Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, In her own words, Client Testimonial


What was your motivation to seek out a boudoir photography experience?
I had always wanted to do this kind of shoot but after I had my son and going through a divorce I just didn't feel sexy enough to do it.  When I looked in the mirror I saw a new pouch under my belly, stretch marks on my booty and thighs and saggy boobs. It really wasn't until I saw how much my boyfriend loved me, ALL of me.  The crazy, saggy, stretched out me. That I started to love myself again. There are still some days when i feel that way again but I have tons of photos to prove me wrong thanks to GFE!

Choosing your studio/photographer is super personal, why did you choose The GFE?
At first when I started looking I was looking more at prices and I had reached out to a few different places. Even though the GFE was out of my price range, not to mentioned almost 5hrs away from me,  Stephanie made me so comfortable just by talking to her through email.  I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. Stephaine is wonderful with working with you and she's a amazing teacher. I am so so happy that i choose GFE, I was such a pain and had so many questions and stephaine was great about everything. I can't not express enough I happy i am that i choose the GFE. It easy for me to be goofy than it is serious and Stephanie did a great job helping me get my sexy I'm! Everything was so personal, by the end of the shoot you don't feel like strangers anymore. And that was so important to me. 

Leading up to the shoot what were you most concerned about?
I was most concerned that none of my pictures would look good. I often get awkward looking, or at least I thought so,  when i try to pose for pictures.  Stephaine and Dess are great at building confidence and making you feel like you're on top of the world. 

What was your favorite part of your boudoir experience?
My part, aside from putting my body in positions I never knew possible, was getting to know Stephanie. I know, corny! At the time of my shoot my sister had just had my nephew, 3 months early, and I was newly separated from my ex husband so I had alot going on. It's nice to be able to feel so comfortable with someone you barley knew. By the end of the shoot I was walking around naked,  physically and mentally.

Is there anything you would change or do differently?
If I could change one thing,  I would change some of the outfits I brought. I would have brought more every day clothing than lingerie. You can make pretty much anything sexy!

What would you tell other women about your experience, would you recommend doing something like this for themselves?
I would totally recommend doing it! It's almost like a once in a life time experience, I think. I was extremely nervous but I'm so happy I went through with it.



Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, Boudoir Photographer Western PA, In her own words


My sole motivation for the boudoir experience was to give it as a gift to my husband for our 25th wedding anniversary.  See, no matter what age or what life experience I was going through, he always thought I was beautiful.  Pregnant, really pregnant, right after delivery, as I age, when I cry, when I laugh, in sweats or in a gown, Matt thinks I'm beautiful.  Because of that gift he gives me everyday, I wanted to give him this photo shoot.


I chose GFE because of you!  I did a google search, and your website popped up. Not only is your site professional and well done, but also, it is beautiful.  However, when I spoke to you, I knew you were the one to photograph me.  You understand women.  You understand our insecurities and frustrations and fears.  Yet, you were able to take the time to turn those doubts around and give me the confidence to do the shoot!!


I was most concerned about looking foolish.  I mean, I am 47 and have had 4 babies!!  That foolishness disappeared as soon as I began to talk to you.


My favorite part of the shoot was the confidence that was growing inside of me.  As each picture was taken, I began to really enjoy the experience and relax. By the end, I didn't even think about feeling foolish or the parts of my body that I wasn't comfortable with.  I just felt on top of the world!


What would I change?  I would go back in time and do this when I was in my 20s and 30s!!  I'm dying to come back in for another round of fun!  I'd also change fretting about it.  It really was a fun, easy, and empowering experience.  Plus, my husband LOVED it!!  It's the gift that keeps on giving!!


I think every woman should have a boudoir photo shoot!!  and often!!  Honestly, you feel beautiful in every sense of the word.


I do appreciate my body more.  There are times, for sure, where I look in the mirror and see time marching in certain places and begin to get down.  However, I think of you and the pics you gave me and remember how beautiful and how confident I can be! 



Western Pennsylvania Boudoir Photography, In her own words, Boudoir Client Testimonial

What was your motivation to seek out a boudoir photography experience?

I had always thought about doing a boudoir shoot when I was getting married as part of a gift to my husband on our wedding day.  However, I was intimidated by all the photos you see on pinterest. Most of those women fit a certain stereotype, age, size, etc.  They all deterred me from really doing any research on it because I'm just shy of 6' and considered plus size.



Choosing your studio/photographer is super personal, why did you choose The GFE?

