boudoir

Your Juiciest Boudoir Questions Answered

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Since it’s part of my daily life, sometimes I forget that the world of boudoir photography still has details that make many women blush, giggle, or qualify their questions with, "I hope this doesn't sound weird but I was wondering if..."

I also recognize that for many women who would love to do a photoshoot like this, those questions hold them back because it's nerve-wracking to call up a stranger like me and ask them! I mean, most people who call me second-guess their ability to pronounce the word "boudoir" so it's not surprising that they're bashful to ask if I'll photograph them nude.

First things first: Some advice I give to every client at their boudoir consultation is: Wear whatever makes you feel sexy. We plan five different outfits so there's a variety, and I think many women are surprised at the amount of outfit options for boudoir. In fact, one of my favorites is just a white sheet. But since there are so many boudoir portraits I don’t share publicly, I can understand why most of our clients have very similar concerns! And that leads me to the first question:

1. WILL YOU POST MY BOUDOIR PHOTOS ONLINE?

That is completely up to you. 90% of my finished boudoir work is seen only by my client and myself. Your privacy is my number one priority. Some women believe these photos are for their/their partner's eyes only. Some would be comfortable with me sharing, but their career prohibits it. Others have told me they'd be honored to be featured on my Instagram, and one even said, "I'm fine either way, but since I'm curvy I want other curvy women to see my photos and be encouraged that they can do this too." So, like I said, it's entirely up to you. At your ordering session, you tell me WHICH images you'd be okay with me posting and on what platforms. After all, I'm here to serve you and give you a great experience.

2. DO I NEED TO SHAVE *EVERY*WHERE?

Once again, that is up to you. The majority of my clients choose to shave/wax before their shoot, but if you feel sexier NOT doing so, don't! If you're undecided, the only reason I'd advise you to is the same reason I retouch things like bruises and blemishes out of photos: To remove distractions. You should see YOU first when you look at the portrait, and I want you to feel sexy, powerful, and beautiful. So again, take this into consideration and decide what you're comfortable with.

3. IS IT OKAY IF I WEAR __________?

You fill in the blank however you want, and it’s fine by me. The thing I've learned in nearly decade of doing women's portraiture is that it's my job to create a safe and empowering environment for each woman no matter what makes her feel sexy, and every woman has her “thing.” Several years ago, a very straight-laced and shy client arrived to her shoot and proceeded to pull thigh-high leather boots and matching gloves out of her duffel bag. "My husband's request," she started to explain, but I smiled and reassured her “You don’t have to justify anything to me.” No matter how cozy or kinky your outfit looks, if it empowers you, you don’t have to ask my permission.

4. IS IT WEIRD TO DO THIS IF I DON'T HAVE A PARTNER?

If you'd asked me this question 7 or 8 years ago, I would have said yes. Because of my belief system at the time, I viewed a woman's boudoir photos and sexuality as something only for her husband... I've since come to see sexuality as so much more personal and something every woman (and human) has to own before they can fully share it with someone else. Whether you have a partner or not, your boudoir shoot is really for you. Earlier this year, I had a client fly in from across the country to do a half glam/ half boudoir photo shoot to celebrate her 21st birthday. She shared with me that she'd recently worked through the damage of years of sexual abuse, and that this shoot was to celebrate her body - her body that had for much of her adult life only brought her shame. As part of her healing process, she wanted to celebrate herself and when she saw her final portraits, we both cried.

If you happen to have a partner who enjoys looking at the portraits, that is definitely a bonus! Time and time again my past clients tell me things their partner told them when they saw their boudoir photos: "I'm so touched that you went out of your comfort zone to do this for me." "I can tell this experience made you feel beautiful, and that change in you is what I appreciate most!" "I'm so glad you did this boudoir shoot because you can finally see yourself the way I see you."

5. IS IT OKAY TO WEAR NOTHING AT ALL?

More often than not, I get a bashful request for fine art nude portraits. But I love it! I know this client is ready to get out of her comfort zone and how empowered she's going to feel. I think the female body is the most beautiful piece of artwork ever created and is therefore the most inspiring. Besides, some women just aren't into lingerie. They'd rather wear nothing but a strategically placed white sheet, a curtain, or high heels. I always ask ahead of time what words you'd use to describe your ideal portraits, so pair your artistic vision with my detailed posing direction, and I promise you'll feel confident.

Here's the bottom line: If you want this experience, all you have to do is reach out. There's no question I haven't been asked, no story I haven't heard. Friend, when you come into my studio to be photographed, I honor the vulnerability you dive into. I know it's scary but I also know how thrilled you're going to be with the results! "Losing ten pounds" won't necessarily make you more confident - but showing up for yourself will.

Love,

Mitzi

Ready to reach out and start talking details? Contact me here.

Right Now

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I usually write and talk about boudoir from, well, the photographer's perspective.

I talk about how it's normal to be nervous, how every woman has insecurities, how I offer outfit styling and give complete posing direction... and still, every couple years when I, Mitzi Starkweather, have boudoir photos taken of myself, I learn something brand new.

When I look at my boudoir photos from this past week, I feel beautiful.

