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5 Years After her Photoshoot, She Still Feels Empowered by Her Portraits

5 Years After her Photoshoot, She Still Feels Empowered by Her Portraits

How Boudoir Photography changes your life

I met Lori 5 years ago. She was a referral from the hair salon next door to my studio.

At first, she was looking for some branding photos for her new website for her nutritional supplements. We met and discussed many ideas on how we could communicate her message of a healthy lifestyle and her brand.  She was living proof of her healthy lifestyle, having overcome some serious medical issues that she resolved with diet and supplements.

She decided to move forward with our full-day luxury session experience, where we have 5 or more outfits, in-studio hair and makeup for the day, and we book out the studio all day for you. As we talked more together, we discussed the possibility of adding some boudoir to her session since her wedding anniversary was also coming up.

She shared with me that both of her parents had recently passed, and she was feeling a little low. She was hopeful that a session like this could get her energized and motivated to keep moving forward.  Later she shared with me that she was indeed suffering from depression, and that having a session like this to look forward to really helped keep her mind focused on positive things and not negative.  

Having recently suffered the loss of her mother, she also felt the need to provide a legacy to her own daughter. This was extremely important to her, so we came up with a wardrobe and styling that would be suitable including outfits and jewelry that meant something to her.

So, while her original inquiry was for a personal business branding session, it really turned into something much more. By communicating what she really wanted from the photo session and learning what it truly could be, Lori decided to go for it and step outside her comfort zone. She decided to go with a truly transformational custom photo session experience designed just for her.  Legacy portraits for her daughter and a sensual expression of love portraits for her husband.  And by doing this, she was able to give herself the gift of self-love, confidence, self-esteem, and most importantly a way to refocus her energy away from her depression.

If you listen to her Facebook live interview with me, you will see that even after 5 years, the details of her experience are still fresh. She shared with me that when she showed her portraits to her husband her thought he was the luckiest man in the world!  And her daughter was blown away by the legacy album she gifted her.  Lori also purchased wall art and she said that every time she looks at her portraits on the wall it fills her with pride and brings back those feelings of confidence and makes her smile, and she realized that loving herself was the most important part of her experience.

DOES DOING A PHOTOSHOOT LIKE THIS SOUND LIKE SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO?

Custom designing a photo session is all about really talking about what is important to you and what may be possible. If you are interested in a legacy glamour or sensual boudoir, or anything in between. Let’s talk. Let’s see where our conversation leads, it may surprise you! 

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Why Shannon's Breast Cancer Boudoir Experience made her S.M.I.L.E.

Why Shannon's Breast Cancer Boudoir Experience made her S.M.I.L.E.

shannon's breast cancer boudoir session experience

If you meet Shannon Burrows, you can’t help but smile. Her infectious energy and vibrant personality immediately draw you in. She is a very passionate woman dedicated to helping women achieve their fitness goals. I like to say that Shannon is a “force”. Because she is truly that. A force to be reckoned with. You don’t say “no” to Shannon because you trust she has your best interests at heart. 

She shared with me that “Years before my diagnosis, I created my fitness tagline of Changing The World, One S.M.I.L.E. at a time because I wanted to help people change any little thing in their life that would help make them a better version of themselves each and every day. SMILE: S. (Simply) M. (Making) I.  (Individual) L. (Lifestyle) E. (Enhancements). 

I had no idea that my fitness tagline, would now be my life’s mission every single day! Without knowing that was truly my purpose in life. Now, I’m not thankful for having cancer, but I am extremely thankful for the things and lessons I’ve learned as well as all the amazing people I have met during my journey. Rhea was one of them. She taught me that having Breast Cancer and my scars didn’t define me. She showed me how to feel empowered and confident through something I NEVER would have ever done!
 
When I walked into her studio and saw her SMILE pillow, I knew I was in the right place.
Not only has it helped me through my journey but so many others as well. It has allowed me to help Change The World. One S.M.I.L.E. at a time because of it.”
 

Shannon’s Cancer journey.

