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Archive 2013 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

I've got some questions here for the pros who have done boudoir photography before.

I have three brides who are interested in doing boudoir / sexy / bridal photo sessions as a wedding gift to their fiance.

Since I am a locational photographer I am looking towards setting up the shoot in a natural location such as a bedroom in a hotel. I don't have a studio or any props that would make a studio space worth renting so I'm leaning towards a hotel.

There are a few great local hotels which would be perfect but the price of the good looking hotel rooms are $200 - $300 which is almost as much as I'm charging for the session. It seems a little spendy but that is where my questions come in.

1. I know a lot of pros shoot at hotels, but are they able to lock in a good rate at a hotel?
2. Is there anything I can say to help make that happen or do they just forward the cost onto the bride?
3. Are there any good alternatives to hotels that would help make a stunning but private atmosphere?
4. Any secrets of the trade that work out well when looking for a location?

If I have to eat the cost this time, I will but I do not want this to happen beyond the three I have already booked. I want to come out of this experience with a strong game plan for the future. As you have probably already guessed I'm trying to keep my overhead low so keep the ideas flowing please.


Jun 08, 2013 at 07:51 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

I would ask the clients if they have a friend with a nice home. How much of the room do you plan to show. Many limit the room shot to a wall and window and bed spread/sheet that may not even be covering a real bed. Could be an air mattress under it. If you plan to use furniture, bath, etc then you might need a hotel.
Make sure to check out the online discount sites to get a better price. Get paid upfront or you will have them cancel with you stuck for the hotel out of pocket.

Jun 08, 2013 at 03:47 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

1. Yes.

The only real cost to the hotel is room cleaning. Here that's about $30 which would of course depend on the room. If you tell them that you are doing a photo shoot and looking at it as an ongoing thing, you should be able to negotiate a much better rate than the std room rate.
This will of course depend on when you want the room and how booked they are at that time.
A lot of hotels in the cities are often relatively quiet on weekends because many of the business/ conference guests go home on weekends. Might vary place to place, just ask.

I have got places before in trade for shooting new images for their web sites brochures or advertising. I did this for one place and the wouldn't take any money off me for a year. Then they asked me to cover an event they had been promoting and put me up and fed me for the night as well and wouldn't take any money again till I stopped going there because all the shoots were starting to look a bit the same and I had run out of ideas for working there.

2. As above, just let them know you want the place for business purposes and there will be no one staying there. Perhaps offer to recommend the place to your brides and see if they want to give you some coupons or something to help you promote them.

Also ask them if there is anything they need in the way of photography you could help them out with. Personnel shots, their rooms or facilities, some shots of food...
Also, be smart and do your home work. have a look on their website or advertising in guedes or whatever and see what their current pics are like. They may be really ordinary as I have found and I have been straight up and told the managers, I can make your place look far more attractive in your promotional material, i'm prepared to shoot your establishment and I can do this idea and that and it will cost you nothing. All I would like to do is have the use of a room to photograph my clients in as needed.

The ones I have run that by have loved it. It potential improves their black column without them having to pay out anything which goes in the red column. It's all about budgets, revenue, costs and occupancy rates with them. Help them out favourably and you can get a long way.

No matter what the deal you are able to do, I would be passing the normal value or 75% of it onto the brides. It sounds to me like you are way too cheap already and if they want to shoot at a place you don't have an arrangement with, You will have to pay unless you state room hire is up to them. If you do have a deal with the location you want a return on the promo work you had to do to get the arrangement.

If you are shooting one session a day, then they pay full tilt and if you are shooting 2 or more, divide the cost up. Easy.

3. Guest Houses.

I had a client I used to shoot with his wife and they would send me locations they liked and we'd pretty much choose them together. We did the beach and the mountains and the city and a country place amongst a couple of others. The guest houses are great because you have more than a bedroom and a bathroom to shoot inas with hotels unless you get a suite and that limits yourself to the bigger places that may not be interested in doing deals.

