We’re sitting down with Megan and Lauren to talk about something near and dear to our hearts: self-love through the boudoir photo experience. Both feel passionately that every woman is photo-worthy – and that women should take opportunities to see themselves through someone else’s lens.
Something that we get asked a lot is: Could I really do this? Is it scary? I’m too old for this – right?
L: Boudoir shoots should be fun. If you are doing it only because someone else wants you to, and you really don’t want to, it will show in the photos and you will have an experience that is not affirming and enjoyable. Ultimately, a shoot should be for YOU, not someone else. Giving your photos as a gift is a great idea, but please don’t let anyone coerce you into doing one for their benefit.
This might be even more important though: Age is irrelevant. “I am too old” is no excuse. Don’t let societal expectations shape your decision to do a boudoir shoot. You are amazing and your body shows the amazing life you have led. Like rings on a tree, the older we get the more beautiful and strong we become. Same thing with various body types.
M: Some of the images that inspire me the most are those done by women of a certain level of wisdom, shall we say. There’s no age limit on sexy and confident – and there’s no sexiest size or time of your life. I cannot emphasize enough though: this is something that you need to go into with a level of excitement and open-mindedness. This shouldn’t be something you’re dreading – if it is, you really won’t get what you could out of it.
Are you on board with doing a boudoir shoot? Picking the perfect photographer is super important, but, how do you go about doing that?
L: A good photographer is an absolute must. Not only do they need to be able to get all your good angles in and make a pretty picture, they need to make you feel comfortable and at ease. For this, do your research. Find someone who has experience with this type of photography. Look at their portfolio (any halfway decent photographer will have an online portfolio whether website, Facebook, Instagram, or all three.). If any of your friends have done a shoot, ask them about who they used. It’s all about finding the best fit for you. If you meet them, and get a bad feeling or don’t feel that comfort, then that photographer probably isn’t for you.
M: I’ve been asked a lot whether it’s better to use a female photographer for something so intimate, and often, my answer is yes – simply on the grounds that many times, it’s easier to take your clothes off in front of another woman. That said: when you look up portfolios – look for things that you like, and don’t like. Check out posing/lighting/the overall mood of the work featured. Most photographers have a style, and know what poses work well for their clients – and you may find that some resonate with you more than others. I’ve done shoots with both male and female photographers – and had a good experience with both. Personality fit matters a ton – and if you feel like after a few questions with the photographer that they are not the right fit, keep asking around.
But: what if I don’t like the way I look?
L: A common concern is “I hate this part of my body” “Yuck, stretch marks” “my cellulite is terrible” “c-section (or other) scars”, and the list goes on. This can be solved in multiple ways. 1. what you wear for the shoot 2. a good photographer can assist in a pose that could hide or detract from your concern areas. Photoshop and various editing tools can also minimize areas that you’re not comfortable with but….. 3. who cares about those flaws!
M: When we do photo shoots for the store, I passionately believe that photoshop/post-shoot editing doesn’t belong when it changes the appearance of the model. Stray hairs, outlet covers, crooked horizons – fix away! But: you don’t need to be edited out. That said: I believe that I look pretty darn good when a skilled pro wields the mouse in Photoshop – so if you feel like it will make you happier – feel free to speak up about what you want. All that said though, I agree with Lauren – often what we see as flaws are just parts of us that do not detract from our whole as much as we think they do.
What should I wear?
L: There are infinite possibilities. Ultimately, it’s so important to focus on what makes you feel beautiful and sexy. Some of the best vintage style pinup boudoir shoots are with plus-size/full-figure models. A high waist or just below the belly button brief with a Panache or Sculptress bra would be perfect for that silhouette. Add some stockings in and it’s a great look that harkens back to the 40s & 50s without being too dated (unless thats the point, and hair/makeup is a great way to really solidify the retro look). It’s a style I love putting on full figure models and they feel fabulous in it. A short chemise or body suit is great for those who really don’t love to show their stomach but love their legs and/or bust.
M: Sneaky tip I learned from a photographer – pick items that have some interesting detail work. Sometimes, a close shot of a killer lace detail can feature both that, and your body, in a really interesting and pleasing way. Don’t forget about personal items too – something that is quintessentially yours can make a great sexy coverup.
L: Boudoir shoots are an awesome excuse to splurge on something pretty & sexy for yourself. Been eyeing that Simone Perele or Empreinte set? No better time than for that photo shoot you’ve scheduled. As far as makeup, I recommend research online if there will not be a makeup artist on-site, though having photos of the look you’re after will help any artist understand your vision.
What about hair and makeup? What else can I do to make sure I have a good experience?
L: Due to the two-dimensional nature of photography, you will need to wear a lot more blush, eye makeup, and lipstick than normal (if that is your thing). As someone who did ballet for years, photos are similar to the stage. You feel like you are wearing too much, but you aren’t (especially if you barely wear any on a day to day basis). Working with an artist who is familiar with photography is so helpful, especially if you rarely wear makeup.
M: I don’t ever wear makeup (hardly, at least) so for me, to enjoy the experience, it has been really helpful to put myself in the hands of a makeup pro. Completely eliminated any worries I had about looking fake or “too done” – and it made the experience feel even more luxurious to me. Sometimes photographers can even put together a package for you with a hair and makeup pro that they trust and work well with – making your shoot even more relaxing for you!
L: Bring friends with you and make it a girls day! You can encourage each other and act as support when you feel a little intimidated by the camera (I am extremely camera-avoidant, so I feel for my introverted, camera-shy sisters!).
M: A little bit of champagne goes a long way – but so does support from your friends. Consider booking a photographer for a block of time together so you can cheer each other on, or make this a part of a self-care day. Someone very much wiser than me told me that she recommends doing a boudoir shoot once a decade, and journaling what you feel most grateful for during that decade, and I think that this is an amazing idea. Put it all together in a keepsake box, and you’ve got something beautiful to reminisce over for years to come.
I think that we often expect our bodies to never change, but time marches on, and seeing that sexy is not an age, or a size, can be so powerful. Photos take a snapshot of life, and even though I hate to be in front of the lens, I am really grateful for the opportunities to do so even when I didn’t necessarily feel 100% positive about my body at the time. Farther away, I can see and appreciate myself in a more positive light, and I think that’s really amazing.
We hope this helps! -M&L
Need some direction in your search for a photographer? We’ve put together a list with feedback from clients and friends for both Roanoke and Charlottesville area photographers who can provide excellent boudoir shoot experiences. Please note: many are available to travel.
In or around Charlottesville (from Megan, and clients):
Jen Fox: (https://breathlessboudoir.com/) Jen is a super-babe, who specializes in making you feel like a super-babe. Breathless Boudoir is one of the best anywhere – and Jen frequently travels for her clients. Her infections positivity and ability to see your inner sexy is a profound talent.
Ron Dressel: (http://rondresselphotography.com/boudoir/) We also love Ron Dressel’s work – the man knows how to help you work your angles, which is worth so much. He’s worked with professional models, shot ad campaigns, and also just gets that every woman wants to feel like a million dollars.
In or around Roanoke (from Lauren, and clients):
Holly Cromer (www.hollycromerphoto.com). She & I have collaborated on a few shoots with clothing and vintage lingerie. I love her photography, she’s lovely to deal with, very body positive. She is also a perfectionist which I admire.
Marissa Yi (www.bella-boudoir.com). Marissa came very highly recommended from many people. She also has a team of make up & hair stylists on call if needed. She puts a great package together and is invested in giving her clients an amazing experience.