Recently I had a wonderful experience working with a plus-sized client who was obviously beautiful inside and out. She told me that she had chosen me because she had seen larger ladies as a part of my portfolio, and because she believed I did beautiful work. It seems she wasn’t disappointed! As she was able to see first her previews and then her final images she said the photos were “in one word… AMAZING. Thank you so much, I knew I could trust you with this.” That felt really humbling, and it struck me to my core – I had been trusted. I was aware that people were trusting me with their photos, but nobody had really put it into words before. I hadn’t thought about just how much they were entrusting me with until I saw it said like that. What a gift to be entrusted with something so personal – the fragile self-esteem of someone who is learning to love themselves, as we all are to some degree. It’s epic. Epically scary. And really, almost everyone I work with falls into that category.
Some people have already found that trust in themselves, and they come to boudoir ready to embrace themselves, ready for that joy. Others, like April, are a little earlier in the process of self-acceptance. You can see the courage and its counterpart, the fear, behind their eyes as they are embarking on the journey of boudoir photos with me. I can also tell these people when they say, “I’m just not the kind of person who would ever do this!”
Ironically, about 90% of my clients say that. I think I’d be out of business if only ladies who were the kind of person to immediately be attracted to getting a boudoir session signed up with me! I also think it’s a sign I’m doing this right. I set out to do boudoir because I wanted it to matter.
This particular client was the largest lady I’ve worked with so far. I almost never know what someone is going to look like when they open their door. It’s rare for me to meet the people I work with in advance except in cases of pretty bad anxiety about the session, and I confess I actually enjoy the challenge of finding the beauty in a person through my lens when I see them for the first time. It wasn’t hard to find the beauty in April, really. Her smiles lit up the room, and her story about the love of her life changing her feelings about how she looked really resonated with me, because that’s my story too. It made me feel kind of melty inside actually, hearing my story in someone else’s life. There’s some pretty awesome men out there, ladies, don’t you deny it!
I was nervous at first, knowing that I was being trusted with a relatively new and fragile self-esteem, but when I got home and saw that the photos had actually turned out very well, I was hopeful. Maybe they would really mean something. Maybe, as almost every artist and dreamer I know hopes from time to time, I am doing something that makes a difference.
April had decided to do this session as a gift for her fiance on their upcoming destination wedding and honeymoon, something she said she’d never have done without his supportive words about her loveliness and those of her friends. Her maid of honor for her upcoming wedding was apparently very encouraging, and she ended up showing her the images as well, and getting a really positive response. In two weeks, her fiance will see them, and I suspect given what she was saying about how lovely he finds her that he will find them quite precious.
April – not her real name – has a job in a sensitive field and was really happy that my contract provided a Fully Private option. (You can find out more about my three contractual options at my FAQ. Clients who take the time to read through it often find it helps prepare them to have a session.) I have never heard of a case of someone being stalked because of their photos being posted on a boudoir site (and trust me, it would be news) and I swear it’s not something anyone should worry about, but there’s definitely some people out there who wouldn’t necessarily understand boudoir for the self-esteem enhancer side so much, and I understand why some families and workplaces may be intolerant of any deviation from what is considered normal. When I asked if I could share her story and deviate from our contract with this one image that couldn’t identify her, she graciously agreed, and said “If it means more ladies can work with you like I did, whether for them or their partners, I’m all for that.” I remember taking this photo actually, and telling her sometimes the beauty is really found in the details.
I hope that if you are coming here on the fence about getting boudoir because your self-esteem isn’t great, you’ll consider that maybe this could help you. And for me – maybe I can make a difference. Here and there, maybe I can help someone find a way to love themselves more. If that’s something I am remembered for, I will be grateful to have had the chance to be a force for good. Self-worth and self-esteem for everyone!