On April 19, 2018, I will be laying on a bed in lingerie, and most likely naked, being photographed in my sixth boudoir shoot since 2009. Yes, that’s a lot of boudoir photo sessions.
But I believe it’s so, so important for boudoir photographers — male and female both — to get themselves in front of another boudoir photographer’s camera at least a few times in their careers.
We tell you to go lingerie shopping, and it’s important for us to experience what that’s like, especially if your body (like mine) is not a size 6 and cut like a diamond.
We ask you to be vulnerable, so we need to know (or to remember) how that feels.
We direct you to contort yourself into poses that you pray are going to look great in the final photos, because that awkwardness and fear helps us be more compassionate with you.
We ask you to TRUST US with your self-love, your history, your body issues and make sure that you look fucking fantastic in your finished photos.
So we need to get in front of the camera, too. Otherwise, how are we going to give you an excellent, compassionate experience?
One boudoir session every year? Kind of.
I made a pledge to myself when I started my Denver boudoir photography studio that I would do a boudoir shoot once a year. That was kind of ambitious. I’m 8 years in and I’ve done 5 shoots, some as a model, some as a trade with another photographer (I photographed her too), some paying for services and photos.
Out of those sessions, I’ve made 2 beautiful albums. I printed a gigantic canvas that hangs over my bathtub. (Printing your photos is so important.)
So here it is, 2018. It’s been 3 years since I really did the whole shebang of shopping, paying, getting my hair and makeup done, posing in several outfits and creating printed art with my photos. My last session was in May 2015 with the incomparable Critsey Rowe of Couture Boudoir. I did this boudoir session just for me.
Why has it been so long? I’ve not been in love with my body.
I’m going to be honest here. 2014 through 2017 were pretty shitty years for me. Money was tight, and I didn’t find opportunities to trade with another photographer. I also tend to eat my stress. I put 5 inches on my waist in less than 2 years. I did not practice good self care during this time. I let myself go.
And I did not want photos of myself in that physical state … the biggest I’ve been since I gave birth to my daughter in 2001.
WOW. A boudoir photographer just body-shamed herself. Is the world coming to an end?
No, actually, it’s not. Because I didn’t, really.
After my divorce in 2004, I lost 40 pounds. I was fat and miserable and hated myself. I lost it by not eating very much, then binge eating crap, then falling back into the old habit : purging through exercise. We’re talking eat a half-dozen donuts, go to the gym out of guilt at 2am and work out for 2 hours. Then don’t eat for the next day, and go work out for 2 hours. Over and over again.
I knew what I was doing, and I hated myself for it. Then, I found a counselor who helped me move beyond this form of bulimia. She gave me self-love exercises to do in the mirror.
Pick out a body part that you’re hating on at that moment
Touch it with love and tell it you love it … and why
It was ridiculous. It felt embarrassing. It was so. fucking. hard to do after spending half of my life hating this vehicle that the I AM of me rides around in every day.
But it worked.
There’s a difference between being realistic and hating yourself.
Since I finished with my therapist in 2006, I have rarely hated on my body. When I do, I usually catch myself and tell myself to cut it out.
Saying that I did not want photos of myself with 211 pounds on my 5-9 frame, with these gigantic boobs that sag toward my belly button, is me being completely honest. I love my body for what it does for me. I didn’t want the photos to remind me of the stress I’ve suffered, the heartache, the losses, the depression.
The way my body looks does not say anything about my worth as a human being. It shows what I’ve been through, and how I’ve dealt with it by not exercising, not eating healthily, and just not giving a shit for a long, long time.
I want to show you that it’s OK to not be OK with where your body is and still do the boudoir shoot. Or, to set a goal to make your body the way you want it in a healthy way and do the boudoir shoot. Which is what I’m doing for me.
My boudoir journey, shared here for the world to see
I’m turning 49 on June 11. My gift to myself will be a beautiful album of daring, hot-as-hell (and not pretty like my last session) boudoir photos created by my friend Stacie Frazier of Haute Shots Boudoir in Las Vegas. And another large piece of wall art.
Over the next 4 months, I’m going to chronicle my quest to reclaim my body, not just for the photos, but for my health, and so I’m around a long time for my daughter, son and husband. I will talk about my feelings about doing this shoot, how I’m preparing, what it’s like to shop (hopefully, buying some luxury lingerie that I’ve been lusting over), and more.
I hope you’ll come back and read this series. And I also hope that what I share will inspire you to take better care of yourself, to take control of your life, and to do the damn photoshoot.
oh, and by the way …