The day before my boudoir photo shoot is the feeling beautiful pre-game show. I spend extra time exfoliating and applying natural oils. I drink copious amounts of water for days to ensure plump, hydrated skin. I pull out every piece of lingerie that I own. Silky, lacy, demure, racy; I try them all. I put on music, slip on some heels, dance in front of the mirror. I scroll through Pinterest looking for inspiration.
My love of boudoir pictures started in high school and followed me through college and beyond.
When I think of boudoir photographs, I can’t help but think of Rose Dawson in Titanic slipping out of her robe and asking Jack to draw her like one of his French girls. I, like most everyone in the world, love this scene. It’s provocative, romantic, sensual. But what I also love about this scene is what we hear.
Rose: Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls. Wearing this. Wearing only this.
Later, standing in front of a sitting Jack in her silk robe, coin in hand.
Rose: The last thing I need is another picture of me looking like a porcelain doll. As a paying customer, I expect to get what I want.
For Rose, this picture would be more than a portrait of her, fit into the framework of what others thought she should be or look like. This was a power move. This was her deciding how she wanted to be reflected and how she wanted to live her life. She was taking ownership of her beauty and using it as she saw fit.
I agree with Rose. Embrace my sexy. Do it on my terms. Have some fun, damn it. After Jake’s initial fawning over his love, he get’s serious. Creating art is serious business and photographers, like all artists, care about their work and strive to create the best possible results.
With boudoir photography, we all get to take part in the process of creating art. How fucking awesome. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t nervous going in. Even though my photographer, Quetsy, is a close friend, being half-naked, and the primary focus of a camera lens is hardly something I do every day.
I’m one of those people who have no idea what I’m doing with my face unless I’m looking directly into a mirror. It’s bad. Thankfully, as a professional photographer, Quetsy understood that I wasn’t going to walk in there and start striking poses like a professional model. So the same way that Jack guided Rose in how to position her body for the best image, the same was done with me. So if you’re considering a boudoir shoot and you’re afraid of floundering because you’re no professional, no worries. Your photographer will guide you to beautiful shots.
Quetsy was also good enough to know that a little champagne never hurt nudity. Here’s a behind the scenes shot of me pretending like I’m not going to guzzle my mimosa.
With music playing and champagne flowing, we went through my outfits and decided where to start.
In college, I was introduced to Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe and fell instantly in love. It remains one of my favorite works of art.
Here we find a woman gazing unabashedly at those who wish to watch her. But what I love is that this woman is a powerful force in the painting, and she doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, instead of being an object to be gazed at, she seems to make us, the viewers, her subject.
I’m a big fan of the sexy nerd look and that’s what I was going for here. Keep in mind that you get to decide how revealing or covered up you want to be. This is your time to have fun, play with different looks, and reimagine some of the beautiful images you’ve been in love with.
Olympia, also by Edouard Manet, is another painting that I loved at first sight.
This painting caused a scandal when Manet revealed it to the French Salon for exhibition. It was promptly rejected. The woman is intended to be a prostitute, and she’s being depicted, not as some rouge-covered woman harassing men in a grimy alley; she’s in her boudoir, looking away from the bouquet of flowers probably sent to her by a client.
The model for this painting is the same as in Le Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe. She is Victorine Meurent, an accomplished artist in her own right who was getting accepted into the Paris Salons even while Manet’s work wasn’t. Victorine got to be a model and an artist. How cool is that?
Wouldn’t it have been something if Rose considered asking Jack to draw her but changed her mind because her stomach wasn’t as toned as she would’ve liked? And yet, that’s the response that I get from most women who are asked to consider a boudoir shoot. I’m not good enough, in so many words. Maybe if and when I’m good enough. It makes me sad, really, that women don’t see the potential in themselves to be art. You don’t need to wait for someone to tell you it’s okay. Begrudge the media for their narrow portrayals of beauty in women, but also go out and show them that we are unafraid to take the definition into our own hands and define it as we choose. Vogue would never put me in a fashion spread, so I’ve gone and made my own!
If you’re thinking it’s for some other woman, get over it. It’s for you. Think back to that time you felt really sexy. What if someone had captured that for you? Wouldn’t you love to go back to that image on occasion? If you can’t remember the last time that you felt sexy, then you’d better be the first to sign up! When doing a boudoir photo shoot, there’s no option but to feel beautiful.
We’ll be on Instagram live this evening at 7:30pm to give you some quick information about some of the live discussions we’ll be having throughout the rest of this week, so stop by and check in. I’d love to see you there.
My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?
Was I nervous? Yes. I’m no model, after all, and being the sole focus of a camera lens while partially dressed is not a daily occ
When I speak to most women about the boudoir shoots, I’m often met with a scoff
Boudoir (meaning a woman’s bedroom or private room) is photography that’s meant to capture a woman’s beauty in an intimate atmosphere.