Boudoir Photography – What is it?

Posted On March 1, 2016 at 2:58 am by / No Comments

A boudoir is historically the private sitting room or salon of a lady, normally from the upper classes, which acted as a kind of buffer between the dining room and bedroom within the home. The etymology of the word adds further intrigue to this special private place as the word derives from the French verb bouder which essentially means to sulk. So this was the place where the woman would go to be alone and at one with her thoughts. Whilst the room itself would almost always be a highly stylised and ornate place, as is perhaps evidenced in the stunning images of Marie Antoinette’s boudoir in Fontainebleau Palace, or that of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna at the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.

What Exactly Is Boudoir Photography?

The infamous French writer Marquis de Sade cannot go left unmentioned when discussing this genre either as it was his book, Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795), that had a significant impact on the way this small, decadent private place for the lady could equally become a scandalous area of intimate exchanges and frolics.

boudoir photography

A Famous History

With this complicated and heavily faceted degree of affluence, intrigue and sexuality combining together it is not surprising that “boudoir” photography developed over the years into its very own genre. The classical form of boudoir photography could be said to have peaked in the period around the 1920s and 1940s when famous female stars of the period, such as Clara Bow, Mae West, and Jean Harlow were photographed in this very style.

As is true with almost all fashions, history is now repeating itself again with boudoir photography becoming more and more popular with modern women. To reproduce the splendour and high-privilege of old that was associated with classical boudoir photography, sessions are often done in specially designed studio spaces, or even within the luxury confines of a hired out suite at a high-end hotel.

Lingerie & Boudoir Clothing

Lingerie is often the form of clothing most commonly worn when it comes to boudoir photography, but any nudity is almost always implied rather than explicit. The images achieved from these types of shoots are usually done in order to be later given as a gift, especially when that gift is the one a bride might surprise their future husband to be with before their wedding day. While this is perhaps the biggest single commercial force behind the revival in the popularity of boudoir photography at the moment, it is also true that many women simply feel the urge to do such a shoot in order to empower themselves and capture their own unique beauty in what may be a special moment of their lives.

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