In 2016, I decided to leave a career I was unhappy in, to pursue something I loved, which was fitness. I took all the necessary steps I needed  in order to become a Certified Personal Trainer. From there, I landed a dream job of teaching Group Fitness, so I could change more than one person’s life at a time. There is nothing more rewarding than waking up every day and being able to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how big or small that enhancement is. I want to give people the tools to set themselves for success in life and their health & fitness journey. I want everyone to work on becoming a better version of themselves each and every day.

Where my life drastically changed and put me on my path to serve my purpose and passion was on July 13th, 2017. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Hearing those words, “You have cancer”, changes your entire life, emotionally, mentally and physically. Not only was I scared about what was about to happen to my body, but how was I going to continue my career as a trainer if I couldn’t do many of the exercises myself? How was I going to maintain my positive outlook on life? Throughout my journey, I had several setbacks and challenges but I refused to let anything keep me down. I was reminded of how important it is to listen to your body and be your own advocate. I ended up firing my first oncologist and plastic surgeon, as they were no longer going to be a good fit for me in my cancer journey based on lack of communication, poor bedside manor and removing body parts that I was not expecting. How was I going to continue my career in fitness if I could no longer do many of the exercises? What was going to be my “new norm” in my exercise routine and life in general? Instead of letting these kinds of questions get me down, I became proactive in finding my solutions and became certified as a Cancer Exercise Specialist through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute.

I was now able to educate and train myself to get back into my fitness routine and establish MY “new norm”and take that same information to educate others diagnosed with cancer through their journey.  Educate them on how important it is to become healthy before surgery, active and healthy through treatment and into recovery.

Throughout my journey, I have been blessed to meet so many other strong & amazing women and help them along the way. I cannot say I am thankful for cancer, but I am thankful for the people I have met along the way and the lessons I have learned.

Being truly blessed with the opportunity to find a solution to one of my struggles, physical limitations, with the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, I have now joined them as the Vice-President of Business Development and became a Master Trainer.

About two weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I received a text message from a friend of mine that had just taken a new job at the American Cancer Society and needed my help with an upcoming charity event called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk that was taking place in October. He and I had worked on several charity events together and he knew the strengths I could bring to the event to help him. He had no idea I had just been diagnosed and I hadn’t told anyone other than family at that time. I hesitated on my response because my initial reaction was yes, of course I will help combined with the feeling of how do I tell him this? I replied back to him, telling him I had just been diagnosed but will absolutely do everything I can to help (not knowing what I was about to go through).

The first year I spent going through all of my surgeries and putting together a team and fundraising as Team S.M.I.L.E With Shannon. We were the largest team and fund raised the most money. In 2018, I joined the committee to help give back by helping to raise awareness and for those affected by breast cancer. In 2019 I served as the event chair for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and am honored to be the event chair again for the 2020 walk. Not only have I become involved locally to put an end to breast cancer but I have also had the privilege of being on the Southeast Regional Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Committee for the last two years and starting my third year.

This has resulted in me being able to help so many others by doing public speaking about my journey and having a positive mindset, finding your purpose and dealing with my diagnosis of breast cancer and the importance of exercise and cancer as well as help with research to putting an end to breast cancer.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been easy but I do know it could be so much worse. I have taken every obstacle, struggle, bump in the road as a learning experience and embraced it as part of the journey. If it wasn’t for my diagnosis and struggles, I don’t think I would have found my true purpose in life. I had physical struggles of not being able to do my job as a fitness professional and normal everyday tasks that we all take for granted.I have struggled with sleeping since I can only sleep on my back from now on. I still cannot do some exercises because of the limitations I have. The biggest physical, mental and emotional struggle I still have is not having any feeling in my chest area. I bump into things, I can’t lay on my stomach or side but most of all my emotional struggle of not being able to feel my daughter’s head on my chest when we snuggle. I can’t feel hugs with her or my husband.

Shannon’s story was such an inspiration to me to keep moving forward with my Warrior Goddess project for breast cancer survivors. When I realized that boudoir can be truly therapeutic for these women, and that if how they identify as women has been altered for life, and if I can help them realize that they are still beautiful and cancer has not taken that away, then that is what I want to do! 

