Skip to main content

Shoot: Boudoir Poses

Lesson 18 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

Shoot: Boudoir Poses

Lesson 18 from: Posing 101

Lindsay Adler

most popular photo & video

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

18. Shoot: Boudoir Poses

A great boudoir shoot depends on making sure your subject is relaxed and comfortable. Lindsay shows you how to minimize flaws, get natural boudoir poses, and use shape and movement to your advantage.

Lesson Info

Shoot: Boudoir Poses

I have found personally that most boudoir shoots are really only a few poses. Honestly, I think they're only really three or four poses that majority of people do. However, they change their focal length, they change their angle, they change their crop, other than that, it's really all just about the same poses. So if you are unfamiliar with photographing women, just think of these guidelines for boudoir. So number one oh, this is number one and two out of all the posing we do, this is the least comfortable by far, everything else I've said so far is be comfortable, relax, relax your shoulders, like all of that not true with boudoir, remember pain is beauty. We mean it in this one, Jen Rozenbaum who did a CreativeLive here, she did my boudoir photos. I was sore the next day, my back hurt, my shoulders hurt, I mean I was uncomfortable but my shots looked good. (laughter) So, it was okay. All right, so the first one is curve and arch, you'll be saying a lot, curve or arch your back, so f...

or example when I say arch your back, a lot of people do this right, well that might be okay if you wanted to lift the chest, perhaps if that's what you're aiming for but if you just wanted to see more curve in the lower back, you would actually say kind of lift your bum or whatever, lift your butt or whatever you're comfortable with. So you're actually arching your lower back to try to get that curve. Related to curve is also remember when you're looking, if anything is flat like the back, the legs, the arms it's not good. Figure out what you can do to introduce shape, so that might be if it was a standing pose curving that leg way over, arching that back, reaching up anything you can do to give you those lines. If it's lying down, if somebody is flat on their stomach that's not curve. So you might need them to turn to the side and bend their knee so it pops up their butt, so just curve, that's what you want to do it's not going to be comfortable. Which brings me to number two, number two is relax and repeat. You can tell when someone's straining, so what I'll do is I'll get them in the right pose and say okay, remember what that feels like, okay now just relax. Okay, now pop to that pose and you can see as they pop over to that pose, like that's what I recommend. I remember this one pose that Jen had me do, I was on the floor with my legs up, I don't know, it was so uncomfortable, I could see my face was like twitching in one photo and then she was like relax, okay now go back there and it made a huge difference. Huge, huge difference. So relax and repeat, number three is hands caressing the body or face so anytime you're using your hands for boudoir, I actually make it more when I'm actually doing a session, I would make it more like a dance than a pose or like a movement. So if I want hands on hips, I tell them to drag their hands up their hips, if I want hands on the chest, I'd say caress across your chest. Hands on the face, drag your hands along the face, though it is soft and sensual, it actually I think gets somebody more involved in the pose and the emotion that you're going for in the eyes, versus saying okay put your hand in your hair, it's much more they can kind of feel it in the pose. So that's a big one, next one is vary eye contact. Not all boudoir poses should be looking right at the camera, and a lot of times, it's much more sensual when they're not. So for varying eye contact, I don't mean just look at the camera and then look away, but try looking down their body or eyes just really down to the ground or looking at a part of their body, or looking away. So vary the eye contact because different eye contact communicates something different, actually most of my favorite boudoir photos aren't looking at camera because that to me, it makes it a little more aggressive and to me, it's look at me versus looking away is you caught me, it's voyeuristic versus I see you. So that's why I like to vary eye contact. And then last is variety, shoot a whole bunch, and I do standing, laying, and sitting. More often, I will do standing and laying. And all of the shots that you see like all the variety you see with boudoir poses really it's less about them moving around and more about you a lot of times. It's you getting a higher angle so you see different parts, you're moving around to the side and switching to a wider aperture lens so you just focus on the eyes, or you just focus on the shoes, whatever it may be. So it really is variety in posing but really almost more of a variety with how you move around. It should actually be a workout for you not just for them. So, hi, how are you. Good. Okay, perfect so I am going to, oh and definitely feel free to bring in inspiration but look at it before hand 'cause right away you don't want to be like, okay, I don't know what to do, hold on, this is when you need to be confident because you'll see the lack of confidence absorbed in them right away. So I'm gonna have you drop it only because again I want to see all the posing. All right, perfect, so I am going to have you first go lay on your stomach and I'm going to