My Boudoir Photo Shoot With Flirt Fototography
—I was totally speechless until I blurted out “I didn’t even know my body looked like that!” I didn’t realize In the moment, but my own words hit me hard when I got home.—
When I was a little girl, I would go to the basement and lose track of time going through albums and boxes of old photos. I loved seeing family photos of myself and my brothers…but what I really enjoyed seeing was: mom and dad before I was born, photos of my grandma growing up, or my grandpa in the army. I loved learning more about the lives of people I looked up to. Not only did I love looking at photos, I’ve always been obsessed with taking photos, and I still am to this day! At a young age I was always requesting disposable cameras. I was just a little girl but a regular at the Walgreens photo counter getting my film developed. There’s something about a photo that can literally freeze a memory in time. And even though I wasn’t born when my favorite old photos were taken, seeing old photos of my family instantly made me fall back in time and gave me a glimpse of what life was like for them in that moment.
One photo that still burns an image in my mind is one of my grandma. She’s in her 40’s style two piece swim suit catching rays with other bathing beauties. She is looking at the camera with a cute little squint in her eyes from the sun. It’s black and white. The edges are worn. It’s absolutely stunning! Her hair is falling perfectly in place. She is the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. When I first came across that photo, I remember running up the steps to ask “mom, who is this?” My mom smiled and said “that’s your grandma!” I was in shock! She was so young and beautiful. I only knew my grandma as my short, cute, sweater loving, glasses and pearls, granny. As a young girl I didn’t think my grandma could have been anyone else before she was “my grandma.” I love my grandma and miss her very much. I think of her often and still have that photo of her on display. I dream of her being alive now to see my boys…I would love to play cards with her again and catch up on missed time over a glass of wine.
A few weeks ago I came across a Facebook post shared by a friend. Flirt Foto was hosting a “model call” for someone to participate in a boudoir photo shoot. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things of Flirt Foto and always wished to have the guts to do something like that as a gift for my husband. The Facebook post said “no experience needed” so I decided to hold back the fear, jump right in and apply. What could it hurt? I knew my husband’s birthday was coming up so I thought it would be the perfect gift if I was chosen. When I opened the email saying I was chosen to do this boudoir photo shoot…that picture of my grandma came to mind. I want my grand-kids to stumble over a picture of me in my prime and say “who is this!?” I was excited but then the nerves kicked in? Am I ready for this? What am I getting myself into?
As I was walking up the steps to the studio I was thinking to myself “I probably should have waited and really prepared myself for this. My body should look so much better right?” I began to question my decision. I was a little frustrated with myself for not working out or preparing myself for this shoot.
I am a mom of two boys, 3 and 5. I have had permanent dark circles under my eyes since 2011, the year my oldest was born. My stomach and legs show every stretch mark from each pregnancy weight gain. I still have the squishy mommy belly. Half of my C-Section scar is still healing from a my recent surgery where I had an endometrial mass removed. I’m a mommy and extremely proud! The scars gave me my sweet boys who I wouldn’t trade for the world. I use these tired eyes to see such a beautiful life around me. This squishy belly enjoys those little arms wrapping around it with bear hugs. I know my body is a wonderful thing. I’m just nervous about photographing it!
A deep breath and I walked into the studio: here we go! Stefani and Marla were waiting for me with hugs, wine, breakfast, and love. Stefani and Marla are a perfect pair. Stefani is the make up and hair goddess and Marla is the amazing photographer. I honestly would not have done this photo shoot with anyone else. They are not only amazing at what they do, but amazing women. They are so incredibly uplifting in a time where you really feel so vulnerable. I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose sight of myself under the make up and hair. I told them the look I would love is “I simply woke up like this, but glamorous.” Stefani hit it out of the park! I seriously wish she could do my make up everyday!
I struggled at first thought of what to wear in my shoot. I ultimately decided to bring comfy clothes. When picking my three outfits I realized, what makes me feel “sexy or flirty” is being comfortable! I brought over sized sweaters, knee socks, a button down shirt. Things I honestly already have a home and wear on a daily basis.
During the shoot we listened to music, laughed, talked about life…it was seriously like hanging out with a bunch of girl friends I’ve known forever. The nerves I was feeling walking in to the studio were completely gone. I forgot about my stretch marks and my tired eyes. I was having a great time. Marla has a vision for photography that is so beyond life. She is so creative and coaches you through poses and looks. She seriously knows what she is doing! She is focused and takes the time to make each shot perfect but at the same time it’s so effortless. Stefani would come through with subtle tweaks of my hair or pose ideas. Their passion for their creative work is incredible and they work together flawlessly.
After the shoot we ordered lunch. Marla created a slide show of the unedited photos. I loved that we got to sit in the studio lounge and see the photos right after they were done. I didn’t have to go home and wonder how it turned out. The nerves were back! I had a pit in my stomach. I almost wanted to cover my eyes and peak through my fingers. They started the slide show and I was blown away! I was totally speechless until I blurted out “I didn’t even know my body looked like that!” I didn’t realize in the moment but my own words hit me hard when I got home.
I decided to order a beautiful photo box for my husband. It was hard, but we narrowed it down to 12 of the best photos to be included in his gift. I could have cried, but I was trying to hold back the tears. I didn’t want to ruin my beautiful make up.
What an amazing day?!
I had originally decided on this Flirt Foto boudoir shoot as a gift for my husband. I had no idea how amazing this would be for myself. It’s a two for one deal! I get to have an amazing day and my husband gets a gift that would last a lifetime.
Beyond the surface take away of an amazing time, I realized that I actually learned something even deeper. When I got home and reflected on the day, I remembered how I looked at those photos of myself. “I didn’t know my body even looked like that?” was said similar to the way my younger self looked back at the photo of my grandma saying “who is this?” I began to wonder if my grandma knew how beautiful she was in that old photograph. I then wondered if every woman knows how beautiful they truly are? As women we see ourselves so differently in our own eyes. We all have something we don’t like about our bodies. Why? Why are we all so hard on ourselves to be so perfect? I’m so guilty of it too. I look at photos of myself before kids and think about how in that moment I thought I was so ugly or overweight…and with older eyes I want to go back and smack myself! I was delusional! This photo shoot truly allowed me to see myself in a different way…like an out of body experience in real time! I’m positive in a few months I will try on my summer shorts and sob in the closet over a box of Girl Scout Cookies. I’m not saying this photo shoot was a end all-be all at body image issues…but my goodness was it a wake up call.
We are all absolutely beautiful on the inside and out. Our imperfections, our differences, our scars, our sleepy eyes, our laugh lines, that mom bun thrown on the top of your head…it make us who we are. So please, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are amazing in so many different ways! You are beautiful!
I recently took a fun art class with my husband at Painting With A Twist. One lesson the instructors kept mentioning was “step back, take a moment and then look at your painting from a little farther back.” Up close we felt stressed and didn’t think it was right. We then took a step back and realized how amazing our paintings really were! I think that same lesson goes with our bodies…take a moment, step back and look at yourself a little farther back. We see our selves so closely everyday! From trying out a boudoir shoot to just jumping in a picture when you’d typically dive out and hide, I encourage all of you to do something for yourself that lets you see your body in a different light. If you’re thinking about a boudoir photo shoot, don’t hesitate or push yourself to be “perfect” before the shoot. Dive right in, I promise you will not regret it. You are already perfectly you.
Without even trying Marla ended up coming really close a pose like my grandma laying in the sun. I see a lot of her in me. Her spirit is a guiding light through my life. It warms my heart knowing this experience ended up meaning so much to me in so many different ways. I had no idea this would tie back so closely to my lovely grandma.