Picture this: You’re perusing the pages of Instagram models and famous celebrities, whilst eating pizza in bed in yesterday’s underwear, and you start feeling crappy about your cellulite and the fact that your belly ring gets caught in the button of your jeans because #tummyrolls. You set your phone down and think that maybe if I do enough squats before next Tuesday I’ll look just like that chick who sells the protein shakes.
Wait – is it just me?!? Am I alone in this?? Probably NOT.
The truth is, we’re bombarded daily with images, messages, and
multi-level marketing schemes that make us feel like we’re never doing enough. While there has been a recent uptick in the wave of body-positive messages in your newsfeed, the reality is that supporting body-positive and *enacting* body-positive are two different things. The fact that we even have to call it “body-positive” reinforces that hating your body is the cultural norm. If you’re anything like me, loving yourself and letting go of this unwavering desire to be perfect takes daily work and self affirmation.
Last summer, I decided to shut down my self-doubt and team up with Minnesota photographer, Audrey Johnson of Audrey Nicole Photography, on a mission for the raddest outdoor boudoir photo session I could have dreamed of. Specifically, I requested a waterfall…hah! Not an easy request, but she didn’t disappoint. We loaded up and headed south to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in the wee hours of September 11th, 2018.
Here are my 8 tips for boudoir newbies looking to dip their toes in for the first time. Don’t let your fears, insecurities, and self-doubt get in the way of an empowering and self-affirming experience!
- Finding a photographer: It’s important to find someone you’re comfortable with! I interviewed 4 photographers before deciding on Audrey. Do your research! Join facebook groups, read reviews, and look at their work online. Meet for coffee and see if you click! If you’re new to taking photos in your skivvies, you’ll want someone who can put you at ease. (Searching for a queer-friendly photographer? Check out www.pridezillas.com)
- Budget: Boudoir sessions can be potentially pricey, but don’t let that discourage you! Many photographers offer mini-sessions throughout the year for a discounted price. You can also find a photographer that is newer to the business and offering introductory pricing. I specifically requested to forego an engagement session in exchange for a boudoir shoot as part of our wedding package. Don’t be afraid to ask! Many are willing to work with you and your budget. In many cases, you get what you pay for. If someone offers $20 to take pictures of you in your undies, it’s probably not a good idea [back away slowly.…]
- Wardrobe: Figuring out what to wear can be the hardest part. Don’t think you have to break the bank by buying all new underwear. I wore items that were already in my closet, purchased lace from the thrift store, and snuck a few items out of my partner’s closet as a surprise! The biggest concerns should be 1) What do I feel comfortable in? and 2) What makes me feel sexy/beautiful/handsome/bad-ass? Don’t go overboard! Two or three solid wardrobe options can be sufficient for an entire photo shoot.
- Hair & Makeup: This is another aspect that can add to cost. Some photographers will offer hair and/or makeup services as part of their package, others will not. I opted to do my own hair and makeup and save the money. BUT – that doesn’t work for everyone, and paying for those services may boost your confidence, which will reflect in your photos. Ask your photographer for service recommendations.
- Comfort: Remind yourself that the photos are first and foremost for YOU! Loving your body in front of a camera can be HARD and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Awkwardness at the beginning is normal. Try bringing a friend for support – have them carry your robe, make sure your hair and makeup is on point, and also to hand you your glass of bubbly! I brought my sister-in-law, who added to our fun with her humor and encouragement.
- Location: Pick a location true to your personality. I opted for an outdoor shoot because I love being in nature, connected with sunshine, water, and plants. Some photographers will have access to a studio with props and couches, which is a huge benefit! If you decide on a public location, be mindful of other people and public nudity laws (boo! Nipples are awesome!) Luckily, we were there early in the morning and beat the afternoon rush of hikers, but things were a little risky (and risque) at times.
- Nudity: There’s a misconception with Boudoir that you have to get naked and bare it all, pun intended. This is not true. While I’d encourage you to push your comfort boundaries a little, rely on your intuition and do what you’re comfortable with. If you have a great photographer like I did, they will help guide you on positioning for the best outcome and look. And if you happen to slip some nip, more power to you.
- Have FUN: This is the most important tip to remember when taking boudoir photos. Embrace all of your bumps, lumps, and rumps! It’s not all about being “sexy” – that’s up to you to define for yourself. Turn on music that gets you in the right head space, make sure to laugh at yourself, and remember that the most radiant you is a CONFIDENT you. Oh and PS – FUCK societal standards!
Did you think I forgot to leave you without a piece of Bad Relationship Advice from Alyssa? Oh, heck no! Here it is: Make sure when gifting your partner with a boudoir book that they receive it while in front of a large group of their friends. It can make them feel thoroughly uncomfortable! muuahahahaha….