Wondering how to add boudoir to your photography business? Molly Grunewald shares all of her tips on how to get started.
Photographers are typically looking for another way to make more income. In today’s post, we will discuss how you can make more income without finding or attracting new clients. We are talking about serving and elevating your experience with your current clients through offering boudoir photography with Molly Grunewald. We will discuss how you can create and incorporate boudoir packages into your workflow and businesses!
About Molly Grunewald
Molly Grunewald does a beautiful job of meshing these two things together in a way that deserves to be experienced by her clients. She crushes on having her boudoir business along with her weddings. Molly has been in the wedding and boudoir industries for ten years and she’s been shooting for over a decade. She’s based in Metro Detroit, Michigan and she just got married!
Boudoir was Molly’s first paid photoshoot. She feels like most photographers don’t do it until a little later in their career. She was working at a hair salon and one of the girls was reaching her one-year anniversary and was interested in boudoir. But she couldn’t find any photographers she clicked with, and looking around, we weren’t even in awe of the photographer’s photos or work in the area. These weren’t people she wanted to get in her underwear in front of. So she asked Molly, ” Do you want to do it?
The woman was willing to pay her, and really thought she could do it and that it could be fun for her. This was going to get paid, and that was how it started! The woman shot her for five to six hours, and she paid her $200.
She felt like it was $2 million back then. And that was it; she had the best experience. When she left, she got a business Facebook page, got business cards, and all the things necessary, and was like, “Alright, I guess I’m a photographer now.”
Initially, she didn’t go, “Hey, I’m a boudoir photographer,” she decided she was going to start saying no to things that weren’t serving her. For awhile she didn’t even advertise for it for a few years, but then brought it back.
Building a boudoir photography business
For awhile she was doing anything. She was saying yes to anything that came to her, but then realized she needed to say no to things that weren’t serving her. She realized how much she loved couples and how much she loved boudoir. But how could she make both work?
She has separate wedding and boudoir packages now, but to have boudoir photography on the side of wedding photography is a huge opportunity. You can offer this to your already booked clients, as something they can do later on.
She doesn’t include a boudoir in her wedding packages, but she includes it in her workflow five months from their wedding. She reminds them hey, have you thought of a wedding gift yet?
But, boudoir photography isn’t for everyone and it takes a unique photographer. Because otherwise it defeats the whole purpose and the philosophy behind the boudoir and its value on women. So, with that being said, it’s an awesome way to include it in your wedding photography services.
Especially if you’ve always thought about it, then as a wedding photographer, it’s the perfect way to start getting clients. A majority are already your clients and it’s an easy way in. She does like to keep it out of her wedding packages, and she likes to make sure she sends it to the bride’s personal email.
She picks a time 5-6 months out, and also recommends to book it 2-3 months out to make sure photos, albums, and everything is ordered and ready. Adding that to your workflow gives them that information. She always offers booked couples $100 off as an add-on service, also.
Serving your current and past clients
So many people talk about wanting to find new clients, but they forget about the ones you have. How can you nurture them and serve them more? It’s not something you do just because, but it is something to note that you do have clients already. You focus on building, but you can also take advantage of referrals and go from those that know and love you already.
Chances are, that bride is already considering boudoir. But you can be the one to mention it and advertise if. Because it’s one of those things if you don’t advertise it, you just do it. But they don’t know you do it because you don’t communicate that in your workload. If you don’t communicate with them, and they have no idea. That’s also something to think about; how many of your clients are just going to someone else to do it? Because they don’t know that you can do it?
How to Price Boudoir Packages
Molly used to have all of her packages the same, but boudoir needs to be different. It has it’s own branding and add-ons. It’s much different than an engagement session; you’re not using 4-5 outfits, adding hair and makeup add-ons, etc. It needs to have it’s own information in the packages and more value. It is a luxury photoshoot! It’s not something they need, so it can be more pricey than other packages.
It’s similar to when you first start, but look around and see what other photographers are charging in your area. Also figure out how much time you’re putting in, what the cost of business is. It should still be in the same range as your engagement sessions though, because otherwise you’re not serving the same audience. If it’s requiring more, then charge more.
Molly has here three standard packages and everything is customizable, but with everything that a client wants. Everyone does like to be able to customize it, but she likes to keep it simple. The most basic is really not giving a lot, and the middle one is a sweet spot. And then the third package is always that huge investment; you may feel like it’s way more than you’re capable of booking out. But those looking to spoil themselves can go for the one with all the extra; it’s also like the highest value and the best investment because you’re still getting a lot for the price point. It’s also loaded with a ton of stuff that you get.
Each of those packages she includes how many images, how many outfits, that there’s a studio. Also, Molly spent nine years doing a boudoir without a studio. It shouldn’t hold you back from your clients. You also need to include albums in your packages, because otherwise they’re getting special albums from Shutterfly.
