Boudoir: A Clients’ Perspective by Kelly Segre

Introduction by Kelly Segré

Many times photographers receive thank you letters and testimonials from clients. It is wonderful to know how much they appreciate what you did for them, but it is not often we realize the entire experience from their perspective. Some boudoir photographers say to fully understand what it is like you need to pose for your own boudoir session. While this is exciting and fun, it is not always the same for a photographer-turned-client as it is for the everyday woman who decides to experience her first boudoir session!

This article was written by an actual boudoir client about her experience from beginning to end – the words are her own.

My Experience with an Intimate Portrait Session by Pamela Fletcher Several times over the years I have seen ads for boudoir portraits offering a photo experience with professional hair and makeup like models and celebrities receive for their photo shoots. You …

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Show & Tell: How to Sell Boudoir Books by Kelly Segre

In-house sales work best with boudoir clients. But what does this mean? It means you have to find a way to show your client an album before they see their final prints.

Here are my tips and tricks for boosting book and album sales specifically for boudoir photographers!

1. Show and sell

Have particular products in mind for your boudoir clients? Great! Then, you must show them to sell them! When I shoot boudoir sessions, I have hair and make-up artists come to my studio, so clients see my books in front of them while they’re getting styled. They naturally want to look through the books. Initially, the client may be looking to see how other women have posed or what they’ve worn (or not worn!) in their sessions. But they always end up admiring the book! I have several sample books at my studio for my clients to experience. I only display books I want to sell and they range in price from as little as $150.00 to over $1500.00, so there is something for everyone!

2. Create a Clear à la carte System

While packages work well with weddings, the best way to boost boudoir product sales is to create  a clear à la carte system. In the past I offered packages that included books and a disk. But I discovered that clients consistently bought just the base package. Based on this experience, I revised my sales system. I start with one base package, which only covers the sitting fee, hair and make-up. All products are sold separately, including disks, retouching and books. By doing this I was also able to lower my initial fee and get more clients in the door. When I changed to an  à la carte system my profits increased dramatically!

3. Use the Disk as an Incentive

I only include the disk of edited images if the client buys a book. The best part about this? I rarely lose print sales because most non-professional photo labs will not print boudoir or “risqué” photographs! So my clients usually end up ordering prints through me! When clients realize that the price of a disk is equivalent to the price of a book – and is included with the book anyway – buying books seems like the most logical choice.

 4. Limit Retouching to a Specific Number

Immediately after each session my assistant sits down with the client and reviews the “untouched proofs.” Then, the client selects their favorite images using Lightroom. Initially my assistant advises the client not to worry about the number of favorites, because she will help them narrow down final selections after they decide which book they would like. In my base package I only include 10 retouched images. As the books increase in quality and size, the client receives more retouches. What happens? The client almost always selects more favorites than are included in the book. At this point, if they want more retouches they have to give up some of their favorite images, pay a per-image retouching fee, or buy a larger book.

5. Embrace In-House Sales Success!

Using these simple methods, and by keeping sales in-house, I’ve seen significant sales for my studio. By applying these small changes to my boudoir business, sales have increased so much that now approximately 90 percent of my clients buy books in addition to their base package!

Written by Kelly Segre

Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.

By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!

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How Can Light Create Mood? by Kelly Segre

Photography Lighting

As a photographer, lighting is everything to me. Light describes how I feel about an image and expresses to the world how I feel as a photographer. Light is to my photography as the air is to my lungs. My images can’t live without it.

Watching the way a shadow wraps around a woman’s body to accentuate her curves, or the way the catch lights are caught in her eyes is part of what I love about creating images. The use of light is more of my paintbrush than my camera at times, whether I want sun flare while outside or a hair light while in studio, it is the light that I am always looking for.

I was told a long time ago, in my first photo class, that a great image has mystery, ambiguity and contradiction. All three can be created with light. Shadows create ambiguity and have mystery if placed in the right location, while contradiction can be obtained by lighting something in the image that may have gone un-noticed otherwise.

When we look with our eyes we see the world as it is. When we light the world as photographers we show the world how we would like to see it, or for the message we wish to send. If I want to show a sexy image I may just use one light with it slowly spilling off into the background.  Natural light from behind the subject (back lighting) can be happy, joyful and full of life.

So how do you create a mood with light? Before you can create a mood you need to understand light. Unless you know exactly what the light is going to do it is nearly impossible to create a mood with out dumb luck (although happy accidents can be nice).

One of the first thing I did when I decided I wanted to learn how light works was to look at photographs in magazines and art books and try to determine what the light source was (natural, ambient, strobes, hot lights), how many light sources there were, and what direction the light was coming from. If I saw an image with lighting I loved I would try to replicate the light to see if I could recreate the lighting. In the beginning, more often than not I realized I was not correct.

Another thing to do to help you get more familiar with light is to learn how light moves. To do this I suggest sitting in a dark room with a strobe and firing it off the walls. By doing this you can see how the light bounces. Now when I am photographing a subject and light falls onto the subject in a way I don’t like I can often figure out what it is bouncing off and make a minor adjustment so I can get the image I want.

While these may not be conventional methods for learning lighting, unless you can see how light works all the technical knowledge in the world can’t help you.

While they say a picture is worth a thousand words, never forget that all of the different spectrums of light are in your vocabulary.

Written by Kelly Segre

Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.

By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!

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6 Tips for Hosting Effective and Profitable Boudoir Mini-Sessions by Kelly Segre

how to do a boudoir mini session by kelly segre

**In honor of Cupid, this blog post is the second in our February series on Boudoir photography.  See more posts on Boudoir photography…**

A typical boudoir day for me consists of anywhere from seven to twelve clients coming into my studio in one day. While powering through sessions might not work for everyone, with some practice you can effectively have profitable and fun boudoir sessions!

