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The 7 most important things we’ve learned about running a boudoir business

By | Boudoir Tips, Sales & Contests, Workshops | No Comments

boudoir business

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. See last week I got an email that attempted to shame us for teaching boudoir workshops. This photographer claimed we should have been more proprietary and guarded our secrets about our business rather than sharing them. Then I did an Facebook rant about this angry email. I don’t usually do that. But, whatever, I did. And what happened was kind of eye opening. So many past workshop attendees, both in person and online responded.

These now boudoir gurus all talked about how much they had grown after our workshop. It got me all fired up thinking about how much knowledge about the boudoir industry was in that one little group of Facebook rant commenters. SO much knowledge. From what they had learned from us, but more importantly how they had applied it and what had worked well. What hadn’t work well. What made the biggest difference in their boudoir photography business.

So much boudoir wisdom in a group that it invigorated me. I asked everyone to please share some of the biggest things they had learned from our workshops or from their boudoir business.

This is obviously a topic that we could go on and on about. I mean our Online Boudoir Workshop alone is something like 8 hours long. But if we were all going to talk about the MOST important things we have learned, what would they be? I was eager to find out, here is what we all came up with….

1. Understand how to make the client feel and look incredible.

I, Marissa, am going to start with mine first. I know it sounds obvious, but maybe that’s why sometimes I think it may be a bit overlooked. Because it seems so obvious. The most important thing I have learned about running a boudoir business is that it all starts with how you make the client feel, and understanding how to make them look their best. To be clear here. Feel their best is more important than to look their best.

And feel their best is easy. It’s about being a cheerleader, a body positivity coach, and having FUN with them. Your energy and confidence as a photographer is more important than even the photos themselves.

The next part doesn’t come easy. The next part takes practice and study. It means planting yourself in a chair and watching instructional videos, investing in workshops, doing test shoots with friends that are sick of doing test shoots because you’ve asked them 100 times. Learning how to truly make anyone look better than they ever have in a photo is a serious skill set. And it requires dedication. But my God, when it all clicks for you as a photographer in a boudoir photo shoot. Man. It’s the most fun and rewarding job. Here’s what I mean…

 

I hope that didn’t intimidate you. I didn’t say it was hard, I just said it takes study. And I would start with posing. The right pose on the right body, from the right angle is everything. Posing for boudoir is a serious craft, but the good news is that’s it’s one that can be easily learned. Here is an example of what I mean by knowing your poses….

  boudoir workshop

be a boss 2. Be a business owner first and a photographer second.

Being a business owner isn’t glamorous all the time. It means putting in long hours and doing the admin things to put all your ducks in a row. It means budgeting and sticking to it. How unsexy is that?

Robyn Buyskes of Bubbles and Berries mentioned the business topic when we asked her what had most influenced her boudoir studio. And I thought it was brilliant that she brought it up. This talented boudoir studio owner said this, “I think the thing I took away that had the most impact on me and lite a fire under me was the Divas saying ‘I am a business woman first and a photographer second’ that was huge for me. I knew I wanted a brand and a business that I could be proud of and taking stunning pictures for beautiful people was how I wanted to do it. Years later and I still have so much thanks for the Divas for all they gave me in that workshop, it gave me the knowledge and inspiration to come back to my home town and kick some ass lol. Fast forward to 2017. I started to feel like I was in a creative rut a creative stall almost. I was feeling a bit defeated and so I need a refresher. I bought the Divas online workshop, and while it took me a while to actually do it, it helped me relight that spark in me. It gave me even more knowledge into the things I struggle with, such as marketing ideas and ways to succeed and stand out. ”

Ok – so first of all, I think that Robyn should give herself a pat on the back for leaning into the serious business owner thing as a creative artist. Cuz us creative artists usually love to self proclaim that we aren’t into the business stuff. And we certainly aren’t eager to roll up our sleeves and get after it. And second, good for her for keeping focused and watching all the hours of the course again. I think one of the biggest business victories is keeping your butt in the chair and getting instruction from people who have already done it. It’s so easy to get distracted.
Being a business owner to us means having a powerful money making machine (business model). It means watching your finances closely. It means staying on task. It means not watching Instagram stories during business hours. It means not giving your clients deals on things you haven’t accurately run the numbers on. It means understanding HOW to run the numbers. So let’s make that an official ‘most important thing’ for boudoir….
  price yourself as a photographer

