Whether you're spoken for or single, I have found that outside of Valentine's Day you should reward yourself with one very special gift that's been proven to teach you how to love your inner and outer beauty, as well as increasing your self confidence - a boudoir photography session.
I learned this lesson several years ago from my husband's good friend, Stacey Wooten Hartman, owner of Bad Kitty Photography in San Diego, Calif.
I met Stacey at an open house for the studio, where women from the local area came to inquire about the ins and outs of a boudoir photo session. In theory, I was at the studio interviewing for a photographer's assistant position. But there were so many shenanigans, wine, and girl talk, that I would be slow to call it that.
When I first stepped in the door, I was met by one of the staff photographers named Cinnamon - she's the life of the party at Bad Kitty, who often purchases sexy clothing and props for the studio. After learning that I was there for a "semi job interview," Cinnamon grabbed my boobs and said, "Girl! I love the hell out of this bra! What kind of bra is it? Angels?" She was serious, and expected an answer.
I was humiliated and entertained at the same time! I have to admit that I did wear my best bra to the interview, but I had no idea that my reaction was somewhat part of the interview process. I think what Cinnamon was looking for during "the bra" fiasco was a witty response, and not a look of humiliation. Something like, "Yes it is a very good bra, but don't put those paws on my tits!"
Soon after, Stacey immensely apologized for Cinnamon's behavior, and wrapped our interview. Obviously I never got the job, but as I look back on the situation, I can see why. Perhaps some of it had a little to do with Stacey being extra careful of who she hired after being scouted by OWN for a reality show. But more importantly, if I was going to be part of a team of boudoir photographers whose jobs were to make other women feel comfortable about themselves in front of a camera - even when they absolutely detested the body that God gave them - I better damn sure be confident in my own.
I was definitely not confident in my own body, and the Bad Kitty photography team spotted it from a mile away. It wasn't until years later where I learned the importance of loving yourself enough to record the moment you fell in love with you, which was proof that it was one job that I was definitely not ready for.
This year, I'm scouting boudoir photographers in my new home state for my own photo session. While I won't be doing it for Valentine's Day (my husband and I already have plans and money set aside for them), I will also be setting aside some cash for it this spring.
But for others who don't have plans, perhaps you should consider scheduling a boudoir session this Valentine's Day. What people fail to realize is that boudoir isn't about taking a dirty photo - it's about appreciating yourself as you are.
Here are 11 misconceptions about boudoir photography sessions that I learned over the years, and the benefits to doing one - whether you're single, plus sized, have cancer, or a religious woman.
1. "I WOULD DO IT, BUT I'M SINGLE
So what if you're single! Booking a boudoir session is a gift to yourself, not your spouse. Halie Johnson, an Athens, Ga. boudoir photographer, says that most of her clients are single people who range in age from 18-58, and this is what they usually say when they see their photos:
Most times it's actually "wow, I can't believe that's me!" or "you made me look so beautiful!". I then have to go on to explain that they are beautiful and that I make a point to use zero photoshop to prove that.
2. "I'M PRETTY SURE I'M GOING TO HAVE TO GET NAKED"
That's not true at all. People forget that you don't have to be undressed to be sexy. You can exude sexiness while walking down the street wearing flip flops and a concert t-shirt. Photographers from Denver's Under The Garter Boudoir studio hear this all the time, and they usually tell clients that anything can be sexy.
Sexy photos don't require nudity.
At your request, we will take artful topless or nude portraits of you, but you don't have to be nude. Wear anything you think is sexy.
Each of our boudoir photo shoots is tailored to the client, and no two clients (or shoots) are the same.
3. "I'M CHRISTIAN, SO THAT ISN'T GOING TO FLY"
Being a Christian doesn't mean that you can't appreciate your body, or own your beauty. If anything, God want's you to say, "Our Creator was definitely feeling himself and showing off when he made me, because I am super hot!"
Remember, you don't have to be naked, raunchy, or naughty to take a boudoir photo. Just tell the photographer that you would liked to be clothed, and trust them enough to let them work their magic.
Rayleigh is a devout Christian, and a boudoir photographer in Portland, Ore. She says that she gets Christian clients all the time. Including married ones.
...When a woman doesn't feel good about the way she looks, she doesn't bring to the marriage that needed energy that can really help fuel true intimacy. A boudoir shoot can give a woman that much needed confidence. It's really amazing what a little sexy confidence can do for a marriage.
4. "I NEED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT FIRST"
You don't need to lose one pound for a boudoir session. So what if your weight isn't where you want it to be, that doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to feel sexy.
Laura of bostonboudoirphotography.com says that this is the number one reason why most women shy away from booking a session, but she's quick to let potential clients know that weight should not stop them from doing anything that they want to do.
The media inundates us with unrealistic expectations of body size and shape. Nobody has the ideal body, flawless skin or perfect face.Repeat. No one is perfect, not even supermodels.