Here are a few tips for having an effective and profitable marathon boudoir session.

It all starts in the marketing. In order to be able to book several clients in one day, you have to be able to get several clients to sign up. The best way to do this is to create a special that limits the number of available spots & dates. When clients ask me when I will be doing my next special I often tell them it could be anywhere from six months to one year.

Always give clients a reason to buy more than the base package. The way we are currently set up is that we have a base fee that only includes the sitting, selected retouches and professional hair and make up. Because of this any additional products such as prints, books, and discs are purchased separately. Unlike most types of portraiture, boudoir clients will purchase both a disc of the images and prints. Most clients purchase a disc to put the images on their computer, not for personal reprinting.

Effectively prepare your clients for the session. Create a questionnaire for the clients which addresses their level of comfort, personality traits, likes and dislikes about themselves, and well as how they would like their hair & make up. In addition give the client tips on how to prepare for the session (what to bring, ect) and tell them what they should expect from the session.

Hire a professional hair & make up artist for the day. This helps in a variety of ways and is an important tool in making boudoir sessions work. Not only does it help the retouching process it makes your clients feel as if they are having a “spa day” and warms them up for the session. When the clients see themselves after they have been pampered for an hour before their session it helps with their confidence, which translates in the images. There are many professional hair and make up artist that will offer ½ and full day rates.

Limit the number of retouches and have the clients help you with your workflow. With each session I limit the number of retouches and if they would like any additional retouches it is an extra charge. Immediately following each session my client sits down on the computer in a private room, where my assistant helps them pick what images they would like retouched through Lightroom. The clients are excited because they get the instant gratification of seeing their images and they get to pick what they like. This process makes it so I don’t have to cull through all the images and gives me the opportunity to make an extra profit on additional retouches.

Prepare your shooting area. The biggest help in me being able to “power through” so many sessions is having my studio set up and ready before any of my clients come in. I have five sets all lit separately and all I need to do is position my client and shoot. I can bounce from set to set in a matter of seconds so I am able to photograph them in a few outfits on every set in less than 45 minutes, usually about a half an hour. More importantly during the session I am not worrying about the technical aspects of the shoot and focusing on the woman in front of the camera. By being prepared technically, whether it be in a studio, home or hotel gives you the opportunity to 100% focus on your client.

Written by Kelly Segre

Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.

By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!

Kelly is currently offering a small intimate boudoir workshop & private mentoring in Las Vegas during WPPI. The focus of this workshop will be building a rapport with boudoir clients, lighting, posing, and how to go about getting boudoir clientele. Visit www.kellysegreworkshops.com for more information and to sign up!

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How to Use Boudoir Studio Lighting by Kelly Segre

The biggest concern I hear from people who have never worked with studio lights, even if they own them, is that they are intimidated to use them. Although natural light can work beautifully in studio, knowing how to use studio lights will set you apart from other photographers, especially with the increasing boudoir market.

With boudoir photography becoming as popular as it is, whether you are shooting at your house, your client’s home or in a hotel room this is now technically your studio for the day. We cannot always depend on natural light to be consistent as sometimes our clients are only available for evening appointments and as we all know the weather cannot be controlled.

The two recipes shown above are very simple studio set-ups using 1 to 2 lights. The first set up is one that I use in studio often to get a great black …

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Mutual Networking for Boudoir Photography by Kelly Segre

Just like weddings, if you want to get in on the business of boudoir photography you are going to have to find a way get potential clients. When I first started boudoir photography I naturally just advertised to my brides.  But with only an average of 30 brides a year I was barely able to get enough clients to make my venture worthwhile, especially when being a bride doesn’t automatically make you a candidate for a boudoir session.

So I had to ask myself “if I was looking to get boudoir images done of myself, where would I look?”  The answer came pretty easily…go to where a woman would go to prepare for her boudoir sessions! So my next stop was the local lingerie boutique. I personally made the decision to only network with limited stores, this way I could develop a stronger relationship with them and potentially get more clients than if I were to give my promotional material to every store in town.

One thing I think we often forget is that networking is not one-sided, so for networking to work, the company we are working with needs to benefit from our services as well. Just giving your promotional materials to a lingerie store is not mutually beneficial for them. One idea I came up with was that every time a client books a boudoir session with us they receive a small gift certificate to the lingerie store as part of their package. This gives them the opportunity to get some great new lingerie before their session and the lingerie store benefits as well.

Since I started offering gift certificates to the lingerie store as part of package I have found that my boudoir inquiries have increased tremendously. Additionally, what often happens is that the client returns to the store for future lingerie purchases and at that time gives the storeowner feedback about how great their session was. Although the lingerie store has books of several boudoir photographers, because of this feedback the storeowner has mentioned to me that she feels more comfortable recommending me to her clients.

Once I realized how beneficial mutual networking could be, I started including it in other aspects of my boudoir business. I now also include professional hair and make up with all of my sessions. I have the fee of the hair & make up artist figured into the price of the session. Because of the large amount of referrals my make up artist is receiving she also gives me a slight discount on her fee. Including professional hair and make up has been a win – win situation for everyone. My hair and make up artist gets extra referrals, my client feels like she just received a mini makeover, and I have less post-production!

Join the Conversation:

What other networking relationships have you found work for you? Share your comments below.

Written by Kelly Segre

Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.

By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!

Kelly will be leading shooting workshops at Pictage U- San Diego, May 25 and 26. See pictageu.com for more information. Only 5 spots left!

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