A friend of mine had been gifted a shoot with Steff, hadn't even done her shoot yet and was still raving about her work.  I ended up looking into Dessa's talent and Steff's art and for the first time, I felt like I could actually book a shoot.  Dessa has a supernatural ability to make you look like the best version of yourself and Steff works with women of all ages, sizes and walks of life.  Every woman I saw featured on her site, instagram or facebook had a story to tell.  They were all so different, yet she captured them all so well, feeling confident, sexy, strong, delicate and beautiful.  It also helped that every single review or comment spoke of how comfortable women feel with them and how they immediately feel like old friends.



Leading up to the shoot what were you most concerned about?

I booked a full session and then decided I needed to take advantage of the satin sheet romp before having done my full session.  So when I got the email from Steff about my satin sheet shoot, she said to bring what I felt comfortable in but that all that was needed was a pair of nude underwear.  In hopes of not overthinking, I just took that.  I was panicked about it up until the shoot.  It ended up being awesome and then I knew what to expect for my second shoot.  Having already met Dessa and Steff, my second shoot was less about anxiety of the unknown and more about WTF I was gonna wear since Steff had made the first shoot so simple.



What was your favorite part of your boudoir experience?

Obviously I am ecstatic over my finished products and the overall experience.  But I honestly think my favorite part was getting to know Steff and Dessa and feeling so comfortable.  The second shoot I brought a friend along for support.  We took some champagne and snacks because I like for every aspect of life to be a party and we all talked and laughed and had such a good time.  I love them so much I went back to the studio to have Dessa do my make up for my Gastby themed bridal shower.  And I was just as happy to be sitting there comfortable with them both again.



Is there anything you would change or do differently?

I would have probably booked a session sooner had I actually did any investigating into boudoir in the area.  Steff's work blows all the other boudoir studios out of the water and I would have seen her diverse client looks and felt comfortable.  I also would have bought more photos!



What would you tell other women about your experience, would you recommend doing something like this for themselves?

I have told everyone who wants to listen about this.  Women who are getting married, women in relationships, single women, it doesn't matter.  They've all been interested after I told them about my experience and they saw the final products.  Obviously women looking for wedding gifts for their grooms were motivated for gifts.  Women in relationships were thinking about it as holiday gifts.  And my single friends wanted to do it just for themselves, to see themselves in a different light and feeling confident.  One of my friends even talked to her boyfriend about it and he said "Why do you need to do that if I see you all the time?"  When she told me about it, she was angry and said it made her realize how she wanted to do it for herself! (I see a birthday gift in her future!)



Do you view yourself differently since your session? Do you appreciate your body more? Are you kinder to yourself?

I have been an athlete all my life.  I did my session when I was at my heaviest ever. And I still love all. the. pictures.  It definitely made me appreciate myself, just in a different light.  That beauty and confidence have no boundaries.  And Steff has an eye for every type.



Also, feel free to add anything. I just want to hear from you. Toss my questions out the window if you want!

I also wanted to say how much I love you both and find myself wanting to do another shoot in this next year. 

K love you



Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, In her own words, Boudoir Client Testimonial

pittsburgh boudoir photography

1. What was my motivation to seek out a boudoir shoot:

After some changes in my life, I felt that there was so much more to “me”. I wanted to feel like a woman, one who could be confident, show that she’s beautiful and sexy, while being over the age of 40. For me, getting lost in the day to day of activities of work, home , and taking care of my sons ( my youngest being 18), I feel I lost who I was as a woman. My hope was that a boudoir shoot would help me bring back the confident, sexy, empowered woman that I felt had been lost.


2. Why choose the GFE:

Choosing Steph was an automatic yes for me. I searched other photographers, looked at their work, and read the reviews. However, when I saw the GFE, the photos, and read the reviews about Steph I knew this was who I wanted to entrust with this new adventure I was going to pursue. Once Steph called me to answer my questions and we talked over what I wanted and had hoped to achieve by doing this, I knew her studio was the right fit for me. She made me feel comfortable when I asked questions, answered me honestly, and didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t “good enough”, “ too old”, or “just a mom” to do something like this.


3. The concerns I had leading up to the shoot:

I was concerned about how my body was going to look doing this. I have scars, stretch marks, and areas on my body that make me feel insecure. Did I choose the right outfits for the shoot? Will the items I chose to wear emphasize my “chubbiness” on the areas that I try to hide? I knew that I had started working on myself physically and diet wise, but I was not anywhere near where I had hoped to be yet. So, I had hoped that I made the right decision booking my shoot before I felt that I was “ perfect “ for something like this.


