“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.”
– Salma Hayek
When I mention what I do for a living to other women I usually get one of two responses, “Oh, I could never do that” or “ I’ve always wanted to do that, I just haven’t got the courage.” I am here for both of those women. My goal is to show those who believe their body doesn’t belong in a sexy image and those who can’t quite seem to take the plunge. I’m here to tell you if you decide to do one thing for yourself in 2019, let it be this kind of self-worship.
More than once I have heard people compare boudoir to pornography, and it’s important to me to clear the air on the first post on my blog. I think nudity makes a lot of people uncomfortable because they have been conditioned by any number of influences, for example, their family, their culture, their religion, etc.
“When we respect the nude, we will no longer have any shame about it.” – Robert Henri
It’s hard to talk about being naked and not discuss the immense damage that the media has purported on society as a whole in terms of advertising and unhealthy body images, and in my opinion that deserves a whole other blog post. The term “Body Positivity” is something you will hear a lot if you know me personally or any boudoir photographer. We live and breathe it, it is the basis of our mantra.
My goal and the goal of all boudoir photographers is to reprogram those who find shame in their nakedness and help them reshape how they think about themselves and how they love themselves. Our true talent lies in creating safe spaces for clients to come and experience this empowering vulnerability.
What is Boudoir Photography?
The term “Boudoir” is French and was originally coined as the name for a woman’s dressing room, bedroom, or private sitting room. At some point, it also became the descriptive moniker for intimate lifestyle photography. The setting for these types of photoshoots is almost always a bedroom or a private setting but more and more often they are not limited to just indoor locations.
I have heard Boudoir called so many names, from “erotic lifestyle photography” to “a sexy photo shoot” and they all mean the same thing. A shoot in which you are most vulnerable, in your most private underthings and even just in the nude. Where you bare it all and give into loving and worshipping yourself. Accepting your beauty and flaunting it, celebrating the little things that make you so uniquely you. Capturing the secret things that make people fall for you.
The Naked Truth
About Early Nude Photography 1880-1900s
By the early 20th Century nude photography had come into the common sphere, and this is largely due to photographs becoming easier to create and reproduce. It took hold and images were being mass produced in the hundreds of thousands on pages the size and thickness of postcards.
Rudolf Lehnert and Ernst Landrock
This early movement was joined by the German “Naturism” (read: Nudist) movement which gained traction in the 1920s, and my personal favorite, the Glamour Pin-Ups of the ’30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
I am consistently inspired by the historical aspect of nude photography because I see it as the beginning of a self-love revolution. Women started shedding their corsets because images were showing what they were doing to their bodies and even more were starting to earn money from working for small studios.
Even more inspiring for me are the Pin-Ups of the 40’s-50’s and their style, posing, hair and makeup. This style is what initially drew me into modeling and will always be my first love.
Types of Boudoir Photography
This is a very bright, high-contrast style, dominated by light and bright tones. Shadowed areas are minimal but still, exist, this style is really beautiful if shot in black and white. Sometimes the skin is exposed brightly enough to lose some texture and definition, and that’s OK. I love this style for more romantic and playful looks.
Other styles that work well with this type of photography include pajama/cozy sessions. You’ll notice below that some of the images I shared for this aren’t as brightly contrasted as the explanation of the style calls for and that is because my images are always a bit darker than a “light and airy” style.
Just about the opposite of high-key; it’s an image style dominated by dark and black tones. Often uses hard lights to give a crisp definition, including using hard backlights to outline the edges of the body. Shadowed areas – including skin and body features – are often allowed to fall into complete darkness.
Bodyscapes are a good example of low-key boudoir. This style is the one that I gravitate towards the most. I absolutely love dark and moody tones, and I love using available light. I was initially drawn to this style partly because I have extensive education in art history and painting and this type of light beautifully mimics the light of the old Dutch Masters.
Uses a vintage, retro, or 40’s/50’s style of makeup, clothing, posing, set, props, and processing. The lighting can be very simple, often one large light source will work just fine. This allows the photographer and model to focus more attention on posing and composition. For my Pin-up sessions, I love using an available light source, which I learned originally from one of my favorite photographers, Lars Kommienezuspadt. These sessions are the most tiring in terms of work that the client and I will be doing. It’s a lot of posing and holding poses and feeling those thighs burn, but the end result is always worth it.
With an emphasis on leather, latex, restraints, masks, and the like. Often features a black and red wardrobe and set pieces. This style is definitely for the more adventurous and I am happy to guide my clients through the styling and posing the entire time but don’t worry, the session would probably be 99% giggling anyway!
Pretty much what the name implies. If you want to argue semantics, “boudoir” usually refers specifically to the bedroom in which you take the photos, but I think it still fits. This style is less common but just, if not more impactful. There is something so ethereal and goddess-like about a woman in a forest or laying in wildflowers.
Why Boudoir Photography Is Seen As Taboo
When first picked up a camera I immediately gravitated towards photographing women and capturing their unique beauty. Check me out at 21 thinking I was a Femme Fatale!
*Image shot by Melissa Masser
I had been modeling and styling shoots for over a decade at this point and all of that seeped into my work, including and most importantly my deep obsession with classic Pin-Up. Below is an image from one of my favorite shoots of all time!
*Image shot by Lars Kommienezuspadt
I noticed how working with women and empowering them pushed me to create more art and make more connections with others who understood my art, but I also noticed something else. Something ugly.
People, and by people I actually mean women, were approaching me and asking me why I was shooting pornographic images. “Why did my images have to be so sexual?” someone said. I was shocked, but other photographers admitted to me that they too had received flak for their art. I decided that my mission would include changing minds about intimate portraiture.
In early 2017 when I was building my portfolio and gravitating towards shooting mostly women in my home studio, I discovered an online niche community of photographers named the Do More Photographers. They, like me solely focused on boudoir and just like that, I had found the name for the art I had been creating for a year. It was wonderful to become a part of a community that focuses almost solely on wanting help people to feel good about themselves.
Part of my mission is to bring out confidence in women in order for them to embrace their sexuality in whatever way empowers them – these photographs start a conversation and embolden them in the best way!
Boudoir is nude art photography, it is an investment in oneself. It can be a powerful tool for self-love and worship. It’s something I’m committed to as I try to demonstrate how truly life-changing this art is.
I hope you leave this blog post with a better understanding of what I do, what boudoir photography is truly about and the knowledge that this type of session is accessible and about celebrating your self-confidence, your beauty, and your mental health.
What style of boudoir appeals to you?
All my love,