Last week, I guest blogged for the amazing Melissa, aka The Lace Appeal. I am so impressed with this woman. She is traveling the world finding the best brands of lingerie and sharing her wisdom with us. Here is the piece I wrote, along with some photos from our shoot this past winter (who else wants a faux fur coat after seeing these photos?!)
As a boudoir photographer, I spend my life making sure that women see all the amazing things about themselves. I preach a lot about self-esteem and self-love but even so, I too sometimes lose the fight against my insecurities. I think all women do to a certain extent. It is so easy for us to look at other women and see their perfect figure, gorgeous hair, clear skin, etc… and yet, we have a really difficult time paying ourselves the same compliments we extend to others. We worry what other people think about us, we worry if we’re attractive enough, we worry that we’ll fail, we worry that we’re not good enough... Why?
Women have been conditioned to constantly think we need improvement or need to look a certain way to be thought of as beautiful. We’re threatened by “the big 4-0” because we’re afraid of being "past our prime." “Mom jeans” subtly communicate we’re off the market sexually. We’re told it’s undesirable to be larger than a size 6. With so many of these messages being thrown at us, it’s no wonder women internalize unrealistic physical expectations and struggle with self-image.
What I love about boudoir photography is that it's about more than beautiful & sexy portraits. It’s about celebrating yourself, embracing your womanhood and allowing yourself to be proud of the person you are – no matter where you are in life or how many pounds plus/minus your “ideal" weight you're currently at. So, while it may sound counter-intuitive, a boudoir shoot can help you overcome your insecurities. Let’s take a deeper look at how:
Boudoir photography focuses on the positive
It’s so easy to focus on what we wish were different about ourselves, but what about showing off what we LOVE ? It’s more difficult, isn’t it? And also not something many women feel they have “permission” to do — we are taught it’s not polite to brag, after all. But at your boudoir shoot — BRAG GIRL! Tell me what you love about yourself and let’s capture it! It can be your eyes, your laugh, the small of your back… anything! Remember your positive qualities, because keeping those at the forefront of your mind is the key to heathy self-esteem.
When we are on set, I have a very strict “no negative self-talk” policy. Before we are in the studio, however, you can tell me if there’s anything you are self conscous about and I will be mindful not to feature it too prominently in your shots. This doesn’t mean I won’t photograph it. To the contrary, always try to capture at least one fantastic shot of that feature you’re not in love it… just so you can see how beautiful your so-called flaws really are.
Boudoir photography embraces who you are
Every one of us has “flaws" - even models and celebrities. A great way to boost your confidence is to embreace these flaws. This can be really hard to do, but bear with me. What makes you different is what makes you interesting. Hell, it’s what makes you YOU. Your smile lines are remnants of the happy times you’ve had. Your stretch marks may represent a pregnancy. Your scars tell the story of a challenge you overcame. Why would we want to erase those things? Embrace all the parts of you, freckles, lines, jiggly bits and all, and see the beauty in them. They are what make you who you are, and they are wonderful. And anyway, perfection is not only impossible, it’s boring. Trust me on this one: imperfect works.
Get zhushed up a little
The same way standing up straight or smiling can make you feel more proud and more positive, the way you appear in your mind affects your confidence. This is why when you feel you look good, you tend to feel good. That is what a boudoir session is really about: FEELING good. Taking care of yourself makes you feel better, leaving you with fewer low confidence days. Of course, it doesn’t mean becoming obsessed with appearance, but some me-time, a blow-dry, and your favorite pair of jeans goes a long way in improving your headspace. It’s not about what others think… it’s about what you see in the mirror.
Take a compliment
Instead of saying “thank you” when we get a compliment, women tend to shrug it off or disagree. If someone says “how did you get that flat stomach?” we’re more likely to respond with “it’s not flat, I have a jelly roll,” rather than saying thank you and moving on. It’s as if we’re embarrassed to be proud of ourselves. When I am shooting a boudoir session, I can’t help but tell the woman in front of my lens how beautful they are. A lot. Maybe that’s tough for some popele to hear, but it’s completely sincere. I truly believe that all women are beautiful, and I take real pride in bringing that beauty out. So when I, or anyone else, pays you a compliment, I challenge you simply to say "thank you" and leave it at that. No follow up statements or caveats. You’re welcome. ;)
See yourself through someone else’s eyes
What would you tell a friend who was worried about some new wrinkles or a few extra pounds? You would probably tell her that she’s beautiful in spite of that stuff! We are always our own harshest critics. When you start to feel down about yourself, try to think of how you’d talk to a friend, and try to extend that same kindness to yourself. Give yourself assurance, give yourself compassion. At photo reveals so many of my client say, “I can’t believe that’s me!” Seeing yourself through my lens can help you take a step back from your insecurities and see yourself in a new light, as if you are looking through a friend’s eyes.
Fight the fear
How exhilerating is it when you conquer something you’re afraid of — like a rollercoaster or jumping off the highest diving board? You feel like you can take on anything! THAT is the feeling a boudoir shoot gives you. Getting photographed in your skivvies might sound like a classic Freudian nightmare but believe me when I say it is so much less scary than you think it will be. Even my most nervous clients warm up within the first 5 minutes, and end up having a blast. If you’re thinking of boudoir for yourself and you have some insecurities with your body, think of why you DO want to do a shoot for yourself, because ultimately the “Why I want it” should out-weigh the “What I’m scared of.” Consider it an adventure! If it both excites you and scares you at the same time, then I say jump in with both feet!
Choose your photographer wisely and then trust them
While I do believe every woman should have a boudoir session, this doesn’t mean they should run out and have a shoot with the first photographer they find. It’s important to find a photographer that sees you for you and who makes you feel comfortable, because as much as a good photographer can boost the self-esteem, a bad photographer can be damaging to it, so DO YOUR RESEARCH. Do the women on their website look comfortable? Can you talk to the photographer ahead of time? Do they have the same philosophy on retouching as you? These are all important things to think about when choosing your boudoir photgrapher.
And once you select your photogaher, go ahead and trust them. Remember we are professionals in this area for a reason. We are experts in styling, lighting, and other things to make you look your best. Don’t know how to pose? No problem! It’s my job to show you! It may feel awkward, but I promise you I’ll make you look great on camera.
Every woman deserves to feel beautiful. And here’s the secret: you ARE beautiful, with all your so-called flaws, just as you are. You won’t find perfection or happiness by losing a few more pounds, because that’s not where you self-worth lies. Real beauty is much deeper than that.