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A Short History of Boudoir Photography – St. Louis Boudoir Studio

Have you ever wondered where boudoir photography comes from? The history of boudoir photography is interesting not just for those who enjoy this genre of fine art photography, but also because it shows how our culture has changed throughout the last century.

Here's a brief history of boudoir.


What Does "Boudoir" Mean?

Let's start with the word "boudoir." This French term refers to a "sulking room"—essentially, a private bedroom.


French culture, and especially the old French aristocracy, is generally considered more liberal when it comes to sexuality. These associations are probably what led to the term being applied to a certain style of photography.


Where Did Boudoir Photography Come From?

Even though "boudoir" is a French term, most people agree that boudoir photography started in America in the 1920s.


Albert Arthur Allen was a photographer who specialized in nude portraits. His models were directed and posed in a highly stylized manner, just like clients who book boudoir sessions in the studio today.

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The public reaction to Allen's art was not positive. His photographs were considered inappropriate, and he even faced legal consequences for sending "obscene" materials through the mail.


However, Allen didn't consider his images particularly erotic. Instead, he sought to capture the physical and spiritual beauty of the women who posed for him.


Allen is quoted as saying, "To see womankind entirely nude would place all women on equality, and it would be only their true mental and physical charm that would lift them from the ordinary."


Pin-Up Girl Boudoir Photography

The next distinct era in the history of boudoir photography is the 1940s. The image of the pin-up girl became popular during this decade, and was even used in World War II propaganda to encourage young men to enlist.

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Betty Grable is the most recognizable name from this time period. She posed for many pinup photos and became the highest-paid woman in America between 1946 and 1947.


Marilyn Monroe and Boudoir Photography

The 1950s saw the rise of female stars like Marilyn Monroe, who used their sex appeal as a source of empowerment instead of something to be ashamed about.

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Boudoir photography was by no means considered mainstream in the 50's or 60's, but it was slowly becoming more acceptable for women to feel sexy.


How Did Magazines Influence Boudoir Photography?

In the 1970s and 1980s, magazines started to use photographs instead of drawings for their illustrations. This helped the image of the female form become more available to the general public.

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Also, cameras became more accessible at this stage, which made it possible for more people than ever to take their own photographs. Although boudoir photography remained something secretive and somewhat taboo, it was now truly its own style of photography.


Boudoir Photography Today

These days, boudoir photography is most closely associated with brides. Many people think of it as an add-on to their wedding photos that they can give as a gift to their spouse-to-be.

However, lots of boudoir photography clients have pictures taken just for themselves. A photoshoot is a great way to boost your confidence and feel empowered.

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Are ready to book your own boudoir session and participate in this photography tradition? Get in touch today to schedule your consult!

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