The Fascinating History and Evolution of Boudoir Photography

As you know, March is Women’s History Month. But we don’t just celebrate women one month out of the year around here. We celebrate women EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

To have a little fun, I thought it’d be fun to take a look backward in time at the evolution of boudoir photography. 

In today’s blog, we’ll look at:

  • How boudoir photography started (did you know it was once illegal to have nude photographs?!)
  • Honor the trailblazing women who paved the way for modern boudoir and female sexuality.
  • Why boudoir photography is for you - yes, you!
boudoir photos of women embracing sexuality and feminity in 2024 photoshoots - arkansas boudoir photographer

How Boudoir Photography Started and Evolved

Who knew that snapping a few sultry shots once landed folks in hot water? Yup.  About 100 years ago, society had some pretty strict rules about nude photography. Thankfully, we had rule-breakers (aka sneaky photographers and brave women!)

The way boudoir photography started was deemed taboo. But today, that’s not the case at all!

Let’s take a look at the timeline of some of the major female icons that helped us get where we are today!

boudoir photos of women in white bedsheets and lingerie channeling Marilyn Monroe vibes in 2024

Perhaps you'll want to channel Marilyn Monroe vibes for your boudoir photos?

Trailblazing Women Who Paved the Way for Boudoir Photography

It seems like there’s always a woman of the decade breaking down stigmas. Without these trailblazing women going against the grain of social “norms,” we might still be fighting to explore our sexuality today. 

Here’s a snapshot of the last 100+ years and the badass trailblazing women who paved the way for boudoir photography to be what it is today. 

1920s: Nude Photos were Illegal! Just a century ago, the mere mentioning of nudity in photographs was illegal. That’s crazy to think about. But rules are made to be broken, right?! 

1940s: Pin-Up Girls! Complete with corsets, stockings, garters, and flawless hair and makeup, these women began proving that femininity wasn’t just about the male gaze. They were enjoying themselves in the process, too.

1960s: Marilyn Monroe. Her infamous boudoir photos in bed, wearing nothing but a white sheet, are still replicated today in boudoir sessions. Now that’s a true icon! 

1990s: Madonna. More than just a sex symbol that empowered women’s sexual liberation. Madonna is also a fierce advocate for safe sex and sexual fluidity. She was fearless in pushing boundaries!

2010s: Lady Gaga. Que the unapologetic queen of self-expression, Lady Gaga! She really made a splash with her often wild fashion choices. But she’s since used her platform to shed light on mental health struggles and advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She and her mother founded the Born This Way Foundation, empowering young people to embrace their uniqueness and prioritize their mental health. She literally went from sex symbol to “now that I have your attention - pay attention to these things…”

2020s: P!nk. I might be biased, but Pink is today’s woman’s woman. As a very athletic, bi-sexual woman, she didn’t feel like she fit into society’s definition of “sexy” or “feminine.” But today, she’s showing girls (and grown-ass adult women) that feminine and sexy are whatever you decide they are. This song, Beautiful Trauma, was on a constant loop for me when I was in a depression/funk. Check it out. It’s beautiful, and the music video is eye-opening and funny!

If there’s one takeaway from these trailblazing women, it’s this: 

There has always been a constant struggle for gender equality. 

But that doesn’t determine what you’re capable of!!!

history and evolution of boudoir photography from 1920 to 2024 boudoir photos of women in 2024 embracing sexuality

Want to embrace a softer, sensual side with dramatic lighting? You've got it!

arkansas boudoir photography of women wearing lingerie showing a more private view

Boudoir can be whatever you want it to be - including more "anonymous" style shots, like these!

woman wearing black lingerie in 2024 arkansas boudoir photos by ashlee jo photography

OR...maybe you'd prefer something more like this?! YOU. HAVE. OPTIONS!

Celebrate How Far You’ve Come in Life with a Boudoir Photoshoot!

Boudoir photography has come a long way, but SO HAVE YOU! What you might see as an “ordinary life” is inspirational to someone else.

Women come to my studio for all kinds of reasons. Whether it’s to mark a milestone, a celebration, or a huge life-transition (hello, empty nesters!), I’ve heard it all.

But let's talk about those barriers you might feel about imagining yourself in a boudoir photoshoot.

You know, the ones that whisper doubts and feed insecurities.

Well, they're LIARS.

Because guess what?

There's no such thing as a "perfect time" to do anything.

And if you haven’t noticed by the images I've shared here, EVERYONE has a boudoir body. 

Yes, even you!

After all, who gets to define what's “hot,” “sexy” or “boudoir-worthy” anyway? 

You do, babe! YOU. DO.

You’ve got this!

XO, Ashlee

2024 arkansas boudoir photography of women in lingerie as way to reclaim their power

Wanna know more?

Don't be shy. Drop me a line.