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Boudoir Guide

Modesto Boudoir Photographer

Comprehensive Boudoir Guide

Are you looking for a special gift for your groom, significant other, or for yourself? A boudoir album makes the perfect gift because it's unique and personal. This is an opportunity to push yourself, break out of your comfort zone, and see yourself in a totally different light. There's something very liberating about stepping in front of a camera in (or out of) lingerie. Your self-esteem and confidence will soar. Your femininity and sexuality will be awakened. You'll bare your soul and be vulnerable in new ways. Once you do that, you’ll feel like you can do anything! I know because I've done a boudoir session myself.

I've always struggled with my self-esteem, even battling an eating disorder since the age of seventeen. Like most women, I've spent my life criticizing my body every day, only seeing the flaws. I practiced a lot of self-hate. But when I saw these women of every size, shape, age, and walk of life get in front of my camera, bravely exposing their flaws, I felt a kinship. I felt that if they could be confident in front of the camera, so could I. If they could be happy with their bodies, even with their flaws, so could I.

When my photographer captured me on film, and I saw how beautiful I was through their lens, I knew I had to accept myself as beautiful. I had to put aside all the self-hate and start loving myself. How was I supposed to expect my clients to do that if I couldn’t? It changed my life.

What is boudoir photography?

Simply put, boudoir photography is a sensual, romantic photo session in which the woman is dressed in lingerie, topless, or nude. The session can be as modest or erotic as the client wants, from fully dressed to completely nude.

About the Studio

I started photographing boudoir in 2014 when my brides started asking. My first session was in a gorgeous home, which was built in the 1940s and full of unique furniture. We worked in every room, changing outfits and playing with poses. We both had creative ideas that we explored. The finished product was beautiful, and although I needed a lot of work on refining my techniques, we produced some really great shots.

As the snowball effect took hold, other women were quickly hiring me. I found myself working in all types of environments, including automobile junkyards, dark apartments, and my own bedroom. It became clear that if I wanted to make a go at this, I needed to build my own studio.

I redecorated my home, turning our dining room into a studio with a wall of mirrors. Our extra bedroom became a set as well, with a hand-made lighting fixture and a beautifully dressed bed.

Why do I specialize in boudoir photography?

My favorite part of the job is definitely showing the client her images for the first time. It's amazing to see her transform right before my eyes. She sits up straighter, grinning at her own beauty as if she's seeing it for the first time. This experience has changed each of my clients in different ways.

After I deliver an album, I always ask, “How do you feel about yourself?” All my boudoir clients say they feel beautiful and empowered. Some women say they were really shy before their session and it brought them out of their shells.

How to Plan Your Session

Choosing a Photographer

This is the most important part of planning the perfect boudoir session. Your photographer will need to be skilled enough to flatter you and make you feel comfortable throughout your session. The easier things go and the more comfortable you feel, the better the photos will come out.

None of my clients know how to pose, and they all apologize for that. It’s not your job as a client to know how to pose! You’re paying the photographer to pose you and use lighting to flatter you. When researching photographers, take a look at their portfolios and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do the women in the photos look comfortable with the photographer?
  2. Do I feel a connection with the women in the photos?
  3. Do the photos show personality and emotions?
  4. Is there a wide variety of women in different shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities?
  5. Have the images been Photoshopped within an inch of their lives? i.e. Do their clients look a little too perfect and/or doll-like?
  6. Is the lingerie flattering, fashionable, and of good quality?
  7. Does the photographer’s style fit what I'm looking for?

Then, read through their website to find out as much as possible. Why do they do this? Are they passionate about helping you feel confident and beautiful? How long have they been doing boudoir? Do they celebrate all women, or is it clear they only work with certain sizes?

Be sure to read their reviews on their website, Yelp, and wherever else they are posted. Set up consultations with your top two photographers. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Go with your gut. While talking with them, determine how you feel. Did you hit it off? Do they "get" you? Do they make you feel self-conscious at all? Remember, this is a very intimate photoshoot. You'll need to be 100% comfortable with your photographer or your photos will look awkward and unnatural.

Getting Ready for Your Session

Once you book your photographer, it's time to prepare for the shoot itself. Follow these steps to ensure you don't forget a thing.

