I met Ronny of San Antonio, Texas, through Instagram and she was interested in a boudoir photoshoot 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 photoshoot 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 in the moment. She tried, but I can see the setting was not helping.
Settings Make a Difference.
It did not inspire anything in the 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 photoshoot 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 see’s 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 direct, without word.
Her pictures from the boudoir photoshoot say it all.
I am a fighter!