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The Art of Boudoir Photography: Creating Sensual Movement

Christa Meola shows you how to create gorgeous movements that have sensuality, emotion, mood, feeling, and authenticity. She also offers a great primer for all women on how to feel comfortable with their bodies and cultivate sex appeal.
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50mm lens, ISO 200, f/2, 500 sec.

Sensual movement is the distinct factor that takes a boudoir moment from good to great. Before we get to equipment, lighting, and shooting, it’s vital to take a step back and discuss how to create authentic moments with sensual movement. To me, this is the most important aspect of boudoir photography. You can learn simple lighting easily, but for many photographers, creating gorgeous movements that have sensuality, emotion, mood, feeling, and authenticity remains elusive. Gestures such as the ones in this figure are all that’s needed to create movement, which gives photographs emotion and life.

Likewise, for the real woman who is interested in doing a photo shoot, choosing her wardrobe may be easy, but moving naturally in front of the camera and communicating sex appeal may be her biggest struggle (FIGURE 2.1). So let’s take a few pages to discuss the art of sensuality and sex appeal for any woman who wants to look and be stunning.

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1. Shot in Los Angeles with a 40-year-old nonmodel mother of two. I directed the fan toward her and coached her to “close your eyes, run your hands along your body, and make yourself feel good”—a simple yet powerful step toward creating sensuality.

50mm lens, ISO 250, f/2.5, 250 sec.

The following section can serve as a great primer for all women on how to feel comfortable with their bodies and cultivate sex appeal, whether at a photo shoot or in daily life. For photographers, make sure to share this section with the woman who plans on stepping in front of your camera, and feel free to pass it along to all the women in your life. We could all stand to benefit from feeling great about our bodies.

Sensuality and How to Cultivate Sex Appeal

Sensuality is in a woman’s attitude. She may be a beauty on the surface, but no amount of visual perfection can create sensuality and sex appeal. Whether you are a photographer striving to create stunning photographs of women or you are a woman who wants to look and be stunning, the foundation is a woman enjoying herself and her body (FIGURE 2.2).

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.2. Shot in downtown Los Angeles with a 30-something self-described shy girl. She told me things about herself that I hear often before a shoot: very nervous about the shoot, doesn’t even get naked with the lights on, has no idea how to “be sexy.”

28–135mm lens, ISO 1600, f/3.5, 80 sec.

That begins with focusing on the unique body parts each woman loves and addressing her fears and doubts, which earns trust, as we’ve discussed in Chapter 1. For the image in Figure 2.2, I gave the subject the same tips I’m giving you here, and made sure our focus was on having fun.

Now let’s take the next steps in cultivating sex appeal. In the process, respect your subject’s individual comfort level and taste (and your own). Remember that each person is different.

Here are some of my favorite tips for the women I photograph. It’s best to talk about them well in advance of the shoot so your subject has time to try some of them out.

Be Confident

Step one in creating allure is to brim with confidence. In fact, confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear (FIGURE 2.3). Confidence in how you move, how you look, how you feel, and what you do. If you feel like a fool, you’ll look like one. Remember to stay focused on your positive attributes and know that you can pull off nearly anything if you do it with self-assurance.

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.3. Shot in Seattle with a gal who loves her curves. She’s absolutely brimming with confidence, so we’re drawn to her expression and she looks stunning!

24–70mm lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 200 sec.

Have Fun

Men (and women) are attracted to women who are genuinely enjoying themselves; that quality matters more than any individual physical attribute. Although this seems simple, it’s often neglected. Have fun! Enjoy being a woman. Enjoy being admired. Be playful. Have fun while strutting around. Especially during a photo shoot, it’s important to remember to not take ourselves too seriously. After all, we’re posing in our underwear. Make sure any doubts or concerns take a backseat to having a good time.

Once again, sometimes a shortcut to having fun is simply smiling. This woman’s inner beauty radiates through her brilliant smile and the sparkle in her eyes (FIGURE 2.4). Yes, she has certain body parts that she feels aren’t completely gorgeous due to childbearing, but you can feel here that she’s playful and enjoys being a woman, and we’re both focused on what she loves.

Figure 2.4

Figure 2.4. Shot in New Orleans with a 20-something nonmodel mother of two. My direction was to cross her arms in her lap to create a bit of appealing cleavage, and when I playfully coached her to squeeze her arms in tighter for even more cleavage, she let out a laugh.

85mm lens, ISO 400, f/2, 250 sec.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Comfort with your body takes practice. Get very familiar with your body, paying particular attention to the parts you love. Practice being naked. Walk around your home naked. Try posing in the mirror naked. Appreciate and admire your body from all angles. Make sure you focus on the good stuff, and be grateful for the gift of your body.

Know the Innate Power of Attraction

Men and women have enjoyed looking at women since the dawn of time, certainly well before Photoshop. Stretch marks, cellulite, or some extra pounds are not going to change that. A woman’s attitude is the most important aspect of feeling and looking truly beautiful and appealing, not physical beauty. Trust that your viewer loves it all. Know that any boldness, playfulness, and enjoyment of your body will be appreciated and enjoyed.

Focus on Feeling

When a woman feels sexy, she looks sexy. When cultivating sex appeal, make sure to focus on pleasure and feeling good. How you move and how you flirt, dress, undress, and touch yourself—even how you breathe—should be guided by what feels good to you. Sometimes putting on your favorite music or closing your eyes for a moment can help you focus on feeling good.

Take Your Time

I was photographing a world-famous burlesque dancer in Los Angeles, and when I asked her to perform a few dance movements faster for me, she refused. Slower is sexier, she said. She’s right. Sensuality has a slow tempo. Take your own sweet time with your movements and gestures. Walk slowly and deliberately. Move your hands along your body languidly.


Move like you can barely contain your desire. Be playful and allow a bit of shyness to come out now and again. Look at your viewer or the camera with a teasing glint in your eye. Let your inner good girl and naughty girl come out to play (FIGURE 2.5).

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.5. Shot in New Orleans with a 30-something nonmodel and friend of mine, who truly enjoys the art of flirtation. My direction to her was simply to let her naughty girl out to play a bit and flirt with the camera.

50mm lens, ISO 800, f/2, 160 sec.

Know the Tricks of the Trade

Finally, cultivating sex appeal is not about a crash diet or Photoshop. It’s about working what you’ve got and knowing a few tricks of the trade to enhance what’s already there. We’ll cover these tips and tricks on how to find flattering wardrobe, poses, and lighting in upcoming sections that enhance a woman’s sex appeal even further.

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