We’ve all seen them on social media - images of women in various levels of nakedness, posing sexy on a bed, or by a mirror, or in a tub, and we all somewhere within ourselves wonder where they got the courage to do that. I am not ashamed of my body, but I also don’t love the way my body looks. And I assumed, the only reason why you do a photoshoot like that is because you want to celebrate how rockin’ your body is. But that’s not quite it…
A friend of mine since childhood had invited me into a private Facebook group for a boudoir photographer - Caroline Talbot Studios - a few weeks ago, and I didn’t accept it right away. I honestly didn’t really understand why she invited me to it, so I kept the invite sitting there for a few days, until I finally went to see the page. It turned out she did a photoshoot with her, and she looked FRIGAN AMAZING. I literally showed off her picture to anyone who would look at it. I could not believe how hard she nailed her photoshoot.
As I scrolled through the images and the posts from this community of women in this Facebook group, I realized that boudoir is SO MUCH MORE than just posing nude or in lingerie. It is for the women who love and want to show off their bodies, of course, but it’s also for the older women who feel like they are too old to do something like this. It is for the women who are heavier and feel like they are too big to do this. It is for the women who have been called cute but never sexy.
But most importantly, this style of photo shoot is for the women who have never whole-heartedly said that they believe they are beautiful.
Caroline had a post in the group that the open dates for the year were filling up fast, so I filled out a form to have a chat with her. I got an email kick back of all of the information related to the photoshoot, and a link to her calendar to schedule a call. I let this email sit for some time. I just wasn’t sure I could pull it off. It sounded like such a fun gift for my husband’s 40th birthday in June, but I didn’t know if I could muster up the courage. Then her emailing system sent me a check-in, asking if I’d still like a call. She posted again in the group that dates were filling up faster. I booked the call.
Caroline likes to chat with all of her clients first, to have them feel comfortable with her prior to booking their session. She literally said, “So you know that I’m not some creepy dude who wants your pictures.” Haha! I felt like I was talking to an old friend when we chatted. She is so friendly and kind and funny and I felt like she was truly in my corner when it came to getting me to come out of my shell in front of the camera. I actually cried when we spoke the first time, because she asked me how I feel about myself. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to do this photoshoot for bigger reasons than my husband’s 40th birthday. I needed to do this for myself, too.
I’ve had this negative voice in my head since I was 12, telling me I need to lose 5 lbs… 10 lbs… That I’d be happier if I did. But I’ll tell you, when I was 113 lbs, I still didn’t love myself. I didn’t love my body and how it looked. I wasn’t looking deep enough. I’ve fought with that voice for 20+ years, and it’s won far more times than it’s lost.
I booked the shoot. As fate would have it, Caroline literally had someone change their date THAT MORNING, freeing up a spot in time to get my pictures back for my husband’s birthday. I mean, how do I say no to the universe clearly nudging me to do this?
The shoot was a few weeks out, and I made a conscious choice to not diet and not change up my gym regimen. I knew that I needed to see myself as a beautiful NOW more than ever, and not because I dropped 10 lbs for it. This is the first time that the nagging voice that had followed me around all of these years was being quieted by a voice I was working so hard to grow. I was realizing I am actually starting to choose to like my body as it is, and not as it could be.
I took that strength right into my photo shoot with me. I looked at other pictures from her facebook group, and bought lingerie that I really loved and felt like would flatter me. I showed up cautious but ready, and Caroline was nothing but professional and fun. We started by picking out my outfits (3 lingerie outfits and my husband’s shirt he wore when he proposed to me and that I wore getting ready for our wedding) and then I got my hair and makeup done. I typically never like my makeup being done, because I rarely wear more than mascara, but Deanna NAILED. IT. I didn’t want to wash it off! It was so beautifully subtle. I felt gorgeous and I didn’t even change into any lingerie yet - I was still in my sweats!
Caroline and I then spent THREE hours shooting. This may sound like a hella long time, but it seriously FLEW BY. We did every single pose I think is possible, and by the end of it, I was so comfortable and confident that I was walking around in just my thong with no top on, and I barely even noticed! She will literally pose you from your hair to your toes, so you don’t have to worry about any of it. Model experience NOT necessary!
