Why is Boudoir So Expensive?

If you’ve ever thought about booking a boudoir session for yourself, your first question was probably, how much? So you hopped on over to Google and had yourself a little search and a mini heart attack when you realise that the average boudoir session ranges anywhere from $1,000-8,000. Your next thought might have been, why is boudoir so expensive?!

If you’re new here, I’m Erika, and I’ve been a photographer for over 14 years. I’m here to answer that question for you, and the answers might not be what you were expecting.

a woman laying with her legs and butt draped off a bed covered in gold sheets, she is wearing a pink two piece lingerie set and has her head tilted back, her arms are above her head in her hair

Why is boudoir so expensive?

A photographer can literally make or break your confidence. The amount of times I have heard from clients of mine that they’ve had a boudoir session that made them feel worse about themselves, literally breaks my heart. I have heard it a lot. Having a boudoir session done can either build your confidence up to higher than it’s ever been before, or crush it all to dust in an instant.

Any expensive boudoir photographer is charging those rates because they have trained for thousands of hours, and some photographers (like me!) specialise in strictly boudoir photography. This usually means that they’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours honing their craft attending workshops, watching videos or reading blogs, books, or other materials on how to provide the best experience possible for their boudoir clients.

You’re paying for professionalism

I’m not saying that every photographer that is expensive is going to be a professional, or that every photographer that is cheap will be unprofessional. Your session experience should be more than just a blip on the radar of the revolving door on a boudoir marathon day.

When you book with an expensive photographer you are not only paying for their expertise and professionalism but their years of experience honing their craft. Many boudoir photographers will also provide you with tons of resources and even a client prep guide ahead of your shoot. Some photographers might include a personal phone call when you book into your shoot, or even a pre-session planning call or visit to the studio. Your photographer will help you with lingerie choices and may even invite you into their studio ahead of your shoot to try on any outfits you’re planning on bringing or using from their client closet. You’ll very likely be their only client that day, so all of their focus and attention will be on you. Overall, this is a lot of personalised touch points you’re getting one-on-one with your photographer. That’s just not the type of experience you’re going to get if you’re one of ten clients for a boudoir marathon day (trust me, I used to do them).

This isn’t a part time gig

If your photographer is charging in the $2,000-$10,000 range, chances are that this isn’t just their part time side gig and they need to be charging those prices in order to provide for themselves and their families. Myself and many other boudoir photographers that I know rely on their sessions as their soul income sources. This means if we wanted to charge less than $300 per session we’d have to shoot 400 sessions per year minimum (that’s 33 sessions per month) just to take home a measly living wage of $40,000 after expenses if we are luckyYikes.

For perspective, in 2020 I photographed 72 boudoir sessions or an average of 6 sessions per month. As a result, I burned myself out from working so hard between running my business, being active in our online community, shooting sessions, creating content, and managing my mental health during a pandemic.

It costs money to run a business

Just in this last year we’ve had to pay for lawyer fees to incorporate our business. Not to mention an accountant and bookkeeper, plus pay our staff makeup and hair stylists. We have business insurance dues to pay and thousands of dollars a year in software subscriptions to run our businesses. There’s also business licenses, website hosting fees, and the list goes on and on. There are a lot of very talented photographers out there that are charging lower rates; but there’s a better chance that they’re just new to the craft. So they might not have realised how much it costs to run a business yet.

Photography gear for boudoir is expensive

If you’re curious about how much it actually costs just in equipment alone to run a boudoir photography business, here’s a list of all the gear I’m currently using to run my studio, not to mention all of the gear I have retired over my 10+ year career.

Nikon z6 – $2000
Nikon d750 – $1300
60mm nikon –  $750
35mm z mount – $1000
35mm sigma – $900
50mm nikon – $250
85mm nikon – $570
24-70mm nikon – $2200
z mount lens converter – $250
CF card reader – $100
CF card – $300
extra batteries – $90
camera holster (spider holster plus hand strap) – $350
computer (27″ iMac) – $2500
drawing tablet for editing – $500

Total: $13,150

Staggering, isn’t it? 

We don’t get to keep every penny we make.

I know this one sounds obvious, but… we don’t get to keep everything that we make. We have to pay our taxes, as well as pay for all of the things that keep our businesses running. We have to pay our employees, if we have any, and also provide a living wage for ourselves. Often we’re lucky if we get to keep even 1/3 of what we charge. On average in Canada, photographers make only $39,000 per year. Take into consideration the thousands of hours it takes to hone their craft; let alone the sometimes 70+ hour work weeks. It sure doesn’t sound like much!

I hope this list helped bring you some insight as to why boudoir is so expensive. At the end of the day, photography is a service just like your dentist, lawyer, therapist, tattoo artist, or other trained professional. And as with any other personal service, you truly do get what you pay for.

Interested in booking your own shoot? Click here to find out more about The Babes Club and our Regina SK and Nelson BC Boudoir Studios.

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