I’d always wanted to try it. To buy some sexy lingerie, get in front of the camera and basically feel like a Victoria’s Secret model. Did I ever think I’d actually do it? Nope!
My husband and I had been planning our wedding for the summer of 2016. I had been fantasizing about all the things I would accomplish in that time, so I could be the “perfect” bride (ha!). When we had to push it to September 2015 for immigration reasons, all that went out the window. We had to pull off our dream wedding in 3 weeks! For anyone who’s organized a wedding, they know how crazy that is.
The good news? We managed it! We had a beautiful little ceremony on Coronado Beach. The not so good news? There were lots of little last minute details to iron out: would my dress be ready in time? What about gifts for my new in-laws? Where would we find a last minute officiant? The most important one to me, though, was pulling off an intimate wedding present for my husband.
I had always wanted to try a boudoir photo shoot, and I realized it was now or never. Two weeks before the big day, I called up an old friend from high school who just so happens to be an amazing photographer. (Check out her work here!)
She graciously met me at my house a few days later. In the six hours that followed, I learned a lot about my body, my Self, and what it means to REALLY get out of your comfort zone. Here are my takeaways:
1. Getting naked in front of a camera is SO liberating
It’s difficult for me to describe how nervous I was going into this. I was worried about my body, my on-camera “sex appeal”, and my ability to pull something like this off. One thing that helped immensely was taking the time to prep and feel good in my own skin: I took care of any rogue body hair, did my nails and make up, and bought some fun new lingerie.
At first it was difficult to relax. This new experience was pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I could feel my palms getting clammy, and my heart was starting to race.
I leaned on my yoga experience and took a few deep breaths. In and out, in and out. I realized that by harnessing my nervous energy and allowing it to become excitement, I was able to let go a little and begin to embody the emotions I was trying to convey. I came to learn that photography offers a unique opportunity to play with different aspects of your personality and immortalize them in film. With the help of my photographer, I started to relax a little.
It wasn’t long before I was having fun. We decided to shoot at home, as well as outside in a (secluded) field. I feel most at home in nature, so this was a big plus for me! I even threw in a few yoga poses, which helped me relax even more. Before I knew it, I was lost in the moment and laughing at how free I felt. Sure, some of the pictures turned out terribly, but I don’t think I would’ve gotten the good ones had I not put myself out there and allowed myself to look silly on camera.
2. A good photographer is priceless
I cannot stress this enough. I was lucky enough to have a friend do the shoot for me, but there are lots of photographers out there that are professional and fun to work with. My trust in my friend afforded me the space to let go and just have fun. She made me laugh, and she knew what would make me most comfortable. She told me, “I’m a nurse AND a photographer. Trust me: there’s nothing I haven’t seen.” Her knowledge, experience, and open attitude provided a safe container for my self expression.
A great photographer will know which angle to shoot from, how to work with the light, and how to highlight your best self. There is so much you can do with fun costumes, props, and makeup to really bring out the best side of yourself. You definitely don’t have to be a Victoria’s Secret model to get some great shots!
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously
The main reason I would call the shoot a success? I allowed myself to have fun with it.
I let my photographer do her thing and focused on letting loose and allowing my emotions to pass through me. When she caught my quirky side on camera a few times, we both just laughed about it (and it even made for some great shots!).
Fully putting myself out there in that way allowed me to tap into several female archetypes: the Free Spirit, the Hero, the Rebel, the Seductress. Since I don’t do this nearly enough, it was an incredibly freeing and eye-opening experience. It was a good reminder that I can access those parts of myself any time I choose.
I realized at the end of the whole thing that everyone has their flaws. This photo shoot helped me embrace my own and even write about them (never thought that would happen).
It was the confidence I gleaned from letting go and having fun that made me attractive - not my hair, my makeup, or my clothes.
In the end, I pulled off the heartfelt gift I had envisioned. We exchanged presents after a sunset reception overlooking San Diego Bay, complete with incredible food, drinks, company, and an unexpected fireworks show over the water. For us, it was the perfect wedding.
If you’ve thought about doing something like this but are nervous about it, please know that a fun, rewarding, and liberating experience may just be in store for you! You won’t know unless you give it a shot.