As the wife of a boudoir photographer, I am often asked if I mind that my husband spends much of his time surrounded by women in their underwear. The short, and somewhat surprising, answer is no. Granted, it takes a little getting used to being confronted with images of half-naked women staring out at me from the office computer as I happen by - but there’s something more to these images than bare flesh.
I know what you’re thinking, what you’d say if you were in my shoes. If it were you the buxom blonde was staring out at from your computer screen. You’d be thinking ‘another woman who thinks she has to take her clothes off to succeed/get ahead/please her partner.’ Delete as appropriate. I know because that’s what I thought, initially (after asking my husband if he’d considered a career in landscape photography). But I couldn’t have been more wrong. With each and every woman Paul photographed, something extraordinary was happening. It became more and more apparent that what all of these women had in common was not their lack of clothing, but an innate sense of empowerment and liberation that spilled over from the screen and, somehow, a little bit began to seep into me.
As women, we are our own toughest critics. We constantly berate ourselves over our perceived physical flaws and imperfections. We compare ourselves to the women we see in the media and aim to achieve the unachievable.
What I have learnt is that true boudoir photography can challenge these self perceptions, helping women to feel comfortable in their own skin.
With each passing shoot I began to realise that Paul was able to capture the individual beauty of each and every woman he photographed, no matter what shape, size or nationality. Seeing these women harness their raw femininity and embrace their bodies was liberating, not just for them, but for me too. Being somewhat body conscious myself, being able to appreciate the strong and powerful images I was seeing on screen made me more accepting of my own body. These weren’t models who had been photoshopped to the point they were unrecognisable. These were real women, with real bodies, real flaws and real stories to tell. True boudoir photography can capture a woman’s unique narrative in a single image. And that’s powerful. That’s you.
So just what do we mean by ‘true’ boudoir photography? Well, let’s strip it down to the basics (see what I did there) and challenge some common misconceptions.
First things first, there are some people who will say that boudoir photography is little more than an attempt to live out a page three fantasy but true boudoir style is more tasteful than tacky. The pictures aren’t meant to be titillating, they’re sensual rather than overtly sexy.
So contrary to popular belief, boudoir is not necessarily just photographs of you in your underwear (sorry boys). Yes, luxurious lingerie can certainly be part of it – if that’s what you want. But true boudoir is more about the experience and transformation a woman goes through. And you don’t need lace for that. You can wear your favourite oversize knit, a vintage black dress and pearls, your partner’s football shirt, a white sheet or silk dressing gown. Boudoir can be anything what makes you feel sexy and sensual, or just generally good in your own skin.
EASY FOR YOU TO SAY
I know what you’re thinking (yes, that’s twice I’ve read your mind. Spooky.) … ‘that’s easy for you to say, you get to stay firmly behind the camera!’
Which is why I agreed to my own boudoir shoot.
And why I have included some of those images here.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a fear of having my picture taken. I despise the dazzling, bright lights which inevitably cause my sensitive eyes to close on instinct, leaving me looking like I have consumed one too many glasses of Chardonnay. I feel insecure as soon as a camera lens points my way and instinctively leap behind the closest static object to hide, resulting in numerous pictures of my elbows and other various extremities leaping out of shot. And yes, I am aware of the irony - photophobic running a photography company. Sounds like a bad joke.
But despite my fear and self-doubt I am now able to appreciate my boudoir images for what they represent. Me. You will never be the version of you again that you are today. So embrace who you are now, appreciate the skin you are in and accept that your flaws and imperfections are just that, yours, they make you, you. And you’re awesome.
It’s taken me a long time to accept my own awesomeness and if my husband photographing other women in their underwear helps more females discover their own awe, then I hope to continue happening across unfamiliar bottoms on our office computer screen for a long time to come.