1. CELEBRATE YOURSELF
Women like Stacy want to celebrate. She was in New York and it was her birthday and she wanted to show herself some love. Nothing expresses love for the self more than an outdoor boudoir photo shoot. Especially for Stacy, an Air Force veteran and plus size model from Houston, Texas. She wanted to celebrate another year being alive.
Plus Size Model in Houston
I first met Stacy in 2017 at a Drink and Click event in Austin. We were both in the middle of our effort to rebuild our respective portfolios. For her, she invested a great amount of time establishing herself as a model who is plus size. For me, I was devoting my time and efforts to building a body positive boudoir portfolio. Together, we expressed a desire to collaborate.
Outdoor Boudoir Photo Shoot in Brooklyn
The opportunity came about when I was back in my hometown for client work and she reached out.
We talked about working at the Bushwick Collective. Then, I changed my mind when I realized she deserved something more majestic.
Instead, for our photo shoot, we met at the Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) in Brooklyn.
I am happy we changed the setting. Out of our plus size boudoir photo shoot, I was able to create photos that added value to her portfolio. She added immense value to mine.
On a more personal note, it meant a great deal to me to be part of her joy she felt on her birthday.
We are both veterans. In getting to know her I know she faced many challenges that came about because of her military service. I don’t often give my time away to anyone. But for her, I was happy to do so.
Thank you for your service, Stacy.
Thank you for your friendship.
2. SELF AFFIRMATION
For boudoir photography, many women have their reasons they choose to have one. Their why’s. For Lesley of Austin, Texas, her reasons boil down to one – because she can.
Age is Nothing But a Number
When I met Lesley I was new to Texas. I was looking to connect with artists in my age group. At the time, she was looking to expand beyond her work as a voice actress and became interested in modeling. According to her Instagram profile, she became interested because “why not?”
She has built a portfolio with boudoir pictures that demonstrate how much age is nothing but a number. Beauty is a state of mind and comes from confidence in oneself.
I’ve known Lesley for a few years, and she is like any other woman – she has a family that depends on her. She has a home she maintains and manages. She deals with unexpected challenges that may come up in her day. Lesley has developed the healthy habit of showing herself love through the boudoir pictures taken of her. Our photo shoot at Sekrit Theater was an example of this expression of self-love.
I was more than happy to drive out from Houston to Austin and work with her.
It is why I continue to trade my time with models who want to inspire women, like you, to declare “why not?” Women like Lesley know they are brilliant and magnificent the way they are. Her boudoir pictures show exactly how so.
3. BE TREATED LIKE A QUEEN FOR A DAY
There’s no better way to demonstrate to yourself some love and self-care than through a luxury boudoir photography. Adrianna of Austin, Texas, was one such woman who was in need of this.
Mom’s are the Rock
As a mother to a child with special needs Adrianna carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her routine does not allow for her to relax. Every sacrifice that could be asked of a mother Adrianna has made it and is always ready to give more. Children demonstrate a remarkable ability in reading body language and mothers like Adrianna are not allowed to flinch anytime life throws them a curveball.
During my initial consult with Adrianna, I got the sense that while it may all be a labor of love it equally had the potential of leaving her feeling drained and empty.
I admire women like Adrianna and because of everything she’d shared I decided she was in need of a queen for a day experience. She needed the feeling of being pampered, with the focus on her, and the sole way to do so was to set up a luxury boudoir photography experience.
I wanted for her to be in a setting that was far removed from her daily routine, which would include school lunch rooms and supermarkets. I chose the Driskill Hotel in Austin. From the moment she walked into the room my assistant and her friend helped her prepare for going from sweatpants and tee-shirt to sexy lingerie.
It took her a while to settle in and relax.
As a father who gives selflessly to my own family, sometimes I grapple with the guilt that comes when I feel like I am enjoying a moment that was meant solely for me.
I recognize many women grapple with that same guilt but magnified one thousand times over. ‘Is it okay to show me some love and appreciation? Is it taking away from my family? My kids?’
