Boudoir Tips for Photographers | Retouching Hack


Shooting a boudoir portrait session seems pretty simple. The client arrives, brings pretty things to wear, you shoot, all seems good. And then it gets complicated when it comes time to retouch, for one big reason. The subject is showing a lot more skin. There are very few people in this world that have perfect skin, so retouching boudoir is inevitable.


When you prepare your clients by giving a few simple suggestions and taking some steps during the session, you can eliminate extra Photoshop time.

  1. Ask clients to arrive in loose clothing. This is key to eliminating marks on them to start with. If they arrive in something you think might leave marks and they still have an hour in the makeup chair, have a silky robe or cover-up they can slip on. Ask them to remove bra straps or better yet to arrive in a strapless bra if possible.
  2. Shoot the most complicated outfit last. I have been shooting boudoir for a very long time, and to be completely honest, it took me some time to figure out there is an order to the selection of outfits and poses that can make less time for me in Photoshop. Look through the outfits they bring and put anything that you think will leave marks after wearing for the end of the session. Think garters, thigh highs, and corsets.
  3. Ask clients to try on items before the day of their shoot. If anything is too tight I ask them not to bring it. Girls love to hoard lingerie for years so something that fit ten years ago more could possibly be too small now. Tight items can pinch the skin and make it a nightmare to retouch. Too-loose items can be just as bad. Explaining these little details in advance makes so much sense to clients. They usually are more than happy to go shopping to bring new items that fit nicely. Send them a pre-shoot email with a few tips on how to prepare.
  4. Do close-up body shots and booty shots first … before they roll around and get indentations on their skin. This will save you so much time by not needing to retouch those nasty little lines.
  5. Turn up the temperature. I know during summer it is tempting to keep the room nice and cold but keeping the client from getting goosebumps will also save time in Photoshop. This works in reverse as not having the space too hot. Retouching sweat can also be time-consuming.
  6. Look for the details. I know once we photographers start shooting, we get “in the zone” and can miss seeing little things like a twisted bra strap or a piece of fabric from the client’s outfit not laying flat. Try to take your time and look for little details. If your H&MUA stays for the shoot, or if you have an assistant, give them the task to keep an eye out for things out of place.
  7. Ask clients to cut tags out of lace and sheer items. The number one item clients would repeatedly request for me to Photoshop out was the tag showing in their see-through or lace items. Now I have them cut tags out before they arrive or bring scissors with them. I also have scissors they can use to cut out tags.
  8. Ask clients to drink lots of water and moisturize all over before their session. This helps with eye bags, dry skin and gives them a nice healthy glow.
  9. Remind clients to get a mani-pedi. This one I am sure I do not need to mention, but surprisingly I have had clients even ask if I could fix their chipped nail polish because they forgot to get a mani/pedi before their session. Be sure to include this in your pre-session tips. Ask them to have a spa day and get any waxing, grooming, and a mani/pedi so they are photoshoot ready!
  10. Have double-sided tape on hand to help some fabrics lay flat against the skin.

Build Your List

The more you shoot the more things you will find to add to your pre-session tips list. I send them the pre-session tips when they book and then I follow up a few days before their session date with a few key points from the list such as – Don’t wear tight clothing, moisturize, cut tags out of see-through items and etc.


Want to learn more about boudoir photography tips and tricks? Check out my YouTube Channel

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About Couture Boudoir

Critsey Rowe, Couture Boudoir’s photographer, is an experienced, internationally published, and respected boudoir photographer who has dedicated her career to helping women feel comfortable and beautiful. With the help of female-only assistants and stylists, Critsey celebrates the uniqueness and intimate beauty of every client and takes truly flattering, tasteful, and gorgeous boudoir photographs.