have your face this way, okay, all right. So perfect, so what I am looking for is what can I do to draw attention to what I want to draw attention to or how can I make curve. So what I'm looking at first of all is one thing that I could do is tell her to arch her back. So arch your back, and look what happens. Typically, what somebody does when you say arch your back and I said this before is they arch their back. So now relax again, so I actually like relaxed more for the shoulders what you actually want to do is arch your lower back and stick up your butt basically, so I don't know if the camera could see what it does is it curves more in the back. All right, that's one way you could introduce curve but something else you can do as well, is you can actually have your subject push up on that knee. So I'm gonna have you kind of bring this knee up a little bit so it kicks your hip that way, great, perfect, so what that just did, do I need to do it again for the camera, I'm gonna have you lay flat again and you can just kick your, I'm gonna drop the pillows, okay, just for the sake of this. Sorry, I'm making a mess, okay, so just lay totally flat, all right so gonna have this camera all right so right now not so much curve and now kick that knee, and now look at how much more curve there is to that shape. Okay, the next thing is when her arms are up to the front, I have two tips. Tip number one, if your subject is smaller and you want to emphasize their chest, you've got a couple of tools, first tool is hands in the front, pull those elbows in tighter, it's gonna lift everything and make everything look larger and then also in general instead of shooting maybe side angle, you would want to shoot a little bit more in the front because whatever's closest to camera looks largest. But the next thing as well is if she posed here like this, her hands are kind of obscuring a little bit I want to see so I'm gonna have you tuck your hand behind, actually your right hand behind and then I'm gonna have you tuck this hand over, your left hand over and actually underneath your elbow, great. And I want to pull this elbow back just a little bit. So now I can see a little bit more, she looks a little bit more natural and then have you bend that knee again. So now I have eye and curve, so I just have someone lay on their stomach and then they tweak to get that curve. So let me, I'm gonna have to move my light, it's not a lighting class but you won't be able to see anything if it's here, so, I'm sorry guys, I'm gonna totally block your view for a second. I think this will be fine, how's that for you guys, good, okay great, let me take a photo, (camera shutter clicking) perfect, all right. So this would be go to photo number one and I'm gonna have you bring this elbow way back, way back there, great. And bring it forward just a little bit more and so what I'm looking for right now as I'm tweaking is when she had her arm forward, couldn't see any of her chest but if she brings her arm back too far, it blends in with the curve in her back and I don't want that either, so. And I'm gonna have you bring that knee up even more, good, (camera shutter clicking) perfect, great, so that would be super essential pose number one so I can get a little bit of curve. You can also, I'm gonna have you lay way out, you can have the subject lay way out and actually recline so actually just like that, perfect so what you'll see is I think this right here, one of the goals we have for women is to elongate, so instead of having everything here I kind of elongated everything out, good, perfect. I'm gonna scoot over just a little bit more and head towards me a tiny bit, great, (camera shutter clicking) all right so this would be I think it was, I think Christa Meola calls it the serpent, I think that's one of the names she gave for this kind of curve and so if you want to learn more about boudoir posing but specifically for lingerie versus more for glamour, definitely check out her class. I know she taught here early on CreativeLive, so laying on stomach would be pose number one and know, I could photograph this a million ways so let me just give you an idea, could photograph from the side, I could also photograph where she has her chin kind of down to her shoulder, I could photograph around from the front with a wide aperture lens and have everything behind her out of focus, just focus on her eyes or something like that. So just know I would move around, I could shoot higher angles, so on and so forth. Gonna switch it up, we did stomach pose now I'm gonna have her lay on her back. Can I ask you something? Yeah. When you do a core pose, how many variations are you trying to get out of it? So the question was when I do a core basic pose how many variations do I do, it doesn't, it kind of depends Are you conscious of it? I would say like three or four different things I'm trying, what I'll do is I'll have them arch up more, lay down more, try something different with their hand and I'm just trying to tweak it because not everybody's the same, I know you all know that some of the poses you've seen somewhere, I know that doesn't work for everyone 'cause it doesn't, so three or four different varieties. So photographing her here on her back, this is where there's a little workout because I would definitely say you're gonna arch your back and I'm going to have you put your right arm up over your head, so what she was doing by default is everything was compressed, she had her hands here so I'm trying to elongate and curve, from my other class that I taught yesterday I told you that I don't like armpits, so just