AA Boudoir Posing Guide 2011

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Transcript of AA Boudoir Posing Guide 2011

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Table of Contents

Pose Progression ........................................................................................................................................... 4

Standing .................................................................................................................................................... 4

Change your Lighting ................................................................................................................................ 6

Sitting & Kneeling ...................................................................................................................................... 6

On all Fours ............................................................................................................................................... 8

Belly ......................................................................................................................................................... 10

Side .......................................................................................................................................................... 12

Back ......................................................................................................................................................... 13

Full Pose Progression in Order .................................................................................................................... 15

The Details .................................................................................................................................................. 18

Posing Arms ............................................................................................................................................ 18

Posing Details that Don’t Work (and how to fix them) ........................................................................... 19

Specialized Posing ....................................................................................................................................... 26

Posing with a Chair .................................................................................................................................. 26

Wall Poses ............................................................................................................................................... 29

Bed Poses ................................................................................................................................................ 32

Shoot from Above ................................................................................................................................... 36

Get in Close ............................................................................................................................................. 36

A Few Bonus Tips ........................................................................................................................................ 38

Just one more thing… .................................................................................................................................. 40


To Heather, who was the first gal brave enough to pose for me years ago, and to the rest of my “models”

who really helped me hone my skills over the years: Leighann (who appears throughout this guide), Chisa,

Carrie, Bethany, Amanda, Stephanie, Joy and Dom. Thank you. I’d also like to dedicate this book to my

wife, Jolynn, who has supported me and helped me throughout this entire process (even helping me

choose models). I couldn’t have done it without you.

©2011 Andy Armstrong. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be copied or published without

express written permission from the author. For more information or to contact the author, visit

andyarmstrongphoto.com or getdesignhouse.com.

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In the last five years, I’ve spent a great deal of time refining the process for my

glamour and boudoir sessions – throwing out what doesn’t work and fine-tuning what

does. The result is a process that allows me to consistently capture very provocative

glamour and boudoir images quickly and easily while building the client’s confidence

and keeping a session moving forward.

My goal in writing this boudoir posing guide is to share my boudoir session process

and help you better direct your clients and consistently create stunning boudoir

images that sell. To reach that goal, we’ll discuss the following topics:

Pose Progression

The Details

Posing Details that Don’t Work (and How to Fix Them)

Specialized Posing

A Few Bonus Tips

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Pose Progression

Pose Progression is a system of posing that allows a photographer to direct a model or

client through a series of poses that are continuous and requires very few changes in

the lighting setup. A good pose progression lets a boudoir session move forward

without awkward pauses where a client is doing nothing, and the photographer is

thinking of what to do next. By filling those gaps in time, the client becomes more

comfortable and more confident as the process unfolds, and that almost always results

in better images.

My pose progression is as follows:

Standing > Sitting > Kneeling > On all Fours > Belly > Side > Back

Let’s get started, and I’ll show you how I work through my pose progression.


Standing Poses (left to right above): Feet shoulder width apart, previous pose in profile,

feet crossed, previous pose in profile, and the unbalanced pose. Please note that we’re

going to discuss what we can do with the hands and arms as details later. For right

now, we’re just concerned with getting a good strong standing pose, and we can use

any combination of arm/hand position with these standing poses. Beyond that, we can

shoot any of these poses in profile.

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I’ve found that one of the easiest poses to start with is to ask the subject to

place her feet shoulder width apart and put her hands on her hips. I refer to

this as a “Strong Stance” because it reminds me of someone standing

guard and blocking a door. I do this pose first, because there’s no gray

area, and it’s not hard to explain. It gives us both a little victory before we

even get started.

From the Strong Stance you can vary the pose by having the subject shift

her weight to her left or right foot. Make sure that her accompanying

shoulder stays directly above her hip. In other words, if the weight is shifted

to the left foot, the left shoulder should be almost directly above the left hip. If the

weight is shifted to the right foot, the right shoulder should be almost directly above

the right hip.

This stops the subject from creating an awkward bend at the waist. And, if

you have the subject shift her weight in profile, always have her shift her

weight to the leg that is farthest from the camera and point her toe toward

the camera. It makes the lead leg look longer and leaner.

Crossing the subject’s feet so that they are side by side can accentuate the

curve of the hip and help create that hourglass figure. It can also slim the

thigh, because it allows us to hide part of one of the thighs.

Be careful using the crossed-feet pose if your subject is already “hippy.” You

don’t want to show off a part that already shows itself off quite nicely.

The “Unbalanced Pose” is probably the most relaxed and sensual of the

standing poses. It’s interesting to the eye, because it creates soft,

sensual, unbalanced curves.

Using the photo to the left as our example, start with the feet just a

little less than hip width apart. Ask the subject to put her weight on

her right foot. Then ask her to let her left knee bend in against her

right. To complete the unbalanced pose, ask her to raise her left

shoulder and dip her right, and then the final touch is to tilt the head

toward the dipped shoulder.

The Unbalanced Pose follows the golden rule of glamour/boudoir posing;

if it bends, bend it.