In her packages, there are always add-ons if you want to add on an outfit, if you want to add on time or if you want to add on all the things. Molly doesn’t partner with anyone for hair and makeup; she wants them done separately. She doesn’t have hair and makeup included in her packages unless she’s doing an event which she always does a mini-marathon for Valentine’s Day and makeup.
Then she figured out that many people can do their own hair and makeup. The only time she included a package for her business was because the person she partnered with also has a full-time business of clients to your clients. Sometimes if you include it and it has to be on-site, if it’s two hours and you have to be there on-site, that’s two hours of your time. Where Molly would rather avoid that at all costs!
If you can find someone locally willing to do that, that works out, which is great! Because you’re making it easier for your clients. But if that’s not possible, you can send them, “Hey, this is who I typically work with; everyone loves her. There you go.” That’s great, too, because otherwise, you’re just dealing with two people’s schedules trying to come together for one and then doing it for your event.
Separate boudoir account
Using a separate boudoir account is one thing you can’t avoid because you want people to know that you do it. You need a separate Instagram account to make it known, and because you are a niche. It deserves its own brand because it deserves a lot of special attention. You can’t post your boudoir works with your regular account because the boudoir is way more intimate.
It’s more vulnerable and deserves much more intention and mindfulness. So if you think you’ll combine it and just throw it in between newborns and weddings, know it’ll be awkward. It’ll be a little bit out of place, and if you want your clients to value it, you need to value it uniquely.
Having its own web page on your website is huge. It’s like a curated audience, which means they want to be there. They’re not just, following you because they feel like they have to or because it’s so much more curated. It was their choice to send you that request. So chances are, they’re even more of a potential client than on your main page.
Session tips for beginners
First of all, slow down! A lot of photographers jump into sessions as soon as the client arrives and you start shooting, which is especially important in a boudoir not to do that. You don’t want her to walk into the room and immediately be like alright, take your clothes off. This needs a lot of warming up, have her show you outfits, make some small talk, get comfortable, get her ready, prep her for the session, and set up expectations.
Do all this while she’s still in her sweats that she walked in with because it’s important not to rush the process because this is the start of the experience. The number one priority is ensuring she feels amazing, comfortable, and safe. Not rushing into that also calms your nerves if you’re slightly nervous. Making small talk while going through her outfits and thinking of poses as you’re going through outfits boosts confidence. Just creating that space of her feeling welcome, cozy, and ready to go is best rather than rushing in immediately.
Getting her comfortable
You don’t want her to think about the poses; maybe just talking about her job, day, or anything that takes attention away from experience. You want to make her almost forget what she’s doing. That way, she’s able to trust you completely. If you’re starting and haven’t had experience with a boudoir, maybe your standard session is two hours because you feel like you need that extra time to get comfortable and for her to get comfortable.
The more you have experience, the shorter you can make your session. Molly’s sessions now are 45 minutes, and she feels like she doesn’t need that much time to flow as she could do it with her eyes closed, but it wasn’t always like that. So give yourself grace in that, too. If you need your session to be two hours, utilize that time, get creative and artsy and get into your flow of things. Don’t rush because you feel rushed.
Extra advice for boudoir
The value of a boudoir is one thing that can get easily missed. When we think of a boudoir, we think of it as sexy naked photos, and that’s the bare minimum of what a boudoir is. It can easily get overlooked and feel like something for the bride. And that’s not the case. It is a journey of self-love, and it has also helped Molly. Being a part of hundreds of women’s self-love journeys, seeing them heal, and being a part of that are never-ending.
Women go in waves, and we learn to love our bodies in all the different phases we go through. Keeping that at the center of your boudoir business is important because it is more than just a photoshoot. It’s a full experience. It’s the start of the woman learning to love the body that she’s in. And again, this is not for someone getting married only, it’s for someone going through a breakup.
It’s for someone who’s about to undergo a mastectomy, for someone with an eating disorder, etc. All of us deserve to love the bodies we see in the mirror; this is just part of the process. If you don’t have that philosophy behind your boudoir, your business will likely fail because, at the end of the day, the photos go away, and that’s not what she has at the end.
That’s the monetary value that a woman gets, but the change it has in her heart and soul goes throughout her entire life. That is also going to be your referral base as well; she’s going to relay to her friends her experience and how it made her feel. That’s what you want, her feeling empowered; that’s the goal. You want her to love her photos, which will be on point, but that’s not the point of a boudoir.
You can find Molly on her main page on Instagram @mollgrune. She also has her boudoir page, @boudoirbymoll. Also, her boudoir education series was launched in November. It’s called the boudoir Bible; you’ll see it on her main pages and her boudoir account. And it’s her A to Z roadmap to have a successful boudoir photography business. Check it out!