“Boudoir” is a French word, which translates to a woman’s private dressing room or bedroom. When it comes to photography, however, “boudoir” refers to a style in which women pose partially clothed or in lingerie. Swoon. Have you ever fantasized about being photographed by a professional photographer wearing fantastic lingerie? I certainly have. Thankfully, there has been a strong movement toward this type of photography in the last few years, as more and more women have begun exploring, rediscovering, and embracing their own personal sense of sexuality, beauty, self-worth, and self-love. As a result, I took my own journey into the sultry world of semi-nude self-indulgence with a professional photographer.
Initially, my decision to take the plunge and book a boudoir photography session was to surprise my husband with photos for Valentines Day. I thought it would be a romantic, post-wedding Valentine’s Day gift to say, “I love you,” and subtly suggest that even though we’re married, the spice is far from gone. All this being said, I’d made up my mind that I wouldn’t commit to booking a boudoir photo shoot with just any photographer. Hello! Other than my husband, and some close girlfriends, I wasn’t about to take it all off for just anyone! I wanted a soulful connection. This was my first time being completely vulnerable in front of a stranger. A lot was riding on whom I’d be trusting to bring this vision to life and empower this huge step in my journey. It wasn’t just going to be anyone.
When I discovered Kendra K on Instagram (@kendrakboudoir ) I knew I’d found “the one.” Kendra’s photography was incredibly striking, and I immediately wanted to be a part of her mission for boudoir to empower “every body.” I read her bio and realized that, like me, she was a fellow nature lover. Even better, she used any excuse to get “naked in nature” for photo shoots. I couldn’t type an email to Kendra fast enough, sharing my plan to use the photos for a Valentine’s Day picture book. I let her know that I wanted to be one of her “naked in nature” ladies, suggesting Lake Crescent – a beautiful, crystal clear lake in Olympic National Park on the Washington Peninsula – for the photo shoot. I nearly lost it when she revealed Lake Crescent was on her bucket list for boudoir session locations. Win, win! My husband, Dane, would be traveling in January so to keep all things secretive, we booked it then. Needless to say we both knew an early January day would certainly be a quite chilly for a boudoir shoot.
It was at the moment we solidified the date that I realized, I was going to drive to a lake, two hours away, and reveal my most vulnerable self to a stranger (that luckily I’d easily connected with) on a cold January day. Was this really all for Dane? It was becoming quite clear to me that this was 100% a vessel for manifesting my own desires. I wanted to commemorate the hard work, sweat, and discipline I’d put in over the past year in preparation for our wedding. We’d been kickboxing, swimming, and weight lifting to get back to a healthier, balanced lifestyle as a couple. This boudoir experience was about me tapping into, and more fully realizing, my inner goddess.
You may think there is a lot to prepare before one takes it (almost) all off. Double up the workouts, fasting, drinking profuse amounts of water every day, shopping madly for lingerie. So what did I do to prepare mentally, physically and wardrobe-wise? Honestly, not a whole lot. I was already working out three to four days a week and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I was totally ready to celebrate myself as I was. I had a vision inspired by a Marion Cotillard fashion spread I’d seen in Vogue, so I used a black, tulle skirt I’d purchased for a Halloween costume, and chose some lovely lingerie given to me as bachelorette presents. Turns out, this little goddess within was ready to shine!
I woke up excited and eager on the day of the shoot. Kendra and I were driving to Lake Crescent together, and after two-hours in the car with her, any nerves I had were calmed and replaced with excitement. We talked as if we’d known one another for years, discussing everything from our tattoos to women’s empowerment. Before I knew it, we were parked at Lake Crescent Lodge. To my relief there were no other cars in sight, which was ideal considering I was about to get naked in my car to change into my first boudoir outfit. As Kendra began mapping out potential locations around the lodge and the lake, I slipped into a black lace leotard and tulle skirt. I stepped out of the car into the slightly chilly 43-degree weather and quickly wrapped my blue bathrobe around me. Kendra had suggested I pack this robe to stay warm and not flash any unsuspecting passers-by as we moved between shooting locations. What a professional!
Kendra was an amazing coach. She let me know that it was ok to “laugh off” any nerves I had about feeling silly or self-conscious, because, more often than not, it would be those laughing photos that came across the best in the end. She helped me understand how to pose and feel natural in somewhat un-natural positions. She showed me how to position and drape my hands, hold my mouth for a sultrier look, and reassured me that she would coach and direct me throughout the entire process. Her voice, her direction, her own self-confidence, it all helped loosen me up. I let go of my inhibitions and let the beauty of myself in nature wash over me.
The clouds lifted and rays of sun began to filter through the canopy of cedar and evergreen trees. Mist floated down from the tops of the Olympic mountains. This was my time to shine and unapologetically embrace my womanhood. With every click of the camera I congratulated myself on working damn hard to get to where I was in life, in my body, and in my sense of self-love and self-worth. As I sat, wearing lacy lingerie in the cold wetness of Washington’s winter air, ferns and moss all around me, I felt the power of the decision Dane and I had made to live here, surrounded by nature, trees, water, and mountains. And here I was, in the midst of it all, a beautiful, strong, confident woman.
A mentor of mine once told me, women are so concerned with what others think about their bodies. What we fail to realize is that others are not judging us, because we’re all so consumed with our own image. That’s certainly not the message most of us are fed by the media, corporations, and the cosmetic industry. During my two-hour boudoir experience, nothing else mattered. I was at the top of my game, exposed to the outside world and happy as a clam, surrounded by nature.
All the odd looks of tourists eyeing me walking around in my blue bathrobe, black tulle skirt sticking out, just rolled off my well toned back. My current reality was greater than anyone’s opinion. I was confident and acutely aware of each and every part of my body, appreciating its strength and beauty. My strong body helped me get through life, and it was time for my body and my mind to start working together. Experiencing ones own nakedness can be intensely empowering. By shedding the literal layers of clothes, you may also be shedding layers of body image negativity you didn’t even know you had. A boudoir session can be extraordinarily revealing and an intensely intimate process of reconnecting with yourself.
Take the stock you’re investing into the opinions and perspectives of others, and reinvest it in your self, your body. Do whatever it takes to show yourself that you are sexy, strong, beautiful, and ultimately worth it. Pose naked in front of your mirror. Book a boudoir session. Sign up for a hip hop class. Pamper yourself. Treat yourself to some serious self-love. Inviting strength and confidence to your relationship with yourself allows you to give it to others. We get exactly what we project. What are you projecting to yourself?
All this being said, seeing yourself as who you are – the beautiful, wonderful YOU – is part of reaching and fulfilling your most authentic life. This is me, fulfilling my most authentic life. What can I do to help you fulfill yours?
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos from my boudoir session, nearly naked in nature embracing the heck out of my femininity.