Hi! I’m Liza – owner of Juniper Spring Photography / Bay Area Boudoir. I thought as my official first blog on this, my new website (my original website is juniperspringphotography.com, but that’s primarily geared to my wedding work now) I would share with you all my personal journey with boudoir. I find that every woman I’ve talked to has had her own journey with body love and acceptance, and here’s mine.
Many people don’t know this, but I grew up from 10-16 years old in St. Louis, MO. I spent those very formative years at a conservative Presbyterian church. All of my friends were from church – all of my good times, all of my fondest memories from that part of my life happened with them. The experience was largely a very positive one, but there were ideas I picked up and internalized there about womanhood and women’s bodies that were damaging and followed me for many years to come. I internalized that sexuality was bad and dangerous and that, since that’s the primary purpose of my body, my body is by association also bad and dangerous. It was determined for me, and about me, and I had no way to take ownership of my own body or sexual self. I responded by covering up and distancing myself from the dangerous, scary, and “sinful” world of nakedness and sexuality.
Fast forward into my 20s and you can imagine the internal damage this did. It took years of distancing myself from the church and taking baby steps towards self-ownership and love to reclaim those bits of myself that that experience stole. To start to feel safe and free. I am 36 and I am still working on it. Photography, and boudoir, has been a super important and special part of that journey.
When I started my photography business photographing weddings, it fulfilled a lot of deep desires for connection and documentation and creating something beautiful for others with my skills. Even so, I still longed for something where I could let my creativity run free. That’s when I discovered women’s portraiture and boudoir. I grew up surrounded by art and art history – my mother had been a tour guide at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia (oh, by the way, that’s where I’m from 🙂 and my life always had fine art in it. Romantic paintings of nude or semi-nude women had somehow stayed immune in my mind from the criticism and shame I had been carrying around about myself and my own body.
I’m not going to lie – when I first started down that path, it was clumsy for me. All those old ideas came out to haunt me. I had long since parted ways with church and those ideas about womanhood and women’s bodies, but we all know that shame and guilt are like dust bunnies that hide in the deepest corners of our minds. I felt no shame photographing others – women are beautiful, and I sincerely believe that we are allowed to be beautiful in exactly the way we want – but I was still awkward about being photographed myself. It wasn’t until I had my own photos taken that I really started to feel free.
And it was then that I fully realized just how transformative and cathartic being photographed can be. Releasing your inner self – being vulnerable in a safe place – seeing that you were exposed, and beautiful, and nothing bad happened. It’s an incredible therapy, and incredible fun. I photograph myself often to document important times in my life and personal growth and I now love being photographed! It is one of the greatest joys of my life to be able to offer that experience to others. I can be that safe place, and my camera can be the vehicle to capture your beauty as you are now. Who you are, and how you want to portray yourself, and who you want to share those photos with – all of that is entirely up to you. I just want to let you know that it’s ok. It’s ok to be beautiful, even though it’s not all you are. It’s ok to define your own beauty and claim it and enjoy it. It’s yours. You are yours.