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Change your Lighting

Now that we have our subject warmed up in the standing position, we’ll continue on to

the kneeling position. This break to change the lighting gives you the perfect

opportunity to praise your subject on how well she’s doing. I usually tell the subject to

relax as I change the lighting, and I give her a smile and some praise.

If we’re using studio lighting, this is the only time we’re going to change the lighting in

the pose progression. You simply need to lower your lights to accommodate a

kneeling/lying subject rather than a standing


Sitting & Kneeling

From here forward, the pose progression will

flow continuously through to its end.

When I have a subject sit or kneel, I always

either place her at a 45-degree angle or in

profile to my camera. This automatically

stops what I’m going to do next from

heading toward the “trashy” side of boudoir


The knee position for “sexy” sitting or

kneeling is about shoulder width apart.

Knees close together is an, “I can’t wait to

get my soccer picture taken” pose, and

knees too far apart screams, “Hey, this is my


Knees shoulder width apart give the sitting

and kneeling pose a nice, strong, sexy base,

and my 45-degree angle automatically blocks the not-so-classy “crotch shot.”

I normally start with the subject seated – meaning that she’s actually sitting on her feet

(right above). This is easier for her, and it’s easier for me to get her to the next


Remember that we want to create sexy curves, so ask the subject to arch her back and

tilt her head.

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To move into a proper kneel, I have the subject first raise all the way up on her knees,

and then ask her to slowly sit back in her stance until she is about halfway between

completely raised up and sitting on her feet.

Again, the subject’s back should be arched. This not only slims the subject, but also

lifts the chest into better position.

Her shoulders should be closer to being above

her hips than her knees. In other words, we

don’t want her to be pitched forward and

leaning way out over her knees. We want her

torso to be more erect than bowed.

This creates some dynamic, sweeping curves

that really show off the best features of any


To complete the look, have the subject bow her

heard straight down toward the floor and then

turn her chin toward the camera (as seen on the

far right above). A far hand in the hair creates an

extra ‘S’ curve.

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To transition from sitting and kneeling to on all

fours, I like to use a transitional pose that is the

best of both worlds. This pose can be extremely


Ask the subject to sit on her feet again and then

reach out and place one of her hands on the floor

(or bed or whatever she’s on). This is counter to

the standard sitting and kneeling position, because

it causes the subject to bow at the waist and lean

forward over her knees.

It’s very important that you pay attention to the

subject’s body position and type. Don’t let your

subject hunch her back. Make sure

she’s arching and arching hard.

Also, if your subject carries a

little extra weight in her belly area, be careful with this pose, as it can

accentuate the belly area. One solution for this issue it to have the

subject reach out with the arm that is closer to the camera. This

can effectively block the belly in the final image.

On all Fours

It’s an easy move to get your subject

from sitting and reaching to up on all

fours. Simply ask your subject to reach

out a bit farther with both hands and

raise her booty up off of her feet.

To make this pose work, first make sure

that the subject’s leg that is closest to

the camera is slightly forward and the

far leg is slightly back. This hides

the belly because it tilts the hips at a downward angle.

Now, make sure that the subject’s arms are slightly bent at the elbow, and her back is


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Don’t be afraid to play around with head and hand positions in this pose (and other

poses). A bowed head with closed eyes can be extremely sexy. Dragging the near hand

slightly backward and slightly straightening the elbow will raise the near shoulder and

show off the chest a little more. Bending the elbows more will lower the shoulders and

the head, which creates a sexy cat-like pose.

Just remember. To maintain all those great curves in this pose, make sure the subject

is arching her back (not hunching), and don’t let her lock her elbows. They need to be

bent. Also, remember that we haven’t changed our 45-degree angle to camera. It

creates a slimming effect.

Getting great results from a boudoir session involves

constantly building your subject’s confidence as a session

progresses. However, praise can’t come across as fake or

contrived. It has to come from a real place within you.

Work at the art of giving positive, meaningful feedback

and your results will get better and better.

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It couldn’t be easier to transition from

being on all fours to lying on the belly.

We simply ask our subject to slide her

hands forward and lie down on her

belly. And while there are several

different belly poses that we’re going

to use, there are a couple of specific

keys to making a belly pose work.

First, make sure that the subject

creates a nice, sturdy base with her elbows. The elbows form the base of a triangle

where the apex is the subject’s head. This will lift the subject’s shoulders and create a

better curve. Then, so we don’t block the chest, we’ll have the subject drag the elbow

that’s nearest the camera backward toward her hip. This opens the triangle and reveals

the chest.

Second, make sure that the subject doesn’t lay her hips flat on the floor. If she does,

she will flatten out one of the best curves in a belly pose. While I have no idea how I

came up with the terminology, I tell subjects to “pooch your booty,” and about 90% of

my subjects understand almost immediately what I mean. Beyond that, it normally

gives us both a moment of laughter and levity that helps to build trust and confidence.

Feet up and crossed is a classic belly pose. The profile pose (above left) shows off the

booty, while the 45-degree pose (above right) shows off the cleavage.