watch out for armpits in boudoir, she has lovely armpits but ugly armpits that is where your eye will go so just watch out for that. I had a lot of people agreeing with me on Facebook, I did, I had private messages like Oh my God, I agree on the armpit thing and I'm like. So I'm gonna have you actually put your left arm, and I'm gonna have you whatever you can do to arch your back as much as possible, and I would shoot with a wide aperture lens, I'm not gonna be able to do that here but this would be moving around so I would probably shoot from this angle, where I can see curve, I can see shape and I would shoot a wide aperture lens so I'm focused on her eyes and everything else in the background kind of out of focus and can you put your hands to your hip. So I'm looking for negative space because before, everything was merged in and instead of on top, can you put it on the side like right here. And now what I'm gonna have you do (camera shutter clicking) instead is can you unarch your back but instead lift your chest, good. (camera shutter clicking) I'm being dramatic but it's killing me that I can't shoot with a wide aperture lens 'cause I would, I would not shoot this at F9 okay, 'cause then everything's in focus and it's not how I would actually shoot it and what I would also do as well is I would get in really close so I'm gonna shoot, this is a 24 to 105 so I don't have to change lenses a lot but I would shoot maybe an 85 1.4 get in real close and photograph her eyes in focus (camera shutter clicking) and I'm gonna have you put your hands to your chest. And put your other hand on your stomach, something like that (camera shutter clicking) so I'm looking for multiple points of interaction on her body, but I wouldn't shoot this F8, just know that I wouldn't do this F8, it kills me. So those are the first things that I would do, I'd have her do one on her back with her hands up, I'd have her do another where she's arching, have her do one on her stomach and I would move around, I'd shoot one from here. I might do a shot for example where, can you cross your legs up in the air? So what you can do is if you're shooting a wide aperture lens, you can focus on her feet and then have all of her out of focus, so it's more of a feet and heels shot. I would just make sure I could see at least one heel because otherwise you're just seeing the fronts of her feet, remember yesterday I said how, if you turn it, it's longer. So it actually, can you turn, let me see this heel a little bit and just turn your feet a little bit this way, so now I can see a little bit of a heel and cross your legs a little more and bend your knees just a tiny bit. So I'm trying to see a heel versus legs straight up, okay, looks good so shoot something maybe like that all right. But let's do a sitting pose, okay, you good with that. I have a question, Yeah. What do you do at laying down especially on the back, they're upper body especially just like older women and for the curvier women, it's very, very hard to place keep boobs into places, sorry to ask, It's yep, that's fine. Is there just something you solving it with garment or are you solving it just like is there any other tricks with posing that just like. For me, if they're laying on their back it's garment, unless of course, you do something where hands are wrapped across like this, it would be more of a holding pose. So let's just put it this way, if there's a woman that needs a little support, I build it into the pose, so I kind of do holding shots, soft holding, if they're on their back I might have hands like this so I'm lifting and holding everything versus not. Yeah. (chuckling) So yeah I do that but it's 95% garment for sure which is why anytime that I've actually done a boudoir session personally I've made this clear not to go buy inexpensive stuff if you're gonna invest in a session because inexpensive doesn't usually have the support. And most of the time, me personally, I don't actually, preferably I shoot when there's more of the corset part of it 'cause your stomach is a light area so your eye goes to the stomach, now she has a great stomach so it's not a big deal but a lot of people don't, and so I'd rather not draw my attention there, I want to draw my attention to the chest and then also to the curve of their behind, so I usually have the stomach have a corseted look and then of course I can cinch that and actually give myself a little bit more of that shape. Okay, thank you. You're welcome. [Man In White shirt] Really quick Lindsay, if you don't mind a couple questions, one from Mike Rowe, when laying flat on their back would it help in arching the back to have a rolled up towel or small pillow under their back, do you ever do that? Yeah, that works fine as long as you're not shooting from the side and what you want to make sure with the arched back is that from the angle you're shooting, it doesn't look like stomach sticking out, it looks like chest lifted versus stomach out. So we're doing our sitting poses, I would do something like this so I'm gonna shoot from this angle where she is leaning but what I am seeing right now is everything is bunched, in boudoir we want to elongate. So I'm gonna have you pull your arm out a little bit more to the side, keep going, okay good. Now her knees are at me, I'm gonna take a picture, this is the ultimate form of foreshortening (camera shutter clicking) that you don't want so don't hate me, this is a don't picture, all right so it looks like she has nothing beyond her knees and there's not a lot of shape. The other problem that I have, is that she's putting a little bit too much