I think shooting boudoir in a specifically designed and furnished boudoir studio would have to be a number one choice for most photographers. It’s convenient, always available, and would always have great light for the shoot. If I was set on a location to live, I would most likely create a boudoir studio for my sessions. I, however, don’t live in one location and have to choose other places to shoot boudoir. It’s really not a great disadvantage when I think about it.
The places I shot all of my boudoir sessions were as follows:
- My client’s own home
- Hired photo studio
- Hotel or Airbnb apartment
- My own home
I am a natural light boudoir photographer. I do not use any lights or flashes in my sessions. I just need decent light coming from the window. That means that the sessions have to be done in daylight and there should be a decent size window which would produce the light we need. Rooms with small windows found in many modern hotels or places with buildings very close together would probably not give me enough light to create my images. I do carry a handy LED light and a flash, just in case, but I only ever used it a couple of times.
Shooting boudoir at my client’s home is actually a really good option. It cuts down on the cost and it’s a familiar place where my clients already feel comfortable. Most people have a bedroom with a big bed and a living room with a sofa and a chair. I normally ask my clients to send me a photo of the room and the window to see if the room is adequate. In most cases it’s more than good enough, however, there were instances where the room was either too small, or the window was too small which means that we had to make other arrangements.
When I shoot at my client’s home they have access to all their makeup, all their clothes, and their wine, which often comes in handy, but most importantly it’s a place where they are already comfortable and familiar with. Comfort is very important in a shoot because it affects the mood and with that the quality of the images. They also don’t have to carry all their clothes with them which allows us sometimes to shoot wearing pieces of clothing that women may not bring to a shoot, like a leather jacket, ripped jeans, comfy sweater, etc.
Here in Sydney, I have a friend who is also a boudoir photographer, and she has a decent size apartment in the city which has really good light too. It can’t be described as a proper studio, but for me it kind of is. I can hire it for a few hours. The bed and sofa are prepared. The windows have nice curtains and that is pretty much all I need for a shoot. I looked for a studio specifically designed for boudoir in Sydney, but could not find any, and setting up a normal studio with the furniture would definitely not be practical.
Things were very different when I shot in Vietnam. There, I was able to hire a proper boudoir photography studio for about 200,000 Dong an hour. It looks like a lot of money, but it’s actually less than $10 an hour. Boudoir photography is quite popular in Vietnam, so it was easy to find a nice-looking studio. In Hanoi, there were actually a few photo studios I could choose from, so it was probably the easiest place to shoot.
A hotel or Airbnb is the place where I shoot most of my boudoir sessions when I travel. I always check the hotel or the Airbnb apartment to make sure it has good available light. I check the guest’s pictures because they best show the room’s size. Hotels often hire professional photographers who, with wide-angle lenses make tiny rooms look quite big. I hate those “surprises”. This is also the reason I prefer to shoot in Airbnb apartments. An apartment will always have more room than a cheap hotel.
When I stay in Europe, I almost always shoot in Airbnb apartments. I will book my shoots on a specific day and try to do at least a couple of them over the weekend. I don’t shoot much in clients’ homes in Europe because the houses in Europe are actually a lot smaller than in Australia. If the apartment is new, it’s much more spacious, but those built 50 years ago or older, are tiny. Often smaller than a hotel room. And the windows are small too. They look nice and cozy, but not really suitable for a boudoir photo session.
The last option that I listed is shooting in my own home. I only really shot in my own apartment while in Vietnam. In Europe, I stay with family and in Australia, I share an apartment, so it’s really not possible to organise a photoshoot there. In Vietnam, however, I rented a very nice 1br apartment that was perfect for photography. Well, I chose it to be suitable. Spacious, with big windows and decent-looking furniture. I rented it in a “western” part of Hanoi because traditional Vietnamese houses are also very small and often built very close to one another. With not much daylight available.
Just like so many things in Vietnam, a decent size apartment in the center of Hanoi was only $500 a month. And it came with cleaning 3 times a week. I never lived in a cleaner home. 🙂 Hanoi also had a number of old French-era hotels, so I had the most places available for my boudoir shoots. And quite a few customers too. Unfortunately, it looks like I will not be returning there any time soon. I am based in Sydney now and do most of my boudoir photo sessions in my client’s homes or Airbnb. Can’t complain, as Sydney has a lot of nice apartments available to shoot over the weekend, but I do miss the traveling.
If you are interested in a boudoir photoshoot, you can find more information on my Boudoir photography page. Call or email me, even if you are in Hanoi or Wroclaw, or Krakow. I will be back there sometime soon.