3. Understand how to price yourself. 

When we were growing the business 11 years ago I had a mentor Kevin who was one of the awesome duo members of KISS Wedding Books. This guy knew business like nobody’s….. well, business. Anywho I was telling him about our pricing. And he knew the product I was referring to because we were buying it from him. He said “you are charging way too little.”
I said, “yea but we are a higher volume so we can do more shoots.”
He said, “I don’t care how many shoots you do you might as well be eating bon bons on your couch watching TV because you’d be making just as much money doing that, and you wouldn’t be working your ass off and using resources. So really you’d be making more money eating bon bons.”
Dammit. He was right and I knew it. Money was coming in, but it was going right back out. And even though I did the numbers on my calculator and I should be profitable based on that pricing, I didn’t know how to do them like a true financial whiz. I had to hit the books to learn.
Agi M, owner Australia’s amazing Agi M Photography,  says this…. ” I found the most useful part for me was how to structure pricing. It is probably the one part that I see most of us struggle with and just building my pricing using proper calculation, counting in my time, editing time (!!!), production time, prep time, etc made a massive difference in how I feel about my pricing. While I still sometimes struggle to make others see the benefits of my pricing and why my services seem to cost more than my competition, I’m certainly confident about it and never think I should feel bad for asking for what my time and work worth to give someone the absolute most if me.”
And Crystal Skrupski, of Joi Photography who so knows her stuff, she too said, “pricing! I was on the right track with my pricing but I found that I was seriously under pricing my products and not accounting for editing and production time. As soon as I got home I used the formula that I had learned at the Diva’s retreat and did a 180 on all my products. I have yet to look back! I still use their method for every new item I price so that I know what I need to charge to actually profit.”

4. Purchase a session from a photographer you admire

If you haven’t had a boudoir shoot as a boudoir photographer, this is a MUST. Natasha Mendoza said this and we completely agree, “One of the things that helped me the most was actually booking a shoot with you guys and going through the experience first hand (from booking to the consult to the shoot and then seeing the pics)! That’s how I learn the best so I always try to book a service before taking a class from someone. The second thing for me was watching you shoot someone– listening to what you say, how you act, how you use your camera (finding the right settings, etc), finding the best light, positioning, etc. I would have loved to have watched you shoot for hours and then discuss everything after. I actually really enjoyed watching the other girls in the workshop’s shooting styles and learned a lot from them too! When people watched me though I got really shy and nervous. Lol However, the most important thing I learned was how to make sure you are making a profit- numbers and formulas! How to add up your expenses and COD’s to create your packages and albums. That was the best thing I learned as just taking a good photo means nothing if you can’t make a profit and a living for your family.”

So we are seeing a theme here with really understanding your numbers. But I think Natasha makes a serious point with suggesting you have your own boudoir shoot. Guy photogs I’m guessing this isn’t probably something you are eager to do. And that’s fine. BUT you still need to have some sort of extensive portrait session. What I believe is the biggest take home from being in front of the camera for a long session is empathy. Empathy for how uncomfortable it can be. Physically and emotionally. How awkward you are feeling in front of the camera and how much you have to trust the photographer. That’s why as photographers we need to experience that vulnerability so that even on our worst day we will never stop being a confident and kind leader during our professional photo sessions.

Italy’s Veronica Maltoni flew into San Diego for a workshop and she had this lovely insight, “but you know, lighting and posing is seriously nothing if you don’t use empathy and kindness and continue appreciation with your client. This is what I live with everyday since that magic February 2011.”

5. Start in person sales

Kimberlee here now – I’m going to jump in and share a few more tips for you, from all that we’ve learned along the way. One of the biggest things that affected our business model was when we switched to doing In-Person Sales (or IPS) for all of our boudoir clients. When we used to do online viewings, we took one week to process images, upload them to an online hosting site, and then sent the link to our client so she could choose her favorites. That’s one way to do it – but we discovered that we were losing out on a LOT of potential income by doing it this way. And the time it took to go back and forth. We then started doing in-person sales sessions one week after the client’s session… but THEN we decided to do something even more crazy. We asked ourselves: “What if we could do IPS the very same day, right after a client’s session?”

Yes, I know this sounds crazy – but I’m telling you guys, we tried it – and it worked! It worked so well, in fact, that we continued to do same-day in-person sales sessions for each and every client, from then on. Our clients LOVED this. Rather than having to wait a week, now they were able to see their images (and place orders for additional products) right then an there, after waiting only about an hour after their session. Crystal said: “I also changed up my method of IPS and do most of my sales sessions same-day. This saves me time in the long run and my ladies love seeing their images right away.”

  boudoir marketing

6. Use free marketing

We used to believe spending big money on marketing and ads meant big return. No sir. Not true. But here’s the catch. The free or far less expensive takes time, effort and when or if it fails it’s hurts almost worse than if you just spent money. Back in the day (aka 5 years ago) before we all spent so much time on social media, we had to pound the pavement to get our name out. Which we still kinda do.

But more so we take advantage and try to stay consistent with our social media. It can be hard when you are starting out and you feel like you are posting to an audience of one (thanks mom!). But stick with it and the audience will grow. We find Hootsuite can relieve the burden of trying to post every other day by helping you plan it all out and schedule them. We talk for over an hour on our online workshop about what those different more effective marketing options are.

Lindsay Nickel of Lindsay Nickel Photography sent us this via email, “your marketing skills are second to none. You have me hooked on your website, Instagram, and Facebook page, and you gave me the tools to do the same.” (With the workshop).

We have slacked with our Instagram game lately, but we are so close to celebrating 10,000 followers!! Oh wait, help us out and go give us a follow! Lol. @theboudoirdivas

7. Create systems that work for you

But first before I talk about that, please look at Kimee’s flip phone on the desk. Lol.

