January 12, 2012 admin

The History of Boudoir Photography

Since the beginning of time, many have been interested in the art of capturing the female form. The soft curves, swells, skin, and general beauty of a female in relaxed repose captures the attention of not only men, but also other women. The female form is a curiosity, and a beauty to withhold in and of itself.

In the 1920’s, when nudity in photography was mostly illegal and often times considered pornography, Albert Arthur Allen emerged. A Frenchman, based in San Francisco who despite being arrested for his art on numerous occasions, continued to create. A closer view of Mr. Allen’s work reveals a man who saw beauty in the more lush and “plus-sized” models to today’s standards. His posing and model choices led to a very soft and romantic appeal, which is not hard to imagine why he became very popular with his small clientele base at the time. Mr. Allen has left behind some phenomenal pieces of art history, only proven by the photograph below:

Around the same time, Cecil Beaton, an Englishman came on the scene and is famous for his photographs of Marilyn Monroe.  In fact, one of Marilyn’s personal favorites of all time come form Cecil’s collection of photographs. This detail says a lot, considering the many photographers who covered Marilyn in her day and the sheer number of incredibly beautiful images.  See Marilyn’s favorite photograph of herself below: 

Yet another photographer, whose work I find immensely enjoyable is Sam Shaw. A United States native, born in New York, has coverage of Marilyn that I feel shows her natural beauty and her everyday side. Sure, there is the glitz and glamour but more importantly he captures an innocence that I feel a great boudoir photographer should be able to capture. Not just sex, not just beauty, but also an innocence that reminds you there is a woman there. One of Shaw’s images that I find particularly revealing can be viewed below:

The history of boudoir & glamour photography is a vast one, celebrating the beauty & femininity of women, but also if done well: the innocence and romance. The reason behind this blog post today is to show you that the objective for us is not to just capture the modern day take of boudoir & glamour photography, but also to take note from our photographic ancestors and bring a little something more to the table. To show the artistic side of it all and to provoke thought and interest in what seems to be a forgotten art form.

There are many artists to learn from and from which to seek inspiration. Another of my personal favorites is Steven Meisel. Steven is an American photographer born in 1954, who has made the majority of his living through publications in Vogue, a magazine I use to this day simply for inspiration. I subscribed to this magazine, not for it’s inspiring articles, but also for it’s artistic and avante garde imagery. Steven Meisel has not forgotten what the roots of boudoir photography are all about. He has been known to photograph plus-size women, women who do not exactly fit the proper societal mold in which we place women for their size. Something I applaud, because no matter the weight of the woman, there is beauty to behold and to be captured. One of his photographs of what we consider a plus size model doesn’t even come close to defining a plus size woman in my mind, but is still one of my favorites. It shows power, and sex, but at the same time in a pose that could be seen as objectifying a woman, I see empowerment:

Another of his images, capturing exactly what we discussed earlier. Showing a woman with a 1940-1950’s glamour about her:

 Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann, A.K.A Horst P. Horst, was also a phenomenal photographer and master of lighting, something that is a huge part of our focus here at The Boudoir. We spend a lot of time researching the latest in lighting techniques, purchasing lighting equipment and arranging our lighting and models in the best possible way, to create the most dynamic image that we can. Horst is a huge influence for this. Also a Vogue Alumni, he became famous for his work with Madonna on her “Vogue” single in 1990. Horst went on to inspire many photographers, including myself, in the years since.

The list of incredibly inspiring famous photographers and artists could go on and on: Alberto Vargas: famous pin up artist, Frank Powolney: photographer, Sam Menning: photographer, Olivia De Berardinis: famous female pin up artist, Andre De Dienes: photographer, Bert Stern: photographer, Bob Willoughby: photographer, Charles Dana Gibson: pin up artist & artist of the “Gibson Girl”, the list goes on and on. The lesson to take away, is that Boudoir & Glamour photography shouldn’t just speak to the sexual side of an image. It should speak to the soul, it should show personality, and innocence. Every woman has an innocence to her that is just waiting to be captured. Welcoming you to The Boudoir, is welcoming you to a new way of doing things. We’re putting ourselves out there, we’re setting a precedent for ourselves, and a reputation that we will be working very hard to uphold. We encourage you to find inspiration of your own before your session. Come to us with your ideas, share your inspiration. We’re here to make them a reality.

Comments (3)

    • admin

      Yes we do. We don’t get as many requests for male boudoir but we do offer it along with couples boudoir as well.

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The Boudoir is located out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and just an hour from St. Paul. Our number one priority is to capture photographs that encapsulate you in a classy, dignified, fresh, and contemporary manner. Our number one priority, is you. YOU could be a boudoir girl. Are you up for the challenge?