I’ve always considered myself a very open, sexually confident person, but on the morning of my first-ever boudoir photo shoot, I was anything but. At 8 a.m., I woke up feeling exhausted and bloated (a combination of the previous night’s salt intake and a present from the PMS fairy), and had an hour-and-a-half to pull off my sexiest hair and makeup. While most boudoir photographers suggest you have your hair and makeup done professionally, I knew that these services would run me about $300, so I opted to do it all myself to save some money. Besides, this way, I knew I wouldn’t end up looking like a clown at the hands of some eyeshadow-happy twenty-year-old. As soon as I looked in the mirror, I was greeted by a giant pimple on my forehead (also gifted from the PMS fairy) and immediately regretted my decision to opt out of having my makeup done. As I got ready, I kept reminding myself that Photoshop was invented for a reason. So was makeup. Besides, who cares about a pimple when you’re about to get naked for a stranger? I had bigger fish to fry. I opted to give myself a sultry smoky eye with Topshop’s Smokey Eye Palette in Tuxedo (stay tuned for a Beauty Test Drive!) and keep my lips subtle with Bite Beauty’s BB For Lips in Suede, both of which would compliment the three different looks I would wear during my shoot. (And to be clear, I opted to bring three different lingerie options. Nudity wasn’t happenin’, folks.)
On my way to Angelica Roberts’ Photography studio, I felt my nerves heightening and decided to throw back half a pocket bottle of rum, which I’d packed in my makeup case the night before for that exact reason. Despite the fact that it tasted like 700-year-old asshole, it helped calm my nerves a bit— just not completely. I kept worrying: “What if my poses suck?” “What if I have cellulite in every picture?” I’ve only ever done one “sexy” photo shoot before, but I was completely clothed with just a little bit of cleavage and butt cheek peeking out from my scandalous romper. Not to mention, I was about 25 pounds lighter and four years younger. I was still stressing over the shoot, but had faith that my photographer, Angelica, (whose work been featured in “Vogue,” by the way) was a miracle worker. She would make me look beautiful. Prior to my shoot, I did a Q&A for The Frisky with Angelica, where she offered tips and tricks to boudoir newbies. I tried to keep those hints in mind before I arrived. She also noted that almost everyone, even the most outgoing people, are nervous before their first shoot. At this point, I had faith that my apprehension would eventually subside.
Upon my arrival, I was taken into Angelica’s studio where she gave me a few pointers for poses, I showed her my different lingerie options and we got right to it. At first, I thought it was weird that she’d be watching me change out of my jeans and t-shirt and into, well …almost nothing, but she was completely professional and didn’t blink an eye. I guess in that regard, boudoir photographers are kind of like gynecologists. Every vagina is just another face in the crowd. Nothing to see here. She even helped me fasten my garter to my stockings, paying no mind to the fact that she was kneeling down only inches from my hoo-ha. “You look like a Victoria’s Secret model,” she told me. “Gorgeous.” We were off to a good start.
To help me feel more at home, Angelica asked if I wanted to play my iPod so I could listen to something that would make me feel “energized and excited.” Before I knew it, Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” was on and I was standing on a sixth story windowsill in stilettos, a corset, thigh-high stockings and barely-there underwear. (There were also construction workers below us working on the building next door, so they probably had a VERY good start to their morning.) Angelica coached me pose-by-pose, telling me how to lean, angle my head and give the camera the best view of my assets. She was constantly reassuring me that I looked beautiful and urged me to “be myself” and “have fun” when I was obviously tensing up. I now know that being yourself is key in a boudoir shoot. As it turns out, my “sultry face” is more like “stank face,” and I should never, ever purposely do it, especially when trying to seduce someone. I was uncomfortable trying to be serious and I looked uncomfortable trying to be serious. I’m goofy, silly and feel best when I’m smiling and laughing, so that’s what I did. Surely enough, those photos were the best of the bunch.
Throughout the shoot, I was sure to let my photographer know which areas of my body were making me feel self-conscious (arms, always the arms). I also had no problems telling her I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and that she was free to come maneuver me like a puppet. This way, she was able to direct me into poses that helped elongate, thin or conceal specific problem areas. Note: Though I felt relaxed and comfortable soon after we started, sometimes the best positions require some strength. Standing on your tippy toes in heels, popping your hips out and flexing your calves are harder than they seem when you’re holding poses and simultaneously trying to look sexy. I give models props. Within hours after my shoot, my hamstrings and thighs were sore! The next day, I felt like I’d done a complete circuit at the gym.
Before I knew it, two hours, three skimpy outfits and three hundred and ninety photos later, we were done. I posed on all fours, standing up, lying down, from behind and with props…a little bit of everything (with her professional guidance keeping me in the groove of things). A photo shoot that I’d once considered a frightening striptease became something fun and beautiful as soon as I embraced my curves and allowed myself to let loose. Time flew. After all was said and done, I was relaxed, happy and feeling sexier than ever. I can honestly admit that I’m not in the best shape of my life right now, but in that moment, during those two hours, I felt fucking beautiful. I looked through every image with Angelica and chose 18 to be printed in a custom book, which I can keep and look back on for years to come. It was also pretty cool to see my demeanor change throughout the photo shoot. Shot-by-shot, you could see my facial expressions and body language transform from timid to flirty. (The photo below was one of the first ones taken, if you couldn’t tell.)
So what did I take away from my boudoir shoot? I now know that there’s real beauty in feeling beautiful. If you allow yourself to have fun and feel confident in your own skin, that confidence radiates in your photos— and in the way others perceive you day-to-day. I’ve heard myself called “curvy” a whole lot recently, and I never really considered it a compliment. But boudoir is all about making you feel beautiful in your skin, no matter how big or small you may be. My boudoir shoot accentuated my curves, highlighted what I consider my best features, and reminded me that I’m sexiest when I’m smiling. So I’m planning on smiling a lot from now on.
The final test was when I showed the photos to my twin sister, Amanda— my best friend and toughest critic. I waited with bated breath to hear her reaction, and she sent me a text message only seconds after I emailed her the final batch. “Never stop smiling, my stunning sister. If I were you, I would make an 8×10 of the photo where you’re smiling into the mirror, and hang it over your desk. This way you can remind yourself how beautiful you are, inside and out, every day.”
And that, my friends, is what I’m going to do.
P.S. I’ve cropped a couple of Angelica’s photos to share with you, but I ain’t showing you all the goods. Take my word for it: my cleavage and butt look amazing. [Confirmed. -- Amelia]