When you do a feet up and crossed pose, remember to ask the subject to try to point

her toes. It streamlines the lower leg and makes it look slimmer. I always have the

subject cross the near leg over the far leg, so that the first thing the viewer sees is not

the bottom of a shoe.

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The soldier’s crawl is the easiest way to enhance curves, and it’s probably my favorite

belly pose.

After shooting the feet up and crossed belly poses, ask the subject to lay her feet

down, and then drag her near knee up toward her hip. We want the knee to end up

about halfway between the hip and where it was previously. If we let her drag it too far,

her thigh will become foreshortened and appear to be wide. We need to make sure

we’re showing the full length of that thigh, so that it’s nice and long.

We can vary the pose by asking the subject to put her far foot up (like she did in the

previous pose). I suggest that you avoid raising the foot in the 45-degree angle version

of this pose, because it makes the lower leg appear to be growing out of the booty. It

does work perfectly in the profile pose (above right).

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From the belly poses, we ask our subject to “roll up” onto her side. This terminology is

important, because it’s easy to understand and communicates exactly what we need

the subject to do (we’ve all “rolled around” a few times in our lives).

Next, we ask our subject to drop her top knee in front of her bottom knee, so that it

touches the floor. This gives the subject’s hip curve a little more oomph.

I like to give the subject a nice strong bottom elbow base, but we can lay the bottom

arm flat on the floor and prop the head in a hand. The top elbow needs to lay behind

the body, and the top hand can either lay comfortably in between the chest and the hip

(below top and below bottom left) or lay on top of the hip (below bottom right). The

hand in between the hip and the chest can be used to cover a wrinkle that often forms

above the hip bone in this pose.

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Again, the easiest way to get our subject from the side poses to the back poses is to

ask the subject to “roll over” to her back.

Back poses are classic. So classic, in fact, that they’ve appeared on mud flaps and

bombers for over 60 years, and here are the keys to getting the best out of your back


First, bent legs are sexy legs. We start by asking the subject to lay her legs flat on the

floor. Then ask the subject to bend her knee and pull the foot farthest from the camera

back towards her booty. This leg should still be mostly extended (see image above).

Then ask the subject to do the same with the foot closest to the camera, except this

time have her pull it closer to her booty than the other foot, so that the near knee is

higher than the far knee. Depending on the height of the heel, the subject may be able

to put her near foot flat on the floor. Just make sure it doesn’t look awkward.

We also need to practice a little classy leg etiquette. We don’t want it to appear that the

subject is going to give birth, so that means that legs need to be together.

Second, we’re going to ask the subject to arch her back. This creates the curve from

shoulder to hip.

Posing is more difficult than most people think. It is both physically and

mentally exhausting. If you haven’t already, just try holding an arched back

pose for any length of time. Your core muscles will be sore for days after.

Don’t ask your subjects to hold a pose for too long, and always ask them to

relax for 20-30 seconds at a time during the process.

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Third, I like to get arms bent and elbows on the floor. It’s just another set of curves I

can add to the photo.

While the arms are down, you can allow hands to rest flat on the floor or on the top of

hips, or you can ask the subject to lay her far arm above her head. Just make sure that

you can see more than just a hand above her head.

Fourth, realize that the back pose is a pose that can really convey an intimate moment.

Turning the head toward the ceiling, closing the eyes, and parting the lips slightly will

more closely mimic an intimate moment. Just be careful to avoid going trashy.

Fifth, try what I like to call a “hard arch” to see if the subject is capable. In a hard arch,

the subject will actually lift her shoulders off the ground and balance on the back of

her head. Sometimes It looks fantastic and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth a try.

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Full Pose Progression in Order

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The Details

Now that we have a nice Pose Progression to work with, let’s start adding in the details

that really make our poses work.

Posing Arms

Here are some options for posing arms. Please note that all of the arm poses are bent

arm poses. Bent arms create curves, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for in


Here are eight options for posing arms (left to right, top to bottom): hands on hips,

thumbs through belt loops, fingers in pockets, wadding tiny paper, crossed arms,

serpentine crossed arms, one hand in hair, and two hands in hair.

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Four more options for posing arms (left to right above): palm to neck, hands behind

the back, hand on bra/spaghetti strap, and tugging on clothing.

Posing Details that Don’t Work (and how to fix them)

Since we have our pose progression and some arm poses, let’s discuss posing details

that don’t work. These are things you should always be on the lookout for while

shooting a boudoir session, and how you can fix them.

Many subjects want to turn their faces way out to one side and try to look back at the

camera (A above), This puts the pupils too deep into the corners of the eyes. Simply

turn the subjects face back toward camera enough to pull those eyes out of the corners

(B above).

No one wants a picture of nostrils, but many subjects think they can stretch their necks

out by lifting their chins up (C above). To eliminate chin issues, have the subject push

her chin forward, not up (D above).

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Nervous subjects will show their

tension doing what I call “turtling”

(E left). The shoulders rise up and

the head sinks down (like a turtle

tucking its head into its shell).

Have the subject shake out her

shoulders, stand or sit up nice and

tall and then relax her shoulders

(F left).