 So when I published my first Warrior Goddess magazine, she was my Covergirl! 

In her own words: 
“Cancer strips you of everything (well tries to anyway) and there is NOTHING sexy or sensual about cancer #facts
🙌 I’m not a lingerie girl!
🔥 I’m not a sexy or sensual girl!
❤️ I’m a girl that loves to rock leggings and workout 🏋️‍♂️ who happened to get a breast cancer diagnosis and had a double mastectomy which means I no longer have my own breasts which as we know, as a woman we identify with them (especially breast feeding).

So Rhea uses her talent to help women, like me, (breast cancer survivors) feel empowered and beautiful like the person we are inside and to not let cancer define us❤️
This breast cancer boudoir session was self-care for my mind and my emotions, something that many of us forget to focus on!
 
When I look at my pictures I forget I was in the middle of my treatment and had expanders in.
I look at my pictures and say, way to step out of your comfort zone and be the badass you didn’t know you had inside of you! 💗
 
 

Shannon is a true leader and a Women’s Empowerment Coach, Wellness Coach & Breast Cancer Recovery Coach.  She is also a Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist & Fitness Professional.

Shannon is local to Palm Beach County and helps women diagnosed with Breast Cancer to take back control of their life to become the best version of yourself by educating, empowering, and inspiring them, from diagnosis and beyond, through support, exercise and healthy living using The S.M.I.L.E. Method.  She also helps other fitness professionals become certified as a cancer exercise specialist to help bridge the gap between the fitness and medical industries so they can be part of changing the lives of cancer patients. 

Interested in learning more? Go to www.shannonburrows.com or email her directly at smile@shannonburrows.com

She also has a podcast: https://bustinoutofbreastcancer.buzzsprout.com/

would you like to nominate someone for a warrior goddess breast cancer boudoir session?

To date, I have photographed over 60 women from across the country! If you or someone you know has breast cancer and you feel could benefit from a session with me,  please click the link below to be entered into our Warrior Goddess project. I select 2 Warrior Goddesses to photograph per month. 

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Valuing Yourself

Valuing Yourself

Why it's important to value yourself with boudoir photography

Why is it that women give freely and without hesitation to the people they love,  but when it comes to themselves..they are stingy?

Sure, for our children, for our spouse, the sky is the limit. We’ll invest in them..we find a way. But when it comes to doing something special for yourself, you hesitate, you feel guilty.   “Shouldn’t I be spending my money on my kids or my spouse?” 

Guess what? YOU ARE WORTH IT! Say that again to yourself so that this time you hear it and mean it.  Because YOU are the heart and center of your family. They depend on you, they rely on you.  But YOU are responsible for your own happiness. Making others happy feels great, but if you aren’t happy, how can you give to your loved ones?  What if your tank is dry? 

When was the last time you invested in YOU? And I am not talking about clothes or a massage..really making an investment in your well-being. 

What if you really want to do a boudoir session. You know that having an experience like this may just be what you need to feel good about yourself again, to feel vibrant, energized, and ready to take on all that you need to do and be the best version of yourself. But you know it’s expensive and those all too familiar pangs of guilt keep you from going for it. You come up with excuses why you can’t do it now, and you talk yourself right out of it..again! 

You’re not alone. I have heard this from so many women over the years that I felt it was important to blog about it.

So how would it feel to like and even love the woman you see in the mirror?

To look at her beauty instead of looking for flaws? 

How much is that worth to you?

Is a boudoir photoshoot experience expensive? Yes, it is.  It’s true. My minimum purchase is $950. Why?  Because it’s more than about the pretty pictures.  It’s a way for you to feel good in your skin again. To love yourself so that you can give your love to others. It’s an investment in YOU..and my dear..YOU are totally worth it! 

I can hear you now. “But Rhea, I don’t have that kind of money lying around, I have to stick to a family budget.”  I hear you, loud and clear. 

