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The History of Boudoir Photography

Portrait photography has a multitude of styles and niches that are used to capture the human experience. At Black Lace Boudoir, we provide an intimate type of photography that infuses portrait, fashion, and beauty – this style is known as boudoir photography.

What is Boudoir Photography?

In another post, we go in-depth on what exactly is boudoir photography. In short, boudoir photography is a form of portrait that depicts romantic, intimate, and/or playful poses of the subject, captured in a studio, bedroom, or outdoor setting, meant as an intimate gift for oneself or one’s partner. Boudoir photography is characterized by its sensual nature; often times having a woman pose in personal or even erotic ways. Although boudoir photography has seen a recent rise in popularity in the last decade, boudoir photography has been a method of image-making that has been practiced for decades.

The History of Boudoir Photogaphy

The term Boudoir, as you might have guessed, originated in France. Historically it has been used to depict a woman’s private room; typically a room in the house between the dining room and bedroom, the boudoir is a place of activities for women or somewhere to spend time with a romantic partner.

The concept of boudoir photography came about in the 1920s. Originally, photographers would create boudoir type settings either in a studio or a luxury hotel. In these sessions, models wore lingerie; although in some cases, some models chose to be nude. In many places, having nudity in photographs was generally illegal. For example, Albert Arthur Allen from France, focused his boudoir art on larger women, who posed in lingerie and nude in sultry poses against ornate backdrops. The purpose of boudoir photography, even back in its infancy, was to express sexuality rather than vulgarity.

Boudoir Photography in the 1940s – The Pin-Up Girl

Pin-Up Style Boudoir

Fast forward to the 1940s, and the boudoir photography focus was on pin-up girls. These decadent woment were delightfully curvy, as popular standards in the 40s deemed a lack of shape typically undesirable. Pin-up girls wore stockings, corsets, men’s ties and hats, and were the among the first to use various props in their boudoir portraits.

Boudoir Photography in the 1970s

The next major change in boudoir photography occurred in the 1970s. For one, photography in general became more accepted as a professional art form. Magazines, news papers, and other media began to feature images of real women as opposed to drawings. The 1970s came right after America’s “sexual revolution” in which some taboos about sexuality had been challenged and broken down. Boudoir photography in the 1970s, for example, started to showcase women without their bras, and sometimes without their panties. Despite these images being strictly artistic in purpose, American culture was slow to adapt to seeing these images as art rather than glorified pornography.

Boudoir Photography Today

modern boudoir photograpy

Over the last three to four decades, boudoir photography has not only become completely accepted by society, but is often encouraged and celebrated in many circles. Boudoir photography is enjoyed as art work in the home or given as an intimate gift to a spouse for a special occasion. Often women today will look for photographers who can help them recreate classic boudoir photography styles, like the pin-up girl look, or luminous style boudoir photos. Boudoir style photography isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In a world where the standard of beauty is often one of rail-thin and “most-perfect” on TV, movies and magazines, boudoir photography celebrates real women and their bodies. Boudoir photography captures real women at their most vulnerable and their most confident, leading to an incredibly empowering experience.

Boudoir Photography: Empowering Women

Women all over the world can start believing in themselves, as well as feeling great by wearing their favorite lingerie and having their photographs taken. This is really a great way to boost self-esteem, have a bit of fun and treat your other half. The whole purpose of boudoir art and photography is that women should love their bodies, and that feeling sexy shouldn’t just be about pleasing somebody else — it should be about pleasing yourself, and realizing just how valuable you are. If you live in the Washington D.C., Fredericksburg, and Northern Virginia area, and you’re interested in having your own boudoir photography session, contact us today!


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