When a subject puts all of her weight on an arm, the shoulder muscle splays out and

creates what I call “turkey arm,” because the upper arm looks like a giant turkey

drumstick (above left) – and it doesn’t matter how large or small the subject is.

To get rid of “turkey arm,” have the subject take most of the weight off of the arm. The

upper arm will thin out to a normal width (above right).

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Foreshortening occurs when our subject points an appendage directly at the camera.

This arm or leg position can create the illusion that an arm or a leg is much smaller

than it should be (G below). I usually call this “baby arm.” To solve this issue, all we

need to do is turn the limb away from camera (H below).

Anytime our subject puts weight

onto a portion of the body, it will

fan out wider than it is normally.

For example, in the image to the

right, the subject is putting her

body weight on her thighs, and her

thigh is becoming distorted as it

presses against her calf.

The solution is very simple. Have

the subject take weight off of the

affected area, but remember. This is

difficult work, so make sure to give

short rests between poses.

Watch out for parts growing out of places that they shouldn’t. Many times

our subject will let fingers or feet dangle aimlessly behind their pose, and

this can lead to fingers or feet showing up in odd places. For example,

the image to the left is a lovely pose from beautiful girl who appears to

have fingers growing out of her crotch – that’s never a good thing.

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Avoid hiding portions of the subject’s limbs (I above). If we don’t, we’ll create lovely images that look as

if our subject has had an amputation. Just make sure you’re showing where those limbs go when they’re

tucked under or around the body (J above).

Avoid wide open crotch shots. It just screams, “Hey, here’s my crotch,” and comes off as trashy (K

above). We can position legs in a wide open stance. We just use something to block the crotch (L

above). It looks much classier.

Avoid “pit” shots (M above). There’s nothing pleasing about looking at someone’s armpits, and it makes

the chest look smaller. We can get the arms lifted without full pit exposure (N above).

Avoid stiff or straight limbs (O above). The old rule for boudoir style photography is “if it bends, bend it.”

Just look how much more pleasing the subject’s figure in P is compared to her figure in O.

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One of the most common issues I see with fashion, glamour, and boudoir photography is camera angle

distortion caused by camera height while shooting. The images above were taken by the same lens (a

70-200 2.8 L IS) at the same distance at roughly the same time (only seconds apart). The only difference

between the two images was the camera height.

The circled star shows the camera’s height in relation to the subject. In the image on the left, I shot from

a standing position with the camera at the subject’s head level. To get the subject properly framed, I had

to shoot at a downward angle into the subject. In the image on the right, I shot from my knees with the

camera a little above the subject’s belly button level. To get the subject properly framed, all I had to do

was keep the camera level.

Shooting at a downward angle causes more distortion than you might think. Legs get shortened. Heads

and shoulders get wider, and torsos appear to get longer. We truly do ourselves and our subjects a

disservice by distorting their figures.

By shooting level, we help our subject look long, lean, and proportionate. For example, the subject on

the right in the images above seems long, lean and tall. One wouldn’t guess from the image that she’s

just barely five feet tall, and that’s a real difference maker.

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Poor hand position can ruin a perfectly good image. During every session, I take a few seconds to explain

what I want and don’t want the subject to do with her hands by showing her with my own hand. This

offers another chance for some humor and levity in what can be a tense situation for a subject. It also

builds her confidence in my ability to get the best images possible.

Claws are widely fanned fingers. While demonstrating claws, I usually say something like, “We don’t

want claws,” and then I make a funny roaring noise and act like I’m striking with the claw.

Flippers are hands with fingers pulled tight together. While

demonstrating flippers, I usually hold my elbows tight to my body, put my

flippers out to the side, and say something like, “We don’t want flippers.”

I usually make an “EE! EE!” dolphin noise and waggle my flippers as well.

In fact, as I was shooting with my model for this guide, she laughed out

loud because she remembered that I had demonstrated “flippers” in our

very first shoot, and she promptly demonstrated my “flippers” noise

without me doing it (right).

Hands should be relaxed and natural.

The easiest way I’ve found to demonstrate how a hand should rest is by

asking the subject hold out her arm and then let her hand go limp. Once

it’s limp, I ask her to lower her arm so the hand comes to rest on the knee

or thigh. This is a naturally relaxed hand - not a claw or a flipper, just


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One of the things I try to steer folks away from is going “trashy” or “slutty” with their boudoir images. I

find that images are much more provocative if they tease the viewer. In fact, I often say that sexy is

about the tease and not the show. I want my viewers to look at an image and think, “Wow, if she would

only lean out just a little more…”

For example, the bent over booty shot

(Q right) is the show. It says, “Hey, look

at my ass.” It doesn’t tease the viewer

at all, because it concentrates on the

booty not the subject.

