Chandeliers & Clawfoot Bathtubs: The New Boudoir

by Maggie Harney

The ladies-only dressing nook that gave boudoir style of photography its name oozes a certain brand of sophistication, a sense of secrecy and a tiny dash of rebellion; it’s the kind of sexy that has a stereotype. But despite all that has come before it, brides and photographers are diving more into the genre for added fun in their wedding packages–whether it be for the bride herself or her lucky betrothed.

From her studio space downtown, befitted with chandeliers and clawfoot bathtubs, Callie Beale isn’t so much reinventing the wheel as polishing it; it’s a new boudoir for a new bride. From black-and-whites to the simple beauty of portraits, Callie dives into the style with confidence, great lighting and plenty of laughs.

“There is an art to boudoir photos,” enthuses Callie. “Some people are a goofy kind of sexy, some are the sultry variety. I figure out where their strength lies and we run with it. I love to play with different looks to get the right feel.”


For brides who may be hesitant about taking the plunge, it’s less about baring it all and more about feeling comfortable in their own skin. Callie’s style is to do strategic posing, and to make sure to accentuate (and hide) exactly what the bride wants.

“I like to highlight that [the photos] are conservatively photographed,” remarks Callie. “Many of the images could be hung on a wall and you can’t even tell it’s ‘boudoir.’ I hate the stigma of that word! Together, the client and I determine comfort level and go from there.”

While tastefulness is a big factor for Callie and her clients, it’s also about showing off their wedding day bodies.

“People are in the best shape of their lives and they want to memorialize that forever,” says Callie. “Knock on wood, I’ve never had a dissatisfied client. They’re always surprised by how much they love it!”


Since Callie also shoots traditional weddings, she offers the boudoir session as part of the wedding package. Many brides, she says, come to her after the initial photography meeting, wanting to surprise her husband to-be.

“By the time we get to the wedding and the fiancee has seen the boudoir shoot, I know I’m on their good list,” exclaims Callie. “Plus, I know the couple’s style, their posing, and we’re all on a new level of friendship.”

Michelle Royal, the stunning muse of these photographs, weighed in on the experience as one that is equal parts about spicing things up and treating yourself.

“I think it is important in marriage to keep things fun and spontaneous,” notes Michelle. “I decided to do a boudoir shoot as a fun gift to my husband for our three-year wedding anniversary. To be honest, it wasn’t all for him, it was for me, too. Being in front of the camera, all dolled up, makes you feel like a hot bombshell celebrity. If you ever need a confidence booster, do a boudoir shoot.”

Any tips for a, shall we say, blushing bride who’s a little intimidated to take the plunge?

“Pick out some sexy outfits and some meaningful or fun outfits,” says Michelle. “Bring something your significant other bought for you, or a piece of their clothing or work uniform. Next, hire an amazing hair and makeup artist. Having your hair and makeup professionally done is not only beneficial for the final product of your photos, it also is a great way to pamper yourself. And definitely wear faux eyelashes–they will be a game changer for your photos.”

And the real secret to Callie’s sophisticated boudoir style? There isn’t one.

“A big key is finding out how your client feels beautiful,” she says. “I can take technically perfect photos all day long, but if I am not finding out how the client feels, I will never hit peak satisfaction. Some girls have sides they prefer, and I also use posing, lighting and cropping to hide what they don’t care as much about on their bodies.”

So for those brave enough to bare a little–or even a lot–taking a chance on boudoir photos is a unique “something new” to add to the modern wedding. Plus, Callie has never had a dissatisfied client.

Adds Callie, “I love getting reactions from shoots that read ‘WHOA! I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT IS ME!'”


Behind The Veil

Photographer: Callie Beale Photography

Model, Hair and Makeup: Michele Royal, Royal Makeup & Hair