R is an inspiration. I L. O. V. E. her warm, welcoming ways, her edgy style, and her Florence and the Machine-esque good looks. We had such a fun boudoir session together, and our location was this amazing flat in Little Italy – complete with cool warehouse style features and decorated to perfection.
Without overstepping my bounds, I would like to add a little commentary. It’s so easy to look at images of a gorgeous, thin woman and think, “yes, easy for YOU to do!” Please don’t think this – you’d be dead wrong most of the time. Most of my clients are regular women with hangups similar to your own. We’re all on a hard journey of self-acceptance, but sometimes the evidence of that struggle isn’t so obvious.
It’s not my place to share the details of her story, but I will say that what R has overcome in order to even contemplate a boudoir shoot is incredible and inspiring. It’s taken many years of constant, daily battling, even if she’s made it look easy as pie in these images. I’m SO proud of her for doing this, and I hope you will be too:)
Here she is! Looking AMAZING.
This Paradise Lost artwork is my new favourite thing. If you’re not familiar with him, you should seriously check out Chris Bracey’s brilliant neon work – I don’t know how I’ve missed realising all of this came from the same man, but I would now like to buy about seven pieces. Also, apparently there is a magical place in London called God’s Own Junkyard that I would love to check out – if anyone wants to come along give me a shout?
Chris Bracey – Paradise Lost, 2013, Acrylic paint on reclaimed wood, aluminum and carnival light bulbs
Also, can we just take a minute to acknowledge how cool R’s back tattoo is?
So much going right here.
I know I’m posting too many of these, but I just can’t decide which one is my favourite.
I like them all.
A good moody shot in low light. How great does R look here?!
I’m pretty certain this is Agent Provocateur lingerie – the black strappy look is always very cool on camera.
Louboutins for the win. Always.
Look! I used a light!
This was just a crazy idea we tried. It almost worked, but I think the pane of frosted glass was just too small, even with R doing a great job of squeezing herself into it. It’s something I might try to develop as a set option in the studio, it’s got potential…
I’ve been waiting ages to shoot this dress. It’s the Angela Structured Dress by Bordelle and is stunning. If you’re looking for an investment piece you can get your own at Coco de Mer. I’ve seen it in a white/ivory colour that would be perfect for a unique bridal look.
Rock and roll. Animal print heels. Striking red hair. Creative use of available light (lamp). Agent Provocateur lingerie. It’s everything I love wrapped up in one image.
This smoky eye matches the atmosphere perfectly, another feather in Gemma’s cap.
We turned day into night for this shot. In retrospect, I could have used one more light or we should have maybe lost the stockings, but I still like it.
Gahhh that face!
Just a final few frames in a tuxedo jacket, which is another no-fail look for your boudoir shoot.
I’ll finish with this doozy – my favourite image from this boudoir session by a landslide. R – you were everything. Thanks for a fantastic shoot and being so very very brave. I hope you feel incredible because you certainly look it.
She’s a yoga-doing, vegan-eating, entrepreneur-minded stunner. Also, a salon owner and dreadlock extraordinaire at The Eclectic Chair in Idaho Falls, ID where she does great work. She cut and coloured by hair while I was in America and I’m so happy with it, which is really saying something.
And now…I’ve captured her soul in my camera:)
We created this outdoor set for Shante’s boudoir photography session, but when Tia said she was up for a shoot as well I couldn’t resist adding her to the mix. I mean – look at her real life hippie hair!
I’m still so amazed by this light:)
This lacy shawl is ideal for a bohemian theme. It’s also a really forgiving cut, so if you’ve overdone it on the cake lately something like this would be a great wardrobe option.
Dreamy. Those earrings are perfect.
Tia never smiles on camera, but I tricked her into it.
See? I’m funny.
And if you don’t think I’m funny, I’ll just fall off something or do a chicken dance. Whatever it takes. You can only be so serious when your job is basically playing dress up and taking pictures of people in their underwear.
Look two with big hair and really dramatic, dark lips. This is probably a stronger look than would suit most people, but it certainly makes a statement.
Love love this image.
These look so different in black and white, don’t you think? I prefer the colour versions for most of this shoot, but I liked the soft light spill at the top on this one.
The golden hour is so bewitching.
