The Simple Secret of the Best Boudoir Photography

Our Aspiring Model, Julia Annette, lets her personality shine through in this shot, featuring her authentic, infectious smile and the jeans jacket she wore to the studio

Our Aspiring Model, Julia Annette, lets her personality shine through in this shot, featuring her authentic, infectious smile and the jeans jacket she wore to the studio

It’s not the fancy camera. It’s not the high-tech lights. It’s not the makeup, jewelry or wardrobe. It’s not the set. It’s not even the photographer’s skill and technique. While each of these elements is certainly important, the most important element that makes a boudoir photograph truly special is less obvious but, fortunately, one of the easiest to incorporate.

When considering boudoir photography, most of my clients are initially nervous, intimidated by the images they may have seen on TV of a fast-paced commercial photo shoot where the photographer barks commands and the model dutifully complies. My clients are immediately apologetic, explaining that they’ve never done a photo shoot before, let alone a boudoir shoot, and many express their concern about getting the poses “right.”

I comfort them by explaining that boudoir is something entirely different, for it is the client, not the photographer, who ultimately controls the process and each shoot is built around what they want to create and what they want to share of themselves. Most important, we capture a different side of you while not forcing you to be someone else in the process. Successful boudoir photography creates a unique reflection of your own distinctiveness, and the result should appear natural, organic and true to whom you are, though you may be crossing boundaries you haven’t explored before.

We love this over-the-shoulder look of Bleuwolfe, a member of our Aspiring Models Program. Her expression is effortless and captures her true intensity and beauty.

We love this over-the-shoulder look of Bleuwolfe, a member of our Aspiring Models Program. Her expression is effortless and captures her true intensity and beauty.

You can easily spot boudoir photographs that don’t possess the effortless authenticity that comes from a photographer understanding who their client is and working with her to create something that she truly feels represents her essence. The camera can easily see a subject’s discomfort and where she has been directed through a standard series of rote, cookie-cutter and uncreative poses, resulting in imagery that can look staged, over-posed, less natural and uninspired.

We work with our clients before the photo shoot and encourage them to submit “inspiration shots” to give us an idea of what they’re seeking in their shoot. During the shoot itself, we work together as creative partners, building on the inspiration shots, but not bound by them, ultimately finding what truly expresses who they are, bringing out their best qualities. When done this way, the art of boudoir helps women naturally explore the sensual side of themselves, to feel beautiful, glamorous and confident.

So what’s the secret element? What makes boudoir so unique — and the simple secret of its success — is you. Boudoir photography is ultimately about celebrating you and it’s therefore important to be true to whom you are during the photo shoot. I coach my clients gently. I’ll suggest poses but encourage each client to “make it her own,” to let poses evolve until they feel authentic and natural. I also remind them not to forget to express themselves and let their personality shine through. One of my favorite shots was for a recent client where, for the very last shot of the evening, she stood up on her knees, placed her hands in her hair, crossed her eyes and defiantly stuck out her tongue. It turned out to be one of the best shots of the evening — sexy and silly at the same time– and magic because it brought out her true personality.

One of the most gratifying and meaningful compliments I receive from clients in our reviews is that they not only ended up loving the experience of the photo shoot, but that they left the studio feeling empowered. That’s the ultimate measure of a successful collaboration that honors a client’s individuality. One of our prospective clients said it best: “I want to show another side of myself. I want to get out of my comfort zone but still be me.”


Our Services

Our Professional Photography Services

Our Services

Appeal Photography, LLC is an award-winning boutique boudoir and fine art photography studio with locations in Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, DC. Our work has been internationally recognized and we have earned exemplary reviews with exclusively 5-star ratings on Google and Yelp.

[pullquote]I want to show another side of myself. I want to get out of my comfort zone but still be me.[/pullquote] Our work is creative, original and acclaimed. We’ll work with you to create a stunning set of imagery for a deeply personal and memorable gift. Boudoir photography is an empowering celebration of your beauty and an increasingly popular way to explore and share your sensuality. Our clients are surprised by how we are able to capture their beauty, glamour and personality. They are equally surprised by how fulfilling and enjoyable the photo shoot experience is, emerging with a new confidence and appreciation for their timeless beauty and sexuality.

What Distinguishes Us from Other Studios

We differ from typical boudoir photography studios in a number of ways. We master a much broader set of photographic genres, including creative, striking and often unconventional lighting techniques, resulting in imagery that is much more compelling, impactful and personal. Every photo shoot is fully customized for each client to provide her with exactly the type of imagery she wants and to capture her true essence; we consider our shoots an “artistic collaboration” with our clients! Other studios provide imagery that can look staged, overposed, less natural, and less you. And we guarantee your satisfaction in writing, in your contract!

Our clients have ranged from 18 to 68, including brides, moms-to-be, couples, dancers and other entertainers, women seeking a deeply personal gift to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, or just seeking a special gift for themselves to celebrate a milestone or to create a keepsake of themselves.

Our Packages

  • Our Servicesconsultation (in person, by phone or email) to plan your photo shoot. Every shoot is different, and yours will be fully customized for your needs, including genres, wardrobe, lighting and poses.
  • a 1-3+ hour professional photo shoot scheduled at your convenience in our studio, a hotel, your home or other location of your choice
  • a professional makeup artist and/or hairstylist (optional)
  • hundreds of digital proofs for you to review within 1-3 days of your shoot, delivered securely online
  • professionally-edited, high-resolution digital images delivered securely within a few days after you make your selections
  • a professionally-prepared photo book and other printed products, delivered directly to you (optional)

Learn more about our packages

No modeling experience? Never did a photo shoot? Don’t worry! Ninety percent of our clients have never modeled before. We’ll guide you through the process for a great shoot!

Photo Books, Prints, Videos

How best to present your boudoir photos? Whether it’s a wedding, anniversary or birthday gift for your significant other, or a keepsake for yourself, our most popular product is a high-quality, professionally-prepared photo book with the images you select. Thanks to our partner lab in New York, our photo books are high-quality, using thicker pages that lay flat, and lots of options for size, shape, cover type and color. You’ll be able to review your proof online before it’s printed. We also can prepare beautiful framed prints and custom videos set to music featuring your boudoir images!

Our Services

Appeal Photography

What We Shoot

Helping Aspiring Models Succeed


Our “Aspiring Models Program has helped models new to the business develop their portfolio and launch their careers. If you’re the right model and are accepted into our program, we’ll provide your photos at no charge in consideration of your modeling time. This helps us with various projects and helps us build our own portfolio, too. In the business, it’s referred to as TFP or “Time For Prints.” To see if we’re currently accepting applications, please see the listings on our Model Casting Calls page.

Portfolio Items