Diamond Moon Boudoir | Lexington, Kentucky
I get the question all the time. I meet folks and make introductions, and almost immediately someone asks, “So, what do you do?” I respond, “I’m a boudoir photographer.” I smile, and I wait.
Most often there is a slightly awkward silence, then the clarifying question. “Is that what I think it is?” (or some variation.) Once I confirm that I essentially photograph women in their underwear, the next question is typically, “Why did you choose that?” It’s a question I welcome, and it almost always opens up a conversation that the asker of the question was not expecting.
I’ve been a professional photographer for over a decade, and during that time I have devoted my practice to various specialities, including Thoroughbred horse racing, business and actors’ head shots and family photography. During that time, when I would share my profession and my artistic focus with someone upon introduction, I would not get the “why” question. I might be asked how I got started with horse racing photography, because it’s kind of an exotic specialty and folks are curious about trackside experiences and the big races I’ve attended, but I guess they always just assumed my “why”. Think about it – did you ask the photographer who took your senior portraits, your wedding photos or your business head shots why they chose that speciality? Probably not.
The reasons any artist has chosen a specific focus for their work are, fundamentally, the MOST important questions you can ask. The answers reveal their motivation, what connects them to their work, and what connects them to their clients.
Admittedly, my first boudoir shoot was an experiment. I’d become disillusioned with aspects of my previous work, had heard about and researched boudoir photography, and a friend was game to help me out.
For my friend, as for most of my clients, a boudoir shoot was far outside her comfort zone. She works in the medical field, is a wife and a mother of three. Every day she goes to work with a freshly washed face, her hair pulled up in a top knot, and dressed in scrubs. While not in the camp of feeling “body shamed”, she admitted that she felt she was carrying some extra weight and did not LOVE her mid-section. During our pre-session consultation, we discussed the wardrobe choices that would best suit her, and scheduled her session. (Want to access the tools we used to get to her ideal wardrobe? Click HERE to get my guide to Dressing for Your Body Type.)
Because I’ve shot thousands of professional head shots, when I’m working in my studio, I prefer to shoot with my camera tethered to my laptop. I like seeing the images being captured in a larger format than just looking at the back of my camera, and I find a ton of upside that comes with sharing those images with my clients, mid-shoot.
So, there we were – my friend and me, first boudoir shoot. Her hair and makeup looked flawless. I started coaching her through some poses, shooting from a variety of angles. I checked the images on my laptop, which was perched on the dresser in the spare room in my home where I was shooting, and I was really happy with what I was seeing. About 10 minutes into the session, I paused for a bit, grabbed my laptop, and offered to show my friend/client some of the photos we had taken. It was at that point she shared with me, “I don’t ever really like pictures of myself”.
Now you tell me. Not to worry, I’ve heard it plenty of times.
I was really loving the photos I was capturing, so I pushed forward with showing my friend, and her reaction caused me to stop in my tracks.
“Oh my gosh! I didn’t know I could look so pretty.” Wait…what?
Seeing some of her images, and then hearing me say how great she looked throughout the rest of her photo session, really amped up her confidence and her comfort level with outfits, posing…everything. In the end we had over 300 frames to review, from a couple hours of shooting.
After my friend changed into comfy clothes, we sat down together to go through her images, one by one. During the first pass through her photos, I just asked for a simple “yes” or “no”. You like it, or you don’t. After several passes through her gallery, she got down to 48 images that she HAD TO HAVE. For me, that was profound.
In headshot photography, you know when you’ve got “the one”. People rarely need more than that. Family photography – sort of the same, in my experience. Entire family, one of this group, that group, etc. (I’ll admit, I never had a good “why” for family photos, so I didn’t thrive there…) With horse racing, it’s finish line photos and famous horses.
But seeing my friend’s response to her images – seeing how they made her feel about herself – that sold me. I loved being the one to show her what I saw, and what her husband sees. This beautiful girl with incredible eyes and lashes and skin – the things that she looks past every day. She doesn’t always see it because we all focus on our “flaws”, and because she’s covered in a layer of “mommy” and low-grade medical waste.
My friend gave the photo album we created to her husband as a Valentine’s gift. The best one, he said, that he has ever received. But then there were requests – for additional photos. A return session is planned, once we’re able to relax social distancing and get back to some semblance of “normal”. And, my friend is inviting her friends to my VIP Facebook group and referring specific ladies to inquire about their own luxury boudoir experiences. That means the world to me.
I’ve shot a number of other sessions, prior to being shut down to contain the spread of COVID19. At every single shoot, I had the same experience as with my friend. A woman seeing herself in her true beauty, amazed with how good she looked, feeling great when she left and having a difficult time narrowing down the images she HAD to HAVE. How could you not love that, as a photographer? As your job?
Why did I choose to specialize in taking photos of women in their underwear?
Because it’s empowering. For them and for me.
Because I get to show women their true beauty – at their current weight, level of fitness, age…whatever.
Because they leave my studio feeling incredible about themselves. Who gets to do that?
It’s an amazing blessing to see, in full reveal, the value that you bring to the world. For any woman that I speak with, I KNOW that I am able to improve her feelings of self-worth, self-confidence and empowerment. Regardless of where those levels sit upon our first meeting.
You love yourself, just as you are?…Great, we’ll have an incredible time and you’ll love your images. You’re not a huge fan of yourself? You will be when I finish with you!