Because I always want EVERY woman to get what she wants and what will help her the most..I offer payment plans.

PRE- SESSION  and POST-SESSION payment plans.

PRE-SESSION payment plan means you pay in advance for your product purchase. We go over the collections at your in-person consultation, and you choose the one that you want. The benefit is that you can get a 20% discount on the collection of your choice. You can choose a 3-month, 6-month, or 9-month plan. Your credit card is charged automatically.  You have your session at the end of your payment plan and we choose your portraits the same day. Then we have your products edited, printed, and delivered to you within 3-4 weeks. 

POST-SESSION payment plan means that we have your session and you pick your portraits the same day. You can then choose your collection and make a  20% deposit. You then choose a 3-month, 6-month, or 9-month plan. Your credit card will be charged automatically and once your final payment is made, your products will be edited, printed, and delivered in 3-4 weeks. 

Either plan is meant to break up your payments so that you can fit them into your budget and make it work.

You’d do this for your children or your spouse..wouldn’t you? So why not for you? 

ARE YOU READY TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL?

Meet Miss J. and hear from her how her experience with us was like.

i welcome you to join our private women's only facebook community

Our women’s only Facebook Group is all about uplifting each other. We share our hopes, dreams, inspiration, successes, and losses. We are a sisterhood of strong women willing to lend a helping hand to each other and enrich each other’s lives.

what to wear at your boudoir session

what to wear at your boudoir session

If the thought of trying on lingerie CAUSES YOU ANXIETY...we got you!

Let’s talk lingerie for a minute…
If the thought of trying on lingerie causes you anxiety..you’re not alone! 

Most women agree that similar to bathing suit shopping, lingerie shopping can be a very unpleasant experience.  

Maybe you’re considering a boudoir session, but the thought of lingerie shopping is keeping you from taking that next step.  I get that. Really I do! I have suffered through many an unpleasant lingerie shopping experience with nothing fitting properly or looking right on my body type.  And don’t get me started on the dressing room mirrors and lighting! 

But remember ladies, a boudoir session is all about stepping outside your comfort zone and reconnecting with your femininity. Being vulnerable and getting comfortable in your own skin is what the boudoir experience is all about.  So trying on lingerie can be a big first step on your journey of self-love, acceptance ,and boosting your confidence.  

But where do you start?

How do you know what will look good on you?

What if you haven’t had on lingerie in many years? 

I am there for you every step of the way...

From XS to 5X, I keep a fully stocked and ever expanding studio wardrobe closet. I have become somewhat of a lingerie addict over the years…and I absolutely LOVE it!

Having a positive lingerie experience is all part of the boudoir photography experience at Rhea Lewis  Photography studio. This is really important to me! I believe that ALL women, all ages, and all sizes can begin the process of self- love and confidence building by starting with a positive lingerie experience. No need to order online and have to return back and forth to get the right size or style. And no need to have to shop at a store with terrible service. No need for any of that, or any added expense associated with purchasing your own lingerie for your boudoir photoshoot. 

I believe that there is something transformative about how a woman feels about herself when she tries on luxurious lingerie.  And having someone there to guide you through the process, gently push you out of your comfort zone and offer you honest and positive feedback on which pieces look the best on you, is key to that transformation.  I will consider everything discussed at your in person consultation with me; your style, and the 3 words describing how you’d like to feel from your session experience.  I will listen and watch for your reaction to seeing yourself in lingerie and am an expert fitter.   I has learned over the years which styles and lingerie pieces will look best on different body shapes and sizes.  

DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF LINGERIE IS BEST FOR YOUR BODY TYPE?

Teddy
Babydoll
Bra & Pant Set
Corset
Chemise
Bustier
Garterbelt
Romper
Halter top & G-string

DO YOU KNOW THE BEST STYLE AND COLOR FOR YOU?

I have had years of experience and will guide you through this process. Even if you’ve never thought you could wear a garter belt or a corset, you can try it here!  We have a safe and private space to play dress-up and really explore styles and colors you NEVER would have pulled off the rack!  

