A Boudoir Experience
by, Lindsay Maclean
About a year ago, I accepted an invitation to an exclusive ladies’ night event held at Lux Portraiture, a boudoir photography studio owned and operated by Kari Heese in Vancouver. That night was my introduction to the Lux studio: a chic and modern space just off Main, decorated in white on white, with large windows and a high-ceilinged gallery wall chock full of gorgeous boudoir photographs. I was impressed by the stylish, fun, and feminine vibe at the party, but my eye kept returning to the women in the photos on the wall. The subjects of the work on display were real women who had given Lux permission to show off their photos, and they looked stunning: Beautiful, with glowing hair and skin. Glamourous. Confident. Fierce.
Totally single, I had been playing the Vancouver dating game for a while, and not with any particular success. I think at that point last year, I had given up (again) on online dating, though I was balancing an active social life, had started an exciting new job, and was preparing to host family members who would be visiting over Christmas. I was busy. I felt alright day to day, but I wasn’t thriving. I didn’t feel terrible in my body or my life, but I didn’t feel amazing. Then, a few days after the party, Lux contacted me. I had won the evening’s prize: a delightful gift bag, which included, among other treats, the gift of a boudoir shoot at Lux. Of course! I thought, booking my shoot date without a second thought.
Some women might look at this prize differently than I did. Some are terrified by the prospect, and even winning a photo shoot won’t get them in the door. Some go to Lux for others: partners want photos, but the women themselves feel self-conscious. Or perhaps if you won a boudoir shoot, you might plan carefully, scheduling it a couple months after the holidays to avoid putting pressure on yourself, or coupling it with the upcoming wedding you are preparing for anyway. Some have a special occasion, birthday or anniversary gift in mind, and prepare months in advance. After all, a photo shoot is a great excuse to treat yourself while taking care of all the details: get a facial so your skin looks its best, a mani-pedi, a wax. Go shopping for new underwear, maybe stockings, heels, a crisp white shirt, or anything silky that makes you feel alluring, romantic, or seductive! If you’ve recently gotten fitter, boudoir photographs can be a fabulous celebration of your dedication to achieving a goal. In bridal boudoir, soon-to-be brides can incorporate a veil or wedding-night lingerie into the shoot, to give the photos as wedding gifts to their partners. In maternity boudoir, it provides a sexy and modern twist on traditional maternity images. In more difficult circumstances, women going through times of divorce or dealing with serious illnesses might choose to affirm the positive with boudoir. The circumstances and the results are as individual as you.
I didn’t have any serious reason to go ahead with my own boudoir shoot. I hadn’t ever really considered doing it before it landed in my lap. Nor did I spend a ton of money or time preparing. I made my photo session date promising myself to work out more in the five weeks until my shoot. All I really managed was to go to the mall to buy some lacy underwear to match a few pretty bras I already owned. I brought a retro silk robe and a pair of simple stilettos. By the time my shoot date arrived, I’d been working fifty-hour weeks for a couple months, and strongly considered rescheduling till after the holidays, when I hoped life would just be a little easier. I indulged in one valuable and well-timed facial a couple days before my boudoir shoot, and it was the first time I’d treated myself in way too long.
So, in mid-December, I walked into the studio and made some self-effacing joke about how much shortbread I’d already eaten in the lead up to the holidays. The friendly, female photographer assured me it wouldn’t be an issue. I made another comment about how I’d fallen short of at least a few yoga classes or gym workouts. She just gave me a cheeky smile and said, “Nah, we have poses for that.”
Hair and makeup done beautifully, she proceeded to coach me through the simple (but not always easy) process of posing, putting me at ease while the camera snapped away. We started with the most modest outfit, and as the time went by I found myself having a totally different experience than the one I had expected. While I’d walked in worried, feeling that niggling shame and self-doubt our culture seems to require women to feel about their bodies, those feelings faded promptly into the background. What I felt instead was a sense of ease, and FUN! I was focused on following directions, but I felt newly adventurous, and by the time the session was winding down, I was totally strutting in front of the camera in my most daring outfit.
Fast forward a few weeks and I returned to Lux for my viewing. The images spoke for themselves: there I was, with mermaid hair, stunning makeup and glamorous lashes, skin aglow in the natural light of the studio. I was scantily clad, by turns playful or elegant, smiling or sultry. Looking at these beautiful, professional images, I saw my body and my being in a new light. I had always thought badly of certain aspects, as nearly all women learn to do in our culture from a young age. Or, we’re taught that having self-confidence or strong self-esteem or self-worth is arrogant, egotistical, or vain. Even when we know them to be untrue, the unspoken messages we learn about self-love in our culture are firm. But in admiring my images, I didn’t suddenly experience vanity or arrogance. What I felt was a new sense of freedom; I had surprised myself. I felt beautiful, whether anyone I knew ever saw these photos or not. I saw my body in its entirety, without over analyzing or objectifying its parts, from a new and positive perspective. I saw my willingness to do something out of the ordinary, something fun and sexy and outside of my comfort zone. I saw myself from the outside, and I loved what I saw. And what I saw, undeniably, belonged to me.
Whether you ever do a boudoir shoot is between you and those lucky enough to see your images. Maybe you’ll do your shoot and never tell a single soul. Whatever happens, you’ll have had the boudoir experience, with timeless, breathtaking pictures to prove it. And that’s the important thing. As the Lux Portraiture mission statement goes, your boudoir shoot will inspire you to be the fierce, beautiful and courageous woman we know you are, to empower you to unleash your inner bombshell, and to change the way you see yourself. As their hashtag goes, be #CourageouslyFeminine, is a concise, social media-friendly rallying cry for women to positively liberate themselves, by confidently celebrating their own unique form of beauty. So my verdict, give it a shot. At least once.
All Photos taken by Lux Portraiture
Link to Lux Portraiture Website: https://luxportraits.ca/