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. **