THE POWER OF BOUDOIR
As a female boudoir photographer I have photographed many women and for lots of different reasons. Some women come to me because they want some beautiful photos for their partner, but often the women that step through my door for a shoot are doing it for themselves. Maybe they have been through a break-up or maybe they are struggling with their confidence levels and need a boost. Some have got into great shape and want to capture that. Whatever the reason, it has been clear that engaging in the shoot has had a powerful impact on these women and made them feel both empowered and sexy.
The photographs are intimate, timeless and a reminder of a time in their lives when they needed or wanted to feel beautiful. It’s an opportunity to shed inhibitions and really capture what’s going on. They are designed to tell a story that only the woman herself knows the true narrative of. Even if they are for someone else, rather than be defined by her role as a mother or a wife or a friend, it’s the girl in the pictures that gets to own her femininity.
The reason I know these things is because I have gained knowledge from the subsequent conversations I’ve had with these women. I’ve been told how confident they felt directly after the shoot and how amazed they were when they saw the images of themselves. It has helped (I’ve been told) put a spark back into relationships or further ignited one that was already there. However, the real reason for this, is because ultimately, it has helped improve the woman’s relationship with herself.
Hearing it from other women was great because it meant I was doing something right, but in order to truly understand the power of boudoir and my role within it, I had to experience it from the other side for myself…
HOW IT MADE ME FEEL
Being on the other side of the camera is obviously not something that is alien to me and from that perspective I understood the impact of seeing a good photograph of yourself could have on your self esteem. There have been times when I’ve been doing a shoot for the blog and was really not ‘feeling it’, believing the photos would not turn out as I’d hoped, only to find myself surprised when downloading the card and liking some of what I was seeing.
However, doing a boudoir shoot is an altogether different experience. I understood that some of the women who were being photographed by me were lacking confidence but it didn’t fully hit me what this meant until I put on my underwear and began the shoot myself. I realised that being photographed in your underwear, without your clothes for security, brought with it a mixture of both exhilaration and vulnerability. Unless you have the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, there’s a good chance there’s going to be something about your body you find fault with. Maybe it’s your thighs, or your post-baby tummy that makes you self-conscious, or you don’t like your boobs. We are after all our own biggest critics and what we may dislike in our own bodies, others may not see or indeed love, embrace and accept.
Honestly, when these photographs were taken, I hadn’t been having the best time. I was going through a difficult divorce and had taken a knock to my confidence. As well as wanting to understand what it felt like to do a boudoir shoot, I, like my clients, also wanted to feel good about myself. The biggest realisation and the most invaluable thing I took away from the experience was how much responsibility was in my hands as a photographer to make the women I was photographing feel good about themselves. It is responsibility I do not take lightly. As a female boudoir photographer, I understand very well what women have the ability to feel vulnerable about, which is why it is so important that during a session, the woman I am photographing is both encouraged and put at ease by me. It’s about using angles that flatter no matter what their shape or size. Without that dialogue, without the laughter and the warmth and the compliments, even the most confident of women could be left feeling emotionally exposed.
Having now been on both sides of the boudoir experience, I understand fully and with sincerity, how important it is to reinforce the message that each and every woman I photograph has a beauty that’s unique to her. Photographing a woman is not enough. You have to truly see her to understand her beauty and capture it through the lens….