The Business Of Boudoir
Shutterbug|March 2017

How to Succeed in One of Photography’s Fastest Growing Markets

Maria Piscopo

WHILE PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT OF AS A NICHE, boudoir photography is now a thriving way for photographers to make a living. Usually a gift to a loved one or one’s self, boudoir photography consists of an intimate photo of a woman or man suggestively covered or even fully nude. Although the photographers I interviewed all have different businesses, they all have one thing in common: tremendous kindness and compassion. Thanks to the following photographers for sharing how they have made their businesses a success: Mariah Carle, Lynn Clark, Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio, Megan Drane, Kristi Elias, and Mistie Simone.

Shutterbug: How long have you been in the boudoir photography business? Is it 100 percent of your sales? What other areas of photography do you include in your business? 

Kristi Elias: I have been a professional photographer for 19 years. I added boudoir seven years ago and it is now 60 percent of my business. I am a fine art portrait photographer. I photograph people from maternity to boudoir, children, and couples. I specialize in masterpiece portraits. 

Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio: In 2015 we made the decision to drop our other areas of photography (i.e., weddings, children, and families) to focus exclusively on boudoir. The more we dug into boudoir, not just as an art form, but as an avenue to empower women to regard themselves more positively, the more we realized the immense amount of time and effort that went into this aspect of our business. 

Mistie Simone: My business has been operating since March of 2009 and I am 95 percent boudoir photography and 5 percent pinup, which is practically the same thing. Also, my company is 100 percent Photoshop free. 

Lynn Clark: I’ve had my portrait photography business since 2010 and did my first boudoir shoot in October 2010. By mid-2011, I eliminated everything except boudoir, maternity, and headshots. I decided to specialize in boudoir and headshots in mid-2012 once I came to terms with the fact that it is my favorite, and that it’s okay not to shoot everything. I shoot about 75 boudoir sessions and about 25 headshots a year.

Mariah Carle: I accepted my first boudoir client in 2008. She was a friend of mine who wanted some boudoir photos for her then boyfriend. For sales, boudoir is 50 percent; studio rentals 25 percent; portraits and weddings 20 percent; and nude model for art school 5 percent. Megan Drane: I had started my photography career with my main brand, Firefly Nights Photography, which is children and families. About six or seven years ago, a client asked me to do a boudoir session for them and that created my second brand specifically for boudoir.

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