The first time I became interested in photographing boudoir was after second shooting a wedding with a good friend of mine. The bride wanted to recreate a photo she’d seen on Pinterest before getting into her dress. She was topless, her bare back towards the camera, and the light from the hotel room window passed through her veil. They easily got the shot in just a few clicks, but my photographer friend encouraged her to try a few other looks. She shyly covered herself, notably sucked in her stomach, and self-consciously moved only as directed. After a few more clicks, my friend flipped the camera screen around to her and revealed an incredibly gorgeous woman staring back. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe that’s ME!” Seeing herself like that, maybe for the first time ever, triggered something. And that quick shot turned into a full boudoir session as she rolled around in bed, made eyes at the camera, and increasingly became more and more confident with herself and her body.
I loved that moment so much. Yeah, the photo was a gift for her soon-to-be hubby, but that experience was all for her. A beautiful self-transformation. As a photographer, I wanted to be a part of giving other women that same experience.
I need not remind anyone how much of Western women’s lives are spent fussing over our bodies, feeling insecure about too much this or too little that. We constantly look back on how we used to be or long for an unrealistic future version of ourselves, never embracing the right now, just as you are.
One of my favorite quotes I’ve included in my sample book is:
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” – Coco Chanel
The great thing I saw happen when I offered my Valentine’s boudoir promo so last minute is I had many women spontaneously decide to book a shoot right now. They didn’t have a chance to “get in shape,” get their hair did, or practice being sexy. In fact, one of my friends ate a Big Mac right before her session. And guess what? She looked stunning! Because she chose to be herself.
Which is why I also prefer to have my girls do their own looks. Some boudoir photographers offer full hair and makeup transformations (some even go as far as showing “before and after” photos in their portfolios as if it’s some great feat that they turned this “ugly duckling” into a sexy swan). Those are the Groupon ads I see all the time. Women with loaded on eye makeup in pearls and high heels lounging in white sheets looking like soft-core sexed up parodies of what they think men like. Instead, my goal is to show women just how beautiful and every-day gorgeous they are, right now in their daily lives — no professional styling, personal trainers, or stripper heels needed.
Of course, anything worth doing comes with critics. Since starting to post boudoir photos on my Instagram (with permission of course), I’ve lost numerous followers, and definitely experienced my fair share of judgement from some of my more conservative acquaintances. Their hatred of seeing other women being body-confident says more about them than it does about me or my work. No amount of negativity can take away the reward of watching the self-confidence pour in when these women realize how gorgeous they are on camera. My work never had this kind of purpose before – through these photos, I’m helping make an impact in other women’s lives. I’ll never tire of hearing, “Oh my gosh! I look so good!” So I’ll stop posting boudoir on Instagram once every woman has that same moment of realization. Until then, haters can deal with it.