Swiger Photography

Meredith - Queer Boudoir Session Philadelphia

Queer Boudoir Photographer Philadelphia

I shared my first boudoir session with Meredith earlier this year on the blog and I am so excited to be sharing her second session with me! This queer tatted babe is not only one of the sweetest people you could meet, but funny and kind too. Shooting her again was like a breath of fresh air and we made the most out of her mini session at my old studio and even ended with a little wet white tank fun too! I seriously adore this babe and I also love the way these images feel like her, something that I think is especially important for my queer clients! As always, I had a hard time narrowing it down but I mean, how can you blame me when she is so gorgeous!!!

And to Meredith - thank you for always trusting me to photograph you and for being so sweet to Jordan and I. We are you and Megan to pieces!

Jenne and Julian - A University of Penn Intimate Queer Wedding

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Jenne and Julian had one of the most unique weddings I have ever been apart of and to be honest, I loved it! We didn’t do a big first look, there was amazing vegan food, square-dancing that was taught by an instructor during the reception and a ton of time for portraits through out the day. The University of Penn was the most incredible background for their intimate wedding and they were also just so sweet to be around. Jenne wore the most lovely short lace dress that looked incredible on them with beautiful handmade flowers by another one of their partners! Both Jenne and Julian had their other partners support layered in through out the day and it was beautiful to witness and photograph! The couple also went to great efforts to ensure that their guests could enjoy the food, even getting. cake that catered to a few of their friends dietary needs and it was so so beautiful to see this sense of community and love through all of it. Oh! And Julian even made a Ring Bot to deliver their rings during their ceremony! How fun is that?? And while I had a hard time narrowing it down, here are just some of my favorite images of the two of them as I wanted to share this wedding without infringing on the privacy of their guests! Enjoy!!

Amber and Natalie - Fells Point Baltimore LGBTQ Engagement Session

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On the first snow of the year, it felt appropriate to blog this summer engagement session that was full of sunshine, warm weather and the cutest of couples! Amber and Natalie hired us for their lesbian Baltimore wedding next year and ya’ll let me tell you, from even just the first five minutes with them, I knew they were going to be a favorite of next year. For their engagement session, we wandered around the beautiful Fells Point neighborhood Baltimore and we found so many cute spots for photos. Amber and Natalie brought along their sweet puppy and one of their mom’s and they just were so easy going and sweet. These are the kind of sessions I live for, the ones where a couple just is themselves and laughter abounds and they just fall into poses so easily because they just genuinely love being around each other. And their photos show that!

Get excited to see these two again next year and for now, enjoy just a few of my favorites from their engagement session!

Farrah - An Andro Queer Philly Boudoir Session

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While I love me some lace body suits and satin, I also really love when clients show up with wanting to create images that feel different. And Farrah (Or as some of you may know her, Tara) definitely brought a cool vibe to her shoot in downtown Philadelphia with me last week and I am just obsessed with how these images turned out. While my style is often bright and full of natural light, we shot at night with the city lights behind her and I love the editorial vibe the whole session had! This queer babe is a kickass hair and makeup artist by day and sickening performer by night and so she wanted something that felt a little more androgynous for this session, which lets be real, I LOVED. From her amazing green lipstick, to the suite we shot in, to her fun to be around vibes, the whole thing was gold! And I decided to share my favorites in only black and white for this shoot because I love the story and editorial element that black and white brings!

Ps! Need a new stylist? You can hire this babe at the South Philly Ulta for amazing cuts, colors and makeup! Book your appt with Tara online or by calling the store!

Selene Rose - A Philadelphia Hotel Monaco Boudoir Session

Philadelphia Shower Boudoir Session

What happens when you combine a gorgeous suite at Hotel Monaco in Old City Philadelphia with a belly dancer who is also gorgeous? Magic. That’s what. Selene Rose is the kind of girl up for anything, including get totally drenched in a shower just to get some amazing shots and well, the results are just that, amazing. I have gotten the pleasure of shooting this babe a few times and these are my favs so far! I just love how effortlessly sexy and her these boudoir images are, because to me that’s what sexiness should be about! I tried so hard to narrow it down to just a few favs but by now most of ya’ll know self control is not my strong suit so enjoy some many favs of this oh so wet boudoir session!

