When starting out it can sometimes be difficult getting those first few women to agree to be apart of your boudoir photography portfolio. Not to worry, there are many ways to find willing participants who will allow you to showcase their images in exchange for a free session.
1. Friends and Family – call on your BFF, DS or SIL to model for you
2. Current or past clients – upcoming brides who want a sexy wedding gift for their groom make for great boudoir portfolio models.
3. Model Mayhem – A great source of amateur models and makeup artists to collaborate with. When choosing a model, make sure she looks natural and shows a variety facial expressions. Put out a casting call or private message those that would fit perfectly into your portfolio.
4. Put out a casting call on Facebook or ask your old high school friends to be apart of your boudoir portfolio
5. Local photographers make great models. When I was starting out I photographed quite a few local photographer friends and I even had my own shoot done in exchange.
6. Put out a casting call on local bride forums. I held a contest for a free session on a local bridal forum and sent the non-winners a half price session fee offer. One of them has turned out to be my best referrer, sending me 10 clients to date. One of those ten is a wedding coordinator who has sent me several clients … and counting.
7. Print up some “You've Been Spotted” business cards to give out when your out and about if you're brave and outgoing.
8. Offer a shoot to local personal trainers. They're in great shape and will talk you up amongst their clients.
9. If you're going to be using a local salon for hair and/or makeup, ask the employees if they'd like to model for you. Again, they will promote you to their clients.
Be clear regarding the requirements before giving away a free session. Make the candidates aware that they must sign a model release in exchange for a free session and the products you choose to include. Don't waste your time by finding out at the end of the session that your model doesn't want her images to be apart of your boudoir portfolio. It's great practice but won't add to your portfolio.
Seek out a variety of looks, body types and ethnic backgrounds to even out your portfolio and include all types of all women.
Hold a marathon day of quick shoots for each of your models or spend a few hours with each to experiment with lighting and posing.
Look for a local makeup artist that you can call on and who may be looking to build or update her portfolio as well. Work TFP or TFCD (trade for prints or a cd of the images) in exchange for her services.
For hair styling, approach some local salons to see if they will offer a discount and let them know you'll be sending a lot of clients their way.
From an search engine optimization perspective, get your website up and running as soon as you have some quality images (and of course when you feel you can deliver a consistent, quality product). The earlier you can start working on your SEO, the sooner you will start ranking in search engines – just in time to open your doors for business.
What ever you do, have fun with it ! Try taking your time with each model and explore different lighting set-ups and experiment with posing. Boudoir is one of the most creative and yet challenging types of photography. Being prepared to work with all body types takes practice in finding what flatters a figure and what doesn't. Finding your own shooting style and learning the fine art of retouching is will build your boudoir portfolio and give you the confidence to get your business started.