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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

Does anyone read our boudoir blog any more?

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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

Our business segment is ready to watch….

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So if you follow us, you know that our Online Workshop was launched just last month. This means that you have instant access to all the content that we’ve taught at highly successful workshops here in San Diego (which we’ve recent;y replaced with our more intensive 5 day Retreats). We have just uploaded the boudoir business portion for all of our online attendees to watch, one of many, and we wanted to give those of you who are mulling over joining a “sneak peek” into this VERY informative section. This point we drive home more than any other point; “you could be the most sought after photographer on the planet, with gobs of money coming in, but if your money making machine isn’t tuned in, you could very well make more money sitting on your couch watching soap operas everyday.” We go through at length how to tune that in and how to write yourself a paycheck every month.




We would love for you to join us and be a part of this online workshop. Click her for more info about everything we offer in the instant workshop….

online boudoir workshop

IT’S HERE!!! | Online Boudoir Workshop

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FINALLY, the day has arrived! The Online Boudoir Workshop is officially launched, and the first 2 lessons are now live and available for you to watch – from the comfort of your own home! If you were pre-registered then you can now login and watch these lessons. And if you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? There are just a couple more days for you to sign up and get the $150 DISCOUNT!

The first 2 lessons that are now available are:
#1 – Introduction & The Supermodel Experience (1 hour)
#2 – Posing (2 hours)

Want to get a little taste of what Lesson #1 is like? Check out this teaser video!

Countdown: 1 MORE DAY | Online Boudoir Workshop

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We can hardly believe it’s finally here. But we are SO ready to launch this bad boy. 🙂

Today’s prize is our Workshop in a Book… which is the PERFECT companion to the Online Workshop!
AND THE WINNER IS…….. MICHELLE FREDMAN! Congrats, Michelle! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon to send you the marketing book.

To all of you signed up for the Online Workshop – we can’t wait for you to tune in tomorrow and watch the first 2 lessons! And then be sure to post a pic of yourself on social media (use #OnlineBoudoirWorkshop), AND also send us questions so we can start working on our Q&A video that we’ll be filming at sharing after all the videos are released in December. YAY! See you all online tomorrow! 🙂 xoxo, K&M

Countdown: 2 More Days | Online Boudoir Workshop

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We are getting so close… just 2 more days until it’s finally here!

Today’s prize is the Marketing Vault! A 128-page ebook sharing a TON of marketing ideas for your boudoir biz.
AND THE WINNER IS…….. SIOBHAN EDMONDS! Congrats, Siobhan! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon to send you the marketing book.

Happy Saturday, everyone, and check back tomorrow for the last prize and the last day in the countdown!

Countdown: 3 More Days | Online Boudoir Workshop

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Happy Friday, everyone……. only 3 more days to go!

On Monday, the first lesson is a 1-hour (or, actually, 57 minute) video to be released is the Intro Lesson. We’ll start by sharing a bit about ourselves, the history of the Boudoir Divas, and how we were able to realize our dream. Then we’ll dive into the Supermodel Experience™ and share all of the little details that we do at our studio to help our clients feel welcomed and relaxed.

And so in honor of the Supermodel Experience, today’s winner gets this custom metal print (from Bay Photo) – so that you can use a dry erase marker & write in your client’s name to greet her at her shoot.
AND THE WINNER IS…….. LAURA MATTHEWS! Congrats, Laura! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon to send you your new signage. Have a fabulous weekend, but don’t forget – we will announce the a new winner tomorrow!

Countdown: 4 More Days | Online Boudoir Workshop

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4 days to go!

During this Online Boudoir Workshop, Marissa & I will be talking and talking and talking to you. About ALL kinds of stuff. For approximately NINE HOURS when all is said and done. In our minds, you’ll be sitting at home or at a coffee shop, taking notes and listening and writing down questions to ask us for our follow-up Q&A video. And so, today, we’re giving away this cute mug & a Starbucks gift card, so that you can enjoy your favorite coffee drink while you’re listening to us share.

2016 boudoir divas workshop
AND THE WINNER IS…….. TINA DERUSHA! Congrats, Tina! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon to send you your mug & Starbucks card. We hope you enjoy the Online Workshop – thank you for pre-registering!

