calves raised, to be able to see the curves and make her look as sexy as possible.

Confidence starts with You.

As the photographer, you need to be confident and assertive in your posing. You do not want your client to feel like you are not certain about what you want or are doing. They are able to see your portfolio and the amazing work you have created. If you struggle while posing a client during a shoot, she may think that the is problem is with her personally. This can make her lose confidence in what she is doing. Instead, giving specific direction in a calm manner provides the client with the confidence she needs. Also providing confidence in you, which will allow you to push clients, providing them with exactly what they need from a boudoir shoot.

Inspiration in your pocket.

It is our vision that you take your time and read this App like a book, but that it can also be a quick reference guide you take with you on your mobile devices, and can easily come back to for a quick refresher, & inspiration the day of a shoot. Therefore, this App is viewable across all devices with a web browser. On your laptop, and all Apple and Android mobile devices.


Working with a good hair and makeup artist is essential.

This may seem obvious, but this can be the difference between your client loving her photos or picking them apart. As well, a talented and experienced artist will be able to hide hair extensions, giving you more freedom with client hair movement in the shoot. There are many ways you can play with the hair to create a different look or feel.

Don't Tuck

When dealing with hair, never tuck the hair behind her ears. It looks sloppy. A woman who gets her hair done doesn’t want to just tuck it behind her ears, she wants to show it off. Pushing it behind will also make ears stick out more than they naturally do. Avoid the hair beard/necklace that happens when the hair falls across the neck of the client.

Reveal the Neck

You can sweep the hair completely over your client’s head to give her a more wild sex hair look. Just be careful if there are extensions when doing this, as you don’t want to see the track lines. She can also pull her hair up around her head. This is a great way to show a very soft, yet sexy side. It reveals the neck which is a very sensual part of a woman’s body and draws the viewer in. Having the client pull all of her hair to one side not only reveals her neck, but also gives the illusion of fuller hair.


You can also do a more playful/softer pulling of the hair by having her grab a few strands on the end or pulling one piece straight out. Depending on her eye position, it can be a very sultry look or create a very sweet, playful look.

Inspiration Gallery | Hair

(Tap on any image below to view full screen)


The mouth is another aspect of posing that can be very difficult. Clients do not generally practice their sexy smile in the mirror every day. For most, it is either full teeth or nothing at all when smiling.


The smirk is really your best friend in boudoir. We describe it to our clients as a smile with no teeth or just a little bit of teeth. The smirk conveys so many different emotions. It can be sexy, as though she has a secret, or it can be playful. On a practical note, it takes away the sour look on someone’s face.


If a client can not pull off a smirk, then an open mouth is the way to go. Ask her to breath through her mouth. This relaxes the jaw, which gives a much more natural look. Opening and breathing through the mouth also takes away the tightness of the lips which is sometimes present out of nerves.


Biting the lip is also a great way to denote a feeling of sexiness in an image. You are raising the question of why is she biting her lip?


Avoid Neck Rolls

As you move down the body, start to look at the position of the client’s neck, shoulders and chest. The big thing with the neck is that you do not want to create any rolls. The chin needs to be turtled out and up. However, not too far up as it denotes aggression or attitude. You need to be careful of the feel you are attempting to create. If the client is taller than you, stand on a chair to get a higher advantage, avoiding any unnecessary weight under the chin. As well if she turns her head to the side, keep an eye out for the rolls in the neck.

Head Tilt

When it comes to the neck, the head tilt is the easiest way to soften a woman’s look. It makes her neck look longer and gives her some curves. You want to think about which way she is tilting her head while you shoot. One way will create rolls in the neck and a much stronger glamour shot feel to the pose.

Relaxed Shoulders

Shoulders should always be back and down. While giving this direction, remind your client to try to relax so that her muscles aren’t too tense, making her look uncomfortable. At the same time direct her to push her chest out, trying to bring the bottom of her rib cage up. You want her to keep an upper body arch for the whole shoot. We often make jokes with our clients that they will be very sore the next day from all of the stretching they are doing in our shoots.


This section is arguably the most important aspect of posing in boudoir. This is where you can push a photo from being a nice, pretty photograph to being a sexy one.

Pop the Butt

Popping the butt is not just about pushing the butt back. The client will just end up bending over and it will not provide the look you are going for. It is the opposite of the thrust forward, it is a thrust back, creating an arch in her lower back. So in the end, she should have an arch from the top of the butt crack to the bottom of her neck.