The same exact pose turned in profile (R

right) doesn’t have the same stigma. It

doesn’t say, “Hey, look at my ass.” It

says, “Hey, don’t you wish you were

over here.” And that makes all the


It’s also important to note that while

we’ve talked a lot about body position

and pose in this guide, much of the

appeal of boudoir images comes from the connection made between the subject and the end viewer,

and this connection happens first with the eyes. If you don’t have that connection, the images will


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Specialized Posing

This next section deals with posing that is outside of the standard pose progression. I normally complete

at least one full pose progression before I begin any specialized posing, because the subject is much

more comfortable, relaxed, and confident by the time we’ve completed a full progression. We’ve

created trust, so it’s easier for us to move on to more complicated posing.

Posing with a Chair

Chair poses are classic, standard fare for boudoir sessions. They actually give the subject something to

hold onto and use in the process, and this can be incredibly comforting and beneficial to the process.

A backward chair (above) is a great way to show off legs without showing off the subject’s crotch. Here

are a few things to remember. Get those knees wide apart to avoid thigh foreshortening and have the

subject turn her toes slightly out away from the body. We want to be able to see those heels. Have the

subject grip the back of the chair just below the “girls,” and always have her arch

her back. We can also stretch out parts by having the subject lean out from

side to side.

The “Chair Run” (right) is an incredible way to stretch out and show off those

incredible legs.

Turn the chair so that a corner points toward camera, and then have your

subject straddle the corner. Have her place one foot flat on the floor and

point the toe of the other foot into the floor. Have her lean out over her

right thigh and place her right hand on her right thigh. Bend that left arm

and let it wrap her left hip.

To eliminate a fanned thigh, make sure your subject is far enough out on

the corner of the chair that her thigh touches very lightly.

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If we want to slim the subject through the waist area, we can get the subject’s arms up on the back of a

backward chair. The pose above really stretches a subject out and creates an hour-glass shape.

Sitting in a chair isn’t the only option. Leaning into a backward chair can be very provocative.

Turn a chair backward in profile, and have the subject put her far knee deep into the chair. Her near foot

will stay flat on the floor, and we’ll ask her to grip the top of the chair and lean in (far left above). We’ll

also ask her to open her shoulders to the camera, so we can show of the chest a little bit.

Now, if your subject has a little extra weight in the belly area, we can hide that by asking her to drop her

near hand down the side of the chair. Use the near arm to block the apex of the belly (left above).

We can also have the subject put both knees in the chair and lift her feet (right and far right above).

Please note that I’ve shown a closed shoulder pose (right) and an open shoulder pose (far right), and in

all four images above, the subject’s back is arched to create better curves.

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The “Chair Drape” (far left and left above) is an excellent relaxed pose that creates some beautiful

curves, but it is a bit harder for us to get our subject into a proper pose.

First, we’ll turn a chair facing forward in profile, and then we’ll ask our subject to put her booty at the

front edge of the chair and face the camera. Remember, posing terminology is important, so ask her to

“roll up” on her hip and “hug” the back of the chair.

To “hug” the chair, the subject simply needs to put the bend of her elbow against the side of the chair

and wrap her arm around the back. And finally, we’ll ask our subject to cross her legs at her ankles and

let her free hand rest on her thigh.

Now if we want to hide some belly area or even a side wrinkle, we can ask our subject to reach across

her body with the free hand and grip the near side of the chair (left above). Move her hand up or down

the side of the chair to block what needs to be blocked.

The “Chair Arch” (right and far right above) is a very sexy pose that is pulled right from the movie


First, we’ll turn a chair facing forward in profile, and then we’ll ask our subject to sit her booty on the

edge of the chair facing the same direction as the chair. We’ll have her push her far foot out from the

chair and pull the near foot in toward the chair until she can point her toe into the floor. We’ll have the

subject grip the sides of the seat of the chair and bend her elbows slightly. And finally we’ll ask our

subject to arch her back as hard as she can, point her chin to the ceiling and close her eyes (right above).

As a variation of this pose we can have the subject do all of the above, and then turn her chin toward

camera and open her eyes (far right above).

Please note that some chair backs are higher than others. My subject for

these images is quite short, and the chair back is quite high. It’s not an

ideal combination. Ideally, I’d want the subject’s head to rest on top of the

chair back, but that was impossible with this combination. I made do by

simply placing the subject’s head against the back of the chair rather than

letting it rest on top of the chair.

My point is this. Make do with what you have available. Adapt these poses

to suit your needs. Remember what we’ve discussed does look good and

apply it to the adaptation.

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Wall Poses

I like to use a white wall in the studio in many of my boudoir sessions. There are three different ways we

can use a wall: leaning back against a wall, leaning into a wall, and sitting back against a wall.

Almost all of the standing poses we use in the pose progression will work while

leaning back against a wall. Simply ask the subject to put her booty and/or back

against the wall and use the standing poses that you know.

When our subject is against a wall, we have more options that we can explore

with arm and hand poses. We can actually use all of the hand poses we use in

the lying on the back poses. Just treat the wall like it’s the floor.

I always come back to one pose (shown left) when a subject has her back against

a wall, because it just looks so sexy to me. I first ask the subject to put her booty

and back against the wall. Then I ask her to lay her palms flat against the wall

too. Then I ask her to lean her shoulders forward and lift her chin to me.