Tia, it was such a pleasure working with you! Already looking forward to next time:)
Whatever you want to call it, we had a lot of jewellery, tassels, and sun flare going on for this shoot.
Putting a bed outside is an idea I’ve been blabbering on about for so long that I’m even sick of hearing myself talk about it. I’m so pleased we finally made it happen though. Isn’t this light incredible?
Like lots of things this past trip to America, our shoot location had to be changed at the very last minute. Luckily, we were able to make this little group of trees in the back yard of Miss S’s childhood home work. When in doubt, light over location.
Coco Chanel said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Great advice, but the trick to pulling off this sort of look is to do the opposite. Just keep piling it on. When you think you have enough, add some more. Then look in the mirror, and add one more thing. For more irreverent styling advice, visit Shante’s fashion blog, The Confashional.
Isn’t this floral shawl great? Miss S found it at TJ Maxx (TK Maxx for those of us in the UK).
We pulled this entire set together in about an hour – everything was scrounged together from stuff we found in the garage and around the house. A big thank you to Tia at The Eclectic Chair for her fantastic work on Shante’s makeup and ridiculously good hair extensions.
Happy happy. Love those feather earrings.
Hazy hot summer sun.
A slightly more moody feel to these.
Oh, did I mention we found some more animals to annoy? Neighbourhood horses came to play!
Once again, I was reminded how challenging it is working with animals. Horses are by far worse than snakes, but we still got a few fun shots out of it. Miss S is working it like a pro here.
A quick makeup and wardrobe change for our second look. Deep dark lips are one of Miss S’s signature looks, so it only seemed right that we add it in to the mix.
Check out those custom boots!
And to finish this post, a few frames shot in the dying light of day. Shante, I’m so glad we did this. You absolutely killed it;)
Some of you might remember the first time Jada and I got together. We met in a Victorian mansion in London, and had a great boudoir session where everything was soft, pretty and glamorous (see a recap here).
Jada and I were hoping to do another shoot together in NYC, but of course she was due to leave the city two days before I was meant to arrive, so it didn’t look like it was going to happen. We whined and complained, but finally just gave up and promised to set something up when we both got back to London instead. Then (as always seems to happen with great shoots) things magically fell into place at the last minute. Jada was unexpectedly booked for a job that kept her in the city for a little longer, I ended up with half a day free, and the rest is pretty self-explanatory.
I really love working with clients and models a 2nd time. The 2nd shoot seems to be more fun for everyone, since we already know each other and can be more relaxed about the whole process. There’s obviously less nervousness and panic to battle through, and more willingness to just give something a go. I find it tends to be a little easier technically too, since I usually remember what worked best for a person the first time and can build on that. Plus, you get to try something totally different – new clothes, new location, new attitude, whatever. It’s nice to showcase a different side of someone.
This location was the perfect round 2 setting for Jada and I, since it couldn’t have been more different from our first shoot if it tried. We were aiming at a set of images that captured a NYC feel – gritty and urban, with a touch of girl next door. I think we got there, or close enough anyway:)
I love a good slouchy sweater for boudoir shoots. It’s casual but still looks great. Something like this is an ideal option if you feel a little conscious of what you’re going to be doing with your hands or aren’t so keen on your midsection.
If Jada was a verb, that verb would be smoulder.
Similarly, a t shirt works just like a slouchy sweater, but it’s a little lighter and even more casual. It’s an ideal choice if you’re not into dressing up and heels, or if you want that “Sunday morning” feel.
It’s always funny to me how we can take things from happy /fun/commercial to downright seductive with just a few quick changes.
On to our first proper lingerie set, which Jada rocked, as always.
It’s such a pleasure working with strong women like Jada. I think they could teach the world a lot about what it means to accept yourself, and about how to develop a sense of self worth that isn’t tied to what other people think about your body.
I’ve decided after finishing these images that we need to go tropical. Maybe destination sessions in Thailand? How amazing would that be?!
I didn’t bring a lighting kit with me to NYC, and by this point we were quickly losing sunlight. We decided on a wardrobe change and then a daring jaunt up to the roof.
Mandatory warehouse window shot.
On the roof at sunset. It doesn’t get cooler than this.
So much city, so little time.
A slightly moodier version…
And one last shot as the sun went down.