4.  My favorite part of my experience:

First, getting my hair and make up done by Dessa was amazing! I love to make myself up on my own, but I never could have achieved the results that Dessa got for me. The actual shoot was amazing. Steph made me feel free to express myself without inhibitions. After the first few minutes, I felt relaxed, followed her instructions, and let myself go. The feeling of empowerment and the use of my body language gave me confidence that I lost along the way. I am one hell of a woman and this experience brought all those feelings, emotions, and certainties back to me. I never thought I would be comfortable walking around the studio nude in front of another person, let alone being photographed nude, but I absolutely had no issue doing this. It was like it was an everyday occurrence. Photographing nude may not be for everyone, but those photos are some of my favorites. They were so tastefully done that it looks like art.


5. What would I change:

If I had to change something, it would be to not bring so many choices of lingerie. Too many options can get confusing. I went a little crazy buying everything I liked and ended up choosing most of the original pieces. So, don’t waste a lot of money buying everything you see. Choose a few pieces and just go with it. You will look amazing.


6. My experience was everything that I had hoped for.

I felt beautiful, sexy, and confident. This experience made me see myself in a different light. Usually, when you think of these kinds of sessions, you assume it’s for the younger ladies only. Once you hit a certain age you “can’t “ or “shouldn’t “ do it because your “ too old”, your body isn’t as perky or tight as it used to be. But, I’m over 40 and I think I rocked it out. So, to the ladies of all ages, sizes, and shapes, just do it! You won’t regret it.


7. Do I view myself differently:

Since my session, my perspective of myself has completely changed. I feel sexy more often and after seeing my photos they confirmed it for me. The following week after my shoot, I felt so empowered, confident, and sexy. Many people noticed something different about me. Perhaps it was the way I carried myself, entered a room, looked at the person I was speaking with straight in the eye, whatever they saw they noticed. What a truly powerful feeling that is. I’ve learned to see my body in a different light. If I have something about myself that I don’t like to see, I realize it’s me and it’s ok . I’m still working on myself both physically and emotionally but I’m doing that for me and no one else.


I truly feel as women, we lose parts of ourselves on this journey called life. We can forget who we are individually as a woman because of life changes. I love my 3 sons, wouldn’t change a thing about being their mom. However, for 24 years of raising them , I put myself on the back burner, molded myself to who I thought I should portray to the world, and stuffed the sensual woman side of me into a box and closed the lid. I believe that we need to remember that being a woman is powerful. That power was something we were born with and we need to keep it alive for ourselves. This experience opened the lid off of my box and let me start taking my power back as a woman. 


Thank you Steff for helping me bring back the woman who was hidden for a very long time.  Xxx



Couples Boudoir Photography, Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography Couples

This blog post is going to be a little different! We have been sharing client testimonials here lately where the client answers a few questions about her boudoir experience with The Girlfriend Experience Boudoir. This blog post was written solely by the wife of this couple without any prompts from us!

One of their images was actually featured by The Huffington Post!


"I was just looking for a boudoir photo shoot for my husband’s 30th birthday, but just as in the name suggests, I had an entire ‘experience’ that will forever be one of my and my husband’s fondest memories.

After having two pregnancies back to back, my level of discomfort with my body had grown to new levels. I remember returning to work from my second maternity leave, and even in my office attire and make up, I was still unable to make eye contact with myself in the bathroom mirror when I washed my hands. I could not accept the fact that the person in my mirror was my ‘presentable’ self.

I took control of my life and my body and made huge lifestyle changes. For me. I didn’t do it for anyone other than myself. Over almost a two-year period I had dropped 50 pounds. As healthy as I feel physically, I feel even better mentally. My confidence has grown so much, and I can now celebrate this body that I have – stretch marks, umbilical hernia, and cellulite, and all!

Changing my relationship with my body made me think of different ways I could celebrate it. As my husband’s 30th birthday approached, I decided that I wanted to do a boudoir photo shoot as a surprise ‘Dirty 30 Play Book’ kind of thing. Almost a year before I planned on doing the shoot I started to get my body in shape. A few months before his birthday, I reached out to a Facebook group for suggestions of boudoir photographers in the Pittsburgh area. I received several suggestions, but a lot of people strongly suggested Girlfriend Experience Boudoir. Looking at Steff’s work made it a very easy decision. I could definitely tell the difference between the ‘I’m smiling like a yearbook photo but wearing lingerie’ look vs. ‘I’m sexy and fierce AF’ look that Steff’s work has. I quickly took the leap and decided to book – no turning back!