Leaning into a wall can allow a subject to be sexy, sultry, and even coy. To capture leaning into the wall

poses, we’re going to take a camera angle that allows us to shoot down the face of the wall, so we need

to position ourselves against the wall beside the subject.

The subject can lean into the wall one of two ways.

We can have her face the wall and put her far palm flat against the wall at about face level (so that we

can see hand and some forearm). The near palm will be placed flat against the wall above the hip level,

but below the chest. If we ask her to arch her back and push into the wall, this profile pose is a sexy

sultry pose (right and far right above). If we ask her to lift her near shoulder and dip her chin in behind it,

we create a very coy pose (left above).

We can also ask our subject to turn 45-degrees diagonally to the wall and have her put her shoulder

(and sometimes her head) against the wall. This pose (far left above) is much more sweet and innocent

than the previous pose, because it does not create the same kind of curves or heat as the profile pose.

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Sitting back against a wall is a very relaxed, “comfy” pose, and “comfy” can be quite sexy.

A subject can sit with her back against the wall or in profile with a shoulder and/or hip against the wall.

But, we really have to be careful when we shoot against a wall, because legs can easily become


With the subject’s back against the wall, the easiest starting point for me is another “Flashdance” pose

(shown above bottom).

Ask the subject to put her feet out at 45-degree angles to her body, and then ask her to pull her feet

back toward her body. This will raise her knees. Of course, in this position, we have to block the crotch

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shot, so we ask the subject to put her hands on the floor between her thighs, or we ask her to pull a

loose top down to cover.

From the same position, we can also ask our subject to lay her left leg flat on the floor and pull her foot

in so that she’s sitting “Indian style” (previous page top left). If we have her put her left hand on her left

ankle, we can use her bent arm to cover trouble areas in the hip and belly region. And, if we ask her to

put her right elbow on her knee and her right hand in her hair or supporting her head, we can form a

gorgeous series of curves that enhance the pose.

In profile, I like to use the same principles for legs that I use in back poses, and that means that we get

knees bent and legs staggered in height. One of my favorite profile poses against a wall is the “Stretch”

(previous top right).

First, ask the subject to put her legs flat on the floor and sit up nice and tall. Now, ask the subject to pull

her feet back toward her booty so that her knees rise. Ask her to pull one foot closer to her booty than

the other, so that her knees are staggered. In the “Stretch,” I like for the far knee to be higher than the

near knee, but only slightly, because we’re going to use that knee as a head rest in this pose.

Next, ask the subject to reach out with her far hand and let it rest on her ankle or foot. This will

automatically cause her to bow at the waist. Then ask her to turn her face to the camera and lay her

head on her knee. Ask her to put her near hand on her near thigh, and use this bent near arm to block

any trouble areas.

While I won’t go into it in great detail in this posing guide because it

would take up at least a whole chapter (if not a whole book), the

ability to build rapport and trust with your subject is among the most

important skills you can possess when it comes to boudoir

photography. To get great images, the subject has to feel comfortable

with you and trust you. If she doesn’t, your images will never be as

good as they could be.

I cannot stress enough how important

it is to build your interpersonal

communication skills. They will help you put a subject at ease, make her

laugh, and better communicate ideas and direction. If you’re not

constantly working to improve your interpersonal communication

skills, then you’re not working hard enough.

“Make her laugh, and you’ll

find your connection.”

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Bed Poses

I always try to sell my boudoir clients on the idea that a bedroom environment will always yield better

boudoir images, because a boudoir, by definition, is a lady’s private dressing room or bedroom. And it

doesn’t matter whether it’s in the home or at a local hotel; having a bedroom environment for boudoir

always works better than a studio session works.

Let’s talk about some specialized poses and tips that are specific to the bed.

“Head Back” is one of the most sensual poses we can use in the bedroom. It’s great for any build or body

type, and it mimics a private intimate moment, but doesn’t look trashy.

The key to every variation of this pose is to get level with or slightly above or below the surface of the

bed. We are never going to shoot at a steep angle down into the subject.

If you have a nice headboard, the first variation (far left above) is a fantastic way to show off our

subject’s legs. First, we ask our subject to lie on her back in the center of the bed. Her booty needs to be

close enough to the headboard that she can get her feet up on it. We’re going to shoot into the subject

at a 45-degree angle, so we’ll ask our subject to bend the knee of her far leg slightly and her near leg

enough that she can it over on the far leg. This keeps our shot from looking like a trip to the delivery


Next, we’ll ask her to put her near hand on her near bra strap or flat against the clavicle and let her far

hand rest on her thigh. Then we’ll ask the subject to turn her head, lift her chin and look at the camera.

Please note that the subject’s face is in the same plane as the camera. This stops facial distortion, and be

careful not to stand too far behind the subject. If she looks too far up, she will create wrinkles in her

forehead, and we don’t want that at all.

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The second variation (previous left, right, and far right) is shot from almost directly above the subject’s

head. First, we ask our subject to lie on her back so that her shoulders rest at the foot or the side of the

bed and her head lays comfortably over the edge. The subjects should not be hanging all the way off the


Blood rushes to a head that is completely upside down, and many times the face turns red and veins

begin to show in the forehead. The subject’s neck should simply wrap the soft edge of the bed, and her

head should be at a slight downward angle, not completely upside down.

