Boudoir Photography: Behind the Flash & Flesh


It’s not all flash and flesh, but feeling and feminism. Boudoir photography has a long history of struggles: acquiring women’s rights and changing society’s moral perceptions. Boudoir – in French – refers to a woman’s private room – a space between the bedroom and the dining room – where she typically spends quality time with a romantic partner or by herself. Boudoir photography is the artistic concept of capturing female intimate moods and romantic gestures in bed or in the bedroom, nude or clothed.

In the 1920s, nudity in photographs was illegal yet several photographers continued to fearlessly pursue boudoir style. Albert Arthur Allen was among the most notable with his black and white nude portraits, breaking many artistic and social boundaries. Cecil Beaton was another famed boudoir photographer with his snapshots of the innocent and sensual Marilyn Monroe in lingerie, teasing in a casual Lolita-gesture.

By the 1940s, boudoir photography shifted from normal women to curvy pin-up girls dressed in stockings and corsets. This was when the use of props in boudoir photography got fully implemented in many creative forms.

Not until the 1970s that boudoir photography got recognized as a form of professional art. Magazines published photographs of real women and the public began to embrace the female form. More and more nude photographs were being released in various print channels: some were elegant but some were plain photos of women without bra and panties. This was the era when artistic boudoir photography got misunderstood as pornography.

In this modern world of social inclusion and gender embrace, boudoir photography is not only well accepted, but almost every woman in all shapes and sizes wants some boudoir images as keepsakes. There is also boudoir wedding photography, where the bride takes private sensual images and print a photo book to give to the groom as pre-wedding gift.

In the conservative Vietnamese culture, nudity is still considered a taboo. Vietnam just recently had its first official public nude photography exhibition in 2018. Nude models are still being looked at as morally inappropriate and photographers practicing the art are still being judged as mere sybarites.

Despite the creative challenge and the unkind social perception upon the craft, many Vietnamese photographers are still pursuing the art for something more than the flesh.

Here are some recent works by Toronto’s photographer Dat Huynh from DStudioX Photography – a long-time pursuer of boudoir photography.