One problem is that a lot of runners or women who work out without stretching will have very tight muscles in their upper legs. This will not allow them to pop their butts. To get around this and create the curve you are looking for when your client can not pop her butt, have her bend over at the waist while holding on to the edge of a counter or couch. You can also have her get on her hands and knees and drop down to her elbows. This will allow for the butt to naturally lift, giving you the curve you are looking for. Another option while your client is standing is to have her lift one knee, pointing her foot behind her. Although you don’t get the curve where you want it (in the lower back), it does provide the illusion of a curve. When standing, ask your client to bend one leg. Ask her to put her feet together, bending the leg further away from you and put all of her weight on the other leg. The result is that the butt is lifted towards the camera, giving it a nice round shape.


Instruct your clients to think tight and up. On a practical level it shortens the leg muscles and brings the butt back in. This way she still has a natural look to her stomach and it doesn’t effect their butt pop. When it comes to the stomach, never tell your client to suck in. This can be very damaging for their self esteem.


Create Lift

Ninety percent of the time we have our clients wear heels. The higher the better. This gives great lift to their calves, thighs and butt. Always have your client pointing their toes, even if their toes aren’t in the photo. This lifts the calf and makes legs look longer and more flattering. Also attempt to have her legs at different levels or lengths while sitting; one stretched out and one closer to the body. This gives the illusion that her legs are longer than they are. When the client is laying on her back, one leg should be bent a little more than other. Also, have the toes pointed downward. Again, this gives the illusion that the client has longer legs than she actually does. Think of all of those optical illusion images that circulate the internet where you are shown two lines and asked which one is longer, when they are both actually the same length. The same approach is used here.

Optical Illusion

Also attempt to have her legs at different levels or lengths while sitting; one stretched out and one closer to the body. This gives the illusion that her legs are longer than they are. When the client is laying on her back, one leg should be bent a little more than other. Also, have the toes pointed downward. Again, this gives the illusion that the client has longer legs than she actually does. Think of all of those optical illusion images that circulate the internet where you are shown two lines and asked which one is longer, when they are both actually the same length. The same approach is used here. When the client is laying on her stomach, she should not criss cross her legs at the ankles as this shortens them considerably. The eye of the viewer stops at the X that is created by this criss cross. By doing this, the clients legs are shrunk, looking thicker than need be.

Add it all up

When you put together the head tilt, shoulders back and down, a popped butt, tight stomach, and outstretched, pointed toes, you will be amazed at how much your client gets stretched out, has curves and does not need the magic of liquify. A woman’s beauty is right there to be discovered. It is our job to bring it out of them.


The eyes can sometimes be the most difficult aspect to deal with in a boudoir shoot.

When your client comes out of the change room half dressed, she is nervous with a deer in the headlights look on her face. Dead eyes are the last thing you want in a photo. It completely takes away from the energy created in your imagery.

Into the Lens

Some simple guidance can make all of the difference in getting your clients to engage with the camera. Start by telling your client to look into your lens, not your eye that is sticking out from behind the camera. Simple and seemingly obvious, but your client often doesn’t feel 100% confident about looking at the camera at first and needs this guidance. As well, having your client look into the lens forces them to quickly get used to making “eye contact” with you. It breaks down the barrier between photographer and client.

Be Specific

When looking away from the camera it is important that you instruct your client to look at something specific. For example, instead of asking her to look across the room, give a specific detail for her to look at and continue to run her eyes over. This way her eyes don’t gloss over and look dead.

Position the Eyes

When looking down it is important to instruct your client not to drop her chin, but rather to try to look at her cheeks or lips. This allows for the eyes to look down enough so that it does not look like she is bored. It also brings the viewer’s eye back into the body of the subject instead of drawing it away. The direction you instruct your client to look will also direct the viewers eye towards what you want them to look at. This can direct the viewer to a certain body part that is highlighted. Or if the subject is looking off to the side, it can raise the question of what or who is she looking at.


Avoid Dead Hands

Always try to avoid dead hands. Nothing takes away from a image more than a hand or arm that isn’t doing anything.


Always give your client something to do, such as grabbing at her bra straps, pulling at her hair, playing with her lips, pulling at underwear, grabbing at the bed sheets, etc.

Tell a story

The hands can take an image from being a nice, pretty image to telling a story. Where is her hand going in this photo? What is in the next frame that we are not seeing? She’s mid undress, she’s grabbing at the bed sheets all arched up, she’s pulling at her clothes. Why? Think of your posing as a story you are trying to tell.


If you are able to master all of the tips that we have provided in this app, then posing will become second nature for you with all body types. It is all in the details. One pose flows into another as you keep all of these pointers in mind. In combination with our Posing Inspiration Catalogue you will be amazed how quickly your posing becomes more purposeful and direct. You won’t find yourself in a shoot wondering, what do I do next? Please sign up for our newsletter to be the first to find out about future apps releases, books workshops and speaking engagements.

Cheers, Ewan and Brianna

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