When people ask me what I do and I tell them I'm a photographer, they always assume I'm a wedding photographer. Yes, I have done my fair share of weddings, but that is not where my passion was. When I correct them and tell them I'm a Boudoir Photographer I always expect 2 questions.
"What is that?" OR, if they have heard of Boudoir before then...
"How did you decide to get into Boudoir Photography?"
Funny enough, question 1 is always the hardest one for me to answer. The shortest way to answer that is "It's empowering women of all shapes, colors and sizes with bedroom type photos." And then I can usually show them examples of my work if they still don't get it. But question 2... now that one is the easiest for me because I absolutely LOVE what I do.
I used to be a question 1 person. There was a time when I'd never heard of Boudoir Photography and had no clue it was out there. One day I found Boudoir by complete chance. At the time I was working in the eye care field and considering going to school to become an eye doctor. I was doing a lot of photography on the side because I've always loved being a photographer. I love working with people, and I like to say I'm a collector of stories. I always feel so honored when someone picks me to be their photographer. I get to be a small part of their story for whatever occasion I'm documenting for them, and I learn their story. I used to photograph weddings, high school seniors, families, lifestyle, maternity, newborn sessions... you name it and I was there. While I loved every photo session I did, I always felt like there was something missing. Like maybe I could do more.
I have been struggling with PCOS for years. When I was first diagnosed I didn't know anyone else with it and my body was changing so fast I couldn't keep up. I started not recognizing myself in photos. When I looked in the mirror I didn't know where I'd gone. My self-esteem plummeted. After a year of research and trying everything I could find, I finally got a handle on my health and made major changes in my life. Things started looking up. I started seeing myself again and I was feeling so much better. Then I got sick - like really sick. We couldn't figure out what was going on. I saw doctor after doctor and did test after test. 3 months of doctors and tests and we finally realized my gall bladder was so infected it needed to be removed right away. After I recovered from that surgery, I wrecked my ankle. I spent months in a cast, unable to walk for more than a few steps at a time. All of this made my body start changing again and I was desperate to find something that would make me feel like me again.
One night, after the rest of my family was asleep, I came across a random post from a Boudoir Photographer who was advertising her sessions as a way to work toward self-acceptance. I loved everything she said in her posts and decided THIS is what I needed to do for myself to really accept this new life and new body I was living with. Only one problem - she wasn't in Minnesota. I searched and searched and I couldn't find any photographers in Minnesota that advertised Boudoir Photos as a self acceptance. I told my husband all about it the next day and he was on board - "Contact her and go have a session!" So I did. I also just KNEW with everything inside of me that this is what I was meant to do. I wanted to help women. I wanted to make a real difference in their lives. I wanted to offer Boudoir.
I started my research on Boudoir and found so many horror stories. Women who went to a photographer that didn't know how to pose them and made them feel worse about themselves. Women who were healing from trauma and felt triggered at their sessions. And many more stories that broke my heart. So I made my decision that I wouldn't have anyone in front of my camera for a Boudoir Session until I'd learned a lot more than I already knew. I attended conferences, I read every book I could find, I signed up for education that was made specifically for Boudoir posing and lighting. Having the knowledge I already had about posing women during their weddings and maternity and family sessions was great. I knew the basics of how to help women see themselves in a flattering way, but I also knew Boudoir would require a whole different connection with my clients, and I was ready for it.
I spent 3 years on learning and growing and practicing before I ever did my first official Boudoir session. That was it. I knew I needed to change my focus in my photography and only offer Boudoir from then on. I loved every minute of what I was doing. I loved seeing my client go from being nervous and timid to opening up and feeling confident and beautiful in front of my camera. I started New Light Boudoir then and there and never looked back.
You see, I've been on every side of where my clients have been. I was teased growing up for how thin I was and how little I ate. Then my body changed and I went in the opposite direction and struggled with that. I've struggled with self-esteem, self-acceptance, trauma, feeling like I'm not good enough, and everything that goes with those things. I even know what it's like to feel like there's no reason I should be in my underwear in front of a stranger's camera. And I know what it's like to see those photos - to all of a sudden be able to see what my husband and other loved ones see. It's not about my size or my hair or anything else. It's about who I am. It's about showing up for my life. It's about knowing that people love me for who I am, and for them I am enough. And it's finding out that even though I'm a wife, a mom, and a business owner, I'm also a woman who deserves to accept herself just as she is. Because getting here was hard work and this body is what has carried me through it all.
So this is it. This is why I chose to focus only on Boudoir. We all struggle with something and we all deserve to have someone show us our true beauty. I still struggle every day with self doubt, but I'm learning and growing and healing. And I've gotten in front of a camera multiple times now. I've had my own Boudoir Photos taken by multiple photographers. I'm still nervous every. Single. Time. But I push through those nerves and I'm always so grateful I did.
I've never posted any of my own Boudoir Photos in a public forum before - so I'd like to thank my good friend, Sarah Sobon of Lavish Lace Boudoir in Mukwonago, WI for creating this photo of me in my very own studio.