The last tip we have for you is all about systems. And for the creative artist I’m sure you are like “systems?”…. barf. But hear us out. Systems for business reduce wasted time, help with efficiency and minimize stress. We have systems for our production, and we even have systems for most of our shoot to insure we are consistent and help with our sales. Posing is a little bit about maximizing time to get an incredible about of photos and increase your sales. So that’s a system too.

Systems for booking can and will keep you sane when you start to scale your business. And systems for your workflow after the shoot will save your butt more times that you will like to admit in your years as a photographer.

 Laura Boyd of Own Your Sexy wrote this, “I was lucky enough to take a Boudoir Divas workshop in Paris shortly after I started offering boudoir, and it shaped the trajectory of my business. Of course, I learned a lot from them on the posing and lighting side, but it was the business side that really helped me make things happen. I implemented their shoot structure and same-day viewing process and within a few years grew my business to multiple 6-figures. And I’m still using essentially the same system today because it just WORKS. I couldn’t be more grateful to have found Marissa and Kimberly as mentors early in my career. If you have a chance to learn from them, do it!”
So there you have it. A quick condensed list of what we think the most important things we’ve learned about running a boudoir photography business is. We would be honored if you checked out Online Boudoir Workshop. We can’t tell you how much we believe in this course!
Thanks for hanging out with us! Best wishes with you and your boudoir business!
Marissa & Kimberlee
boudoir workshop

Boudoir Bed Headboard Fabric Backdrop

By | Boudoir Gear & More | No Comments

Yep we made a Boudoir Bed Headboard Fabric Backdrop. I keep saying we need to figure out a better name for it.  I know it’s been a bit since we’ve posted on our blog, but man has there been SO much going on! I know, I know, we’re always saying that 🙂

But when something this big happens it’s necessary to carve out some time to write on our blog that’s always been so good to us. And by our blog, I mean all of YOU cool cats out there that read our blog! So as we mentioned before, we’ve moved and re-branded a bit. Nothing too wild, just a different location and vibe. And with that change meant it was time to give up our beloved exquisite boudoir headboard. But the thing is that SO, SO many women called our studio over the years and wanted to be photographed on this set. So saying goodbye wasn’t so easy. We had a thought, what if dismantling this boudoir photography asset isn’t necessary, what if instead, we make it available to ALL boudoir photographers. To ALL women who are wanting a classic boudoir bed set. boudoir fabric backdrop

So, we partnered with backdrop outlet, did some tests, and came up with what we think is a must have when it comes to boudoir sets. We know that shooting boudoir photos is so much fun, but it can be expensive and tricky trying to find/rent locations to shoot in. It really does make us happy to say that now we have a backdrop that we can all easily set up and travel with no problem. Learn more here….http://bit.ly/2wWb8ae

So without further ado I give my nerdy video showcasing our sweet new boudoir bed headboard backdrop set! I clearly need a better name for it 😉

Click here to learn more and/or purchase for this special launch rate!

Can you believe that these are shot with a cloth backdrop?

boudoir bed backdrop

Click here to learn more and/or purchase for this special launch rate!

 

Big changes at the San Diego Studio

By | Press & News | No Comments

We have quite the announcement! We are technically closing the studio and then re-opening! I would be honored if you headed over to my new blog hear the reasons and thoughts behind the change. Also here is a video that will fill you on the details of everything! 🙂 It’s been amazing having a network with all you photographers out there, don’t worry we aren’t going anywhere! Just changing it all up a bit.


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Thanks for stopping by!

Marissa

Is your boudoir business PROFITABLE?!

By | Boudoir Tips | No Comments

WORKING FOR FREE?

Do you feel like you are running a boudoir nonprofit? Does it feel as if your business is bringing IN a lot of money, but you still never seem to cut yourself a paycheck? Or are you like most photographers we talk to, who don’t even know WHAT their margins are, or whether they’re profitable at all?!

boudoir tips for beginners

WHY YOU AREN’T MAKING ANY MONEY:

There could be SO many reasons why you’re not running a profitable boudoir business – here are just a few things that may apply to you:
*You’re running a business model that is simply not a good fit for you!
*You have too many staff members on your team, or maybe you need MORE help (ie, hiring an assistant or outsourcing your post-production).
*You don’t know EXACTLY what your cost of goods are (COG).
*You need to charge more for hair & makeup, or you need to find a new HMUA who will give you a better deal for your clients (less COG for you per client).
*Your monthly expenses are too high – maybe you don’t need that beautiful huge studio that costs thousands of $$ each month.
*You need to restructure your packages and what you offer in them – or change your pricing structure completely.
*You need to increase the value of your sessions (with things that won’t increase your COG too much).

IF YOU ARE CRINGING AT THESE QUESTIONS, DO NOT STOP READING – YOU PROBABLY NEED THIS!

I know, I know, we are artists, creatives at heart, and we love taking beautiful images. We didn’t get into this business to get bogged down in BUSINESS. We want to create and capture beauty!

But, reality check here folks: You are NOT running a boudoir nonprofit. If you aren’t making a profit, it’s time to make some changes to your business.

Please know that as we are writing this, we aren’t yelling at you. Think of this post as if we are sitting down to coffee – like we are your big sisters, and we’re just giving you a little sisterly advice, because we care about you and we BELIEVE in you. Also… we have been there too! It took us YEARS of trial & error, trying to figure out what pricing structure worked best for us, and creating a streamlined, profitable business model. So don’t be discouraged. Look at this as an opportunity to make some changes and create a plan to make some money and stop shooting for free!

