Why I Shoot Boudoir Photography: My “why” for Shooting Boudoir
Why Boudoir Photography?
Sometimes I find it hard to put into words why I shoot boudoir photography. To me, it’s so much more than photos. It’s about so many things: self-expression, self-acceptance, body positivity, sex positivity, independence, and reframing the narratives. It is about remembering how fun it was to play dress up and laugh and bringing that same joy back into our adulting life. It’s about the transformation that takes place between the time you walk into the studio and walk back out that door. It is about feeling beautiful, and that is something I believe every person deserves. I decided to specialize as a boudoir photographer because I saw the beauty in everyone who came in our door. I believed I could show any person see what I see through the lens of my camera. Women tell me they feel they can’t look “that beautiful” because they feel too tall, weigh too much, or have too many stretch marks. I loved showing them the photos from their shoot and showing that they CAN, in fact, feel beautiful. Seeing their reactions to their pictures changed me. From that moment on I knew I found my passion. It was now my job to be a mirror for my clients. Not the mirror that the world shows you that shames you, but the one who sees past all the lumps, bruises, and imperfections. The one that shows you your sparkle.
The transformation that takes place in our studio is the best part of the whole experience for us. When a woman arrives in the studio, most of the time she’s nervous, sometimes even visibly nervous. Shaky hands and voices, sweaty hands and faces are things I see all the time. Once they sit in the chair to get their hair and makeup done, the transformation begins. The client slowly starts to shed those signs and feelings of nervousness and anxiousness. Then the shoot starts. The first production is the warm-up. When I show the client the back of the camera, I usually hear, “OH MY GOD, that’s me? NO WAY, that’s me!” or “Is that edited?!!? WOW, I look AMAZING” Sometimes there may be a tear shed too. As we go into the next production and then the next, the laughter and smiles start to come out. Then she starts to feel sexy, the sexy eyes turn on, and you can tell that everything is starting to click.
By the time we finish the session, we’re friends. We’ve just shared an experience together that they will always remember. We’ve laughed and shared stories about our lives. Something that started out so vulnerably grew through trust and courage. Those nerves will kick in again before they see their final gallery. Insecurities and doubt creep in as their mind remembers all the reasons why they don’t think they are “enough.” Once I show them their photos on the screen, jaws drop. They see themselves like they never have before. This is one of the amazing moments as a boudoir photographer. I get a chance to show them how I see them, how their spouse sees them and how the world truly sees them. When they walk out that door, there is always an extra pep in their step and smiles so big that they can’t wait to tell all their friends about what they just did.
A Little Piece of My Story
I didn’t quite grasp the gravity of what I was accomplishing for women for a long time. I knew something amazing was happening, and I knew it felt great doing it. I also remember being worried that my self-confidence would take a hit because I assumed that the women coming in for a boudoir photoshoot would be in much better shape than I am and super confident in their own skin. Boy was I wrong! There are women who are in better shape than me, for sure, physically speaking, but every single one of us has an internal issue that makes us feel like we are not enough - not in shape enough, tall enough, curvy enough, long enough hair….we could go on and on. It has been through my clients' stories and our connections that I have been able to begin to see why this was so important to me. When I was younger, I never felt like I fit in. It was really hard for me to make friends. My sister didn’t even like being around me. (We’re cool now, as a kid she was super introverted and I was an extrovert, always wanting to play and she wanted her alone time and her mom, lol.) My parents sent my sister and I to small Christian schools. Bullying was not a topic back then, and I truly believe now that it was kids being kids, without the intention of harming someone else, and I know now that they never saw it that way, but as a child (and into my adulthood) I felt as if no one really cared if I existed. I cried, a lot, from being called names and being laughed at. Our family was not rich, we were barely middle class, it was tough to have a style, and when I would get a special treat, my style was not like the others. I stood out. I was overweight, not athletically gifted, and didn’t really do well in school. Then my parents went through a divorce. I was in middle school, preparing to go to a large public high school, where I wouldn’t know anyone. My parents were off doing their own things, trying to redefine their lives and I was there, trying to define mine. To say those years were tough would be an understatement.
In high school, I was able to learn more about myself and what made me happy. I joined the Drama Club and discovered that I loved the stage! When you are on stage, you can literally be anyone! Although I was still awkward, I was fortunate enough to make some friends. I was starting to build my own personal identity! I was still super insecure though. I latched onto the wrong boyfriends, married for the wrong reasons, and lived life for everyone but myself. Mostly because I didn't realize the VALUE I held. I so often compared myself to other body types, looks, styles, and felt as if I never measured up. I didn't think there was more out there for me at this time. I didn't think I was lovable as I was. This all changed when I had my kids. I decided that I needed to become a role model for my girls to look up to in the future. Sure, they are spoiled and I have dedicated so much of my time and life to them, that one could say I lost track of who I was again. I disagree. I was designing who I am today. Determined, tenacious, resilient, self-confident, and comfortable in my own skin are just a few things I learned along the way.
I started to think about the photos I was in, and not in. There were plenty of times I avoided the camera over the years, for all the same reasons other women do, and how my daughters would be able to look back and remember me if I wasn’t around anymore. Would I want them to remember me being ashamed of my body and hiding from the camera? Nope. Would I want them to not have any photos of me at all? Absolutely not. Maybe one day when they are older they’d even appreciate the photos where I proudly and confidently stepped in, instead of sitting out, even with my crazy hair, no makeup, and extra pounds!
Sure, they are grown now and I am once again on the quest for what comes next. That’s the beauty of life, it’s always changing and we get to change with it. The scars, the dings, the marks, they are all evidence that we lived well. For me, boudoir photography is a celebration of your body and who you truly are. I take pride in being able to help show women how to celebrate their bodies, their battles and the victories they’ve been through. Let me show you your sparkle. Let me help remind you how to love and be proud of yourself.
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