A boudoir (/ˈbuːdwɑːr/; French: [bu.dwaʁ]) is a woman’s private sitting room or salon in a furnished accommodation usually between the dining room and the bedroom, but can also refer to a woman’s private bedroom.
Boudoir, as a photographer, is way more than sexy pictures. It is more than a tasteful tease. It is more than a series of photos one can give to their partner to spice things up. Although I do think boudoir is those things (and those things are important!), it is also a way to be in touch with one’s body and to allow one to express their sensuality and sexuality in a way that is empowering for everyone involved.
As a photographer, the boudoir shoots I have done as well as the boudoir shoots I have assisted with, I have seen people moved to tears and have, in turn, been moved to tears because of the emotional and sensual rawness that comes up during these shoots. The shoots I have done have been about an hour to two hours long and the transformation that takes place not only in the subject but in myself is really what Boudoir is for me. This is what makes it. To capture an image is one thing, but to be there–fully present and fully engaged–with the subject and the energy s/he puts forth is what I live for as a photographer.
I grew up in a religious household. Sexuality is not exactly something that is talked about except that it should be saved for marriage (and if that is what you believe, that is okay too!), but as a lesbian growing up in a religious household who (at the time) was not allowed to legally marry how was I supposed to save myself for marriage? Was I doomed to a “by-default celibacy” due to my (then) religious beliefs? Was my sexuality even valid seeing as my attraction to women wasn’t what it was “supposed” to be?
My thoughts and beliefs regarding sexuality, sexual politics, and sexual morality have since changed and evolved and I am so happy to have found Margaret Farley (a Catholic nun gone rogue) and Marcella Althaus-Reid (a queer theologian) to help me out with that.
I am not here to say which beliefs you should have or what you should and shouldn’t believe in in regards to sexuality, but what I am trying to say is this: Sexuality and sensuality is real and it exists within us all. (I do want to take a pause and give a shout out to all my asexual people out there, too!) I acknowledge the presence of sexuality and sensuality as well as the diverse ways of expression when it comes to these two facets of human experience.
The purpose of boudoir and photographing boudoir, for me, is not primarily about getting the “hottest” or “sexiest” photos. It is about being present with the subject as s/he allows her sexuality and sensuality to come out and show its beautiful face–to come out and play in a space where she is empowered through this part of herself.
Boudoir is often given as a gift to one’s partner and I love this idea! Absolutely nothing wrong with this idea! My only thought I have is this: You as the subject will get more out of it than the one receiving the photos–and that is partly the goal! So when you book a boudoir session with me, just know, you are not just getting a shoot–you are getting a very intimate and vulnerable experience in which the goal is to grow into yourself and reach into a deep part of yourself in a way you may never have.
We are conditioned to think being in touch with your sexuality makes you some kind of heathen or scarlet-letter-wearing outcast and to that I give a resounding “Hell no!” Your sexuality is a part of you–an immense part of your identity as a human–and I am here to invite you to allow your sensual side be a side of yourself of which you are proud and through which you are empowered.
If you have ever thought about doing a boudoir shoot or perhaps this is your first time hearing about it, I encourage you to really think about who you are and how you have thought about and held your sexuality throughout your life. Has it been a source of strength or something you keep tucked away? why?
**For those who have experienced sexual trauma of any kind and have had a difficult time thinking about sexuality and sensuality because of it, I want you to know I see you. Your struggle is real and your pain is valid. You are more than someone else’s selfish abuse of power. You are powerful. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are more than enough.**