Next, we’ll ask the subject to lay her legs flat on the bed, and then we’ll ask her to drag her feet toward

her booty so that her knees rise. Stop her when her knees are at about a 45-degree angle to her body.

We don’t want her thighs to be perpendicular to her back.

To avoid a look that resembles giving birth, we’ll ask the subject to push her left foot out slightly, so that

her left knee drops just a few inches below the other knee, and then we’ll have her lean her right knee

into her left leg (see leg position in image on previous page).

Now that the legs are set, we’ll ask our subject to put her right hand on her bra strap or flat against her

clavicle and her left hand either flat on her hip or flat against the top of her left thigh.

From here, we’ll ask our subject to arch her back. She can turn her face into the plane of the camera

with eyes open or closed (previous left), or she can turn her face toward the main light with her eyes

closed (previous far right). We can even have her scoot barely back on the bed so that her head is more

level and shoot really shallow down the length of the body so that only the eyelashes are in focus and

the rest is blurred (previous right).

This variation is perfect for fuller figured women, especially if you use a shallow depth of focus, because

we’re going to shoot either level with or slightly below the surface of the bed. Gravity makes the thighs

and neck thinner, the “girls” are lifted, the belly and the back of arms are hidden, and the body is

stretched out. This pose just works for every body type.

The “Sheet Shot” is a classic boudoir pose (left). It’s the perfect tease

shot, because it implies nudity without showing off the naughty bits.

While there are many variations of the Sheet Shot, I find there are

three specific variations that almost always work.

All three variations involve the same body position: the 45-degree

angle sitting position we learned in the pose progression. We’re going

to use the forward position for two of the variations and flip it 180-

degrees for the last variation.

The key to the first variation is to cover with the sheet but allow the

subject’s side, hip, thighs, and even part of the breast to be exposed.

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First, the subject should get into the

sitting pose under the sheet and cover

up. Then, we’ll ask our subject to hold

the sheet against her chest with her far

hand, and then have her bunch the sheet

up across her lap to expose her thighs.

Finally, we’ll ask her to drape the sheet

down her near side to expose her side

and hip, without showing the goods.

The second variation (far right) is

identical to the first, except the subject

drops the sheet and covers her chest

with her hands.

The third variation (not shown) is identical to the first variation except it is rotated 180-degrees so that a

bare back is exposed. Simply have the subject wrap the sheet that is across her lap around her booty to

stop from showing the goods to the camera. Please note, in the third variation it is somewhat

acceptable to show a little butt crack, but make sure your subject is okay with that before you shoot.

Since we’ve just touched on covering the chest with hands instead of clothing, let’s also look at the dos

and don’ts of covering with hands.

Some subjects like to hang onto the boobs like they’re going to get away (left), and others think they’ll

make them look bigger and better if they smash them together or lift them up (middle). Neither looks

good and should be avoided at all cost, because it just looks bad. Hands should just cup the boobs

lightly (above right), and I find it helpful to explain to my subjects that all we really need to do to ensure

that we’re not showing any of the “goods” is put something in between the “goods” and my camera.

Hands should block, not bully.

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When covering the chest with one arm, some subjects think they need to stiffen up and smash them

against the chest (far left above). If the subject relaxes a bit and remembers that we’re just blocking, she

can cover them quite easily with one arm (left above).

When covering with one arm in profile, avoid allowing just the fingers to show (right above). It just looks

like some sort of odd growth. Open the shoulders slightly and show a bit more of the forearm, so that it

doesn’t look so odd (far right above).

Now, back to the bed poses.

The fact of the matter is that we can use all of our sitting, kneeling, and lying poses from our pose

progression on a bed, but a bed gives a lot more leeway to be creative, and a bed has one other great

feature: softness. The softness of a bed allows us to more easily hide body parts we want to hide from

the camera, and in boudoir photography it gives us not only an environment where nudity is acceptable

and expected, but also the ability to shoot implied nudity more easily.

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Shoot from Above

I rarely recommend shooting from above, but I try to include

at least a few shots from a standing position into a sitting or

kneeling subject.

With boudoir, we are trying to mimic or recreate real

moments of intimacy. Most men are taller than the women in

their lives, so when he grabs his gal up to kiss her, he is

looking down into her eyes. It is familiar, real and appealing

to the male viewer, because this is how he sees his significant

other in incredibly intimate moments.

When we shoot from above, we want the subject to lift her

face to the camera. We want her face almost on the same

plane as the camera. We don’t want to have just a floating

head in our image, so capture at least the chest, part of the

arms, and even thighs.

I would also avoid using an extremely wide angle lens,

because the distortion will be too much to salvage the image.

Get in Close

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One of the things that I was guilty of when I first started shooting boudoir was thinking that boudoir was

about getting the whole body in the shot. It’s not. Boudoir is intimate photography, and to get a set of

images that is truly intimate, you have to get in close to the subject too.