The place I mentioned above that let me shoot there for nothing was a guest house and was bloody great. They had a large fireplace in the main lounge room and when I stayed there, the manager said I could shoot there when every one went to bed ( which happened surprisingly early and showed me where to turn the lights off and make sure the fire was safe. Made the most of it and did shots around the front desk and even in the kitchen.

During the day I could use the grounds as well with a heads up from the manager where was out of the way and how many people were in the place at the time and if they were in or had gone out sight seeing. It was a great place to shoot... the first 20 times

If you go to a mainstream hotel, you get a bedroom/ living room and a bathroom and everything is painted off white. Frankly these places Kill me to shoot in because they are just so bloody bland.
The boutique hotels are a lot better because usually they have a style about them be it modern or period. Once Big city place I used for a while had a rooftop pool, gym and open area overlooking the city. It was great to use in the day and even better at night.

One other place that I used was a Brothel. Every room was set up to a different theme. There was a presidential Room, the egyptian room, the bondage room ( which wasn't much good because it was painted entirely black) the harem room and a couple of others I now forget.
I had to get in there early in the morning and be out before they opened at 11am.

It was an awesome place to shoot because All I had to do was take my lights from one room to the other, shoot a test and it was all set up like another studio. Brilliant.
I told the clients I was on a time clock and we had to work fast but it was easy in this place because I moved the lights while the client changed outfits and we were shooting again inside of 10 min.

Only drawback was it was a city location so you had to battle the morning peak hour traffic which meant heading off really early in order to have 3 hours shoot time. From memory I was paying them $50 per shoot and then they asked me to shoot their facilities and we did that as a trade for me using the place.

Another one I used a few times was a Marina.
They had 60ft Luxury yachts they hired out and there was generally at least 1 that was in dock I could shoot on. These places are like a floating hotel suite and there is a lot you can do on them inside and out.
they give the shots a sense of luxury that's hard to equal.

These Yachts are booked well in advance so the person looking after them has a really good idea when they will be in, out, being cleaned or serviced and can tell you when one will be available so you can organise the date with your client.

4. As with any location I shoot at, I look for maximum variety of sets or scenery with the least distance to travel unless you theme it like the yachts.

In the guest house which was over 100 years old, there were a lot of features in different rooms. as long as I didn't ruffle the bead or leave any sign I'd been there necessitating the room be made over, I could use them. In this case there were different windows and wallpaper and decores.
In the grounds there was a huge machinery shed with a tractor and some stuff in it, a lot of landscaped grounds and flowers, a large fountain/ pond, tennis court, pool and a very rocky "grotto" area.

I'm looking at getting back into the glamours this coming summer and the idea I have is to find 3 or more places with different themes and promote them to the clients as location option 1, 2 or 3.
If I can find more as I go, great.
It gets easier as you go as well when you learn the lingo and the way they work and can namedrop where you have been before, show some samples etc.

Jun 08, 2013 at 04:13 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

glort: Thank you for your feedback. We don't have anything super fancy in this area but we have non mainstreem hotels. There is one in my town that looks great. It looks like they already have photos up, but they could be better. I'll have to talk to the manager and see if I can strike up a trade. Good advice on bringing up the point that if I dont ruffle the bed, I might be able to get a better deal or do this for free. If not, I might just book myself a bunch of models for that day to get my moneys worth (update my website).

Yes, I am rather inexpensive at $350 for a package but I'm in a small city where everyone else charges $150 for the same thing. I dunno how they stay in business unless its by volume.

I'll try scouting out some guest houses. I might get lucky.

Thanks again for your informative post.

Jun 08, 2013 at 07:47 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Giving away more photography in trade for a hotel room is an awful lot of work for nothing. If you're on the cheap, have the client book the hotel herself and then when she chickens out and bails, you won't get stuck being charged for the last-minute cancellation.

Keep your out of pocket expenses near zero and raise your rates if you want to make money, don't be a lowballer.

Jun 13, 2013 at 04:39 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

I agree with Frank. I just did my first Boudoir session. We opted for a nice hotel room. Bride booked and paid for it. Just be the photographer you want to be, me personally I'm not wanting to be a locations manager so I don't deal with that stuff. Also, 007Mike, you're going to find yourself asking the question "I dunno how they stay in business" more and more.