  1. Schedule hair and makeup - I work with incredible hair and makeup artists and help with the booking process.
  2. Finalize your wardrobe - Follow the guidelines in the following section.
  3. Diet - If you're concerned about bloat, here are some suggestions. Avoid foods such as carbs, gluten, sugar, and salt. Drink at least eight glasses of cucumber or lemon water a day to lose water weight.
  4. Exercise - If you would like to work out beforehand, concentrate on creating firm muscles, a lifted booty, and curves. Cardio is great, but it won't do much to change your body in the time between booking your session and getting in the studio. Free weights, crunches, lunges, and squats are your best friends.

How to Choose the Perfect Wardrobe

You can't afford to shop for boudoir outfits? No worries! I have an extensive collection of sexy, stylish, and unique lingerie pieces including bra and panty sets, teddies, bustiers, garter belts, nighties, lace robes, wedding veils, and much more. I chose a large variety of sizes from extra small to extra large! I help each of my clients with wardrobe selection, so don't worry, everyone needs guidance. These are the questions I ask to narrow down the types of pieces you should wear.

What is your favorite part of your body and what is your significant other's favorite part?

Breasts - Push-up bras, bustiers, sheer teddies, and nighties highlight this area.

Waist - Bra and panty sets or a crop top with panties expose the abs.

Legs - High-cut bikinis, thong panties, and teddies will elongate the legs by showing off the hips. Pair with nude stiletto heels to add even more length to the legs.

Butt - Thongs all day long!

What parts of your body do you dislike or would like to downplay?

Arms - If you're self-conscious about your upper arms, choose a long-sleeved crop top or bodysuit.

Tummy - A corset will snatch your waist, give you an hourglass figure, and cover any surgery scars or stretch marks.

Thighs - Choose a lacy nightgown that hits right above the knee. A lacy robe worn over outfits can be draped around the thighs. Adding stiletto heels elongates the leg and therefore slims the thigh when standing.

Check out my curated Pinterest board with wardrobe ideas below!

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"I had spent my entire adult life (had my 1st child when I was 19) making sure others' needs were met, while my needs were put on hold.

Fast forward to January 2017. At 53 years old, 30 years of marriage, and 40lbs of weight loss, I find myself in the middle of a divorce. I take a deep breath and tell myself "It's my turn now!" I wanted to feel pretty. I wanted to feel sexy. If not for anyone else but me. It's my turn now!

I found Dawn on the internet and browsed through her pictures. I saw a lot of young, beautiful women and I thought, "I'm 53 years old, I've got scars all over my body and wrinkles on my face, what am I thinking?" Then I saw a picture of Dawn. Her red hair is what got my attention. I loved it! I got the instant feeling, or "vibe" if you will, of a free spirit. After I met Dawn, that is exactly what she is..... A wonderful, warm, nonjudgmental free spirit!

I emailed her and started slowly. I was scared to death. I told her about my scars, my tummy, my hands, and several more of my flaws. She asked what I LIKED about myself. Wow, that was a tough one. I hadn't really thought about the things I liked about my body so it was a pretty hard question to answer. I said my eyes, my legs, and my hair.

The day came for my appointment with Dawn. Oh my! I was a nervous wreck!! After about 5 minutes, Dawn's warm and loving personality had me at ease. It was one of the most beautiful, uplifting experiences of my life. For 3 hours I wasn't a wife, mother, or grandmother, I was a vibrant, sexy woman. Something I don't EVER remember feeling before.

Working with Dawn gave me a confidence in myself I thought I never had, a strength I thought I never had, power I thought I never had. To this day I feel empowered. I conquered a fear, and with the help of Dawn Kelly, conquered it successfully! It has literally changed my life!

Thank You Dawn, for everything. Thank You." ~ Cindy

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Classic Boudoir Photo Ideas

I love to give my clients a wide variety of poses so they have plenty of photos to choose from for their album. Here are some examples of poses and outfits to inspire you. Pin the photos from this guide to your boudoir inspiration board!

Editorial Boudoir Inspiration

Boudoir Studio Rentals

Outdoor Boudoir Sessions

If you want to do a super unique shoot, we can go out on location! I can help you choose a location that is right for you, such as the forest, a river, an auto shop, a garden, or your own home.

