It isn’t very often that a client walks into your studio with a hatchet, but that isn’t even close to the most memorable detail that I have about this session. What I remember the most is complete trust from her that we would execute her vision; we would capture the facets of her personality and womanhood. We had vulnerable conversations, cracked up at awkward poses, and cheered each other on. It was a wonderful day and only enhanced by the hatchet because it is SO rare that someone brings in a prop for boudoir that I haven’t seen before. So, read on about her experience and how insecurities played a huge role in her preparation.
1) How old are you... or if you prefer, who were you listening to at age 14 :)?
I’m currently cruising through my mid-life crisis. When I was 14, I was discovering Guns ‘N’ Roses and watching Headbangers Ball.
2) What do you do for a living? Or... How do you typically spend your days?
I do visual effects for film and television, so my days are mostly spent staring at pixels on a computer monitor.
3) What prompted you to consider booking a boudoir session?
My husband had been asking for sexy picture for years, but I could never find a photographer whose work I liked well enough to spend the money. I finally shed a bunch of weight in the past year, though, and I wanted to capture feeling sexy and beautiful again, so I decided to look into it again.
I love creating all sorts of art, and as part of my mid-life self reclamation, I liked the idea of being able to express myself in a new way, showing facets of myself that usually don’t get seen much but that I very much wanted to reclaim, the pieces that are fierce, edgy, beautiful, sensual, goddess-like.
4) Fears and hesitations are common when it comes to boudoir! What (if any) fears or hesitations did you have with regards to your session?
No fears. I had total trust that Sarah would make me look good (or at least make sure I didn’t look bad) and that we shared a similar vision of what I wanted to create.
But I had been wondering if I was delusional for feeling that I still look desirable and attractive. No one except my husband seemed to see me that way; I didn’t get any feedback that told me otherwise. Everyone I know is concerned with being sensitive and socially aware, which means that they’re very careful not to say anything that could be interpreted as inappropriate. I hoped an outside lens would show me whether I was just vainly deluding myself or not, so I did have a little apprehension about that.
5) Thank you so much for choosing OWN! What was it about us that made you choose us for your boudoir session?
I’ve looked at the work of a lot of boudoir photographers, and most of the time, I don’t love all of their work. It often edges into tawdry or generic, which I didn’t want. In contrast, I loved all the photos that I’d seen on OWN’s gallery. I could see that Sarah was interested in creating artistic photos and had a great eye for lighting and framing.
6) How was the actual session different from what you expected (if at all)?
The studio was smaller than I expected. I was impressed with how many different settings Sarah was able to create just by positioning me in a different place and shifting some furniture around.
7) What was your favorite part of the entire experience? (primping, the shoot, seeing images, giving the images..etc)
As an artist, my favorite part is always the creative process. I didn’t expect how creatively satisfying it’d be to think about what vision I had for my photos and then figure out, with Sarah’s expertise, how to make that happen. I loved that Sarah was so open to my ideas and willing to work with them.
But I was also surprised and delighted by how many of the final photos I loved. I hate 90% of all photos taken of me, so I expected that, in order to fill a photo book, I’d have to just live with a lot of photos that were just okay. Instead, I had the much harder job of picking between shots I loved vs. really liked.
8) How has the response been to your images?
I posted links for my friends to see the photos. The most common response has been, “Holy shit! Those are amazing!”
My husband cried. He was so overwhelmed by how beautiful the photos were and how well they express who I am and how he sees me.
When I told my best friend about the shoot, he jokingly asked if I was going to make a calendar. I told him, sure, if he wanted one, but we both fretted about whether I’d have enough good photos to fill a calendar. When I finally got my digital pics, I sent him a link to two dozen and told him to pick enough for his calendar. He replied, “We’re going to need to make two calendars, one each for the next two years.”
9) What is your advice for women interested in such a session (aside from "JUST DO IT!!!")?
We, as women, are constantly comparing ourselves to each other. Am I prettier than her? Skinnier or fatter than her? Always trying to see if we measure up, if we’re enough. It’s very rare that we consider and appreciate ourselves for who we are, apart from that critical gaze. We’re told that it’s selfish and vain to think about ourselves. But that means we go through life never seeing who we really are, especially the aspects of ourselves that we think aren’t socially acceptable. The session, including the prep beforehand and getting the photos afterward, was a valuable experience of self-reflection and self-expression, of looking at who I am, and then, when I got the photos, of being able to look at myself from an outside perspective, and see my strengths and beauty reflected back clearly.
The experience can trigger a lot of insecurities and shame, because we're confronting a lot of critical cultural messaging about body image and sexuality, sluttiness and attention-seeking. So my advice is to be compassionate with yourself when those critical voices arise, and embrace the opportunity for self-reflection and seeing the beauty of just being you.
10) What has changed about the way you see your OWN beauty?
I’m much more confident about OWNing who I am and how I look, more appreciative of the things that make me uniquely beautiful. So thank you for that!