Don't get me wrong - I love to write. But in this moment I wish you were sitting with me in my living room so the gravity of that sentence could sink in. I'd look right at you and as my eyes widened I’d say, "When I look at my boudoir photos... I feel BEAUTIFUL." I'd say it slowly and quietly, because the words surprise me. If only you knew the way I normally pick myself apart.

At times I've struggled with feeling like a hypocrite. At one point I sobbed in my bedroom and told Jordan I had no business telling women they were beautiful and valuable just the way they are, because every day I struggle to see my own worth. He reminded me that's what a person's "calling" is: the truth they're trying to believe for themselves.

Every day I struggle to believe I am worthy.

I love boudoir photography because it’s stripped down and intimate. A boudoir portrait says, "This is who I am in the most intimate parts of my life, and I celebrate it." I've done multiple boudoir photoshoots for myself over the years because as I grow and change, I want to continue to celebrate the person I am.

Women: Please resist the pressure to view your life as a steady slope downward toward wrinkles and saggy boobs. You are so much more than this! You are wisdom and strength and beauty and fierce love! You're world changers. You know who inspire me the most? My sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety year old clients. These women are so incredibly confident, sexy, and brilliant. They have endured trials, raised children, overcome abusive relationships, survived cancer, conquered career goals, poured into their communities, and so much more. I can't wait to have glamour and boudoir portraits done when I'm that age!

Everything changed for me a couple years ago when I decided to focus on what I am rather than what I am not. I decided to speak confidently about what made my heart beat fast, and women who needed to hear it told me it inspired them. Yes, it usually happens while I'm photographing them in a glittery gown or lingerie. Portraiture is the method I use to show people their value, and it's the method I use to challenge my own beliefs about myself. I get it - the camera is scary because it's a mirror we can't hide from. But when we open ourselves up to celebrate our beauty, we set off on a journey and don't return from it the same.

It's easy to forget or over-complicate the sacred act of showing up for yourself. But friend, show up. Not next year or next month or when you lose ten pounds or when *whatever excuse you can think of* happens. Just show up. And if you'd like to feel beautiful again (or for the first time, or in an entirely new way), you can show up to my studio for a day that celebrates you, the beautiful you that you are right now.

I’ve found that my clients love to show off their photos to their girlfriends. So friend, I want to share my portraits with you. I want to show you so you can see that right now, I am proud of the woman I am. And trust me - If I can do this, so can you. View my boudoir gallery here. Click the image below if you’d like to book the experience for yourself! I can’t wait to hear from you.

Cheering you on,

Mitzi

The Problem of Following Your Dreams

When you’re little they tell you to follow your dreams.

When I was little I dreamt of being a princess and a filmmaker and an artist and a world-class chef. My favorite dream I had at night was the one where I was a mermaid, swimming in a public pool. An indoor one with Olympic Diving depth and lines of red tiles swirling through the white ones. I think this felt safe – the ocean is so big – and when you spend your first seven years in Canada indoor pools are what you know best. I felt so free because I could stay underwater as long as I wanted. No adventures were impaired by the need to come up for air! But I would eventually wake up in my dry bed and as reality rushed over me, I would cry. I would wiggle my human toes and long to be the girl I had dreamt I was. To not ever have to come up for air, that was the beautiful magic I could only experience in dreams.

When people find out what I do for a living they usually ask how I got started. The answer is simple but incredibly big: I tell them my career as a women’s portrait photographer came from my longings as a child. See, I could be a mermaid and a princess and a director and a supermodel in our vast, unfinished basement. My sister and I spent every afternoon after school, every endless summer day, and every sleepover in that basement. Our parents let us use their film and digital cameras, their video camera, their old clothes, and Dad’s tool bench to create whatever we wanted to. (I realize now as an adult what a rare and precious gift that was.) We created and expressed and tried and failed and acted and danced and sang. We played pretend and got to be mermaids. When you believe you are a thing, then that thing is what you are.

 

When you grow up they tell you your dreams won’t work.

I don’t know when it happened exactly. There wasn’t one big moment or specific person who convinced me that I had to work hard at a job I didn’t like and be a serious “grown up” when I reached a certain age.

You know I probably convinced myself.

Anyway, a few years ago I started to undo that damage. I caught a glimpse of who I was and felt a clear call to do what I’m passionate about the way only I, Mitanjeli Starkweather, can. And  then several months ago I photographed a beautiful old friend along with her sister and mother. While I was doing her makeup she said, “Remember those photo shoots we did in your basement as kids?” She found that picture, dated January 2004, and sent it to me. There it was: the lace curtains in the basement, the fake flowers I told her to hold, and the sepia tone effect I added to the photo later. We were thirteen years old and so, so proud.

Now, as a 27 year old adult with a mortgage and a business and a caffeine addiction, I realize I spent most of my teen years and early twenties searching for a purpose-driven career in every place but my own heart.

When you grow up and they tell you your dreams won’t work, make them work. The answer you’re looking for is closer than you think – maybe that’s why we miss it – it’s flowing through your own beautiful veins.

-Mitzi