We did some hotel boudoir sessions this weekend in Portland and had a wonderful set of clients come through. Thank you, ladies, for your courage and sense of humor.
I’m so pleased that local Portland bridal boutique Ania Couture chose to feature an interview about our boudoir sessions on their blog. Here are some of the questions and answers you might find interesting.
What do you love most about what you do?
This is a complicated answer. I take great joy that it is necessary to take time to explain boudoir as a concept when new friends ask what kind of photography I do. When I initially bring up the topic of “sexy photos” most people are scandalized and intrigued. I find it helpful to explain that even though the first association many people have with women/nudity/photos is Hustler, what we do is the OPPOSITE of objectifying/oversexifying the woman’s body. It’s also important to understand that the photos are being made with the intention of an audience of one; they’re not meant to be seen by a crowd.
Aside from humorous explanatory conversations, I love the fact that boudoir photography is part of a bigger process. Every single woman walks in with hesitations about some aspect of her body or anxiety about being in front of the camera. Because our style embraces the natural quirks in each woman’s body, we end up with a consistently celebrated collection of portraits our clients love. Can you imagine a woman liking a book of photos of herself… without clothing? There are many layers to that statement.
What’s the strangest/silliest/happiest/most unexpected boudoir shoot experience you’ve had so far?
I was moved to tears when one of our clients came in to do a portrait session for herself as part of the grieving process after losing her husband. The portraits we made were powerful, inspiring, and revitalizing to both the client and to us. Another client had taken a pole dancing class and was commemorating this with some portraits for her husband of 30 years. Really, the women who are pushing through major challenges (whether that means raising teenagers, losing weight, or conquering disease) are the most inspiring to me. Also, it always makes me giggle when a client makes one of our mini books to send on business trips with her partner.
What is the one thing you’re so glad you had/did at your own wedding?
My husband and I had a raucous, celebratory wedding in true Persian style. If you have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding – I was living that loud invasive family-style reality for a couple of months before the wedding. The best thing we did on our wedding day was build a gigantic break between the Persian ceremony and the reception. My husband made reservations at a tiny French restaurant in San Francisco and we dined quietly together before going back into the chaos of the wedding. That was stealthy of us – and really refreshing.
What is the best advice you can give to a bride-to-be?
I just received a message from one of my Massachusetts wedding clients whose grandfather passed away. In it, she thanked me for paying attention. “I want to thank you again for the pictures that you took and the moments that you captured. Thank you for the attention you paid to documenting my family and commemorating that time in our collective life.”
A photographer who can capture subtlety of emotion – her images will never go out of style.
Which vendors do YOU love to work with?
A vendor worth checking out for anyone planning a wedding is a good yoga instructor! Yoga practice helps you gain strength, but more importantly helps a girl find calm moments of insight and joy in the midst of the chaotic world wedding planning. Portland yoga studios I like: YogaNW and Yoga Shala. I’m also intrigued by the Aerial Yoga classes offered at the Diva Den Studio.
You can check out the full feature over on the Ania Collection blog.
Also, outside resource: Would YOU pose nude to boost your self-esteem?
I recently received a sobering message from one of my last wedding clients. I remember her wedding crisply – the lovely black and white images we took at her reception in a converted mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was pouring rain outside, but Julia and Andrew brought in a bluegrass ensemble and did some country dancing and fiddling with a square dance caller and everything. Her grandfather, though in a wheelchair and in some pain, was looking sharp and very, very happy to be there. We made sure to get extra pictures with family members because we could tell that it was a special effort for him to be there.
Here’s the message I received from her:
January 18, 2011 at 12:07am
A rather odd note, but there it is.
My grandfather died early this morning, after five long years fighting renal failure. I found out this morning in the parking garage at Miami International Airport, where I was coming home from the wedding of two dear friends.
Already I’ve found the pictures that I have from my own wedding to be a comfort. I want to thank you again for the pictures that you took and the moments that you captured. Thank you for the attention you paid to documenting my family and commemorating that time in our collective life. Seeing pictures of my grandfather beaming at me and Andrew and my sister and cousins is bitter, but also so very sweet. They are some of the best photographs I have of him. Thank you for giving me that.
I get chills when I read this message. The fact that she even thought to write out that note at a time when she is going through so much grief is a testament to the power of the imagery. It fills me with joy to know that the images will help her remember her sweet grandfather at a time when he was happy and dapper and surrounded by family. That’s just wonderful to consider.
I love the concept for this new website! As regular readers know, I have an entire website dedicated to special fine art photo sessions with women in their wedding dresses [fearlessbridals.com] so when Kylah approached me because she wanted to feature photos from a couple of my brides, I was thrilled to be a part of the concept. Real Bride in a Dress connects women to images of real ladies in wedding dresses – to give them a more realistic idea about the fit and detailing. She featured Suzy’s wedding in Palos Verdes, CA and Colleen’s bridal session at Wellesley College over on the new site. Click on the images to see more!
Katie and Victor’s eco-friendly wedding at Quailcrest Farm in Wooster, Ohio was featured on Offbeat Bride:
I just wanted to say thank you again for a great photo shoot yesterday!! We had a great time.
I can’t believe how comfortable you made us feel, that was amazing!!
We can’t wait to see the pictures…. I can’t wait to give this gift to my husband!!
I’ve had a rough couple of weeks trying to keep my head above the water with all the cute familes and multiple portrait sessions for the holidays. I’m currently pulling an all-nighter until I get some photos up for Thomas and Kristin, my delightful final Boston wedding.
Glancing at email just now, I noticed a thoughtfully-written inquiry for a 2010 wedding. The mother of the bride wrote to me to ask about my availability and consideration. It’s obvious this woman grew up in a pen and ink culture. I want to share a small part of her message, because this made my week feel special.
“I have recently viewed your website gallery and admire your work very much…
“I referred my daughter to [a recent couple]’s gallery and she was equally impressed. We’re very attracted to your style as it is not contrived but is very honest. You are able to capture the beauty and joy in your couples and their families. My daughter is planning a wedding for September 2010. We are interested in securing you as the photographer for her wedding.
“Thank you for the courtesy of considering our offer. I look forward to hearing from you.”
There is much more to her message, but this snippet is the perfect reminder that good photography is real and honest and beautiful because it is true. It can be soul-draining as a photographer to receive email after email from price shopping brides and others who are not looking so much at the quality of work as the quantity in a package. If I had five dollars for every time I was questioned about the pricing of my work, a carefully considered cost, I could probably retire wealthy next year.
Thank you so much to those of you who take the time and effort to share a bit of your heart and breathe words of life back to the artist.
“I love your work, Rachel. You elevate wedding photos beyond the realm of static predictable pictures to a level of artistry. Truly beautiful work!”
-Tani, wedding guest
“I love the honesty and internal beauty that comes through in your work.”
-Heather, fellow commercial photographer