Jun 13, 2013 at 01:01 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Thanks for the feedback folks.

The first client is one of my best friends so she wont be flaking out on me. Yes I charge my best friends

I wasn't able to get anywhere with the management of any of the nicer looking hotels in my area so I have decided to turn this into a project.

I found some models wanting to do some TFP/TF disk work and I've got a make up artist who is loving this project. I was really overwhelmed with the positive feedback I was getting from my inquiries.

Turns out this place is going to cost me $205, but I get to keep it for 24 hours. I'll get roughly 12 hours of shooting time in while I work with 5-7 models + the Bride. If I did the same thing in a local studio for rent it would cost me a lot more.

Basically i'm turning an unfortunate cost into a pleasant portfolio building opportunity. I know it sounds crazy but I need the portfolio and I can do it in one day instead of over the course of several months. To me thats time well spent.

I realize this strategy wont work in the future so I'll have to find a better option for the next two shoots. I'll talk with them about location options while I do some more scouting.

Lesson learned though. Either I have a good location nailed down or the bride flips the bill.

Jun 15, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Tim Wild
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Client pays you, and if you do three shoots in a day that's 1/3 of the cost per customer. Payment on booking, non refundable.

Jun 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Hmmm - if only I could rent a nice hotel room - or even a photo studio in NYC for only $30!

Oct 02, 2013 at 10:36 PM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

check out vrbo.com. vacation rentals. maybe you can get a whole house for a similar price, and have a lot more locations to shoot.... just looked at homes in bend, oregon, so i'm sure good options exist in eugene.

Oct 02, 2013 at 10:43 PM
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

OMG - just checked my area in NY rentals seem to start at a grand a night!!!

Oct 04, 2013 at 03:25 AM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Aren't there any cheap studios around? The one I go to has three floors, each floor with a different feel, and it's $25 an hour.

Nov 27, 2013 at 06:02 AM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros


I totally spaced getting back to everyone on this project.

Thanks for the help everyone. I made a lot of calls and there were only a few studios and they wanted $100 an hour. Not bad, but a hotel was $260 and I could use it all day and night. As it turned out I ended up flipping the bill for a little bit of it so I could squeeze a lot more value out of this project. Because it was going to cost relatively the same for to photograph one client as it did for two or more... why not bring in more girls? I believe the term for what I did was called a "Boudoir Party".

I rented a hotel and hired a female assistant, a make up artist, brought in 4 more models, brought some drinks and food for everyone to feast upon. The alcohol was a bit more popular than I thought it would be. Who can say no to free booze?

It ended up being a 14 hour day but everyone had a lot of fun. Now I have a portfolio I can market with.

Here are a few photos from the shoot:












May 22, 2014 at 08:44 AM
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Great shots

May 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM
J Knight
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Boudoir Photography Questions for the Pros

Nice photos, but I suspect many of them will not particularly appeal to women purchasers, though perhaps others will see me as wrong in this view.

I have found quite a few photographers struggle with the line between images desirable to most women and images desirable to most men. Its a tricky one as its a somewhat movable border, of what is appealing and what is lacking class with regard to poses etc - but if I had to define the issue personally, I would say some male photographers go for the feel of 'this woman wants me, wants action!' but the women customers are looking more for 'this woman is beautiful, sensual and I want to value and look at her'.

Your images - 2nd post could go either way depending on the female viewer, but 3 and 4 and the last one are boys magazine cheese shots.

Lots of women want to be seen as tasteful, elegant, sensual. Most of you photos do hit that mark and look very good.

I would certainly not show the last photo to any female clients as I think it might cause them to consider a different photographer unless they know you well as a person - way too much 'boys leer over lesbian action' feel to it and not many women who associate leering with a photographer will want to work with them. Please understand this is not a personal attack on your professionalism - you were probably just kidding about having a laugh with the models, but people many not 'get' that if it ends up being shown to clients (which you may not have intended to do anyway).

But all this is just my view and I am sure many will see my comments as very different to their own.

Overall, a nice set and nice processing.

May 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

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