For the rest of you – check in tomorrow to see the new prize & winner! xoxo, K&M

Book a boudoir photo shoot

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So just in case you are new to our blog, we are boudoir photographers and we have a lovely studio in San Diego. BUT we are also a little bit of a traveling circus, as we love to go to our favorite cites and book client shoots. We have taken our traveling circus to Paris, Italy, Spain, Peru, Africa, Caribbean, and most of the larger states in the US and A. Next up on our list, Miami and Scottsdale!!!


If you haven’t had a boudoir shoot, well it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. We know that a lot of the audience that reads this blog ARE bou photogs themselves, and yes, we are still very much talking to you ladies!!! Yes this is the perfect gift for a special occasion like a wedding gift, or anniversary gift, however we have plenty of women who come to our studio to a book a boudoir shoot simply because they want to do something special for themselves. They want to take a step towards being kinder to themselves, feeling good in their own skin, and have a damn good time doing it. If you are a photographer you especially need to have a photo shoot, as I assure you that core belief in your product/experience will be a pivotal changing point in your business. I know what you are thinking, ‘I hear testimonials all day, I get it.’ Trust us when we tell you, you have no idea what your clients are experiencing until you have been in the hot seat yourself.


As a little inspiration to get you excited about your potential upcoming shoot, take a look at one of our latest shoots. Meet Hannah who has kindly allowed us to show of her images…..

boudoir photos before and after

boudoir photos san diego boudoir photographer miami


Email us at [email protected] to book your Miami or Scottsdale boudoir photo shoot!!

2014 Miami Boudoir Workshop & Consultation

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We are coming to MIAMI!!!!!!! Through the years, we’ve had a TON of questions from photographers asking if we’ll do a workshop on the East Coast, and recently a lot of you have requested that we come to Florida. So yes, it’s true – we’re finally doing it!  We are offering a 1-day workshop on Oct 7, then we have blocked out 2 days to schedule a VERY LIMITED number of 1-on-1 consultations. Lastly, we will also be offering photo shoots for those of you photographers who would like to get in FRONT of the camera and see what your clients feel like!*********MORE INFO AND REGISTRATION FOR MIAMI!*********
boudoir divas miami We wanted to make this doable and EASY for you to sign up, so we’ve created payment plans for EACH of the options! Also, we’ve had a few people email to ask if we could create a custom package & registration link for both the 1-day workshop AND a 1-on-1 consult. So we’ve also got that option for you here (with $100 OFF!)

1-DAY MIAMI BOUDOIR WORKSHOP: We are super excited about offering our 1-day workshop in Miami. We are going to pack as MUCH info into this 1-day as we possibly can! We’ll be touching on boudoir business, branding, marketing, and pricing… as well as give a demo with a model to showcase lighting & posing tips. We’ll also talk about the Supermodel Experience and how we’ve created a space & environment where our clients are allowed to feel sexy, beautiful, and empowered. Pricing is SOOOOO important and such a HUGE part of building a successful business. We are passionate about sharing as much info as we can about how we have built our business, and we won’t hold back when it comes to giving tips and advice on creating a business model and pricing structure that works for YOU. And during the demo, we’ll be sharing our easy lighting recipes and top posing tips & tricks to make our clients look their absolute best.

1-ON-1 CONSULTATIONS WITH KIMBERLEE OR MARISSA: This is something that we absolutely LOVE…. having the opportunity to sit down with you 1-on-1, and talk about your boudoir business. We will go over anything you’d like to talk about, from marketing and branding, to pricing and business model. We’ll also be scheduling a photo shoot for you with a model, so that you can build up your portfolio! Have uninterupted time with Marissa or Kimberlee to get an in-depth review of your boudoir business, strategize and brainstorm, and get feedback on the areas that you want to talk about.  4 hours on either October 8th or 9th. You will meet with Kimberlee or Marissa for 1 hour of shooting with a model, and 3 hours of 1-on-1 time to discuss your business, marketing plan, online presence, and anything else you would like to talk about. And if you book a consultation with us, we’ll be shooting YOU for a quick headshot session at some point during your time with us!

boudoir divas miami
: Want to have a taste of what YOUR clients go through? Get in front of the camera and have your very own boudoir experience! If you are a boudoir photographer and have never had your OWN boudoir session, you really should think about booking a shoot for yourself. We think it is an invaluable experience to get in FRONT of the camera and feel what your clients go through.

We hope to see you in Miami in October! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email ([email protected]), or join our Facebook Group to add to the discussion about Miami & ask your questions there. Or, are you ready to lock in your spot? Then go SIGN UP NOW!