What is Boudoir Photography?
What the heck is "Boudoir"??
Maybe you have a clear picture in your head (like I did for so many years!) of cheesy poses, big hair, bigger makeup...and oh god...props. Maybe you've only heard of it vaguely or been afraid to even try to pronounce it.
First of all, let's get lame and technical, because I love a good definition.
bou·doir (noun) - derived from the French verb "to sulk", it refers to a woman's private bedroom or dressing room.
Traditionally boudoir photography would feature only intimate or sensual images, staged in the privacy of a woman's bedroom or studio. It was definitely never something I planned to fall in love with. As someone who has always been fairly modest and definitely private about my sensuality, I didn't relate to the extravagant, hyper-sexualized images that I associated it with.
It wasn't until I had my own truly moving experience with it that my perspective changed.
My shifted perspective.
I was sick...really sick. I was living in a new state and often found myself alone. I was in a place in my life where I was being incredibly mean to myself and not realizing it. I was feeling weak...unworthy...stuck.
I remember deciding to take a few images as a firm stance against the thoughts that I was thinking. It was an intentional action saying that I was enough, regardless of how I was feeling. I dug out the single piece of lingerie I owned, because it was out of my comfort zone, tossed my hair in a bun and ignored the fact that on a different day I may feel "obligated" to put makeup on. I took the photos in a dim little corner of our barely furnished room.
I honestly didn't see "sexy" in these photos...I still don't see "sexy" when I look at them. What I do see is power & vulnerability. The calm, quiet power that comes with owning who you are in all ways. I see a woman who is struggling & unsure, but sitting tall regardless. Who is taking back the control over her thoughts and believing what she knows God says about her, whether she feels it in the moment or not.
This series of photos is still deeply emotional for me because it includes so much more than anyone else could ever see or ever know. Boudoir to me isn't just about having pretty photos...it's healing.
Not all boudoir looks the same.
After this experience I started taking self portraits more often. I also started working with women who wanted "unconventional" boudoir and was seeing this same conversation come up again and again. Portraiture in any form is inherently intimate, so where is the line? What is boudoir vs. intimate portraiture? Does the name matter? Is it truly dependent on what you wear...where you shoot?
I hate the term boudoir. It feels dated and completely lacking when I want to describe what it is that I do...what it is that I shoot...the impact that I want to make on women's lives. What it really comes down to is that not all boudoir is the same because women aren't all the same. Even the same woman isn't really going to be the same between two different sessions. These sessions can absolutely capture beauty...I mean damn girl...you're gonna look stunning...but they can't help but capture so much more.
And maybe you do want to buy sexy lingerie and have your session take place in the privacy of your bedroom or incorporate items that have importance. Or maybe you want to climb to the top of a mountain in a gorgeous dress or dive into a lake buck naked. Do it! Regardless of what you wanna do you will not be jammed into a mold. You can wear absolutely anything you want, you can shoot absolutely anywhere you want, and you can capture something incredibly moving and uniquely you...because boudoir is whatever the hell you want it to be.