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How I Built a Boudoir Portfolio for Less than $100

Like most wedding photographers I’m always looking for new ways to keep a steady income during the off-season. I’ve been especially inspired lately by the boudoir photographers in our community and realized it’s a genre that I really want to pursue.

Unfortunately, building a boudoir portfolio is a daunting task. After delaying the process for a while, a few weeks ago I finally put my foot down and decided I was going to build my boudoir portfolio in one day for under $100.

I did. Here’s what I learned in the process.

Getting the Team – I found a group of three local photographers that were also interested in expanding or building their boudoir portfolio. Having a group of other photographers not only helped with finding resources, models, and props, but as a group we were also able to learn from each other and get ideas for posing.  I suggest 3-4 photographers total and to split up so that two of photographers shooting at a time.

Manhattan Beach Los Angeles Boudoir Photographer

Getting the Right “Models” – I started looking for models on Craigslist and Model Mayhem, but it was tricky to find models to commit without a portfolio to gain their trust. I soon realized that I interact with amazing women every day – my existing clients. I emailed a few that I thought would be interested and they were not only grateful but were beyond flattered.  Using real clients ended up being a great choice. They knew me so they were much more comfortable, and we all learned a lot more than when using models because they are real women (and so are our future clients!).

Los Angeles Boudoir Photography

Getting the Room – At first this was a bit intimidating…”Hi can I please get a room for an hour or two?  I’m a photographer and am doing a shoot with a bunch of girls in lingerie.”  Yeah, it just doesn’t sound right. Luckily more and more hotels are becoming familiar with the term boudoir so I called a few places and ask about their day rate for a boudoir shoot.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the word boudoir or don’t even want to explain, don’t.  Most hotels (especially high-end ones) have day rates for shoots of all kinds.  My client also found a thread on the Knot forums that had a list of hotels that offered inexpensive day rates in the area.  We were lucky to find an amazing boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach for $75 for half a day!

Manhattan Beach Boudoir Photography

In three hours (and for less than $100) we were all able to get several portfolio shots of each model. We also got a great view into our future shoots – how to prepare, how to make a client feel comfortable, what to say and what not to say. Most of all, we had a blast.

Do you have suggestions for those trying to build their boudoir portfolio?

Written by Emily E.

Los Angeles Photographer Emily Engle

Emily E. is the Community Development Manager at Pictage and runs a Los Angeles area Wedding and Portrait Photography business, Emily Photo.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!