Back in 2010, I was on the Google machine trying to figure out an amazing gift for my husband for our first anniversary. The traditional gift is paper, the site suggested things like poetry, a nice calligraphy version of our vows (we were married at the courthouse so this was not a valid option in our case). Then another site suggested modern twists, things like concert tickets, photo albums, handwritten letter, or boudoir photos. Having taken French in high school, the word stuck out to me and I was intrigued. I pulled up Lejeune Yard Sales (yes, really, I cringe at how bad this could have gone!) and found myself a photographer. Being on a budget and doing this last minute was not the best combination in the world, but I ended up being very lucky. I didn’t know much about photography but I knew what I liked. We set up a session, and my friend came over to watch my eight week old son (yup, I’m crazy!) and we had the session in my home. She did my hair & make up since she had been a cosmetologist before picking up a camera. She went through my lingerie collection, both new stuff I had purchased specifically for the session and older stuff that was in my drawer. She posed me from head to toe and we had a blast! She sent me my photos as quickly as she could with my looming deadline and I was in LOVE! She had done an amazing job and I could not WAIT to show them to my husband (who about had a heart attack because it was so far from what he expected of me). It was the most amazing self confidence and self esteem boost I’ve ever had.
About nine months later, another photographer was posting that she needed to build her portfolio since she was just starting out in photography. Remembering my previous experience, I leapt at the chance to have that experience again. Hair & make up was not included this time, so I made due with what I had (this is important, I should NEVER be trusted to do my own hair & make up!). I went to her house this time where she had a couple sets that we could use. She had a light & a fancy looking camera, she posed me and promised to smooth my stretchmarks in photoshop. It wasn’t as much fun as I had had the first time, but I figured that was because she was newer and normal. Then I got the images back. And I was crushed. She hadn’t posed me to hide my tummy (my biggest self proclaimed flaw), she hadn’t photoshopped the red fishnets she pulled from her studio wardrobe black like she said she would. She hadn’t done anything to help camouflage my stretchmarks. I got the disc that was included and snapped it in half because I couldn’t look at them any more without feeling horrible about myself.
Fun fact: the first photographer I used, I was her very first client who found her and booked her that hadn’t known her previously. And she still made me feel amazing. They both had a light, a fancy camera, and me, what happened?!
Since then, I enrolled in the Photographic Technologies program at Carteret Community College where I learned the foundations of photography. I’ve taken classes specifically on boudoir and how to pose and light for it. I’ve even gone to Chicago to learn from one of the greatest boudoir photographers in the business. I figured out the difference. Photography is part natural talent, but there’s so much that goes into it, especially with boudoir. Bad family portraits can be laughed at, bad boudoir can destroy a woman’s self confidence. How do I know? I lived it. I have also had about four or five more sessions with the first photographer since then and she made me feel like such a rockstar that it more than made up for what happened.
When choosing a boudoir photographer (really any photographer) ask yourself these questions:
-Would I be happy if the photos on their page were what I was given of myself?
-Do these women still look like real women and not plasticy, over photoshopped versions of themselves?
-Are the photos blurry? (Blurry photos are baaaaad)
-Are these images something I would want to show to my significant other?
There are websites dedicated to helping you find a quality boudoir photographer, AIBP being one of them.
Please, please, please learn from my mistake and make sure your boudoir experience is one that you will look back on with pride, pleasure, and happiness.