Boudoir photography has always been popular among women looking to surprise their partners with sexy photos, but a photography service dubbed "dudeoir" has men getting ready for their close-up.
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When you hear the word "boudoir," images of Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, and Jean Harlow wrapped seductively in bedsheets come to mind. According to the Knot, over the past few years, the wedding industry has jumped on the trend, with many photographers extending their services to brides (and sometimes their bridesmaids) who want to give personalized sexy photos to their new husbands. In 2012, we saw the birth of "morning-after photos," in which newly married couples invite wedding photographers into their bedrooms to document their first morning as husband and wife. However, dudeoir photography, a service for men to show off their bodies (partially or even totally nude), hadn't gone mainstream until recently, when it got a got a boost of publicity from a story in the New York Post.
Mariah Carle, a former nude model-turned-boudoir photographer (who shoots both individuals and couples) in Oakland, California, started her business five years ago and almost immediately saw an uptick in male customers. “About 25 percent of my clientele are men,” Carle told Yahoo! Shine. “Many men feel good about their bodies and want photos to enjoy when they’re older. Some want to show off their weight loss, and others are looking to spice up their love lives. People think that women are the only ones who want to look and feel sexy. That's not true.”
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Andrew, a San Francisco based businessman (who asked that his last name be withheld), recently arranged a photo shoot with Carle at the prompting of his wife, who wanted to see sexy photos of him and also get some shots taken of the two of them together. “I had never done anything like this, and I’m not the fittest guy, so I was nervous,” he told Yahoo! Shine. “We came to see Mariah with some ideas — me in a pirate costume, a kilt. Ultimately, we decided that I’d wear boxers and the kilt.”
After posing with his wife (who wore underwear and an oversized men’s button-down shirt), Andrew became more comfortable with his solo shots. “My wife and Mariah were cheering me on, and it felt awesome,” he said. “I’m not a model, but it was cool to see myself that way for one day. Men don’t have many opportunities to feel sexy.”
It’s a sentiment that Carle hears often from her male clients, who range in age from 18 to 70. “Women are encouraged to be nude, men aren’t,” she said. “The men who come to me are looking for an outlet to channel their sexuality. It’s about self-exploration and expression.”
And the men must abide by one rule: They must make their own appointments. That means spouses looking to surprise their partners need not apply. “I’ve had situations where one spouse had no idea what the shoot was about and it didn't end well,” she said. “It also makes for an awkward-looking photo shoot.”
Carle’s packages range from $600 to $2,000. Clients pay a $100 down payment, then schedule a preshoot consultation to solidify the details. “I try to get a sense of the man’s personality — what are his hobbies? Does his wife have a favorite outfit? His favorite and least favorite body parts?” Men can also sift through props like leather-bound books, construction hats, bandanas, or bed sheets. “If it’s a nude shot, we may even go to a local nude beach to shoot,” she said. Afterwards, Carle allows her clients to view the photos and determine whether or not they prefer airbrushing. (Many do not.)
One such client is Jet Noir, a male burlesque dancer from Oakland, who had Carle shoot him wearing a suit and also at various stages of undress, then covered himself in body paint and jumped around. “I’ve always been comfortable with my body and taking sexy portraits was something I decided to do on a recent birthday,” he told Yahoo! Shine. “I wish more men would do this. You don’t have to be ripped to feel sexy.”
To boost her client’s confidence, Elizabeth Osterberger, owner of EhRo’s Photo, relies on lighting tricks, and casual conversation, and she compliments her customers on a pose well done. “Sometimes guys start out wearing boxers and a T-shirt, but as they get comfortable and confident, they remove more clothing,” she shared. “Then you have the guys who are bursting with confidence and wear leather jock straps.”
There are also impromptu clients. “I’ve had guys come in for a standard portrait and after discovering I do boudoir, they get excited and want to do it too,” said Carle. “I receive lots of thank you notes."
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