Ala and Roy - Old City Philadelphia Engagement Shoot

Old City Philadelphia Engagement Session with Ala and Roy

I have shot engagement sessions in Old City Philadelphia so many times but Ala and Roy brought such a new perceptive to one of my favorite places! These two are historians, 18th century historians to be exact, and so it felt appropriate that we shot their engagement session in one of Philly’s neighborhoods that is rich with history and to start their sessions in the historic 18th Century Gardens! Roy is one of the most easy guys I have ever gotten to work with. He has such a sweet demeanor and was totally down to love on his beautiful fiancé for their session, something that some guys aren’t so into. It was darling the way he would pull her in for snuggles and kisses and because of that, their session was just perfection! As we walked around, I learned tidbits of history, both theirs and Old City and it got me so excited to work with them again next year at one of my favorite Philadelphia wedding venues, The Maas Building. I just know that their day will be every bit as vibrant as their engagement session and that to me is what I love about this job - madly in love couples, celebrating love! Enjoy some of my favorites!

Why Other Photographers Want You To Spend $2500+ on a Boudoir Session And Why This Photographer calls BS

Why Other Photographers Want You To Spend $2500+ on a Boudoir Session And Why This Photographer calls BS

Not too long ago I was scrolling through Instagram and almost every few posts were by boudoir photographers I follow and I notice one common, and honestly, disturbing theme.  Each one of them talked about how every woman should get to feel beautiful and sexy and every single image featured a perfectly made up woman, with not a hair out of place and thats when it struck me.  For many of my colleagues, boudoir is about taking an everyday woman and turning her into a "bombshell version of herself" and that includes hair and makeup and pushing this idea that by doing a boudoir session, the client will get images they can't believe are themselves.  They use hashtags like #everydaytoslay and tell women its about feeling feminine and glamorous and I just start to roll my eyes at it all.  

Because truthfully?  Thats not what boudoir is to me.  I couldn't imagine requiring my clients to pay for professional hair and makeup if thats not something that feels right to them.  I couldn't tell a client that is her time to be feminine and glamorous because not every woman feels her sexiest in lace and satin.  I couldn't fathom running a business where I base my marketing strategy off emotionally manipulating clients.  I couldn't ever define sexiness or beauty or confidence off high end lingerie or arched backs and the curves of her body because I know it leaves out so many folxs who ideas of those things are far more amazing than those limited ideas.

I know this may make me a few enemies in this industry but I think the truth is worth it.  Those photographers, they aren't actually in this to empower women....they are in this for the money.  They see dollar signs in helping boost a woman's ego and want to take every thin woman they can show her how she can look like a Victoria Secret model for day.  They use airbrushing and have rules about what you can bring to a session and require you to purchase more than the session, usually a lot more, to get your images. They don't champion diversity, they believe beauty looks one particular and narrow way and they know that by creating a high end, luxury experience based around telling a woman she is beautiful, they will make money.

Their portfolios lack bigger bodies, women of color and queer folxs.  And when they do include them, they are they edgy queer folxs, thin lesbian couples, the appropriately curvy women and a few women of color sprinkled in to look diverse.  Their language is intrinsically feminine and frilly and elitist.  And woman who are like me, who look like my clients, have no place on their social media, their facebook groups and their websites because we stand against the very thing they desire...to photograph societies idea of perfection and to work with women who wouldn’t dare to speak their mind.

And you know what? It works. Take a single mom, sell her a $250 session that includes nothing, glam her up with all over the top makeup, push her toward being as naked as possible, teach her some sexy poses, tell her to suck in her belly and touch herself sexually, photo shop her skin smooth and remove the wrinkles and stretch marks and laugh lines and then have her come back to your studio for a “reveal party” and bam! She’ll easily spend $2500+ to get those images because she has never seen herself or her body look like that, because well, she doesn’t really look like that. And the photographer uses this to their advantage to sell sell sell. You’ll have to buy an album ($1500+) to be able to purchase your digital images (900+) and of course you have to have all of those images because when will you look like that again, all while never realizing how much this whole thing was going to cost you. And if you decide after seeing the images to only buy a few? Well just know you’ll end up in some facebook group being bitched about because you wasted the photographers time because you didn’t want to spend $2500+ on the experience.

JUST STOP YA’LL.