I truly believe that ALL women of all ages and sizes can wear lingerie and feel beautiful. I’ll accentuate your best features and minimize those areas of concern or sensitivity.  From XS to 5X in my ever-expanding studio wardrobe, you will have many outfits to choose from. You’ll wind up at the end of your lingerie fitting super excited and ready for your session!

WHAT ABOUT ACCESSORIES?

My studio closet wardrobe is just that..a closet!  All closets have accessories..right? Well, my studio closet is no different.  I offer head-to-toe styling with a full collection of shoes, jewelry, thigh highs, body jewelry, masks, furs, shawls, robes, gloves, etc…

Just bring YOU to the session, leave the rest to ME!

can i bring my own lingerie?

Yes, you can. If you have pieces you love and want to wear at your session, you can definitely do that too. If you have your spouse’s shirt, sports jersey, or big sweater, that can be very sexy too!   I  just ask that you send pics of them to me so that I can then provide you with head-to-toe styling. 

We also welcome you to ask us any questions you may have. At Rhea Lewis Boudoir Photography Studio, I am here for you every step of the way. So, if you find yourself questioning something or would like to clarify something, reach out to me. I want you to embrace this life-changing photo shoot and not let anything stand in your way. I am here to reassure you in any way we can, woman to woman.

Are you ready to feel beautiful?

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Boudoir Experience and How to Prepare

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Boudoir Experience and How to Prepare

OK. So you’ve booked your shoot, and are wondering what do I do now to get ready? Every woman asks that, and it can be a little nerve wracking. There are so many emotions leading up to your boudoir shoot, and that’s OK. I am here for you every step of the way!

I have put together a list of guidelines and suggestions here to ease your mind and get you mentally and physically prepared to get the most out of your boudoir experience.

Ready, set, GO!

You will arrive at your session with no makeup and a clean, bare face and clean and dry hair down loose.

#1 Personal Grooming

By planning for and taking time for you with personal grooming, you will feel and look your best on the day of your shoot.

  • Hair Preparation – If you need a haircut or highlights, please be sure to schedule these in advance of your shoot by a week or so.
  • Brow and Bikini Area Grooming – Our lingerie outfits are intended to show all of you, so please pay close attention to these details and have them taken care of to your liking at least one week prior, so that your skin is not irritated or reddened the day of your shoot.
  • Fingernails and Toenails – Yes please pay attention to these too! They will be showing so please be sure to have them look nice the day of your session. You can choose a color for your nails, but most women opt to go for a natural look.
  • Spray Tan – It’s Florida, so many women have tans or like to get spray tans. I usually suggest not to do this so that you skin tone is uniform throughout your body and there are no tan lines. However, as long as it looks natural and not orangey it’s OK with me. Please, please, please do not get a sunburn prior to our shoot! Lol!
  • Skin Moisture and Hydration – Moisture is key to glowing skin! Hopefully, you’re doing this every morning and every night. Whether you do or don’t, moisturize the night before AND morning of your shoot. Also, try to drink plenty of water the day before and day of your shoot. Moisturized, hydrated skin is smoother and fills out fine lines and plumps up the skin, PLUS it keeps it that dewy look.

#2 Beauty Sleep

I always recommend a restful long night’s sleep for a few days and the night before your session. “Beauty sleep” is a real actual thing. Beauty sleep helps keep us feel and look young, it is a natural fountain of youth. By making sure you get 8-9 hours of sleep in just a few weeks you will see an amazing transformation. You will get fewer wrinkles, glowing complexion, brighter less puffy eyes, healthier hair and a more happy and healthy appearance.

#3 “Boudoir Yoga”

Let’s face it, this will be a workout, so mentally prepare yourself. You’ll be arching and stretching and getting into all sorts of positions you don’t normally get into. But don’t worry, I’ll be doing them with you and guiding you every step of the way! I often refer to it as “Boudoir Yoga”, and if I can do it you can do it. My only suggestion to you is to not go overboard with your own exercising the day before your shoot so that you are not too sore before we even begin. Stretching is good, just no serious exercising before the session. Because you will be sore afterward anyway!