NEXT STEPS:

1) Determine exactly what your operating costs are, and list them out in a spreadsheet (fixed expenses each month related to your business).
2) How much money do you want to make from your photography business (monthly/yearly salary)?
3) List out what your current boudoir packages are, and then write down the EXACT cost of goods with each one. Now you should be able to know – what is the actual PROFIT with each package?
4) How many boudoir shoots do you need to do each month in order to cover your expenses, AND give yourself a salary?
5) Are you hitting that goal # (from #4) each month? If so – you are running a SUCCESSFUL (ie, profitable) boudoir photography business – CONGRATS! If not – it’s time to rework some things to figure out how to make your business successful.

*Please note: This is a very simplified version of how we run our numbers and determine what needs to be reworked. If you want to continue this conversation with us, and you know that it would be helpful for you to learn more and dive deeper into pricing, business models, sales, products, etc, then we’d love to have you join us in our Boudoir Business Course.

The Divas’ Top 3 Boudoir Poses

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OUR FAVORITE BOUDOIR POSES:

Through the years we’ve created recipes & systems that we know will work with every client. As we said before, we learned the hard way with posing at first, and learned quickly what did and didn’t work for most clients. It took a lot of trial and error (and experimenting with some very gracious friends) before we learned which poses are the absolute best for boudoir.

boudoir photography tips beginners

THREE MUST-DO POSES:

We actually have 17 all-time FAVORITE poses that we know just plain work for all women, no matter what body type. We even named them, so that we could remember and reference them during our shoots. And the awesome thing is that these are not just poses that look good – they are ones that our clients always buy! (If you wanna see all of our 17 fave poses, go check out our Posebook). For today, though, we wanted to share with you 3 examples of our top boudoir poses – these are ones that you absolutely MUST do in each and every boudoir shoot!

top boudoir poses

MELISSA

This is such a classic, one that we do for every single client. This pose is super flattering on everyone, and it’s easy to get a lot of variety within this pose too. Be sure that you set up your client at a bit of a diagonal angle, so that her upper body is closer to the lens and her lower body and legs are a bit farther away.

the boudoir divas

TRISHA

This is an easy transition pose after the Melissa… all you need to do is ask your client to flip over on her stomach! Notice on this shot we have our client in the same angle (diagonal, with upper body in foreground). We also ask our clients to roll on their hip/side just a tad, rather than being completely flat with their stomach on the ground or bed. This makes sure that there’s a nice ‘pop’ to her hip and booty, showing off some awesome curves.

boudoir divas

LAURA

Ok, now lastly, we wanted to share our “Laura” pose with you – but I’m not going to explain this one, because we actually have this one for you available to WATCH! The video below shows how we work with a client and coach her through this pose. *NOTE: this is a ‘preview’ of our online Posing Class… so the 1st minute gives a couple of glimpses of our posing tips. Skip ahead to about 1:15 to watch us demo the “Laura!”

Dare to Dream.

By | Boudoir Tips | No Comments

DARE TO DREAM:

We are writing this post today to prove that when you dare to dream big… you CAN take those dreams and turn them into reality. We know, because we did it.

OUR BIG DREAM:
*To own a successful, big-time, high-volume studio; a studio that ONLY shoots boudoir – nothing else.
*We wanted to have 600+ boudoir shoots a year.
*To be booked solid 2 months in advance, with inquiries pouring in & our phones ringing off the hook.
*Shoots booked 7 days a week, with some late night, after-hour shoots.
*People flying to us from all over the US for a shoot.
*An awesome all-female team, all working together toward our goals.
*And on top of all this, we wanted to make a PROFIT, and wanted to have the freedom to pursue our other passions as well.

Who would’ve ever thought ALL of this could be possible with boudoir?

We are so stoked to have reached our BIG dream – and it feels so good to say that we are finally here. For those of you who are new to our blog, and don’t know or understand what the heck we’re talking about with our ‘big dream’ – we created a quick video to show you a visual mash up of who we are, and to give you a glimpse inside our world:

HOW IT STARTED:

We started shooting boudoir more than 10 years ago, in a tiny one car garage, 40 minutes outside of San Diego, in a very rural town… at a time when NOBODY knew what boudoir was.
boudoir divas garage studio
And in just a few short years, we took our dreams and turned them into reality. We saw INCREDIBLE growth and success with our business, moving from the garage into beautiful huge studio space, with 20 different sets, a staff of 7, and our calendar booked solid with shoots.

We are SO blessed, and thankful that we can we came to a place where we saw our dreams come true. All of the items listed above in our “Big Dream” – became a reality.

THE ROADMAP:

But were we able to jump from here – to here – by just wishing and hoping and dreaming?

Hell no. We got here because of our Roadmap to Success….our A to Z plan. We KNEW what we wanted, and we knew it wasn’t just going to fall in our lap. We knew what we needed to do…. MSH (Make Shit Happen).

