It All Starts With a Plan
For your photo shoot there is no single thing that you can do to prepare that will make everything turn out amazing. A successful session is all about doing lots of little things that add up to one amazing result.
If this sounds like a lot of work or you have no idea where to start, worry not! I’ve got you covered with this list of things to consider, and when you should do them leading up to your boudoir session.
Following these recommendations will make it impossible for you to forget anything so you can show up to your session relaxed knowing you prepared to the fullest possible extent.
Before your session you should consider:
Every point mentioned in this post (excluding the “making good choices” section) is completely optional and up to your personal preference.
For instance if you don’t want to shave your intimate areas that’s totally fine! The main idea behind this post is to get you looking as close to your ideal in camera as possible.
Laziness or ambivalence in your planning with the expectation that the above points will be corrected in photoshop should be avoided at all costs!
Not planning can seriously compromise the quality of your final images. Take my word for it and spend the extra time and effort here. Your attention to these areas will pay huge dividends in helping us create the highest quality final images for you.
Shaving or waxing your body is optional and totally up to you. These tips will help you do it better if you’re currently having trouble with skin irritation or have never waxed before.
Keep in mind that we are trying to get everything as close to perfect in camera as we possibly can. So if you don’t want hair somewhere you should remove it using your favorite method.
The following are some really helpful tips I wish someone had shared with me back when I was figuring all this stuff out for myself.
If you decide you want to wax, there’s a couple things you should know if you’ve never done it before. First, for best results you’ll need to let your hair grow out for 2-3 weeks before your waxing appointment.
This will allow the wax strip to better grab each hair and will lead to a more thorough, cleaner result. With this in mind, make sure and budget enough time for hair growth and healing time before your photo shoot.
The ideal time to get waxed is 3-5 days before your session. This allows redness and irritation to subside before your photo shoot.
Additionally if you’ve never waxed before, I’d strongly encourage you to do a test on yourself or try your professional of choice at least a couple weeks before your session to see how your skin reacts.
If it goes great, that’s fantastic! You can do it again if need be one more time right before your session. If however it doesn’t go well, you’ll be super grateful you found out weeks before your photo shoot with plenty of time to heal.
Some areas of your body may be very sensitive to this method of hair removal, especially if you’ve never done it before. Additionally, some esthetician’s suck at their job. Some people are also terrible at following good esthetician’s after care recommendations. All of these scenarios can lead to unsightly pimple like reactions.
The point is there’s a learning curve to waxing for most people, so figure out what your skin likes and doesn’t like well before your session.
Also take the time to find a professional that’s good at what they do. Follow your esthetician’s after care instructions and tweak your process for what you find works best for you.
Waxing is NOT a night before your session kind of thing you should take lightly if you’ve never done it before!!!
All of you reading this probably have your own routine for shaving that your’re already comfortable with. That said I still see too many women come in for their photo shoots with irritation, especially around sensitive areas like the bikini line and arm pits.
If you’re having a problem with irritation or ingrown hairs, read this short Well Kept post for ideas on how to improve your shaving process. I especially agree with the author’s opinion on razor choice.
The following points are all essential in my experience if you want to eliminate ingrown hairs and razor burn:
Use the best razor your can.
Soften your hair, via a warm shower or bath prior to shaving.
Use liberal amounts of shaving cream, oil or whatever you’re into.
Pay attention to your shaving direction. Against the grain is bad, with and perpendicular are okay.
Follow these steps every time and you should be pretty happy with your results. Everyone reading this should be able to shave the night before and be camera ready the following morning.
If your skin isn’t healed completely in that time frame, you’re probably doing something wrong and should re-examine your process or shaving technique.
It is always a good idea to correct tan lines (should you choose to do so) before your session. Personally they don’t bother me one way or the other, but some people really hate the way they look.
Are tan lines something that can be fixed in Photoshop? Absolutely! That said, correcting tan lines with this method can incur additional retouching fees depending on the severity and lead to a lower quality final result. It’s always a better decision to get things right in camera when possible.
Simply put, it’s way cheaper and you’ll get higher quality photos if you even your tan out before your photo shoot.
I recommend talking with your tanning salon of choice to find out how long it will take to correct your lines and execute a plan to correct them based off of that. You should then time your tanning sessions to finish at least 2 weeks before your photo shoot to allow your skin time to heal.