A few more on our way down. These are super gritty and dirty, but I still think they turned out pretty cool without looking too hootchy.
Finally, a few final images we took in the elevator on the way down. I was about 90% sure these weren’t going to work, but the first shot totally surprised me and then I took about 50 in 10 seconds. No external lighting used, just the one dingy lightbulb inside the lift, high ISO, and me insisting Jada kept her face angled upwards.
We wrapped up, went back downstairs, took 45 minutes to order a pizza (neither of our phones were working in USA and neither of us had USA debit cards, so it was a mission), and then spent the rest of the evening eating too much pizza, chatting about confidence and body image, and about the intricacies of “making it” in the fashion/creative world.
Keep an eye out for this one ( follow her on Instagram @jadasezer ), she’s got her head on straight and is all about empowering women and representing for curvy girls. I think she’s destined for big things.
Jada, you were brilliant as always. It’s such a pleasure working with you. Until next time (preferably on an island, yes?!)…
She’s British Ghanaian woman, a fantastic plus size model, an advocate for health equality, and has impeccable style. It was such a treat to photograph her in the Big Apple.
An odd thing struck me as I was working on these images though. I grew up in a small, rural American town. It’s a place where the benchmark of feminine beauty is very narrowly defined as a thin, blonde cheerleader type who shops at The Buckle and Abercrombie. Tans and fake nails are key, tattoos and piercings are scorned, and a nice car or truck means you’re making good money. It’s also a very homogenous place – in my entire community, there was not a single African American person, and 90% of the people belong to the same church. It’s a place with plenty of positive attributes, but tolerance isn’t one of them.
Although Philomena is undeniably and obviously beautiful, I feel confident that my high school would have tried to tell her that she wasn’t. In a million little ways she would have been too much for them – too black, too curvy, too bald, too different. Too threatening to their small town ways.
I was struck by what a SHAME that is.
I don’t think Miss P would have listened anyway, but still… I hope that if you’re a woman reading this and you are struggling, that these images will inspire you to take heart. The opinions and criticisms of those around you are not necessarily correct or important, and there are many different ways to be beautiful (and only some of those have anything to do with physical attributes).
If you feel less than, perhaps the people trying to bring you down are just threatened by your potential. Maybe, you’re surrounded by idiots who don’t get you. Even more likely, is it possible you’re letting the little self-hate voice inside your head speak too loudly and too often?
Here’s the truth; you are beautiful as soon as you decide you are.
Anyhow, let’s start things off with a sultry black and white of Miss P. Three separate magazines wanted to publish this shoot, but unfortunately we weren’t able to give any of them permission due to some contractual issues, so you’ll just have to revel in Philomena’s beauty here:)
A simple white cotton lingerie set reads relaxed and casual. How cute is her cheeky grin here?
Effortless expressions and bare feet – a lovely combo.
I love this deep blue on Miss P. A strong colour like this is a great way to add a visual pop to a boudoir album, and I thought it contrasted really nicely with this vintage velvet chair.
I stuffed all this netting into my suitcase and dragged it across the ocean just for these shots. Totally worth it if you ask me, P looks positively dreamy.
For you photography people, I used only window light and a reflector for these images.
A last few of my favourites from this blue lingerie look.
Simple. Beautiful. I hope CoverGirl calls Miss P. soon, she’d be amazing for that.
For the next look we added in a black sheer wrap. This is a great piece for boudoir shoots since it gives us lots of fun posing options, and can also work well to help downplay any body areas you’re not so keen on.
Miss P and I used it to try to take flight.
Moody and seductive is always so much better than trashy and obvious. Le sigh.
I wanted to make sure we got a few silhouette type shots for Miss P to show off her curves. These always seem to look better in black and white than in colour.
Oh, you know…just hanging out in a NYC loft looking fabulous:) Love a good bodysuit. If you don’t want to show your stomach, this is a great wardrobe option.
Sometimes you just have to stare straight down the camera like you own the place. Miss P can teach you how.
We finished up our shoot with a few simple, clean images to show off Miss P’s shape and natural beauty. She’s doing a lot of commercial work at the moment, so images like these are quite important.
Miss P, it was lovely to work with you. Wishing you all the best and loads of success!