Couples Boudoir


My boudoir photography is very natural. I love to connect with my clients so I can bring out their personalities in the photos. I want you to be yourself, laugh, and have fun. I don't believe in overly-posed and overly-retouched boudoir images. There is no reason to change yourself because you are perfect the way you are. I never Photoshop anyone without permission. I don't work with busy sets or backdrops because I don't want it to take focus away from you, and these photos are about you, not me. In a nutshell, my style is classy and seductive, never overtly sexual.
I’ll be honest with you… I have had my own boudoir photos done, and I was TERRIFIED! I was shaking and sweating, and I do this for a living. However, I chose a photographer that I trust and we planned the session together, and that helped a lot. I truly understand how you feel.

I’ve been told by all my boudoir clients that even though they were very nervous when we started, they became very comfortable once the shoot got rolling. I make the session as fun as possible, including your fave playlist on Pandora! Read my testimonials to see what my clients have said.

The good news is, I will take your hand and guide you through the entire process, from choosing wardrobe to selecting your album images. Please check out my comprehensive Boudoir Guide for detailed information.
Only I, Dawn will photograph you. Privacy and modesty are very important to me, and I need to give that to you. Also, there are no men on set, EVER. My studio is in my home, so it's 100% private. You don't have to worry about someone walking by the studio or sharing bathrooms with us. I even use a female hair and makeup artist.
Yes! I have curated a wide selection of lingerie in a variety of styles and colors. Sizes XS to XL are available. You can choose between teddies, bodysuits, sets, bustiers, corsets, bralettes, panties, nighties, robes, body chains, jewelry, wedding veils, and much more. I selected modern, trendy, and sexy lingerie in classic and fun colors. There is definitely something for everyone.
Your session includes three outfits, plus topless and/or nude options. I recommend you bring a few outfits that are special to you, such as your significant other's shirt, tie, or other things. I love to personalize the photos as much as possible. Of course, you can bring whatever outfits you'd like.
Yes, I do! Fine art nudes are my specialty. There is nothing like a true artistic nude on black and white film. I have a secure web gallery I send to potential clients upon request. During your consultation I will ask you what type of photos you’d like to do, topless and nudes included. But I will never try to force you to pose nude. If during the shoot, you decide to or decide not to, that is your decision.
No. You can wear as much or as little as you like. A woman doesn’t have to be undressed to be sexy. I do a very wide range of boudoir styles, from pinup to nude. Great alternatives for conservative clients are: slinky cocktail dresses, vintage aprons, your man’s favorite jersey or button-up shirt, booty shorts, and many other modest yet sexy outfits. I will help you choose your wardrobe, so don't worry.
I have a selection of trendy and stylish large and extra-large lingerie. If you'd like to shop, my favorite online store for gorgeous, sexy, and affordable lingerie is Yandy. They have a very wide array of options, ranging from naughty to modest.
I shoot film, so professional labs will see the photos. The lab that processes and scans the negatives does not look at the images. The album company and the print lab will see the images. They see millions of images per year and are very professional. There is no danger to your images. If you don’t want any photos posted on my website or social media, that’s totally fine. What I post is up to you.
I do very light retouching, which means balancing light and contrast, cropping, and occasionally smoothing skin. I also do some minor fixes, including removing bumps or lines that may appear due to certain poses or lingerie. I rarely have to retouch anything because I know how to best flatter you with wardrobe, posing, and lighting. I want you to look like YOU, at your very best. If you would like extensive Photoshop, I am not the photographer for you.
If you choose a package with a flash drive, you will receive all your retouched photos. I typically deliver around 100 images per session.
I work with the best hair and makeup artist in the Central Valley, Summer Barker from Wildflower Bride. If you'd prefer to have someone else glam you up, or if you'd like to keep it natural and do your own hair and makeup, that's totally fine. You should do what makes you most comfortable.

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Boudoir Photography Pricing

Boudoir Session Fee
90-minute session
Wardrobe styling
Access to the client closet

Product Packages

Silver - $575
6x8 album with 12 images
8x10 mounted metallic print
Light retouching

Gold - $925
8x8 album with 20 images
11x14 mounted metallic print
Flash drive of all retouched high-resolution files

Platinum - $1,225
10x8 album with 34 images
11x14 mounted metallic print
Flash drive of all retouched high-resolution files

Inquire below to receive details and more information.