To that I raise my middle finger and call BS along with a loud eff that and every single one of the badass babes I have gotten to work with.  I love that they come with their own hair and makeup or have a friend do it or hire one of our incredible artists or hell, don't do anything at all.  They come with suitcases and Ikea bags full of their favorite things that make them feel incredible.  They bring props and t-shirts and lingerie and dresses and their boyfriends jersey and their favorite bra and underwear.  They rebel against societies ideas of who they should be. They are every size and stunningly beautiful in their own way.  They laugh and dance and roll around with me.  They walk out feeling THEMSELVES because I have no agenda to make them into anybody else idea of beauty.  And that to me is what boudoir is all about. About feeling like the best version of yourself and allowing someone else to see the genuine you, just with some posing, coaching to feel at home in your body and a whole lot of laughter in your underwear.

You can be in this boudoir business and make money. You can sell incredible products, create an amazing experience, make women and queer babes feel great about themselves all while keeping your integrity. You can create packages for clients that value the product you create through an appropriate price tag without using selling strategies to manipulate someone into a higher sale. You can price yourself in a way that doesn’t lean solely on large album sales that need those manipulative strategies and still make a lot of money. You can create a business that is about empowering women and actually empower ALL women, and maybe even make room for folxs who aren’t within the binary. You can people feel incredible, all without making them into someone totally different.

And to the clients out there? You don’t have to pay $2500+ to have images of yourself that you love. You don’t have to want an album or prints to feel good about yourself. You don’t have to become someone else to feel sexy and beautiful and incredible. You don’t have to even want the images if for you its just about the experience of being seen. Boudoir doesn’t have to be a once in lifetime, extravagant experience. It can also be $500 and that price difference doesn’t devalue you. It just means you might want something different. It might mean an album isn’t important to you. Or you only want a few images. And that is OK! It’s also ok if you aren’t totally in love your body yet. Its ok if you are still self conscious or nervous or scared. It’s ok if you aren’t ready to show that part or this thing or whatever. No one should ever yell at you or pressure you to do or be or show anything you aren’t ready to. You also can totally want to the prints and the albums the beautiful art of yourself too! You just should be empowered to choose for yourself, not bullied around into a sale just because you fear never feeling that good again. Boudoir is about you, babe. YOU. And while the rest of the world might tell you what you are supposed to want and have to have and have to be to do a session, let me be one voice saying the opposite.

I might be out here alone in this thought in an industry obsessed with manipulating women, that’s ok with me. I’d rather be known for allowing women to choose what feels right for them, for wanting them to have those digital images, for telling babes they are beautiful right here, right now without the hair and makeup and photoshop and be in the business of actually loving all bodies, not just the societally accepted ones.

So to all women and queer babes out there that are tired of not seeing themselves represented, to the photographers fed up with this rat race to make a lot of money off of manipulating women and to the champions of real diversity, never sit down, shut up or be quiet. Be different, be bold, and most importantly be pulled toward the light of standing in your own truth. Be found in the light and shine brighter than ever toward those that need a way out of the dark. You’ve got this babe.

** Header image curtsey of Lace Boudoir. **

Marianna and Josh - Old City Philadelphia Engagement Session

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Old City Philadelphia has quickly become my favorite location for portrait sessions and elopements! And not only because its the part of the city I call home but also because there are SO many different vibes and colors and unique spots within just a few blocks of each other. I love that this place I call home also allows my clients so much variety in their engagement sessions and Marianna and Josh’s Philly engagement session is no different. The rich colors and history, the stunning views of the Ben Franklin Bridge from atop Bridge on Race, and these two getting lost in each others eyes…well ya’ll, it was perfection.

I am so happy that more and more unique, unashamedly themselves couples are finding their way to me. From tattooed to queer couples, non-traditional weddings to offbeat elopements, one common thread remains and that is how much love my clients have for each other and the trust they have in all my crazy ideas! And it makes me love my job even more!!!

Josh and Marianna, thank you for asking me to be apart of this incredible season of your life and I am already excited to spend your wedding day with you next year. Jordan and I had SO MUCH FUN hanging out with ya’ll and your momma and sister and I hope that these images are exactly what you hoped for! Enjoy my favorites (or many favorites in this case!!!) and get excited to see these two on here again next fall!