Skip to Content

Kerri Cipriani Posted by: Kerri Cipriani 2 years ago

And For That Matter- What It Is Not

At Boudoir by Cipriani, we love to take the time to help our bombshells feel as knowledgeable and prepared as possible when they step in front of the lens. From what to wear and how to get ready, to why we do the makeup and the best ways to pose, it’s our belief that you should already be feeling confident and excited before you even arrive! After all, knowledge is power, and it’s our mission to empower you.

Still, a lot of our clients are curious about more than just the shoot itself. And why not? Boudoir has a fascinating history, with diverse influences like French postcards and Hollywood pinup posters. Interestingly enough, though, boudoir is one of the least historically documented styles of photography, with only a few pioneers to point to for its advancement. This helps keep boudoir shrouded in a degree of mystery- which we think is perfectly fitting for the style.

After all, boudoir at its heart, is an expression of sensuality, confidence, emotional depth and, yes, mystery. It is an exploration of each woman’s individual beauty. And its roots in 1920s and 30s rebellious counter-culture that pushed back against hiding women away, helped shape its presence as a symbol and force for empowerment.

Who feels like a trip back in time?

So, we thought it might be fun to hop into our DeLorean, crank it up to 88 miles per hour, and go back in time a little bit to explore where boudoir came from, why it’s an important style in photography, and how we use it today! We want you to have a chance to immerse yourself a little in this deep, incredible culture before you show up to your shoot. Or, maybe, learning a little bit more about the style and meaning of boudoir will convince you that, yes, you absolutely can become one of our bombshells. Because everyone is beautiful.

Just a heads up, the DeLorean is a rental, and we can’t actually use it in photo shoots. Sorry about that. Also, there might not be a DeLorean.        

A Brief, But Interesting, History of Boudoir

What, then, is boudoir?  Well, it’s a little easier to say than ‘Worcestershire’ and definitely much more romantic.  The word ‘boudoir’ itself actually comes from a room specifically for passion and expression in Victorian era houses.  A woman’s boudoir was where she could go with her romantic interests and express herself freely.  Thematically, this expresses itself in boudoir photography rather elegantly.  The boudoir style arose from a movement to allow all women to be photographed in unapologetically romantic settings.  It created a safe-space, for women to be less guarded, and more natural.

Albert Arthur Allen’s work in the 1920s is often credited as the beginning of the boudoir photography movement.  He took pictures of his subjects in staged bedrooms, studios and hotel rooms, and attempted to capture their organic passionate glow.  Apart from being a pioneer in boudoir photography, Allen’s work helped shift cultural ‘standards of beauty’ at the time as he focused primarily on plus-sized models.  Some believe his photography paved the way for Marilyn Monroe’s rise in the 1940s, as thinness became less popular and curves were more celebrated.

Albert Arthur Allen – Untitled Nude (From the Boudoir Series No. 50) 1916-1920

Beginning in the mid 40s, boudoir photography moved away from being strictly an artistic expression, and became a little more commercially available.  This is where boudoir photographs as a gift to a woman’s significant other became more commonplace.  Women began offering them as wedding gifts.  It was also popular to send them to soldiers stationed overseas during World War II.  Later this practice simply turned into giving them as gifts to a romantic partner they might be separated from for quite some time.  Today, boudoir photographs are often used as a woman’s gift to herself, as a way to celebrate some change, milestone, or to simply to revel in her own confidence and romantic self.    

That’s great- but why?

Yeah, why indeed!  The history is fascinating and all that, but why this style of photography?  Couldn’t I get some cool headshots, or do a glamour shoot, or something?

Well, maybe.  But the key difference is in what boudoir tries to capture in its lens, as opposed to other photography styles.  Think back to getting your senior pictures taken or, worse, a family portrait.  (We’re only kidding, we love our families).  Most photo shoots or photography sessions are trying to capture an idealized version of you.  Boudoir wants to capture a stylized version of you.  What’s the difference?  You are the difference.

Woman in black bustier poses for a classic boudoir photo shoot with Boudoir by Cipriani in Tampa, FL

Lots of photo shoots want to capture your best elements as defined by social standards of beauty or attractiveness.  Truly: think about sitting for a headshot session if you’ve ever done one.  Was it comfortable?  Did you feel natural?  Probably not.  The photographer probably posed you in a very specific way to capture a very specific angle to highlight a very specific feature.

We don’t do that in boudoir.

In boudoir photography, you’ll be captured in a certain style- but it will be unquestionably you.  Even in historical examples, like Allen’s work, we see women posed in ways that make them feel sexy and make them feel confident.  Traditional photography is geared towards the person viewing the pictures.  Boudoir is about the person in the picture.  In a certain style according to the artist capturing her, yes.  But unapologetically herself.  

Traditional photography is geared towards the person viewing the pictures. Boudoir is about the person in the picture.

Other styles of photography absolutely have a place and are needed in their own way- just like any other kind of art!  When it comes to boudoir, though, there is a liberating quality to its process.  A freeing vibrancy for its subjects.  It helps women find an inner spark, a deeper confidence, that exists in them waiting to be empowered.

That’s what Boudoir is all about, Charlene Brown

Ultimately, that is what boudoir is.  It is empowering.  A conscious decision on the part of the photographer and the subject to tap an inner reservoir of moxie.  We could go on about the history of the photographic style, and all the debate surrounding how it has evolved.  But what really matters is the connection that a woman forms with herself when she decides to do a shoot.  What boudoir is, is a celebration of self.

Boudoir photography has been on a journey over the last century.  It started humbly in an era where women expressing their sexuality openly was all but forbidden.  From those rebel days pushing back against the era’s ‘standards’ of beauty, to now where it is celebrated in the mainstream, the style may not have changed, but the perception and acceptance certainly has.

At Boudoir by Cipriani, we want you to go on a similar journey.  However quietly you walk through our doors, we want you leaving feeling loud.  Feeling like you can show the world who you are.  Whether your shoot is for a loved one, or just for yourself (also a loved one) , it doesn’t matter.  You’re still going to walk away feeling more confident, sexy and vibrant.  That’s not just our opinion, by the way- check out our testimonials.

Final thoughts…

It takes a certain courage to bring something from the private back rooms of the Victorian era, to today’s high definition reality.  Whether you know it yet or not, you have that courage.  That secret self that maybe you have kept hidden away, no matter what the reason, is waiting to step into the spotlight.  Your own personal spotlight.    

So that is boud-what boudoir is.  Where it came from, how it got here, and what it means today.  It’s an opportunity for empowerment.  To tell your story and show off a different, vivacious side.  Oh, and in case we didn’t make it clear, it’s fun.  Like, a hell of a lot of fun.  You’re going to want to brag about your shoot- a lot.

There- now you, too, are an expert(ish) in boudoir!  But, the best way to find out what it is, what it really is, is to step in front of the lens for yourself, and see what the camera sees in you.  

For more information visit our Blog, and for answers to key questions visit our FAQs!

If this convinced you BOUDOIR IS FOR YOU (because it is!) Let’s Chat!

Enter to win a FREE Session! ($450 value)
Subscribed to our bi-weekly Love Letters and be entered into our quarterly drawing and win a free session. Next drawing 07/31/2024!