Experienced boudoir photographers know not to make these 4 mistakes
Updated: Jan 31
There are a ton of articles about what the newbie photographer messes up, but you’re no newb. You’ve ‘been there, done that.’ Now you’re empowering women (and men and gender non-conforming folks) by showing them how beautiful they are in their own skin.
So let’s skip the chats about extra charged batteries, having enough memory cards, or not using a wide-angle lens for a close-up shot. Let's talk about some real grit that will help you get your boudoir business in line. Go ask yourself if you are doing any of the following and then let's fix it!
Are you communicating enough?
Is hair or makeup included?
Showing up without war paint and expecting it is not going to make your clients feel like the empowered people you want them to be. Tell them what to expect.
In a couple of sessions, how far can the couple go?
Have you thought about an insertion fee? I'm just gonna leave that one there. You’ve really got 2 options here. You can make it 112112312412412% clear that certain lines WILL NOT be crossed or the session ends immediately without refund or you can check your local laws to see if you can allow for a bit more flexibility with an additional cleanup fee :D
When do I get to see images? Are any images included? How much do images cost?
Your clients should see info on ALL things relating to images at least 3 times before they pay you a dime. Put a price list on your website or in exchange for an email in an automated drip campaign. Talk about your turnaround time on your website, in the emails, on your social, everywhere possible. If images are included, give them the minimum number that's guaranteed.
Finally, put all of that in writing AGAIN in a solid contract specific to your workflow, your process, your preferences.
Lawyer drafted, state and industry-specific contract templates (like ours) are a solid starting point. They will protect you from a lot more than ‘borrowing’ from a friend or grabbing a contract from that photography business guru whose course you took 2 years ago. The ideal is always custom, but making sure your template is from a trusted source will always be better than random stuff.
Are you pricing different uses of your images differently?
We value any purchase as much as we think it will change our lives in some way.
Boudoir images bought for personal viewing empower a single person (and maybe the direct bubble around them).
Boudoir images bought for Only Fans empowers a single person who posted it and puts your work out there for someone who isn’t you to make money off of.
If your client/model is putting them on only fans, that's one thing. If they are selling the right to the images on Only Fans to other people, that's another. You absolutely have every right to charge more if you suspect someone will be using your images (yes, they are still yours in most circumstances) to make money for themselves.
Are you being too nice?
I’ve heard it again and again from photographers of all sorts.....
Not having or enforcing late fees, rescheduling penalties, or payment terms
Accepting client terms that make you uncomfortable
Not letting the contract be the bad guy
Of course, sometimes there are weird situations where it makes sense to give leeway to your client. Half the time, it makes for epic customer service. But there is a line.
All I can say is these rules in your contract, in your policies, are laid out for both you and your client’s protection. You do them a disservice by not enforcing. A late arrival makes their experience rushed. Late payments make you and your team stressed. Uncomfortable situations do not lead to beautiful images.
Are you outsourcing as much as possible?
Editing-Unless editing gives you absolute life, stop doing it. Record yourself editing using a service like Loom, find yourself an editor, give them the videos, and hand that ish over. Your clients chose your editing style, but they don’t care who is doing it. They just want their pictures fast.
Of course, you could come home after a full day of hyping up your client, squatting into awkward places (like the tub or staircase), and then spend all evening on your couch editing
you could have a workflow laid out that somebody else gets all those raw images and you go spend time doing what you actually want to do that day.
*Tip: Be sure you’ve got a solid independent contractor agreement in place. You can find one in the store(coming soon to store: email for it now).
Studio management-Lets be real. You don't need to be washing the sheets, watering the plants, replacing the candles, making sure the bathroom has TP.
Let someone else handle that for a respectable wage.
The reality is, your business, boudoir or otherwise, is only going to serve you as much as you guard and protect it.
If you want help protecting it, check out our chief legal officer services here and the template store here (full launch coming soon). Want legal and business tips (for free!) delivered straight into your inbox 1-2 times a month. Be sure to join our mailing list here.
**Disclaimer: This is only general information, not legal advice specific to your situation, and does not create a client-attorney relationship between you and Samantha Bradshaw, a Virginia licensed small business lawyer, or InLine Legal, a 100% virtual law firm. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your area.