WHY YOU NEED A ROADMAP:

* Goals help us from spinning our wheels. Besides a magic genie, goals are the fastest way to get us to where we want to be.
* A roadmap is very visual, you can hang it on your wall and refer to it daily. We love the idea of printing a huge print of your roadmap so you can have the satisfaction of checking off each item with a huge sharpie, as you accomplish those things.
* The road map allows us to incorporate strategy and calculated risks into achieving our dreams.
* Planning takes away anxiety, and gives you a thought-out step-by-step process.
* It’s also so empowering to have these goals in front of you, with action steps to get to those goals…
* Each action step that you take is literally getting you one step closer to what you want.
* There is so much satisfaction in crossing things off your list!

GET IT NOW:

We want you to be able to walk away from this blog post with something tangible, and a plan of action! We would be beyond GIDDY if we knew our Roadmap helped you say ‘here is my big dream, here are my 10 goals, and this is what I’m going to do to work toward them.’

We would love for you to print & fill out your OWN Roadmap to Success – so we’re giving this to you for FREE, as our gift to you. Go grab it now, and print it out: The Divas’ Roadmap to Success
boudoir divas

YOUR BIG DREAM:

What do you want out of your life & your business? If you could design your dream life & business, what would it look like 1 year from now… 2 years from now? 5 years from now? Write all of this down, and then summarize it in a couple of succinct sentences. That is your big dream. Don’t hold back; this is your time to get crazy & write down your inner-most dreams that you’ve never said out loud to anyone.

YOUR GOALS:

This is your big dream broken down – so this is the part that will probably take the most planning and strategy. These are all of the things along the way that need to happen in order to celebrate & pop a bottle of champagne, & to know that you’ve done it.

POTENTIAL OBSTACLES:

Then next to your goals, you’ll see a place to fill out potential obstacles. In this section, we really want you to think ahead, and anticipate things that might stand in your way of meeting each of your goals. As an example – a potential obstacle could be something like cashflow. So if you anticipate that you might possibly run low on your cashflow as you’re building your business, write that down as a potential obstacle.

By writing these things down, it gives you an opportunity to start thinking about what you’ll do if they do come up. In the end, obstacles are really just stepping stones, so don’t let them get you down. They’re always going to happen, so we just try to look at obstacles as things we actually stomp on to take us to the next level.

ACTION PLAN:

On the back side of your sheet, there is space for you to create your plan of action. We want you to think of 3 steps that you can take to reach each of your goals. We also want you to have some accountability here, so be sure that you also include a realistic & attainable due date on each of these action steps so that you know when you’re staying on track. Schedule each of these steps, make time for them, and even block out time on your calendar to work on them. If you have to get up 5am to make time for them, then do it. In achieving your dreams nothing is ever convenient.

MAKE SHIT HAPPEN

”The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them, you immediately begin to create momentum.” – Tony Robbins

Success doesn’t just happen by chance, you guys. So as soon as you have a goal, start MOVING. DO something. Get out there and M.S.H.!!!

If you aren’t willing to make yourself uncomfortable to achieve your goals then they just won’t happen. We are not going to tell you to simply ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘just be who you are’ to become super successful in this industry. That would be an easy sell, but the truth is, it has taken a lot of hard work, and a lot of reworking along the way, to get to where we are today. Planning + perseverance & hard work is the only tried and true way to guarantee you will get what you want. But if it’s work that you love, then it’s a truly rewarding way to spend your time. So dare to dream – and then get out there and make those dreams become your reality.

Why you need to have a boudoir posing plan

By | Boudoir Tips | No Comments

OUR EARLY BOUDOIR DAYS:

Hey everyone – Kimberlee here, doing a little reminiscing and thinking back on my very first boudoir shoot. Even though it was 11 years ago, the feelings are still palpable; it was equal parts excitement and scared-shitless-nervousness. If you’re new to boudoir, you can probably understand what I’m talking about here. When I think back on some of those early shoots, I cringe when I remember how I went into them a little (ok, maybe a lot) unprepared.

There’s SO much to think about during a boudoir shoot, from styling and set design, lighting and camera settings, and posing and expression. Not to mention the whole interaction side of things, as you need to connect with your client and make her feel comfortable through the process so that you can capture stunning images of her.

This is a LOT to think about during a shoot!
boudoir tips for beginners

THE POSING PANIC

In my early days as a boudoir photographer, I would often focus so much on lighting and chatting with my client, that I would be in the middle of a session and completely forget which pose to do next. We call it the ‘posing panic.’

I would draw a blank, and then scramble to try and make up a new pose that would be flattering for her, all while talking to her and pretending like I knew exactly what I was doing so that she wouldn’t notice my moment of panic. Yikes.

It only took about one or two sessions like this to know that something needed to change.

boudoir-posing-plan-boudoir-divas

A POSING PLAN

So here was our one small, simple change, that had a huge result: we created a posing plan for every single session, with every single client.

Super simple, right? But this small change had such an incredible impact on our boudoir shoots from that day forward, so we knew this was pretty important. It wasn’t anything too elaborate; often it was just a piece of scratch paper or a note we created on our phones, with a list that laid-out the plan for our shoot, with exactly which poses we wanted to do on each set.