#4 Do bring sentimental items

If you are doing this shoot for your significant other then it’s always a great idea to bring something that is important to him/her. Whether it’s his team’s jersey, his dress shirt, a tie, or the special jewelry he has given you, he will LOVE those pictures because he will know you were thinking of him during the session.

#5 Don’t forget the accessories, heels and jewelry

If you have shoes, boots, jewelry or any other accessory you would like to include to personalize your portraits, bring those too. I always love to include as much of your personality in the portraits as possible.

#6 Tattoos

We love tattoos. And if you do too, then we’ll highlight them. If you’d like to cover them up, we can do that too. However, you feel your best, and how it represents who you are now, is what we will showcase and celebrate.

#6 Put together a Pinterest Board

Another fun way to prepare is to make a Pinterest board with some beautiful imagery from my website or others that inspires you and excites you for our shoot together. We call them inspiration boards and it can be so fun to put yourself in the shoes of the beautiful imagery you see. Save those images and send them to us in advance of your session so that we can both be inspired and that we can collaborate and custom design the session of your dreams.

#7 Let us know ahead of time what you are uncomfortable with

Last but NOT least, make sure we know what parts of your body that you’d like to highlight and which parts you’d rather hide. If you have scars or tattoos that you are not comfortable with, then we will choose outfits and posing techniques that will provide camouflage. If you feel insecure about your ears, then we’ll make sure when you move around that your ears aren’t showing, this sort of thing. In the same vein, if there are aspects of your body, you’d like me to highlight, let me know that too! If you tell us that your significant other loves your back dimples, then we can make sure to showcase that in some of your shots. However, you feel your best, and how it represents who you are now, is what we will showcase and celebrate.

We also welcome you to ask us any questions you may have. At Rhea Lewis Photography Studio, we are here for you every step of the way. So, if you find yourself questioning something or would like to clarify something, reach out to us. We want you to embrace this life-changing photo shoot and not let anything stand in your way. We are here to reassure you in any way we can, woman to woman.

Are you ready to feel beautiful?

Why Boudoir Photography?

Why Boudoir Photography?

All photos shown in this BLOG post are of me!
photo credit: Tamara Knight Photography

I did not seek out boudoir photography. In fact, quite the opposite. I was an award-winning portrait photographer with over 10 years’ experience when boudoir found me. One of my brides asked me to photograph a boudoir session for her and I said yes. After 10 years of photographing all genres of photography, I figured I could do this one too.  How different could this be from a regular portrait session?  Well, other than the client will be next to naked in front of me and very nervous. From the first moment of my first capture, I felt something very special inside me as an artist and as a woman.  It was like I was watching a flower bloom and I was there to document the metamorphosis. Almost a surreal experience. There she was looking nervous and scared, and there I was encouraging her, guiding her, and helping her feel relaxed, free, sensual, and beautiful. It felt so natural and easy.

The images were breathtaking, so feminine and lovely. When I showed her the back of the camera, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “Who is that?  Is that really me?” She welled up with tears and so did I. “That’s you” I said, “And you are incredibly beautiful”. From then on it was pure magic and I can tell you for sure that when she left from our session, I don’t think her feet were touching the ground. She looked different to me. Her posture was better. She walked differently, she talked differently. She could look at you straight in the eye. She looked like she knew she was beautiful and could finally say that about herself. She looked like a woman full of confidence and owning her beauty. She was transformed.  As she left, I thought, “I did that”. “I did that with my art”, and I don’t think my feet were touching the ground either!

When I realized that, with my photography, I could truly help women believe in their beauty and see themselves differently. To see themselves as “beautiful”, and to rebuild their self-esteem and confidence, it was a game changer.  Because it no longer was about creating a pretty picture. It was about so much more. I had found my true calling as an artist…by accident.

why me?

I know, first-hand, that women are super critical of themselves. That when we look in the mirror, we are looking for flaws.   And that all those insecurities rise to the surface when you shed your clothes and it’s just you, vulnerable you. I get that.

