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Photographing Models in Lingerie

Updated on August 2, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.


"Lingerie are fashionable and typically alluring undergarments.

Lingerie includes undergarments using flexible, stretchy, sheer, or decorative materials like Lycra, nylon (nylon tricot), polyester, satin,lace, silk and sheer fabric. Certain cotton or synthetic undergarments are also lingerie.

The concept of lingerie as a visually appealing undergarment was developed during the late nineteenth century. Lady Duff-Gordon of Lucile was a pioneer in developing lingerie that freed women from more restrictive corsets. Through the first half of the 20th century, women wore underwear for three primary reasons: to alter their outward shape (first with corsets and later with girdles or bras), for hygienic reasons, or for modesty. Before the invention of crinoline, women's underwear was often very large and bulky. During the late 19th century, corsets became smaller, less bulky and constricting, and were gradually supplanted by the brassiere, first patented in the 20th century by Mary Phelps Jacob. When the First World War broke out, women found themselves filling in men's work roles, creating a demand for more practical undergarments. Manufacturers began to use lighter and more breathable fabrics.

As the 20th century progressed, underwear became smaller and more form fitting. In the 1960s, lingerie manufacturers such as Frederick's of Hollywood begin to glamorize lingerie. The lingerie industry expanded in the 21st century with designs that doubled as outerwear. The French refer to this as 'dessous-dessus' which basically means innerwear as outerwear." Wikipedia

A lot has been said about photographing women in sexy undergarments or lingerie as it's more commonly known.

Many photographers make a decent living by taking these sorts of photographs since they can be used by commercial entities to advertise their wares and for personal reasons as in boudoir or even for artistic purposes.

Although there may be some objections by some to the showing of a lady in very revealing clothing, or lack of it, featuring women in lingerie does provide for an artistic avenue the same as when "full reveals" are done in an artistic fashion and for similar purposes.

In a way when a photographer wants to explore a more risque theme, lingerie photographs offer a viable compromise.

Everything depends on how the shots, the clothing and the poses are set up and often insinuating works better from a photographic point of view than a full reveal.

Our imagination is indeed powerful and astute photographers know this very well.

Regardless of the purpose behind the pictures, there is a viable market for these shots and if done artistically, in good taste and with a commercial purpose in mind, it can be a good market to specialize in.

CC-BY-2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

There is more than simple having a model wear sexy looking garments and snapping a picture.

Often other elements play a more important role than the model herself. With that said how well the model poses is paramount.

The choice of lingerie is important. Direct the models to come with a wide range of lingerie or select it yourself with the aid of the model who will be wearing them.

It must be comfortable yet form fitting and if it can leave marks on the body like what tight straps often do, ask for these to be avoided.

A good tip and just as important is to have the model wear loose fitting clothing a day before the shoot to avoid marks on the skin as it must show up in pictures as smooth as possible.

With this in mind shaving, depilatories and waxing should also be done ahead of time and preferably the night before the actual shoot.

Having the right props arranged in place beforehand can make the scene more striking and pleasant as well as making the endeavor go smoother.

It is important not to overwhelm the scene with too many of them but a room devoid of any props is also inappropriate, bland and maybe even photogenically "boring".

The props can be perfume bottles, candles, flowers (dry ones work better) as well as using high heels, pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets and so on work well as do false eye lashes and a good make up scheme.

Although color will always enhance the scene, it is not a good technique to overwhelm the scene with it.

Keep in mind that white sheets, curtains, pillows and such not only work as reflectors but they also give the sense of cleanliness and "softness".

Lingerie photography also greatly benefits from being done in black and white as this "softens" the scene but also helps to avoid distractions and thus tends to focus the attention on the model.

The color of the lingerie itself is also something worth considering. Many photographers swear by the need to use richly colored garments but softer pastels, pure whites or deep blacks serve the same effect, or do better.

It is up to you as the creative mind to make the appropriate selections and decisions to fit your needs and tastes.

The same goes for using solid colors instead of "flowery" or heavily patterned designs.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

There are some subtle differences between boudoir and lingerie photography, although many will argue otherwise.

While boudoir is mostly for the benefit of the client lingerie is for the benefit of the photographer i.e artist. While boudoir tends to prefer more light, a lingerie shoot benefits from a more subdued one.

Boudoir prefers a clearly defined body and lingerie tends to lean more towards insinuation. A boudoir shoot is rarely done for any purpose other than from a personal perspective and lingerie is most often done with a commercial (Victoria's Secret) or artistic intent.

Boudoir is rarely done outside of a "bedroom" while lingerie, although mostly suited for the bedroom, can be adapted to other more exotic locations.

For comparison one should look at boudoir photographs next to artistic nudity and the differences become more evident.

Boudoir emphasizes the body and lingerie places the emphasis on capturing an artistic representation. However, this is when the photographer intends on doing so for if he or she does not or cannot differentiate between the two styles one becomes almost an exact replica of the other.

(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

Can you see yourself doing such a project?

See results

The main things that stand out and demand be given proper considerations are to use modesty and professionalism, simplicity often works best, take into account the expectations of those involved as well as working in an environment that fosters respect for all.

Besides these the other elements that are musts are to be as technically flawless as possible, seek out new perspectives to let others see things in new ways as it were and besides letting your creativity shine and often thinking outside the box, remembering that you and only you are responsible for the outcome.

CC BY 3.0
CC BY 3.0 | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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