After looking at Steff’s incredible work, I imagined handing my husband this super sexy photo album and his first impression would be ‘damn – I wish I was there!’. So, at first, I thought I would just surprise him and bring him along for morale support, but then after reading a couples shoot client testimonial and seeing their photos – I knew I absolutely wanted him in the photos, especially since he himself had also recently lost a lot of weight. But I still wanted to maintain that element of surprise.

After I booked the date I decided I should at least give him some sort of heads up that I have a surprise planned for him. I just informed him that he should be in as good of shape as he would like, and that he should manscape that day. And as curious as he was – I was able to stay strong and not tell him the secret until we got there. His guesses were humorous, ranging from shooting a porno, a painting, or a threesome (I think he’s still disappointed haha).

I was most nervous about what his ultimate reaction would be. What if I told him before the shoot and he said that he didn’t want to do it? I was way too excited for it and didn’t want him to take away from that. I know in his personality that he is generally open to things, but I just wasn’t sure. For me, it wasn’t until we started to drive there in the morning that I thought holy shit – I am about to be naked in front of a total stranger! I had focused my nerves on him that I never even thought to be nervous for myself.

As soon as we got there and met Steff, and I could finally share with my husband my secret I had been keeping, I felt completely at ease. My husband was completely open and excited for our shoot. Sitting and talking with Steff and Dessa during my make up made me feel so comfortable. There was nothing left to be nervous about – I was just ready for our close up!

Taking photos for our shoot was an incredible experience. Steff made us both feel so comfortable in our own skin and naked bodies. The connection my husband and I had during the shoot was amazing. As much as I love our album and the photos – nothing compares to the overall ‘experience’ that we shared. It will forever be one of our fondest memories.

Of course, I had my fears and anxieties prior to the shoot, but I am absolutely glad that I made the decision to not only have a Boudoir photo shoot, but I made the best choice by going with the Girlfriend Experience Boudoir. And as worried as I was about what my husband would think, his engagement with our shoot made it that much better. During the shoot he helped suggest poses he would like and now he talks about how much he would love to do it again.

In addition to the experience and the album, just being a part of the Facebook group and being surrounded by women that love their bodies and want to empower others is amazing. Doing a boudoir photo shoot is such a celebration of your body (and soul), and regardless of what leads you to make the decision to do it, it is definitely a decision worth making. I went in just expecting some sexy photos, but what I got was way more!"


Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, In her own words, Client Testimonial


Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, In her own words, Client Testimonial


What was your motivation to seek out a boudoir photography experience?

I was looking for the perfect Christmas gift for my wonderful boyfriend.  I read about budoir photography on probably the millionth Buzzfeed article I read about gift ideas. Normally that is something I would scroll past and hastily dismiss as, "This isn't for me."  But something made me stop and seriously consider it as an option.  But the last minute rush to find a gift (yes, I am a procrastinator) made this virtually impossible as a Christmas gift. I inevitably kept scrolling to find something more "practical" anyway.  However, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. 


Two years prior to this, I was on vacation in Colorado when I simply slipped and fell on a patch of ice on the sidewalk.  This one minuscule event was the catalyst for a complete life change. It ended up that I tore my meniscus in my left knee and required a routine surgery to correct it. It was nothing too intense - if you remember, Ben Roethlisberger tore his meniscus and was back on the field playing professional football in 4 weeks! But for me, it was my very first ER visit, hospital visit, and surgery.  That paired with my already questionable physical health from years of lacking self-care made this a bit of a bigger deal and a much longer recovery for me. I finally decided, "I’m only 25 years old. This isn't how I want to live for decades to come." I've always been overweight - poor eating habits and lack of any exercise will do that to you, especially paired with not so great mental health. It got particularly out of control as I graduated college and entered the real world, dealing with the stress of navigating the professional landscape, moving to another area and moving in with my then-boyfriend-turned-fiance and the ensuing breakup, trying to manage my overwhelming anxiety and depression, and just generally “adulting.” 


