Boudoir Photography & Feminism

March 05, 2020  •  2 Comments

Boudoir Photography & Feminism

A Feminist Boudoir Photographer, is that a contradiction in terms?

Since it is International Women's Day on 8th March, I thought I might discuss this contentious subject. Some see boudoir photography as the epitome of female liberation whilst others see it as demeaning. So which is correct?

Lingerie Photography by Belle Privé PhotographyLingerie Photography by Belle Privé Photography

The early beginnings of boudoir photography were in the 1920s when (male) photographers decided to celebrate the beauty of the female form. Illegal at the time, these images were considered scandalous. This lead on to the era of the PinUps and Playboy, all of which were for the benefit of men. (You can read more about the History of Boudoir here).

Lingerie Photography by Belle Privé PhotographyLingerie Photography by Belle Privé Photography

So why would a woman, in this day and age, actually choose to be photographed semi naked?

Feminism, by definition, is having the same rights as men. This also means equal rights to sexual expression. Over the course of the century, the popularity of Boudoir Photography has grown and grown to the point where virtually every woman I know has had a boudoir shoot at some point in their lives. It has become a symbol of women's sexual freedom, of body acceptance at every level and of female empowerment. Creating artwork of your body is something to be proud of and celebrated.


Belle Privé Photography StudioBelle Privé Photography Studio

Not all boudoir work is equal though. I do consider myself a feminist and so my brand attracts strong, independent women. My images show women in control of their bodies (and their lives). It is my personal choice not to depict women in positions of weakness, for example tidied up with bondage ropes - I much prefer to show female strength. The traditional patriarchal fantasy does not interest me either...  you'll never find any of my clients bent over a vintage kitchen. It's 2020, not 1950 and I'm pretty sure no woman finds the thought of housework either sexy or appealing! I shoot and I work for women.

When I ran a recent survey in my Instagram stories asking how viewers would describe my work, I received words such as: affirming, empowering, sensual, classy... I am very proud to have a strong female following who 'get' my work.

Lingerie Photography by Belle Privé PhotographyLingerie Photography by Belle Privé Photography

Boudoir is something I believe every woman should do at least once in their lives. Whilst the thought of it to some seems daunting, let me reassure you that it will be one of the most confidence boosting and liberating experiences of your life! Most women are reassured that as a female boudoir photographer I understand women, how they see themselves and their bodies and most importantly how they want to be photographed. My hallmark is elegance and sophistication. Pretty much every client I have ever had in the studio is shooting for themselves and let me tell you, the vast majority want the world to see how fabulous they look! Take a look. It’s not every day that we get to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes and to experience the beauty that others see in us. Let's stop wasting time and energy concentrating on our 'flaws' and instead focus on our assets! So whether boudoir is for you or not, the important thing is that all women, without being judged, have the right to beautiful images of themselves.

Ultimately, and this is important, I shoot images for women rather than images of women.

Happy International Women's Day to you all!


Lingerie Photography by Belle Privé PhotographyLingerie Photography by Belle Privé Photography


St Paul Boudoir Photography(non-registered)
This is a fascinating article that explores the intersection of boudoir photography and feminism. I found your perspective on how boudoir photography can be a form of female empowerment particularly interesting.

The idea that women can choose to reclaim their sexuality and portray themselves in a way that feels strong and beautiful is definitely thought-provoking. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with clients who have found boudoir photography to be empowering. Were there any common threads or themes you noticed?
Lucy Allen(non-registered)
What a fantastic post and I think it’s mostly like down to interpretation and you can usually see a difference in a woman being photographed for a man and a woman empowering herself in her photographs. Looking at your fantastic photographs the women are always empowered rather than sexualised. I wrote some essays on this in my undergraduate degree because it’s a interesting subject and one that people will always argue about.
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