I photograph women of all shapes, sizes and ages. It's all about angles and finding your favorite parts. We'll discuss what you love about your body and we'll work to accentuate those areas. If there is an area you want to avoid, we can do that too. We achieve beautiful images of women with the use of my dynamic lighting, props, clothing and posing.
5. "NOPE. I HAVE STRETCH MARKS"
Don't let something small like stretch marks hold you back. Embrace them! Jennifer of Tribe of Diamonds by Don Hajicek Photography says,
There are too many things in this life that we choose not to experience because we don't match some arbitrary ideal imposed on us by society. Boudoir photography will release the chains that bind you, and you will see that anything is possible.
6. "THAT'S A GIRLY THING, AND I'M A TOMBOY"
Boudoir shoots for tomboys are fun. Some studios are so serious about catering to their tomboy clients that they have mock locker rooms and sports equipment set up for them inside of their studios!
The photographers at Shondy Studios in Omaha, Neb. love their tomboy clients. They said on their website,
We shoot a lot of tomboys. Not every woman is Kim Kardashian ready at all times of the day nor do they want to be. That doesn't mean your shoot isn't going to be gorgeous and sexy. If you want to get all dolled up in lingerie, great, if you don't then bring other stuff. If you are a tomboy that wants to look feminine for the shoot, we'll make that happen.
7. "BOUDOIR IS JUST A WATERED DOWN VERSION OF PORNOGRAPHY"
That couldn't be further from the truth. There are hardly any porn videos where the actors stop to appreciate how beautiful they are. The photographers of Warwick Boudoir Photography studio in Houston hears this all the time. They say,
...It's about discovering the inner beauty and strength that lies within every person and bringing that out in the open for the camera to capture.Subjects of pornography do not exercise control over any aspect of the shoot. It's completely the opposite during a boudoir photo session. As the subject, you and only you can decide how far you want to go, what you will or will not do or what image you want to project.
8. "YOU MENTIONED THAT WOMEN WITH CANCER SHOULD TAKE BOUDOIR PHOTOS. THAT'S CRAZY TALK!"
Sometimes life is about appreciating how far you've come, instead of how far you have to go. If you have cancer, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to document your journey. On those days where you feel like you can't take another step, take a deep breath and look at your beautiful boudoir photos. Appreciate your body, and how you're still standing.
Stacey Ingram of Simply Boudoir in Kernersville, N.C. had a client with cancer back in 2014, and something amazing happened during her photo session.
These photos are for her daughter, she told me.Tomorrow she is undergoing a double mastectomy. In her first email to me she said “I have never been in love with my body, breasts, etc. They're nothing to write home about but they're mine and I am having a hard time saying good bye to them…so therein lies my desire to document."
When she walked into the studio with such grace I never would have known she didn't love her body. Perhaps it wasn't always that way, but the way her fingertips traced it's lines and the way her lashes fluttered on her cheeks I could tell that today? Today she loved her body. It was my honor to capture that for her and her daughter.
9. "I DON'T HAVE THE MONEY BECAUSE MY WEDDING BUDGET HAS EMPTIED MY POCKETS"
In my experience as a former photographer's assistant, the best time to take boudoir photos is on your wedding day. You're wearing beautiful lingerie, and your photographer is already there taking your photos. Why not?
I've worked with professional photographers who were willing to do a mini boudoir session while the bride got dressed for an extra few hundred dollars. I've also worked with photographers who did a mini boudoir photoshoot for free, just because the bride asked them.
Every photographer is different, so you never know what they'll tell you. But to make sure that you get the best shots, especially if you're broke, slide them a little cash for a mini boudoir session as part of your wedding photography package.
10. "NO! THE PHOTOGRAPHER IS GOING TO PUT MY PICTURES ON INSTAGRAM!"
Photographer Lauren Werkheiser, who serves areas in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Delaware, says that she refuses to release any photos without her clients permission.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - when it comes to boudoir, my client's privacy is my number one concern and none of your images will be shared without your permission to do so. Every image I've published from a boudoir session has first been approved from my client. Rest assured that unless you choose to share your images (whether it's one or them all), every single one will remain private.
11. "MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO LAUGH ME"
I would highly doubt that. If anything, once your friends see how amazing your shoot is going, they're going to probably book one too. In fact, a fun BFF adventure always yields amazing stories. Just make sure you bring the friend who has a fun spirit, not the one who hates on everything and everyone. One photographer says,
Most of the boudoir sessions photographed aren't just with clients - more often than not, they bring a friend along to help and offer support or make a party out of it. It's great to have someone close by who can give advice about which outfit to wear, how to have your makeup done, or to fix that fly away hair. They help to calm your nerves - boudoir photography is so common and classy now that it's normal to bring a friend along for that confidence boost.
Have you ever taken boudoir photos? Share your experiences with us in the comments.