This minor surgery was the turning point for me to take control of my physical and mental health.  It started off slow – just taking a few walks around the neighborhood a few days a week – and has since grown to be a healthy, productive, satisfying habit. I originally started this journey just to get back to a normal range of motion, strength, stamina after surgery. But I quickly saw how such little changes impacted my day-to-day well-being and my body. Thanks to amazing help from said wonderful boyfriend, I got serious about eating right and exercising regularly.  Since then, I have lost over 50 pounds… and counting.  I’m stronger than I have ever been in my life (recently hit my goal of squatting 135 and deadlifting 225!) and finally am feeling good about my body for the very first time in my life. I also sought out support to sort through my mental health, coming into my own and being proud of who I am.


On top of all of that, I am lucky to have such an amazing man in my life. Someone who has loved me and found me insanely attractive despite what I have looked like and felt like over the years, someone who encouraged me to build healthy habits to feel good about myself, not to lose weight.  He showed me that I was indeed sexy, well before I made any changes in my life.  He supported me to connect with my sexual self in so many new and exciting ways, to embrace me for who I am in every way.


All of this made it impossible to brush this idea away as a gift of some kind in the future.  So I took the plunge!



Choosing your studio/photographer is super personal, why did you choose The GFE?

Once I decided to take the plunge and do a budoir shoot, I simply Googled budoir in Pittsburgh and GFE was the first site to come up. I got sucked in by the gorgeously sexy photos, honest blog posts, and ease of contact.  I didn’t need to be convinced that this was the right place.



Leading up to the shoot what were you most concerned about?

First of all, I couldn’t keep it a secret from my boyfriend. I lasted maybe a week before I spilled the beans. I was so excited that I couldn’t contain myself.  The nerves were definitely there for me. I didn’t know what to expect or how I would react or if I would be able to calm down enough to just enjoy it.  Having the right outfits was also a big concern for me.



What was your favorite part of your boudoir experience?

My favorite part was spending the morning focusing on celebrating me. It is not something I typically do – I put the phone down, tuned into my emotions, and just enjoyed the moment (once I got passed that damn nervousness!).  For me, this is a huge ordeal, so it felt extra amazing.  Also Steff’s constant encouragement and supportive sighing, for lack of better phrase, made it especially fun and sexy for me.  Also, Dessa made me look AMAZING! But still just like me – a very hard feat indeed.



Is there anything you would change or do differently?

A few things for me - it took me a little longer than I wanted to loosen up than I would have liked. I was VERY nervous! Dessa and Steff make you feel welcomed and like you are at home, but I am a perfectionist. I wanted every shot to be amazing.  I wish instead of trying to make sure I was following instructions to a T that I let go and felt more. The best shots were ones where I remember letting go, allowing myself to do what came naturally in that moment within Steff’s guidance. I would also choose outfits that I was very comfortable in. One outfit was a little out of my usual element and you could definitely see it in the photos.



What would you tell other women about your experience, would you recommend doing something like this for themselves?

I would tell other women that they need to do this. No matter what stage of life they are in, take the plunge because it is well worth the risk.  No matter what you think you look like or how you are not sexy enough or bold enough or brave enough – YOU ARE ENOUGH! Take time to celebrate yourself – everything you have accomplished, everything you have survived, everything you will successfully tackle in the future. We are all here to live life and if we don’t take a few risks along the way, will it all be worth it in the end? You are in good hands with the GFE crew. They are kind, loving, supportive, empowering women, the kind of women you want to be surrounded by when you take that risky step forward to do something that will make you so vulnerable.  They had my back, and they will definitely have yours. Don’t overthink it. Trust your gut. Go for it.



Do you view yourself differently since your session? Do you appreciate your body more? Are you kinder to yourself?

Yes! I thought I was doing fairly well before my session but it changed me in such a profound way.  The next morning after my shoot, I was at the gym at 5:30am as usual.  In between sets I looked up in the mirror and without thinking about it, I thought, “Wow! I love my body!” It kind of took me by surprise. I looked at myself quizzically and a second time thought, “What? Yes! I really do LOVE my body.” Then I said it out loud (well via text – that would have been weird in the middle of a crowded gym).  A flood of emotions came with that, and come again now as I write this.  Life has certainly been a journey leading up to my shoot and even since then – there are constant ebbs and flows both physically and emotionally. And while I know I have much more progress to make to get to where I want to be, I realize it is just that – a journey. There is no “perfect;”  there is only progress. As long as I continue to go after what I want with confidence, zeal, and a little bit of fun, I know I will be okay regardless of how “unperfect” my body may be.