Three things happen when you have a posing plan:

1) NO MORE GUESSWORK.

You’ve already got your plan, so there’s no need to wonder or worry or scramble. No need to second-guess yourself or wonder if you’ve already done this pose in the last set you shot. It’s all right there in front of you, so you can just glance at your posing plan and then keep doin your thing: making your client look and feel drop-dead GORGEOUS.

2) POSING CONFIDENCE.

When you’ve got your gameplan in your back pocket, and there’s no need to stress about your poses, then you will have so much more confidence going into your shoot. You can be completely in the moment with your client, focusing on making her feel comfortable instead of internally freaking out about what you’re going to do next.

3) VARIETY AND HIGHER SALES.

When you create a boudoir posing plan, you can be more strategic about getting a wider variety of poses. When you are able to show your clients a TON of beautiful images with a lot of variety, the likelihood of them purchasing MORE from you is a lot higher.

And, let’s be honest here – we are all business owners at the end of the day. Yes, we want our clients to feel beautiful and have an empowering experience – but if we can ALSO give them more images that they just have to have, then it will mean a bigger sale for us as well. It’s a win-win here, friends.
boudoir-posing-tips

ACTION STEPS:

*CREATE A PLAN. Before your next shoot, list out the different poses you want to do with each set or outfit change. Super simple, now do it!

*LEARN TOP-SELLING POSES
If you are new to boudoir and still trying to figure out which poses work best with your clients, we would love to help you here! Through the years we’ve been in business, we have figured out the best poses that work well for all body types. These are our top-selling poses, meaning that our clients love their images – and BUY!

Our Posebook is the place where we’ve listed out all of our go-to poses for you – and it’s a digital download, so you can grab it and start using it now.

*SEE HOW WE POSE:
Lastly… if you are a visual learner and would enjoy watching us Divas in action, we highly recommend getting our Posing Course! In this 2-hour course, we spend time at the beginning sharing all of our tips and tricks for posing, and then at the end, you’ll see us working with two REAL CLIENTS as we coach them into our top poses (from the Posebook).

We’d love to have you join us in that course, so go check it out now! Have a wonderful day, and as you go into your next boudoir shoot, we hope you rock it with a newfound sense of CONFIDENCE with your posing.

Get started with boudoir NOW. [A 5-Step Getting Started Guide]

By | Boudoir Tips | No Comments

BOUDOIR NEWBIE?

We ALL start somewhere. Even those of us who have been shooting boudoir for years – yes, even we, were newbies at one time. We’re all just at different points in our journeys. And since we are just a little farther along on our boudoir journey than you may be, we would love to share some thoughts on how to get started as a boudoir photographer.

Alright, so jumping into the basics. These are the TOP 5 THINGS that we think are the most important in the early stages of your boudoir business. As you read these, please don’t feel overwhelmed! This may seem like a lot if you’re just getting started, but don’t worry, you’ll get there. Just stay focused and invest some time into each of these steps.
boudoir for beginners

1) PRACTICE LIGHTING

Lighting is HUGE with boudoir, so that’s why we made it #1. Lighting can’t be an afterthought; it needs to be one of the primary things you master. The way you use lighting is super important with making your clients look their very best. You can keep your lighting setups simple, or go more complex – either way, the bottom line is: does my client look GORGEOUS?!

First question to ask yourself: Will you shoot primarily with natural light or studio lights (or a combination of both)?

We do shoot natural light – it is so beautiful and we love it… but we also like having a variety in the styles that we offer our clients, so we shoot a lot with continuous lights and occasionally with strobes as well. We love the control that we can have with our studio lights, and we’ve figured out some great techniques that really flatter a gal’s figure.

In our early days, we experimented SO much to come up with what we now call our ‘boudoir lighting recipes’ – and these are the recipes that we still consistently use in our studio now, 10 years later! Having these recipes is super helpful, because once you figure out what works best (with lighting), you don’t have to spend a lot of time trouble-shooting and experimenting while you’re working with a client.

If you are new with using continuous lights for boudoir, we highly recommend taking plenty of time to test it out first (see #3 below).

Or if you’d like to learn more about lighting techniques and see OUR lighting recipes, check out our Shooting Course right now! We would love to have you join us and learn some of the techniques and boudoir lighting secrets that we have created through the years.

2) KNOW YOUR GO-TO POSES

Just as we have our go-to lighting setups memorized, we also have our go-to poses memorized as well. Let’s be honest – our boudoir clients are everyday women, NOT professional models… so they need us to be their coach and tell them exactly what to do with each and every pose.

We need to make sure we don’t go into panic mode – but rather, that we can walk into a shoot with confidence in our posing, and consistently provide our clients with amazing images.

At our studio, we know which poses are our favorites (in fact, we named all of our faves), and they also our top-selling poses – which means if we do these ones, our clients are going to purchase those images more often than not. All of the photographers in our studio refer to our Posebook or 1500 Poses as a reference guide, and we run through these poses with pretty much every single shoot. When you know what poses you’re going to do, it takes away the stress and allows you to focus on your client, have fun with her, and making her feel more comfortable.

