Boudoir photography is closer to classic fashion photography than something else.
Boudoir usually describes an elegantly furnished room in which the lady could withdraw. It is borrowed from the French term „bouder“, which is often translated as „to sulk“. It was often a space between the living area and the bedroom. The term „boudoir“ is not listed in classic dictionaries such as Hachette’s 1996 Dictionnaire pratique du francais. The same applies to the German Duden from 2001. In Langenscheidt’s „Dictionary of Contempory Englisch“ from 1996 it is listed as a lady’s room. So it could be a buzzword for sensual, elegant, sophisticated and intimate photography.
In painting, this subject is attributed to the French painter Francois Boucher (1703-1770) as early as the 18th century (source: Wikipedia), although the term „boudoir“ never crossed my mind in the monographs on Francois Boucher. It’s basically the classic female nude in all its forms. The painter’s „resting girl (Louise O’Murphy) from 1751“ or „Leda and the swan“ from 1740 are representative here. Boudoir photography found photographic adaptation around 1850 in e.g. colored daguerreotypes by Félix-Jacques Moulin, Alexis Goulin, Bruno Braquehais and many others. Furthermore, female nudes, as known from paintings and copper engravings. Shortly thereafter, boudoir depictions became widespread in the medium of the postcard, cheap, easy to produce and even easier to distribute. Nowadays they are an integral part of print magazines, internet portals and books. If you now compare the term “boudoir” in the keyword search for SEO, it is striking that, according to Semrush, the term has a total search volume of 263.6k (as of February 18th, 2023). The USA accounts for 110k, France for 14.8k and Germany for only 8.1k.Internet portals such as Boudoirinspiration.com have more than 350k followers in social networks such as Instagram and reach countless readerships with their print magazines, similar to the erotic magazines of Playboy and Penthouse. Is boudoir the new erotic buzzword ? Classically, boudoir should stand for intimate, sensual, substantial and elegant photography in a corresponding ambience. Black and white photography is very well suited for this, since its main character is composition and reduction to the essential. Playboy and Penthouse are more sexy and use color photography to transport more the emotional feature. In boudoir photography, for example, one could set oneself apart by using well-known brands from lingerie manufacturers such as Agent Provocateur, Atelier Bordelle and other A-brands to emphasize elegance and grace. Accessories such as necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings also promote the more elegant subject and thus further differentiate themselves from simple eroticism. Boudoir photography is closer to classic fashion photography than to erotism. The person portrayed is not downgraded to an object. It is about elegance, dignity, pride and grandeur.
If you take the photography of Marc Lagrange in his book „Diamonds and Pearls“, for example, his models often wear beautiful and large statement necklaces and the photos are taken in representative rooms. It’s a similar story with the photographer Szymon Brodziak, known for his stunning campaigns for brands like Martini, Roll-Royce and Porsche. He is youngest fashion photographer who has an exhibition in the Helmut Newton Foundation in 2014. The preface of his book „1“ was written by June Newton.
Since I was able to meet Szymon Brodziak personally in 2014 at one of his master classes, I know his approach and I love his slogan „What you see is what you are“. Boudoir photography requires careful planning. I spell it in the 3 letters „PSE“ which means prepare-shoot and edit.
Portraitandmore.de is the label of the photographer Olivier Springer based in Wiesbaden, Germany. He specializes in black and white photography, and has been featured in several printmagazines. The magazine Boudoir Inspiration tooks him in it´s selections „Best in Black and White“ for 2021 and 2022. He is known for its timelessness and elegance, and he has released several photo books that are available in his shop at Portraitandmore.de/shop.
©Portraitandmore.de by Olivier Springer