I thought a long time about deciding to do my first boudoir shot, so I suppose it should be no surprise that I also took a while to think about what I wanted to say and share about the experience. (Warning: this post obviously contains boudoir-style photos. There’s nothing exposed that you wouldn’t see in a swimsuit, but they are of a sensual nature. If you’re related to me or would otherwise find this uncomfortable, I won’t be offended if you skip this one!)
I’ve had a boudoir shoot on my “to-do” list for a long time. It’s something that I’ve seen a lot of other ladies on Instagram and across the blogosphere doing, and I definitely fell a little bit in love with those sexy, glamorous vibes. But it was going to be a big jump for me too. As I’ve gotten more into fashion and style and blogging about it, there have been a dramatic increase in moments where I felt pretty. But boudoir has a very different vibe, one that I was unsure that I could pull off.
The real push for going for it really came from Minerva (aka Spooky Fat Babe). When we chatted about photography and photoshoots, she highly recommended a local photographer she does a lot of work with: Cayan Ashley Photography. I loved the photos Minerva had shared from shoots with Cayan, so I reached out to get some info about doing my own shoot with her. Honestly, it was a fact-finding mission that I didn’t really expect to bear fruit until into the new year. Except Cayan offered a killer Black Friday deal to her VIP group, and suddenly I had a shoot scheduled for January 6.
It’s important to feel comfortable and confident with any photographer you work with, and that only gets more critical when you’re going to be, y’know, stripped down and exposed. Cayan was so great to work with from the beginning; very professional, but also super friendly. She provided a ton of information up front that helped me have pretty minimal questions or concerns about the process.
So I did some lingerie shopping (whee!) and on a cold Saturday morning, I packed up all my pretty things and headed off to Cayan’s home studio. If you’re considering photographers to work with, I definitely liked this set up. It was super chill and cozy, I got to hang out with Cayan’s dogs while I was getting ready, and it was very easy to feel at home. Awesomely, Cayan actually hired Minerva to do my hair and makeup for the shoot, so I had someone else I already knew there to help me get ready. Plus, she did a great job – we left my hair in a pretty tight set, messing it up a little to give it that “bedroom” feel, and did a full glam makeup look. Although I’m certainly happy to do my own hair and makeup, it’s nice to put yourself into someone else’s hands when you’re already worrying about taking pretty photos and adds to the whole glamorous experience. If your photographer offers hair and makeup as part of the photo package, I recommend it!
Cayan doesn’t specialize in retro or pinup shoots specifically, but her photography is so moody and evocative. I feel like it actually suits my aesthetic more than some more traditional “cheesecake”-inspired pinup shoots might. She also has a lot of vintage pieces in the studio, so it wasn’t hard to get into that Old Hollywood glamorous mindset. Some Lana del Rey on the stereo helped too…
But the real question is: how did it feel?
It felt new. I have to assume that some people go through life going “wow, I look sexy,” but that’s…definitely not my experience. It’s weird to slip into a different vibe like that, to think of yourself in a different way. But Cayan did a great job directing me and, real talk, not wearing my glasses definitely helped with the whole hazy, dreamy feel. I think that especially for plus size gals, there’s an expectation that a shoot like this is supposed to be super magical and empowering. I’m not going to say that I put on a nightie and suddenly shed all my cares, but as I got more comfortable in front of the camera, I started to feel more settled in my skin. I think it’s always a good thing to remember that “you” as you conceive of yourself isn’t a separate entity from your body. Mind and body and spirit are all one in the same.
If a boudoir shoot is something you’ve been considering doing, I say go for it. It was a fun, exciting experience, and it helped give me an opportunity to experience a new side of myself. If you’re in the Milwaukee or Seattle area, I definitely highly recommend booking a shoot with Cayan. She’s so talented and such a peach. Super responsive and very quick on the edits too!
I hope that hearing about my experience was helpful – you know ya girl is always honest with you, and this was a tough post for me to write. It felt revealing in a lot of different ways, but at the same time, it really was an experience that I wanted to share. Thanks for reading!