3) TEST SHOOT

Ok, so once you’ve got a gameplan and some recipes for lighting & posing, the next step is VERY important: you need to test it all out! When you are just getting started with boudoir, you really need to PRACTICE lighting & posing… and you probably don’t want to start practicing with a real client.

If you don’t have any experience in shooting boudoir, we suggest that you start by just asking friends to model for you. That was how we started out, and it was really very helpful to have someone we were comfortable with as our ‘trial subjects’ as we were figuring everything out. It’s much easier to feel the freedom to experiment and when you’re with someone you know well, and who will laugh with you if needed.

And then once you’ve had one or two ‘test’ shoots under your belt (with a friend), next we’d recommend that you find a couple of models you can work with, to build your boudoir portfolio! *SIDENOTE: We’ll add another post in the future, about how to search for models and some tips for working with models for test shoots or editorial sessions. Stay tuned if you’re interested in that!

So get out there and start shooting! I know it may seem scary at first, but I guarantee that once you’ve had a few test shoots, you will be MUCH more confident to launch your business and charge clients for their boudoir experience with you. If you’ve been wanting to start shooting boudoir for a while now, what are you waiting for?! Put some shooting dates on the calendar – grab some friends – then post a model call – and plan out your first test shoots!

4) BUSINESS MODEL/PRICING

Number four is a HUGE one, and sadly this is one that many new boudoir photographers simply skip over altogether! Please don’t skip this step. We highly recommend that you invest some time and energy into figuring out exactly what you’d like your business model to be.

Here are just a couple questions you may ask yourself at this step:
Will you be a high-end boutique studio, or will you only shoot boudoir marathons or parties? Will this be a 1-person-operation, or will you bring in a team to help you? Will you outsource anything? Will you offer hair & makeup in your packages, or as an add-on? Will you What are your monthly expenses, and what are your cost of goods for each boudoir session that you shoot? How much of a salary do you want to bring home each month from boudoir, and how many sessions will you need to book in order to know you’re reaching your goals? How much of a discount can you possibly offer when running sales and specials? When will it be time to raise your prices?

So this is the point where most photographers just tune out and ignore us. Don’t let this be you!

This stuff is definitely the ‘boring’ stuff (especially for us who are creatives and artists), but remember, it’s essential. If this stuff scares you shitless and overwhelms you, check out our Boudoir Business Course – we LOVE this side of things, and spend an hour & a half talking and sharing about strategy for business models & pricing. Come join us!

5) LAUNCH!

Alright. So once you’ve tackled steps 1-4, at this point you have a really solid foundation to LAUNCH your boudoir photography business! This is the exciting step… because it means that all of your hard work is paying off. This is where stuff really starts happening.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started! Put yourself out there, make your announcement that you are now offering boudoir, and let the inquiries roll in. We are so excited for you; obviously we are incredibly passionate about boudoir photography, and we know that you won’t regret breaking into this niche.

6) BONUS STEP: KEEP LEARNING!

Oops, I know we said five steps – but this is one we just couldn’t leave out. Educate yourself and never, ever stop learning and growing in your skills and knowledge. When we started out over 10 years ago, there was literally NOTHING out there about boudoir photography. We couldn’t find boudoir workshops to attend, there were no educational books or seminars, and people looked at us like we were crazy when we said we wanted to shoot boudoir.

Well, fast-forward to today, and we are so thankful that this isn’t the case anymore! Boudoir is SO popular now, and there are a lot of great resources out there for you to learn! Of course, we would love it if you choose to learn a little more from us!
boudoir divas workshop
If anything we’ve said here has grabbed your attention, we would love to have you join hundreds of other photographers that we’ve had the privilege of teaching through our Complete Online Boudoir Workshop!

Want to see exactly what our Workshop covers? Watch this vid for a little overview of each lesson:

Does anyone read our boudoir blog any more?

By | Personal, Sales & Contests, Workshops | No Comments

I’m guessing probably not since we never update it. He he. But today we had the urge to do just that, give whoever it is out there who may still take a peek at this boudoir blog a little update on us and our business. (Side note, I did just check our analytics and plenty of you folks do take a lookie at this blog. So hey now, we’re even more motivated to write this post).

Because of our silence on this blog, it may have seemed as though we dipped out of the photographer spotlight that we were so grateful to for so long. But it’s with good reason. After 8 years of that ‘put your head down, work your booty off’ season of your life, Kimberlee and I decided it was time to reap a little bit from what we sowed. K really reaped her harvest, pumping out two gorgeous children in two years (see evidence of that incredible feat below). Arie and Maelee are such a blessing to us, I can’t wait to get them into trouble and have lots of adventures with them & K when they are older.

And as for me (Marissa)… I meandered the globe taking in all kinds of amazing sights and sounds, one of those things that’s necessary after even the most amicable of divorces. I roamed South East Asia with a kindred spirit for a month, hit up my second home in Paris twice with Kimberlee and friends (not literally MY second house, I wish)! I lived in the bellows of a cruise ship for a few weeks with a friend hitting up every port in the Caribbean (that was actually my favorite), hiking the trails off Cinque Terre in Italy, and even doing big Yosemite Half Dome hike. And  I even did a little good, creating this video and fundraising campaign for a hero of mine.  I’ll pop the video in my ‘show and tell’ collage below. And, last but not least, and so necessary in all break ups, the cutting and dying of my hair 😉 All the while we were taking care of our studio (Kimberlee mostly remotely) and just kinda rolling with it. Still doing some pretty dang cool things photography wise if we do say so, again, evidence below.