After showing her several shots during the session it seemed as if she gave herself the okay to treat herself.
Something in her switched, that made her say, I deserve to feel glamorous and sexy.
Believe What You See
Boudoir is one of those areas of photography that can’t be done with a camera phone.
It requires understanding angles, and light and shadow.
As a male photographer, the goal in my boudoir photo shoots is to help women come to an understanding of something that’s natural for them and is at the core of my vision as an artist.
Strength is Beautiful – There is Beauty in Strength
Women like Adrianna carry the world on their shoulders and do not allow themselves one moment of peace when so much depends on them. That is beautiful to me.
As we worked through the session, I could see Adrianna came to a place in her mind where she was able to feel relief.
It came through her eyes.
It is at that moment you can see her embracing her choice of being nude and feeling glamorous and sensual and erotic while not giving up anything of her strength.
At that moment she showed she was a natural woman.
4. TAKING BACK CONTROL
Boudoir Photography with a Purpose
When I decided to become a boudoir photographer back in 2013 I knew I wanted my work to focus on body positivity.
When I moved from New York to Texas in 2015 I had to rebuild my portfolio. I wanted to work with models who understood the importance of body positivity.
Alicia of Austin
When I met first met Alicia she was recovering from an eating disorder. At one point it was so severe that she almost lost her fight. She had answered my model call on Facebook. She wasn’t looking to become a professional model. Answering the model call was something that would help build her sense of self-esteem. It would be a valid part of the therapeutic process that would lead to self-acceptance. It would affirm she was fine the way she was.
Meeting a model for the first time is like an interview. We ask each other questions. We share some personal history. Most of all, we come to an understanding of a vision for a photo shoot.
I shared with her why I chose boudoir photography and that I was like her, fighting to get better. She went on to share details about her personal life and I began to think of sunflowers.
I first read the poem, Sunflower Sutra by Allen Ginsberg, while on deployment for the Persian Gulf War. It helped me understand how dehumanizing it can be to feel like a utility or a part of some machine, which I was. What Alicia shared helped me understand that she too had been made to feel less than human.
There is a line that states:
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
Dignity and Esteem
No matter the amount of grime covering the sunflower in the poem, it was still a sunflower and it was beautiful.
I wanted to show Alicia she was never whatever she’d been made to feel about herself. Like the sunflower, she will always be beautiful.
The vision of our first session was to get her to see past all that grime her sense of self-image made her feel.
Body Positivity through Empowerment
For our first session, I wanted her to touch on her power and understand it. There had always been some controlling force that made her feel she had no say in her life.
So, we decided we were going to flip that around and have fun at the same time. She wanted to dress as if she’d been out all night and didn’t care. As an adult woman, it was her choice.
We met on Congress Avenue in Austin before sunrise and began our photo shoot.
The First Step in Taking Control
Afterward, Alicia came up with the idea of moving our photo shoot over to the sculpture, Forever Bicycles, by Ai Weiwei.
She wanted to have a photograph taken of her asserting dominance over her personal space. She wanted to pose in a way that would make her feel like a superhero.
Out of our entire photo shoot, this was the most important photograph for her.
It made her feel she was on her way to taking control of every other area of her life.
I have created a gallery with select photographs from my first glamour photo shoot in Austin with Alicia for your viewing.
I have worked with Alicia several more times since our first photo shoot. Each time would always talk about doing the big one. A boudoir photo shoot where she would confront and conquer her triggers.
We spent considerable time brainstorming how to go about it. Months later Alicia decided she was ready. We found ourselves at a motel that would allow for our ideas for the boudoir photo shoot.
Before executing our ideas she needed to build up to the moment. As we talked about her journey I was taking her picture.
Confronting Her Fear
The second half of our session involved Cheetos and a cupcake.
First the preparation.
A quick stop at Walmart before the photo shoot led to this.
Now, the moment!
I was so happy to see this young woman laugh, and come to terms with her relationship with food.
I am so proud of her.
