I’ve been shooting boudoir since 2012. I took a class online with Jen Rosenbaum and I just really connected with her personally (through a computer screen – haha.) I love her heart and once I heard her story, I really connected with that. I remember the first time I saw boudoir photography, I thought it was WAY out of my comfort level. “Who would DO that?” “Why?!” “No really, WHY would you do this?” I was quickly diverted to other parts of photography. It didn’t make sense to me. After a few years of testing myself every other week to only find out we still weren’t expecting, I ran across the boudoir stuff again. This time, my thoughts were more open. I wanted to feel that pretty just once in my life. I wanted to see myself as sexy, and not as a sexualized object of another’s affection. I wanted to embrace myself.
After having our first child, I decided I would do a boudoir session. I wanted to do it when I was pregnant but I didn’t want to sexualize my pregnant state of being (and I still connect with that though process). I don’t feel like being pregnant is something that should be sexualized but rather embraced in an artistic way. This can be done with nude work, but I just don’t connect to the sexualizing of maternity boudoir. I digress, but anyway – I put this session off for EVER. I remember going to book this session with the photographer I found for months, and not emailing. The anxiety. She would see me in such a vulnerable state! Would she understand me? Would she use the images the way I hope and not share them anywhere else? Did she understand my feelings? I finally sucked it up and emailed her. Then made another excuse, and finally I booked it three months out (to lose that weight, right?). I didn’t lose weight. In fact, at that session I was at my heaviest weight yet. We killed it. KILLED it. Never felt sexier. I hired a professional makeup artist, who was my friend from grade school and crazy talented. I had hired one of the most talented boudoir photographers in Indiana, and I was curvy.
I walked out of the session and a guy stared at me so hard he almost got in a wreck and hit this car in front of him that was at a stop light. I was so excited. Someone thought I was pretty. The first person who saw me leave my session thought I was so pretty I almost caused an accident. How cool is that?!
I began to reaffirm my interest in boudoir work. After an educational class with my biggest influence (Jen Rosenbaum), I had to dip my toes in the boudoir pool. I set up my first mini sessions and shot 13 women in a high end hotel suite that was just stunning. It was a success. I loved it. I was sold. This would be my life.
I’m mostly self taught, but I continue my education throughout the years by traveling to meet more amazing photographers and learn under them in conferences. The real turning point in my career and life was After Dark Education. Not only are they the most welcoming people, I genuinely felt that they changed my life completely. Dave Junion (I finally remembered his last name!) and Jordan Chan were just the most caring, honest and hilarious people. Brooke Shaden and Dave Brosha were crazy inspiring and I made friends like Kimberly Love and Jen Shu. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was to meet people like that. Craig LaMere and I had breakfast and dinner together in one day. WHAT?! I miss After Dark so much, and I heavily encourage and support it’s comeback. I will never forget that experience and the people I met.
No, I definitely didn’t want to be a photographer. I thought it was neat, yes. I even took a class in high school, but I just didn’t think it was something that really interested me. I couldn’t see past the awkward man behind the lens of our family photos who thought he had the best sense of humor. I didn’t want to be that person. I never knew there were so many turns you could take in this business and how many ways you could differentiate yourself. I honestly just bought a “pro camera” (entry level Canon Rebel DSLR) and people told me I was great. It was definitely the American Idol experience. I was “great at photography” according to everyone – until they had to pay me. It was hard because once I found my passion, I didn’t feel like people supported my dream. Why was I shooting “porn”? You’ll never be successful like that… it’s a cute hobby, though. My self doubt turned an open ear to the people who wanted to pour more doubt in. I fed the wrong thought process for way too long. It wasn’t until After Dark that I realized this.
I’ve been exclusively shooting boudoir and babies (newborns and babies up to a year old) since 2012. I also offer nursing sessions and glamour maternity sessions, but I generally focus on my babies and boudoir. After my concerns with my fertility, I was thrilled to have children and become a mother – thus reinforcing this desire to capture this for others.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
Find yourself, and embrace the Hell out of it.
Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself, if you are a female (sorry guys 🙂 ? Do you think it’s something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?
