Lighting and Posing for Boudoir Photography

Two versatile examples for lighting and posing, which can be applied to almost any boudoir photo shoot.


Lighting Setup for Boudoir Photography: Sandwich-Lighting

Example Photo Sandwich lighting setup for boudoirI like myself a good sandwich! This is one of my favorite set ups. When you make a lighting sandwich, the model is illuminated from both the right and the left side. Such a pattern results in a well-lit contour and a somewhat darker center. Since the usual lighting scheme makes use of the opposite (illuminated front and center, darker outline), this particular setup shines a new light on familiar compositional solutions (no pun intended). Oftentimes I go one step further and shift the light sources to the back, so they give off more light to the background and less to the model.

This is the simplest way to challenge the conventional approach to lighting that is used 99% of the time in boudoir photography – that’s why I recommend it to aspiring photographers and use it quite often myself. With a couple of minor manipulations, you can make your pictures stand out, drawing the attention of the viewers.

For a more challenging variation, you can also add an accent light – it doesn’t stand out much (you have a plenty of light already), but it does contribute to the whole boudoir atmosphere. In the example photo I used the sandwich lighting which was a little more intense compared to the previous shot. This way the body and the buttocks of the model are better illuminated, acquiring more presence and balancing out the scene. The only elements left somewhat downplayed are the face and the arms. In this case, the lighting context is only partially reversed.

Lighting diagram for sandwich lighting setup


Posing Example for Boudoir: Horizontal S-Curve

Example photo with horizontal S-curve poseThe importance of good lighting is obvious; good posing, on the other hand, is a rare treat to come by. Many photographers are faulty of putting their models into unnatural, forced and very queer-looking positions. The majority of models, too, don’t seem to have any clue as to how a three-dimensional pose should work on a two-dimensional medium like photography.
Luckily, I can help at least one of you make sense of all this and master the complicated art of posing. It’s never as simple as inviting your model to lie in bed or find a good spot in a bedroom and shooting away. True, such an approach can produce all sorts of pictures, from interesting to downright hilarious, but I strongly doubt that this is what you, your clients or your model are looking for.
Posing requires the photographer and the model to work together; also, one or the other should know what he or she is doing. In order to succeed, you will need a set of guidelines and examples. Luckily, in this chapter you will find all of this and more. In addition, together with this boudoir photography guide I included a cheat sheet with sample poses you can choose from and modify however you see fit. You might want to print out the pages with those positions and look at them together with your client or your model in order to determine which ones will work best.


Find more boudoir lighting setups and examples for posing right here in my eBook

The Art of Boudoir Photography with Speedlights.