Bridal Boudoir with Melanie Anderson
I am a portrait and commercial photographer, and while I do photograph several weddings a year, I am very selective. I need to be excited about the wedding experience, and generate revenue without having to invest an entire day photographing a wedding. We do it through “bridal boudoir,” which is a pre-wedding shoot for the bride that we turn into an intimate gift for her husband.
When we attend bridal shows, we set up our booth to showcase boudoir. We collect brides’ information in exchange for their chance to win a $1,000 credit toward a boudoir session. We call nonwinning entries and offer them a $100 portrait credit. What’s great about this method is that all those who enter our giveaway truly are interested in boudoir, and they receive a packet filled with information on how to prepare and what to expect. (I showcase this process in the video segment.) We create this packet from templates by Design Aglow. Our typical boudoir sales are between $1,500 and $3,500. The boudoir collection includes a large wall portrait canvas and an album. As I explain in the video segment this month, the wall portrait is usually black and white and very artistic. It’s rare that my client’s face is the main focus—it is usually the curves of her body.
Let’s go through our bridal boudoir process. A session lasts about an hour. Set aside two hours if she is having hair and makeup done in the studio. Brides often bring along their maid/matron of honor and/or her mom for support. It’s also not unusual for them to bring champagne or wine to ease their nerves. While they’re in hair and makeup, I browse through her outfits and discuss the product line we offer. I am pre-selling the album size and style.
Knowing what the bride wants allows me to continue to shoot with intention. If my bride’s goal is for a canvas wall portrait only, there is no need to take a ton of images. Whatever my client’s budget is, I want to spend it wisely. I walk them through the products and discuss the cost, and offer a payment plan if needed. Most of our clients end up with a 4×8 accordion album or a 10×10 leather album, along with a large wall canvas. The album style they choose dictates how many poses, outfits and images I need to capture. I am purposeful with my time and my client’s time. By keeping track of our process and creating the storyline as I photograph, I put my client at ease and make her final decisions easier.
We hold our order session immediately following the shoot. I do not pre-edit our images, which also saves a ton of time. Clients gather their stuff and relax while I download the images. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to download and narrow down to my favorites, crop and convert a few to black and white. I use ProSelect for this process. I then bring my client into our sales room and ask her to choose her favorites. We start with the wall art, since that usually becomes the cover of the album.
After our full-time staff designer receives the order, we send off our images for editing. When images are complete, our designer begins the layout process. She uploads the album to a private gallery for our client to view and approve. Upon approval, the album is ordered. The entire process takes about two weeks.
On the day of the wedding, the bride presents her boudoir album to her soon-to-be husband as a gift. The canvas is usually revealed that evening or when they return from their honeymoon.
Marketing for this brand of photography is word of mouth—it is vital. We rarely post these images on social media, and they are not on my website. If a client is interested in viewing our boudoir images, we give her a link to a private gallery or invite her into our studio to view our albums.
What to bring:
- Four to five outfits (anything that makes her feel beautiful; doesn’t need to be all lingerie)
- Something of his, like a favorite t-shirt, jersey or tie
- Multiple pairs of heels in a variety of colors and styles
- Thigh-high panty hose or fishnets
Action Plan and Recap:
- If you are not already photographing boudoir, create a call to action. Seek out a few women and offer a complimentary boudoir session to create a portfolio for display. Print several album choices, along with a few wall portrait canvases in 16×24, 20×24 and 24×30. It’s important for clients to see and feel the products you offer. It provides several opportunities for you to upsell.
- Create an internal pose guide. Design a way to make your clients feel comfortable and confident during the session.
- Presell your products.
- Shoot with intention.
- Seek out bridal shows and set up a boudoir display. Give away a free boudoir session. This gives you a list of other potential brides who might be interested in your services. Offer all others a $100 portrait credit.