Alicia has become a wonderful friend who is always ready to assist me on photo shoots in Austin.
My friend gave me permission to share her story. She hopes it will help other women who may be battling, as she once did, and see, it doesn’t have to be like that.
If you’re someone who is dealing with an eating disorder, first seek medical attention. Check out the National Eating Disorders Association for more information.
Next, place yourself in some sort of therapeutic process.
When you’re ready to contact me. I will be here should you chose to incorporate my vision in your journey.
5. EMBRACING YOURSELF
I met Ronny of San Antonio, Texas, through Instagram and she was interested in a boudoir photo shoot for personal reasons. After explaining what some of those reasons were I decided to make the drive out to the San Antonio area. The reasons she’d stated made it clear the boudoir photo shoot was essential in her journey towards good health through body positivity.
Days later we met at Landa Park in New Braunfels, just north of San Antonio. The setting had a lake, and she had wanted to have photographs taken of herself rising from the water, in a sensual way. After looking at the water and seeing how dirty it was I nixed the idea.
Instead, we began by having her pose by a massive tree. She was nervous and struggled to relax. I asked her to smile. She said she hated her smile.
Under the Spotlight of the Lens
It is challenging for anyone to find themselves in front of a camera. A million things enter one’s mind and not all of them are good. I know I freeze under the spotlight of the lens and every insecurity I may be wrestling with will nag me and prevent me from relaxing.
To help get her out of her own head I asked she walk back and forth. I wanted her to get a feel for her space and help settle her at the moment. She tried, but I can see the setting was not helping.
Settings Make a Difference.
It did not inspire anything in both of us, especially when the area was dirty because of the birds in the backdrop of the session.
She suggested we find a railroad crossing. She had always wanted to take pictures on tracks. I steered her away from that idea. She said there was a waterfall nearby and it had potential. Ronny directed me to a park on the banks of the Guadalupe River. There I told her about my approach, where I talk to the model and connect.
Healing Through Boudoir
I shared some personal information with her.
How I have gone through challenges, some that have almost killed me, but I have survived and it was why I am a photographer – to follow through on what I want to do with the rest of my life, enjoying it, while empowering myself.
Knowing her why’s for the boudoir photo shoot I told her we are not victims. We are fighters.
I could see she began to relax.
I shared with her how I have survived heartbreak and loss, and photography was my way of always looking for good and beauty in the world.
She relaxed more and her body began to bend towards me.
She shared with more details behind her reasons for wanting a boudoir photoshoot – her why’s. Her constant battle with the way she sees herself. I began asking her questions that would have her body language reflect both vulnerability and strength.
That’s when she shared she was still in the middle of her battle with an eating disorder. The boudoir photoshoot was to help her along the way, giving her a reminder of something she felt she had long lost because of it.
The knowing she was beautiful just the way she is.
I could see her spirit needed lifting; to come through her eyes and shine.
So, I told her to keep in mind any feelings and emotions dredged up during the session were not real, that it was all transference.
She said, “Okay.”
She shared more of what was going on in her life, in detail; as she talked I took her picture.
She shared her desires, her passions, in detail; as she talked I took her picture.
The nervous young woman I had met in the park was gone; standing before me was a young woman who did not question her smile or her body or anything else.
This young woman exuded confidence and strength and it made her more beautiful.
The final set of shots she specifically requested; something she can take back, for herself.
She appeared a little uncertain and nervous – we talked some more and I was able to guide her back to that space in her mind where she understood, once again, she was not questioning anything about herself and her body.
After that final set of shots, we ended our boudoir photoshoot. She went home while I began the drive back to Houston.
Words cannot describe the immense satisfaction I felt on that drive. I came away with the most authentic glamour portraits I had ever shot. I am so grateful she trusted me.
A person can’t be told to get better. A person can’t be told they are beautiful and fine just the way they are.
They need to see it through the eyes of someone who can express it directly, without a word.
Her pictures from the boudoir photoshoot say it all.
I am a fighter!