I have been thinking a lot lately about what I would like this blog to be. Sure, I will share tips and advice and behind the scenes, rich with SEO-searachble terms to get people reading. But I also really wanted to create a space to talk more candidly about what boudoir means to me and to the lovely women I get to work with. What is it about? Why should you do a boudoir shoot? And how does it *feel*?
As a person who grew up in a conservative church in the midwest, it is still surprising to me that I have arrived here – living in the Bay Area and celebrating female beauty and sensuality on a daily basis with boudoir photography. We all have our stories and one of my favorite things about what I do is hearing my clients’ stories about who they are and what brought them into my studio. So I decided to start a series of blog posts called “boudoir stories” to share the stories and photos of individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with. This will be an ongoing series as long as I am able to find clients willing to share their lives and experience with my readers.
Boudoir – Stories:
And so – meet Jahna. I got to know her in a slightly different way than most of my clients. Her boyfriend (now FIANCE!) Vince and my husband knew each other growing up but hadn’t spent much time together in the years my husband and I have been together, so I had never met him. A couple of years ago, when the war in Ukraine was first picking up steam, Vince was part of a team of folks to go out there and support the local people in their defensive effort by teaching them in-the-field first aid. It was a heroic and dangerous mission, and my husband found out about it and offered to give him his military-grade armor for the trip. I met Jahna when she and Vince came to pick it up. That whole thing is a story in and of itself, but it’s not mine to tell.
In any case, a couple of years later, Jahna saw one of my instagram posts and reached out. We got lunch, and connected, and have developed a lovely friendship. I was so excited when she decided to come into the studio for a shoot :D. She brought in props that represent her and things she cares about – books, scotch, outfits that Vince has bought for her and even a watch of his. We had an amazing, creative time working together and I am thrilled that she let me interview her for this blog!
In Her Own Words
How would you describe your relationship to your body when you were younger?
The relationship I had with my body when I was younger was one of disempowerment. I did not grow up in a loving, kind, or safe home. My earliest memories of my body were ones of disgust, weakness, and a lack of control over decisions about my physical self. I grew up thinking I was never enough, no matter what I looked like, it would never be enough.
Was there an event, either then or more recently, that affected or changed that relationship?
I would say the relationship I have with my body is ever evolving. However, when I finally had more space between myself and the home I grew up in, after I moved away, I started learning about my body, how I felt, what I liked, how it worked. Learning was empowering and gave me strength to begin caring for myself. I finally learned about women’s health, how to use makeup, what exercise and movement I enjoyed, mindfulness, and how good sleep hygiene really does make you feel good!
Has your relationship to your body and/or sexuality changed or evolved since?
Yes. A thousand times yes. My relationship with my body and my sexuality continues to evolve. I like to think that every time I grow in one area of my life, I can “level up” the other parts of myself. Also, being in my 30s has provided the time and experience to simply feel more comfortable in my body.
Why do a boudoir photo shoot?
Two words motivated my boudoir photo shoot. Hot Divorcée. Just kidding. While I am once divorced, I am also in an endlessly supportive and nurturing relationship now with my dream-come-true-man now turned fiancé. I spent almost 12 years with someone who constantly told me I was too fat, too skinny, too old, too revealing, too frumpy to ever be comfortable with myself. One of the beautiful aspects of building a loving relationship after leaving a harmful one, is the space and time my fiancé has invested in building me up and encouraging me.
I’ve always dreamed of having a boudoir photo shoot–of feeling beauty and wildness and my cheeky sense of humor folded into photos of me. I always saw a boudoir photo shoot as an opportunity to challenge myself in terms of bravely embracing my body without any ifs and buts. But it was the support of my fiancé that helped me finally pursue a boudoir photo shoot. It really does matter who is around you, who is whispering into your ear, and how the people around you see you.
“I’ve always dreamed of having a boudoir photo shoot–of feeling beauty and wildness and my cheeky sense of humor folded into photos of me. I always saw a boudoir photo shoot as an opportunity to challenge myself in terms of bravely embracing my body without any ifs and buts.“
How was the experience for you? Did it affect your relationship with yourself?
The experience of having a boudoir photography shoot was a core memory for me. I didn’t realize how terrified I was until I sat down to have my makeup and hair done. I realized how I was scared of being seen for myself. I’d spent so many years building walls for others to see when they look at me, I felt incredibly vulnerable taking those down. And that was it.
Once I started letting those walls down…nothing happened. I was ok – I was better than ok, I was having fun. I was pampered with makeup to match my tones and a hair style just the way I wanted it. I found myself in the middle of thoughtful conversations between Liza and the makeup/hair artist Monina about life, dreams, joys, hardships, and flowers. Walking into Liza’s studio and participating in a boudoir session was a gentle cracking of the exterior I had built to shield myself from the world, and a powerful realization that I can joyfully and freely be me. My boudoir session with Liza was an important moment of growth for me in terms of self acceptance, self care, and naked joy at the woman I am.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with those wondering why they should do a boudoir photo shoot?
I’ve shared with my friends who are considering boudoir that they should take the leap of faith…in themselves. Ultimately boudoir photography is an opportunity for self exploration and an embrace of who we are in this moment. I understand that boudoir is generally defined in terms of the person looking at the finished pictures afterwards…but boudoir’s radical beauty is in the session, the process of opening your heart and soul through accepting your body as a wondrous part of the world, worthy of being photographed. I’d share with others that it’s ok to let go of restraints that we have placed upon ourselves, to forget the beauty norms and expectations placed upon us by others…it’s ok to just love yourself and to be so proud for having pretty pictures taken of you.