In my questionnaire before the photo shoot, Caroline asked me what poses I wanted to do. I told her I didn’t care so much about the poses, but that I wanted to look confident and I wanted to be seen. She showed me my pictures on the camera in between poses and it was an out of body experience. Who was that hot chick on her camera? Who nailed that subtle, yet sexy stare? Who is arching their back LIKE A BOSS? Seeing these images gave me more and more confidence as the shoot went on. I felt transformed.
I went back to Caroline’s studio a week later for my photo reveal. It’s a two hour appointment complete with tissues, where she puts all of your images into a slideshow set with music. She started it, and I think by picture three, my jaw just dropped. And it stayed there for the rest of the slide show. How could I not only like, but LOVE, so many pictures of myself? The slideshow ended and I did not have words. I felt myself choke up as I told Caroline this. It was just such a crazy experience to absolutely adore every photo that I saw of myself… and I was showing a lot of skin, which isn’t typically my thing. We all take at least 10 selfies before we choose just one to put into multiple apps for filtering and blemish removal, and even then we just feel OK about it.
But I was sitting there in Caroline’s studio, loving 89 images of myself without hesitation and without question.
We spent the next two hours carefully picking out which ones would be in my 25 spread photo album. These albums that Caroline orders are beyond beautiful. They come with a thick cardboard page, and I’ve never seen anything like it. In an effort to cut costs, I looked at Amazon photo albums before I went to my reveal, and they all looked like trash when I saw the ones she could get made for me. I knew I needed to have one. But it was SO HARD choosing images for the 25 spreads… so I bought all of my images on a hard drive. Because, TREAT YO’SELF and WORTH IT.
I picked up my images and photo album a week before my husband’s birthday and honestly asked him if he wanted them that night because I was just so excited to finally show him and talk about the experience. Not knowing what it was, he said let’s wait until the weekend. So I sat him down on the living room couch on that following Saturday and had him close his eyes while I grabbed my laptop (to show him the slideshow and all of the images) and the amazingly beautiful photo album that was covered in a deep teal velvet. (SWOON)
I put the book in his lap and he opened his eyes in a bit of confusion (he later told me he thought I may have bought a guitar for him) but a lot of curiosity. I told him to start from the very beginning. The second he turned the page and it registered on his face that those images were of ME and that I did a boudoir photoshoot for him, his jaw dropped and his smile widened so big. His eyes got the way his eyes get when he looks at me in our really deep moments - this squinty but full thing, that I call his “I love you eyes.” He was speechless.
He flipped through every single page without a word at first, just completely in awe that I did that. He told me that he always sees me as beautiful and sexy, but this is in a different light. He loved his gift so much. As I excitedly told him all of the details that went into planning, and the photoshoot, and the reveal, he looked just as happy as I was. He said that this gift that I gave him is amazing on it’s own, but the confidence that I got out of it meant so much more to him. I asked him when, in the last few weeks, had I had any negative things to say about my body or my outfits or how I felt about my appearance… and he couldn't remember anything in particular. Because this experience did change how I viewed myself, and I’m so happy that he found a gift in that as well.
This entire experience from booking the call, to feeling uplifted by the women in her Facebook group, to getting all dolled up by Deanna, to taking the photos, to SEEING the photos… I can’t quite describe how empowering it all felt. To finally stand up to that nagging, negative voice in my head, and finally say to it NO. I’m beautiful NOW, and I’m finally seeing it. That voice’s days are numbered, I can feel it. I’ve made so much progress on my self love journey in the past few years, but this experience truly catapulted me so much further.
So no… boudoir isn’t just about fancy looking lingerie or skinny bodies or only those confident with their bodies. It’s about giving an experience, and PROOF, that everyone’s body is beautiful. Caroline just provides an avenue to truly show you what everyone else is seeing. My husband tells me I am beautiful daily, and I can tell he truly means it. It’s just very hard to agree with him when I wasn’t seeing it myself. But, I see it now.
Caroline, I cannot thank you enough.