When I get close-ups of a subject, I try to capture as much emotion in the eyes as possible. I want those

eyes in the resulting image to make an instant connection with the viewer. I often try to get subjects to

laugh, smile, and even give me the “I’m totally going to tear you up” face.

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A Few Bonus Tips

We’ve covered basic pose progression, the details that work, the details that don’t work, and even some

specialized posing. So here are a few bonus tips for shooting glamour and boudoir (quick-fire style).

Having trouble with a subject not giving good emotion in the eyes? Ask your subject to close her

eyes, and then open them slowly on the count of three. Snap the shutter just as the subject gets

her eyes fully open. Eyes will look more sultry and dreamy in the resulting images.

Having trouble with a subject whose eyes aren’t open wide enough? Instead of looking in the

lens, have her look at the space directly above your lens. Looking above the lens will create the

illusion that eyes are open wider. And, if she’s

confused about how high above the lens to

look, make a fist and physically lay it on top of

the lens. That’s where she should look.

Parted lips are almost always sexier than tight

lips, and little flirty smiles are almost always

sexier than big smiles – unless you’ve captured a

real laugh.

When a subject is asked to give a serious look,

she will often give a “constipated” look. If you

say with a genuine laugh and a smile, “Not

constipated – serious,” keep your camera at the

ready, because she’ll give you that real smile

and laugh you’ve been looking for the whole


If a subject is giving you that plastered-on,

family photo smile, ask her to shake it out. I do

the horse noise and shake my head a bit.

Never touch a boudoir subject without asking first, and then don’t make a habit of it. It’s creepy

and off-putting (especially from a man), and there’s not a pose or direction in the world that you

can’t show by demonstration. As a personal rule, I only touch a subject’s hair because she can’t

see it, and I don’t want to wait for her to go back to the dressing room – I still say, “May I…”

every time I do it.

Good heels make any subject’s legs look better.

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Classic style stiletto heels always work for a boudoir shoot (the higher the better). I’d rather a

subject go barefoot than wear clunky shoes.

Even though it seems kind of silly in reality, heels in bed have been and still are part of almost

every man’s fantasy world.

Professionally done hair and makeup really makes a difference. Talk to

local salons to see what kind of service they provide in this area.

You’ll probably find someone who will work for you on location

between $50-$100 per client. Pass this fee on to your client.

Give positive, meaningful feedback to your subject during a shoot.

Saying, “Wow,” or “Great,” is nice, but it’s meaningless unless the

subject knows what made you say wow. Instead of just saying,

“Wow,” I couple it with what made me say it – “Wow, your smile

was perfect just then.”

If a pose isn’t working, don’t stick with it. We don’t save face by

shooting a pose that isn’t working. We just waste time. Change

the pose and move on.

Most subjects know absolutely nothing about your equipment and

how it’s supposed to work. If something isn’t working properly,

there’s no need to tell the subject all about it. Just say, “I’m going

to make some adjustments,” and keep moving. If you let on

that things aren’t working properly, your subject loses

confidence in you, and you need the client to have absolute

confidence in you during a shoot.

They are boobs or the girls, never tits, and it’s a butt or

booty, not an ass. No subject wants to hear, “Move your

elbow back a little so we can see your tits.”

The first thing I do after I help the subject bring her things into the studio is ask her to show me

what she brought by laying it all out on a table. I actually say, “Show me what you brought with

you, so we can figure out what’s going to give us the best images.” This alleviates some pressure

and nerves, because we’re going to work together on a specific task. She’s no longer in the dark

about what’s going to happen. We’re picking outfits.

Take your camera off of continuous fire. Boudoir isn’t a sport.

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Boudoir photography is one of the few portrait genres where a subject with closed eyes is

acceptable. Try it in a very sensual pose. It’s worth it.

Always keep the session moving forward. Keep it flowing. There is nothing that is more

disconcerting and confidence killing for a subject than an indecisive photographer that doesn’t

seem to know what he’s doing. Of course, it takes practice and repetition to get a solid

command of a boudoir session, but that’s what you should be working toward.

Bathing suits aren’t lingerie, and women don’t wear matching bra and panty sets to the pool.

Teach your subjects some very basic lighting at the beginning of a session. I say, “This is the main

light. If you turn your head away from it, then you’re being broad lit and that makes your face

look wide. If you keep your face straight to me or

slightly toward the light, then you’re being short

lit, and that makes your face lean and sexy.”

Just one more thing…

It took me five years and countless glamour and boudoir sessions to hone these ideas into a coherent

process. By no means did I invent all of the ideas and poses that are found in this posing guide. Some are

classic poses. Some are my own, but together they form a process that works for me.

My only suggestion to you is this. Learn the pose progression. Try adding the details. Watch out for all

those little things that can kill an image, and then work on those specialized poses incorporating

everything we’ve discussed. Find out what works for you and what doesn’t, and then tweak it. Hone it.

Build on it, until you make it your own personal process. That’s the key to success with this genre. I just

wanted to give you a little head start.

Good luck.