As I sit here, in my 9th month of pregnancy with our first child - I often think about the new perspective pregnancy has given me on boudoir photography.
I photograph women of all walks of life, many of them mothers. I hear their stories, talk of their families and children, jobs, and daily life... their post-baby tales of their bodies, the difference from one pregnancy to another, from one woman to another, all different.
As a photographer, I've written before about how deeply I believe in documenting your life in photographs.
As a boudoir photographer specifically, I think it is especially invaluable for me to be on the other side of the lens in a boudoir setting to have a better understanding of my client's experience.
I have had two boudoir shoots myself in the past. My first was at 22 years old for my then-boyfriend/now-husband, before he left on a military deployment. This was long before I was a photographer myself, and I traveled to Los Angeles for the shoot.
That session was short and sweet and the photos made me happy at the time. But if I'm being honest, the experience was not the best and I was rather disappointed with how it made me feel. It didn't feel like a fun "girl's day out", I felt processed and like just another client that she was photographing that day. Little did I know how much I would learn from that session that would go on to shape my future business.
The woman who photographed me was very emotionless and directive, and there was absolutely no communication from her about how to prepare or what to wear, etc. I felt really clueless about the whole process and that I was walking into her warehouse studio completely unprepared. This is just one of many reasons why I am always working to improve and expand my already robust Client's Only area. I want my clients to feel very prepared and ready for their session after they book with me!
Still, I'm happy I did the session! The experience was lackluster and the images are a little dated and overdone, but I know my husband still loves them and it's definitely a fun way to remember that time in our lives... in MY life. Young, unmarried, just starting out after college. Those photographs bring me back to a time in my life and a mentality that I don't know that I would otherwise remember so clearly...
That said, it took me until I actually started photographing boudoir myself to realized that I needed to book another session and have an updated experience!
Last year (2015) I had my opportunity! We traveled back to the west coast for a wedding and during this trip I had the opportunity to study under the incredible boudoir photographer Jennifer Williams of Vancouver, Canada. After an invaluable day of mentorship where I learned from her about how she has created such an incredible boudoir studio and client experience, I came in the following morning for my shoot.
Jen and her makeup artist, Kelly, were fantastic and it was a wonderful experience for me to really understand how I want to make all of my clients feel. Prepared, pampered and drop dead gorgeous.
The timing for this second shoot was also important. My husband and I had decided we had reached the "let's see what happens" stage of family-planning and I knew it was highly likely that we'd end up starting our family in the near future. Sure enough, I found out that I was pregnant at the beginning of this year.
I am SO happy that I have these images now, not only to remember my "pre-baby body" by, but to celebrate my own womanhood and strength before becoming a mother.
Recently, thanks to a little tripod-magic and occasionally a helper to press the shutter, I've been trying to document the changes my body is undergoing as I'm growing in this pregnancy.
Maternity boudoir is something that I have shot for clients in the past, so I am familiar with shooting it, but it's been a whole new world to be on the other side of the camera for the experience.
I can now fully understand how difficult it can be to move around, to get up and down and to try and curve your body into different positions. It's funny how a baby bump can get in the way and completely limit your mobility and balance!
Am I nervous about how my body will look and feel after our son arrives? Of course! But I think that it is all a part of my story and growth as a woman.
Next year I am determined to book another boudoir shoot for myself with a photographer I admire to get "back on the boudoir wagon" and celebrate my battle scars and new "post-baby body", in whatever form it takes...
I firmly believe that every body is a boudoir ready body and I'm certainly ready to put my money where my mouth is and sign up for a post-partum session myself.