So all that to say, you didn’t see us around, cuz, well, we were  too busy kinda living the simple(ish) life for awhile. Taking time to raise a family and be present, and travel the world, all the while so grateful to the staff at the studio who was okay with me just popping into the studio an average of about 30 hours a week at that time. Erin taking care of all the typical biz owner’s responsibilities, so much love for her.

But then something happened around January. The wind shifted, and all of a sudden here we are again. In drive mode. And once again we were all about that very hands on biz life. Myself especially, really putting every bit on my focus on the studio.

And when you focus, it pays off.  Last month our boudoir studio had one of it’s most successful months ever (if we don’t count the times we do our big annual sale – and we don’t actually count that sale in our monthly gross). In just one month, June 2016, we grossed over $31,000.

And all in that time frame of ‘aha’, we also saw some of our past boudoir workshop attendees killing it! That got us even more excited! This is one of the most rewarding parts of being educators in this industry: seeing our teachings being implemented, and turned into success stories! There are a ton of you, but a few of the most notable ones that we see out there are Jen Rosenbaum and Denise Birdsong, just doing amazing things. Then we got a few workshop testimonials that just hit us…. for instance Jenny Taylor wrote us this on Facebook: “Hi. Just wanted to stop by and say thank u for all the informational advise you have put out in the world. 7 years ago when I started you were so inspirational and still are today! I owe some of my credit to you.” I love how all of us boudoir photographers cheer each other on. It’s infectious.
boudoir business
And messages of gratitude from other photographers keep coming in, on a regular basis. And then we thought, man, we have all these resources that are still SO valuable, especially our new online workshop. We need to start telling the newer boudoir people about this stuff.

I mean after the success of last month, my goodness we REALLY want you all to know how we did it. So all that to say, please stop by our shop and see all the updated resources and then do check our newly launched, more affordable than ever Online Boudoir Workshop which we’ve broken down into pieces. Use PROMO CODE: AUGBLOG to get an additional $35 off your online workshop purchase. Expires Aug 31, 2016.

So now I welcome you to the show and tell portion of this blog post. Here our studio decided we wanted to add some flair to the back of our studio (see all our shinanigans at @theboudoirdivas …..

A recent outdoor boudoir shoot, styled with Peggy of @feathersandfox
boudoir outdoor
My gorgeous biz partner and bestie, Kimberlee, and her sweet new adventure in mamahood….
boudoir divas studio
Some of my faves from my wanderings,
marissa boucher boudoir
Meet my hero Josie, it was an immense honor to tell her story in the Philippines….

Paris photo shoots for our clients this past May 2016, email us if you wanna know when the next trip is!
We also gave away a trip to Paris and a photo shoot packages to a lucky client! Kirsitie Ennis won the drawing. See www.parisgiveway.com to see how we did it!
boudoir paris
Meet the awesome Jenny Chambers! She flew all the way to Paris for a mentor session. We talked shop then went out and photographed a model together! This is the stuff dreams are made of.
paris boudoir

WPPI 2016 Recap & SALE! Free Boudoir Goodies too!

By | Sales & Contests, Speaking Programs | No Comments

A little recap and then more info about free boudoir photography goodies….

Things have certainly changed at WPPI, a few years back we were the only ones talking about boudoir photography, now it’s all the rage, and we are honored to still be a part of it. WPPI, as always, was full of some seriously good, door opening, exciting information for those of us who dream of pushing the limits with our photography business. To think that I got to speak about what K and I do, the business that we have made, it feels… just good. Good that the hours we have spent on business and marketing and what we have learned in those sometimes long, sometimes difficult hours gets to be shared with others and maybe make a difference in their dreams. Save them some trouble. Like I said, it just makes us feel the warm and fuzzies.

Now there were some more difficult moments. And that was speaking WITHOUT Kimberlee! I know. WHOA. Could you imagine such a thing? I couldn’t, seriously it was hard. But it was for an exceptional reason, Maelee. Get to know Maelee, this gorgeous bundle of joy here on K’s beautiful post.

Ok so now I leave you with some photos people took of the presentation and tagged us @theboudoirdivas.com on Instagram but more importantly I leave you with free boudoir goodies…

free boudoir downloads

We are also super excited about our WPPI SALE and giveaways!!! In case you hadn’t heard about it yet, go check out this page for all the details!

Boudoir Divas speaking WPPI 2016-2
Boudoir Divas speaking WPPI 2016
Boudoir Divas speaking WPPI 2016-4
wppi free boudoir goodies

Again, go check out this page for all the details or listen to Kimberlee explain all the wonderful freebies and new products in this video below! You can even watch the intro of our Online Boudoir Photography Workshop for free on this link!

Thank you so much to all of you who came out to our platform class. I saw so many familiar faces and it always feels like a fun boudoir high school reunion or something. And in VEGAS no less!

xoxo- Marissa & Kimberlee, The Boudoir Divas