I think it is definitely important. I don’t understand how people photograph women and not get on the other side to feel like their clients.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I personally think that men aren’t going to understand things like us women do, but just like a white person doesn’t understand things like ethnic or foreigners, do – it’s all about perspective. That being said, there are men I would love to shoot with.
What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
YES! I go through this way more than I should, I think. When I find myself in a rut, I call a friend and we shoot/get together. Sometimes we shoot each other, sometimes we just get coffee and critique each other.
What do you love about the business?
I love using this business to teach people the importance of photography. When you’re going to the old people’s home – you’ll be throwing out all that other stuff and just gathering together the photographs. Hire the right person the first time. Get to know your photographer and let them capture you. When people are missing or become fatally injured and I see only selfies at their viewings, my heart aches. The most healing thing for me when my grandparents passed were the photographs. Their parents even hired amazing photographers to capture the fun and unique parts of their lives and I can never put into words how much that helped me grieve. The pictures are for you for a short time, but after that, they’re for your loved ones. And yes, that means boudoir work too.
What do you hate about the business?
I wish people understood that it’s a real job and I have bills to pay. I was recently asked if I “made money ‘doing that'”. I was baffled but I just smiled and answered honestly that my clients usually invest about $1,400 a session and left it at that.
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
I’m a member of the AIBP (of course) and I am an affiliate photographer for the non profit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I feel that NILMDTS has helped my soul grow and I have learned the true value of life through this organization.
Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it? AIBP runs contests regularly. Do you participate? If not, is there a reason you don’t?
I haven’t participated in many competitions – mainly just due to my anxiety.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
I love supporting local, so I try to find things that are local. I love watermelon and ice cream for my every day favorites. I would never turn down either of those.
One guilty pleasure in life?
Cold Stone Ice Cream and Decaf Lattes.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
I love Strawberry Revolution. I am NOT stylish at all. My husband seriously has to approve my clothes almost daily.
What’s one song on your playlist?
Sublime – What I got
I love 90s alternative – Goo Goo Dolls, Jack Johnson, Spice Girls and BSB and Nsync. Don’t judge. You know you love them.
Usher, Nelly, Frickin’ A, Britney Spears….
System of a Down – Any of their songs
What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?
I love comedies and thrillers. I really don’t like chick flicks. I cry enough as it is. I don’t like horror movies or scary movies – but I love intense movies like Disturbia. Any movie where the good guy wins. If kids/animals are hurt in the movie, I immediately don’t like it.
Favorite shoes to wear?
I love flip flops, sandals, etc. I hate buying shoes and I only have a few pair, really. I don’t buy brand name things.
What are you currently reading?
You are a bad ass. I love business books and books that offer a new perspective in life, like Eckhart Tolle.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
If I could go anywhere, it would probably be my grandparent’s home. I made a lot of great memories there and I miss them dearly. I wish we lived in the same city because I would buy that house in a heartbeat.
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
I would encourage the younger version of myself to care less about my exes. I was way too worried about finding the right person. My biggest aspiration in life was to be happily married and have a family. I wish I would have had the confidence in myself enough to know that happiness started with me, and no one else.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
Leonardo DiCaprio. He is not only probably the ONLY person on my list of sexy men, his heart is just… amazing. What he’s done for the environment and for the world is something that I applaud beyond words. I wish I could just have dinner with him and listen to his story and really get to know him for a few hours. He’s so interesting to me. #Leo2020
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
My anxiety. I have really bad social anxiety and self confidence issues. This whole article I’ve been questioning my writing style and how I’ve been kind of off topic. Sometimes I get really worried about it, but then I step back and realize if someone doesn’t like it – that’s a reflection of them and not me. I need to remind myself it’s okay to be myself, unapologetically.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
My husband and I have two beautiful girls and my life is kind of like when Alice falls down the rabbit hole and she’s doing things as she’s falling. That’s what my life feels like with my anxiety.
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
I’ve covered this in the other questions (whoops) 😉
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be
Be yourself, and don’t apologize for it. If you’re not hurting someone else, just embrace everything you stand for. I’d rather die standing than on my knees.