weight on her arm and she's actually locked out her elbow, I said the goals of what you wanted is curve, not straight line ever when it's boudoir so here's what I want to change, I know that I want curve and I want elongation so I'm gonna have you kick your feet out that way, but I want more curve and if she does that it's a little bit flat, I'll just show you real quick. (camera shutter clicking) So I'm gonna have her pull that knee over, pull your top knee way over, perfect, great, and so I'm gonna take a picture and so I'm just tweaking this the whole way. And even further, like it's not comfortable. (camera shutter clicking) So we're gonna get a little bit more curve but I'm still tweaking so see how we've got a little bit of curve to follow there all right, so know what I'm going to do is instead of locking out on your elbow can you elongate out and kind of lean on your elbow, actually lean on your forearm. And what I want you to do is pull that leg down even more, yeah, just pull it out a little bit, great and I'm going to have you put your, exactly, so the last part of that, well there's two last parts, I'm looking at this now. I'll tell you one more problem, (camera shutter clicking) let's see if you can see, there's two problems we have, oh, one other super important point, don't do boudoir poses on a fluffy bed, I would say this is actually fluffier than what I would do, so when I went to Jen's studio when she was photographing me, the bed that she had in there was the hardest bed possible, no one would ever actually have a bed like that but notice how she sinks and so you lose hand and so that if you are actually opening up a studio then I would get the most uncomfortable bed ever for sure. So what I'm noticing in that last photo, is look at her arm coming at camera, she is balancing herself so she has that arm at camera, I don't want that, I'm gonna curve it in even more, perfect, looking great, and I'm gonna have you, actually I'll explain it to you guys, (camera shutter clicking) so what I had her do is I had her put her hand on her side but too much. Because her hand is on her side here, it does definitely add width, so you have them tuck their elbow behind. You don't want to just see fingers on the top, you do want to see a little bit of hand but you don't want all of this. So I think she did that great, tuck that knee over even more, kind of lean towards me and then I'm gonna have you push up and elongate so it is not comfortable. And push up on your torso, good, (camera shutter clicking) and drop your elbow back even more and wiggle your fingers soft, yeah good, (camera shutter clicking) perfect. And I would come around and shoot this from a higher angle as well, just like this and look right at me, (camera shutter clicking) perfect. All right so that would be kind of my sitting/leaning. Okay, two more, come to the edge of the bed, so I'm seeing curve, I don't have too much arm, legs curved over so I can see a little bit of curve there, hands tilted in, eyes are closest to the camera so that's where my attention's going. What I'm gonna actually have you do, is I'm gonna have you kick your left leg out and I'm gonna have you lean forward like this and one hand on your hip, your right hand on your hip, and I would shoot from this direction so the reason I had her kick this leg out is we want asymmetrical and we want to elongate, legs tucked in for boudoir is not good, you're trying to elongate things, I'm gonna have her touch her hand to her neck or her chest, remember how I said caressing is what you want, so soft and caressing and this hand is for negative space and curve so this will be my sitting and then we're gonna do one more standing. Let me figure out my angle here, (camera shutter clicking) and now look down to your shoulder, perfect right there (camera shutter clicking) and I'd also come in for a closer shot, (camera shutter clicking) great, perfect. This one, why it looks better at F8 right, because this one at F8, it's supposed to be. So that works, okay, so last thing I'm gonna do is standing. I'm gonna have you stand up for me and I am going to add as much curve as humanly possible, here we go, ready, so I made it sound like it's gonna be an event, it kind of will be, step forward a little bit, I'm gonna have you take that left knee and cross it over as far as possible. Now I'm gonna have you arch your lower back and kick your bum up, and if I need to what you can do is put their leg on an apple box or something, that one's probably a little big, but you know what I mean because they can kind of do this, she has heels on so you can even just go like this, perfect, lean forward just a little bit. Let me take a look at my angles here, so I'm like all right I want curve there, I have a nice soft hand on the hip, let's try can you try on your waist real quick, your hand on your waist like here, no I like hip better. So I was just looking to see if it would define but instead it wasn't adding to curve, and I want more curve, I want to follow this so with this back hand I'm gonna have you kind of lean up that way, let's see might need to move my light. And what I'm gonna have you do is scoot this way, I'm trying to check for camera angles here. All right, so all you're gonna do is give me curve, pop out that hip as far as humanly possible and lean towards me and bring that elbow up and around. (camera shutter clicking) And now put your hand real soft here, remember the caressing right now she's just grabbing the back of her head so instead go like this. Chin down, (camera shutter clicking) so I would do something like this so I have