Typically shot in a photographer's studio or luxury hotel suites, it has become fashionable to create a set of sensual or sexually suggestive images of women (and occasionally men and couples) in "boudoir style". The most common manifestation of contemporary boudoir photography is to take variations of candid and posed photographs of the subject partly clothed or in lingerie. Nudity is more often implied than explicit. Commercially the genre is often (though not exclusively) derived from a market for brides to surprise their future husbands by gifting the images on or before their wedding day. Other motivations or inspiration for boudoir photography shoots include anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day, weight loss regimes, other form of body change or alteration (such as breast augmentation or reduction) and for servicemen and women overseas.
Boudoir photography may, in some cases, be distinguished from other photography genres such as glamour photography, fine art nude photography and erotic photography. According to research carried out in Digital Boudoir Photography (2006), John G. Blair said that the word "Boudoir" or "Boudoir portrait", was used in 1980 by Motherlode Photography Studio in California to describe a picture more elegant than "erotic portrait" or "semi nude portrait".