I am that too. In fact, I grew up with very low self-esteem.  I grew up in a large family and being a middle child with a weight problem I felt invisible.   I didn’t get the attention, my pretty, thin, older sister got.   Nobody really looked at me, they looked right through me like I wasn’t even there.   My older sister barely acknowledged me, and my mother constantly compared me to her.  “If I could just lose the weight” she used to say.  To me, this meant, I was unworthy of her love as I was, and most certainly unworthy of my own love for myself.  I share this family portrait because it truly represents how I felt growing up.  This portrait was a large portrait that hung prominently in our home for many years.   You can see that I am out of focus in the front. My mother selected this particular portrait, I am sure the professional photographer had a selection to choose from. She picked the one with me in front, big and blurry.  I look completely out of place, like a last-minute addition,  and somewhat invisible.  Family portraits are meant to foster a sense of belonging and the love of family.   Unfortunately, this one had the opposite effect on me. 

The Transformation

It took me until after I left my childhood house as an adult (23) and on my own that I lost the weight. When men started to look at me, I thought they were looking at someone else.  I kept looking behind me!  It took me a long time to believe what I was seeing in the mirror.  I kept seeing the ugly fat girl, unworthy of a second look.  It was a slow process, but I got there. Finally, able to feel “beautiful”. Finally, being called “beautiful”.   It was a long time before I could accept a compliment and not brush it off.  It was a long time before I felt “beautiful”.  I learned that the word “beautiful’ is a real trigger for me and how it makes me feel about myself.  It has been a long journey of self-acceptance and self-love.  And quite frankly, I still do struggle with this from time to time.   Those negative thoughts do occasionally seep into my head and play those old tapes of unworthiness and self-doubt.   Looking in the mirror and saying out loud that I am “beautiful” is still difficult for me at times.  But what I have learned over the years, is that beauty comes from within.  It isn’t up to anyone else to determine your value, your worth, or whether you are beautiful. It is totally and completely up to you. 

I have come to realize that there is power in beauty and beauty in power.  I have learned just how incredibly resilient women are, and that I am.  We can overcome many obstacles, endure many hardships, and still shine bright.  It is a gift that all women share.  We all have access to a “beautiful” inner light of confidence.

When I was truly able to see my beauty and believe in myself,  I became keenly aware of the beauty of others.  It is exactly why boudoir photography is such a good fit for me.  With my artist’s eye for beauty and my desire to help other women,  it balances all the negative beliefs I had about myself and my past.  Without those trials of confidence in my youth,  I would not be the woman I am today,  nor have the empathy for other women in need of a confidence boost.   I feel incredibly blessed to have found boudoir photography as my career, or should I say,  it found me. 

My boudoir photo shoot 

To be honest,  I was shooting boudoir for 5 years before I was ready to step in front of the camera myself.  I knew I had to do it.  I knew I needed to know what it felt like for my clients. I owed it to them and I owed it to myself.   How could I authentically instill confidence in other women if I wasn’t able to step outside of my own comfort zone?   

So I decided to go to a photographer friend of mine in Orlando, Tamara Knight, and I put my sensitive self-image into her capable hands.   Needless to say, I was riddled with anxiety, all of those old insecurities rose to the surface.   Will I look alright?   Am I too fat?   Am I too old?  I hate my hair.  I hate my body.   All of those silly negative thoughts were spiraling around in my head, and I felt like I was stepping off a cliff!   But Tamara, made me feel comfortable immediately and calmed my nerves, loaded me up with tons of encouragement and compliments, and those tapes in my mind were silenced.   Replaced with positive feelings and thoughts about myself.  I love sharing my portraits from that session.  I love everything about them.   It was validation of everything I was hoping it would be.  And the proof of my growth as a woman and a celebration of my own self-love. 

It’s not selfish to have self-love, it’s necessary in order to become the best possible version of yourself. 

I have been on both sides of the camera in boudoir photography, and I can tell you from experience that when you are with the right professional, the journey is truly transformational. 

Interested in booking a boudoir experience with us?

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