kind of a tapering point, I get a curve there and watch the hand will improve so it's a softer hand looking like she's actually moving versus gripped on the back of her head. Soft movement, lots of curve, lots of hip. Lindsay, I'm gonna start off with, do you have any particular techniques that you use for relaxing your boudoir models to get them comfortable into these poses? Yeah, so one thing I do to relax boudoir models is I don't have them start off in complete lingerie. So I actually will start, like she came out with a shrug on, we totally do that and I wouldn't do full body poses, I would do the shrug over the shoulders and just close up shots or I would do, this is just waist up and then hands on a wall and I'd still have them curving their back, sticking their chest out, soft hands but because you say it's just here, they're not as stressed about everything as soon as it's I'm in lingerie lying on a bed, it's totally different so yeah, I start off with more clothing, more covering and actually this is a marketing thing that I used to do. My biggest boudoir clients were brides that this was a wedding gift to their husbands but my thing that I always pitched and I loved this was my favorite gift, I had a print box from Miller's, so I think it was eight by eight prints that I used to do, I would do squares and also rectangles and the top photo would be them fully dressed and then less and then less and then less, less and then naked. So the gift was a strip tease in a box. Nice, that's awesome Lindsay, love it. We have a question from English Rose, do you have any tips on elongating the legs. I mean besides sticking them out, okay so tips on elongating the legs, I would say that when somebody is laying on their back, if they need support from one leg just make sure the one that you can see is elongated, you can tuck another under for support and then elongate the one leg that's visible and that's also why when I had her sitting on the edge of the bed you know maybe she needed one leg tucked in for support but I made another one elongated then the other thing is too, don't look at the top of the feet, find a way if you can to see the heel and the side 'cause it always looks longer and of course for boudoir it looks sexier when you can see the heels and so usually I don't photograph barefoot unless it's supposed to be a cutesy shoot where it's all in white and more like boy shorts and things like that. Otherwise, heels make everybody look longer. Awesome, so a couple of people noticed that when she was in that particular pose laying down there was some sort of rolls here, what's your best technique for controlling those or how do you like to approach that spot? Sure, so if you have rolls on that side, what you can do is actually reach an arm over or pull an arm this way. So for example, if I were laying down that way instead of hand here, I could actually reach the arm out and this is stretching it out. Cool. So you might obscure, so you might have to see what you have to work with but I would do that instead. [Man In Blue Shirt] Awesome, thank you. Fantastic and maybe let's go with one more from Divatography, I struggle to get lying down shots so I don't have to twist my head when I view it, is there a rule for how these lying down shots to get the eyes so it feels natural? Oh yeah, so a good one for the eyes is it is fine if they're laying on their back to tip their head up. When you do this, make sure that they're not straining, that's the big one, watch for forehead, I'm saying that nonstop when it's the from behind over head shots is relax your forehead, relax your forehead, relax your forehead another one is also though, they don't have to look at you, like that would be a shot where I would have them arch on their back so they're pushed up a little bit and then have them close their eyes or something like that. They don't need to be like looking right at you.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Bridal Couples
Bridal Parties
Couples - Different Height.
Female Seniors
Folding - HowTo
Male Seniors
Mature Couples
Mature Men
Mature Women
Parents Children
Plus Size
Same Sex-Female
Same Sex-Male
Women Posing

Ratings and Reviews


I would highly recommend this class! I have been shooting for some time now and I've been pretty satisfied with my pictures from each session. A few weeks ago, I happened upon this class and thought it would be nice to get some new ideas. I then took the ideas from this class and applied them to a maternity shoot. I must say it took my pictures from good to amazing!!!! My clients bought them all😊 Thank you Creative Live for offering such amazing classes to help any level of photographer learn and grow!

Ruth Ganev

Lindsay is such a great teacher. She doesn't overcomplicate things - so that you can really learn. She also reviews things again and again - only in different contexts - that make total sense. I have learned so much from watching this course of lessons. I went to a natural lighting portrait workshop a couple of weekends ago - and was able to put into action what I have learned. The models loved my photos, too. She keeps things moving, is clear and to the point. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to become better at posing. It is so rewarding to look back at my previous photos and understand what doesn't work and why, and also to see things improving. She is a natural teacher - the course is not boring - you will learn tons!

Maya Tleubergen

I really love it! Thank you, thank you, Lindsay! Beautiful girl with a huge talent to teach! I absolutely love it! Worth every penny!

Student Work