I’ve realized lately that I spend lots of time blogging about pretty outfits, but very little time blogging about the actual process of a boudoir shoot. Many first timers are nervous, and for obvious reasons. You’ll be sharing yourself in an intimate way with someone you don’t know very well, which always has the potential to be stressful. You also probably have questions. What actually happens during the shoot? How many outfits should I pick and what kind of things should I bring? How risque do I have to get anyway?

Today I thought I’d answer some questions and give out some tips to demystify the boudoir photoshoot, as well as help assuage some of your boudoir jitters.

1. Make sure you’re relaxed.

I like to meet with my clients once in my studio to start. We’ll talk about what you want out of your boudoir shoot, you’ll meet my cats (if you’re that kind of person), and I’ll talk you through the process and what you can expect to happen. Almost all photographers have a “get to know you” process, and a great photographer can really help calm your nerves. This brings me to the second tip.

Don’t hire anyone you don’t connect with or don’t like.

Once you’ve contacted a photographer, it can be hard to say no. I never strongarm my clients into anything, but lots of people feel guilty once they’ve gotten as far as the first studio session. Make sure that you’re choosing a boudoir photographer who you like and feel comfortable with first and foremost. You’ll have more fun, and you’ll feel good going into it instead of nervous.

Bring multiple outfits.

Most photographers will give you a set number of outfit changes per session, but it can be good to bring more than the minimum. Make sure to bring a variety of options, as you never know how you’ll feel once you get started! I usually suggest bringing a range of coverage options, from a full robe to a barely there set. You don’t have to use all of them, but being able to adapt to your mood will enhance your shoot dramatically.

Consider the context.

If you’re having pictures taken for an album that will become a gift, think about the story that you want to tell. If you’re celebrating a major change in your body, like weight loss or pregnancy, consider what you feel sexiest and most comfortable in now instead of six months ago. If your boudoir shoot is part of your wedding, think of what you want to capture about yourself and your relationship. Thinking about these sorts of things, and talking to your photographer about them will help keep you on the same page and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Put your body hangups aside.

No, not forever, we all know that’s impossible. All you need is an hour of time where you’re not worrying about your thighs or your stomach or how big or small your breasts are. Do your prep work, pick outfits that flatter you, and then try and relax and embrace what you’ve got. My favorite part of my job is when a client sees the photos and tells me that they never realized how sexy they were. All of that is inside you, so once you get into the studio relax and have fun.