Allowing your skin to heal after extreme UV exposure will help reduce skin dryness and thus soften your skin texture for your final images. This heal time will allow us to edit your photos less aggressively and will result in higher quality final images.
For the record I’d rather you didn’t tan, but if you don’t want tan lines this is visually the best solution for the most even skin tones. The second best solution is to even out your tan lines with a spray tan.
Make sure and have your spray tan done by a person and not one of those car wash machine things. Also note that not all spray tan techs are created equal, so do your best to find someone GREAT at what they do!!!
Spray tans can look really fantastic, or they can make you ugly cry in the bathroom after you see yourself. Find a tech you really like for this and if you’ve never used a person before, it’s always smart to try them out at least 2 weeks before your photo shoot to make sure you like their work.
If you’ve never spray tanned before you can make an appointment for your spray tan with Renee here. She’s awesome.
Hair Cut & Color
It’s a really smart idea to plan your session close to your hair cut and color appointment to take full advantage while everything is on point! The ideal time to get your hair cut and colored and your eyebrows shaped is 3-5 days before your session. This timing will give your brows time to heal and allow time for hair dye to fade from your scalp.
Resist the temptation to make drastic changes to your hair style right before your photo shoot. This can leave you devastated after all the planning and anticipation if you don’t love your new look. Go with what you know works, and experiment with the crazy new style sometime after your photo shoot.
The ideal time to do your nails is as close to your photo shoot as possible. 1-2 days before your session is a good rule of thumb. Scheduling your nail appointment super close to your session date will greatly minimize the chance that you’ll break or chip them before we have the chance to photograph you.
As for those drug store stick on nail things, leave those at home. They can look okay from way over there, but are pretty cringeworthy in close ups. If you want fancy nails, do it right and have them done by your local nail rock star of choice or invest the time to do a nice job yourself.
Take my word for it and don’t cut this corner. I’d much rather you come to your photo shoot with your nails left natural, then photograph you with a shoddy work around.
Lash extensions are the best option to consider if you want the fullest, most natural looking lashes. Individual extensions are glued to each of your existing lashes with this method.
These extensions are a HUGE upgrade for your close ups over strip lashes (mentioned below) and will look much more natural. That said lash extensions will make little if any difference for pull back shots such as full and half body portraits.
If you’d like to upgrade to lash extensions, I’d recommend you make your appointment 1-3 days before your photo shoot and only with someone you have previous experience with.
If you’ve never had them done before, my makeup artist Ducky Suboreau is really good at them.
For those that choose to not get lash extensions, my MUA will enhance your eyes with a set of strip lashes. These strips are glued on over your lashes and look really great for full and half body portraits.
The big disadvantage to strip lashes is that they are not as seamless as extensions when photographing your close ups.
Regardless of whether you choose extensions or strips, either option is typically a big improvement over the choice to wear neither.
Teeth whitening is one of those easy things you can do with a pretty big upside if you’re self conscious about your smile. Now, although teeth whitening is part of my overall editing process, the benefits of a more brilliant smile is typically most useful as a phycological boost.
If you’re self conscious of your teeth you will be more reluctant to smile, and potentially have more closed off or shy body language.
It’s easier to just take care of this before your photo shoot rather than having to overcome nervous body language because of something you’re insecure about.
Make Good Choices
Protect yourself from the sun and resist the urge to host a pro wrestling match in your living room the night before your session.
This might feel like I’m stating the obvious, but just use your common sense leading up to your session and DO NOT do stupid things like:
Show up to your photo shoot sun burnt from your recent day at the lake.
Have a sparing session in the days leading up to your session.
Go out partying with your friends the night before your photo shoot.
I’ve had clients do all of the things mentioned above with severe negative impacts to their final imagery. Don’t be that girl!!!
Be thoughtful and plan ahead with all of the tips I’ve mentioned in this post, and you should find yourself in a wonderful position for some epic images!
If you accidentally bruise yourself a few days before your session by whacking your shin on a table or something, let me know and I’ll assess how bad it is and if we should reschedule. More often then not (unless it’s really bad) I’ll be more than happy to retouch the area for you at no extra charge.
I’ll never hold the accidental stuff against you, it’s the completely preventable I went to a beer festival two days before my session and didn’t protect myself from the sun kind of negligence which you should avoid at all costs!