If you're thinking that this is your sign, that you are ready for your own Pittsburgh Boudoir Experience just reach out to us! We would love to talk to you. Get our information into your  hands and start planning for your shoot!


1 Comment

The GFE Boudoir Maternity Sessions, Pregnancy Boudoir, Pittsburgh, PA

I think I have said it before, but I have never been one to shy away from sounding redundant. I hate the word, "Boudoir." Gag. Ugh. It works, because you can at least draw a context conclusion about what it is I shoot. I photograph women. Without and with clothing. With hair and makeup and without. With all shapes of boobs and bums. I shoot women. In all their stages and all their ages. I know I haven't been able to share with you many maternity shoot or pregnancy boudoir, whatever you want to call it. But yes, we will photograph you while you're pregnant. My goal for the shoot isn't for it to be solely about your tummy. For fucks sake, if I see another maternity session; boudoir or otherwise where the woman only has her hands on her stomach, I am going to bodyslam the photographer! No one thinks she consumed 32 pounds of cookies the night before. We are mammals, know how how this shit works and what it looks like.  A woman can be pregnant and in a photo AND not touch her middle! Did you know that?? There are a few images where we have her hands placed on her stomach and honest to goodness those were the only images from the entire shoot where her hands were placed there. She has sooooo many other bodacious body parts to touch, grab, caress, squeeze and tease!

I don't know when I decided to veer this post towards photographers but here we are and I am just going to go with it. Some women feel incredibly sexy when they are pregnant. Some husbands find pregnancy insatiably sexy! You can be pregnant and you can be sexy. Let's not be a part of the perpetuation that once a woman bears a child, she becomes, "JUST A MOTHER." So don't you dare photograph her that way. Moms are more than vessels and care providers!

This beautiful woman came to me during her last pregnancy and wanted to celebrate the way she felt and looked! Her husband was absolutely smitten with her figure and found that amped up during pregnancy. Fairly certain, this would be her last pregnancy she decided just to go for it. This is one of my favorite maternity sessions and even more so because she allowed me to share. So if you think you can't do this because you are pregnant, I hope we have proved you wrong!!


1 Comment


Boudoir Photography Pittsburgh, It is okay to like your body

I think the vast majority of the boudoir community would agree that we often hear, "I am interested, but..."(Enter the destination happiness here.)

I lose 20 lbs. I get my boobs done. I have a boyfriend. I gain 10 lbs. After I workout for a few months. When I can justify spending the money on myself. When I get married. After I grow my hair out. Get a tan. These pimples dry up. 

We don't have time for me to sit here all day and have me wane on about the somedays I have heard over the course of shooting Boudoir photography in Pittsburgh for eight years. 


If you begin to tip toe into having a better relationship with your body the first thing that will come up when you search The Google, will be workouts to reshape, diets to restrict and garments to constrict. I am all for working out and eating as well as you can. Move it or lose it, sister. Foods and movement affect far more than your appearance. Mental health is tied to everything you put into your body as well as how you move it. Sleep habits are impacted. Sex drive is effected. Taking actual physical care of yourself is vital. But what if the relationship you have with your body could be greatly improved by just changing the way you view it?

You are allowed to like your body. Heavier, thinner, curvier, leaner, fuller, thicker, tighter.......

Just because it doesn't fit a norm, someone else' ideal, look like your body 6 years or 6 months ago doesn't mean there is something wrong with your body. You are allowed to like it. You are allowed to like your body and still want to treat it well and accept the changes that come with it. As a woman, your body changes from the day you are born till the day you die. Hell, it changes every freaking month for petes' sake. That is impossible to keep up with. You are not your body. I have as many clients tell me that there are in fact things they like about their body but they feel ashamed to admit it because they don't look conceited or overly confident. The physical implications of shame are numerous. Anxiety. Digestive Issues. Chronic shame can cause increased inflammation and risk for infection. When looking at it that way, you are putting your overall well being at risk because you are either. A. ashamed for not liking your body or B. ashamed for liking your body. Neither is worth it. Neither will get you to that destination for "When..." any sooner. Which brings me to my next thought.....

Timelines are bullshit but timing is everything. Timelines are manmade. Timing is divine. No one likes to hear that everything happens for a reason because it is incredibly hard to understand some of the super shitty circumstances people encounter but there is a lesson in everything. I opened my inbox this morning and without divulging too much of what one of my client's wrote, she said "I can’t explain it, I just don’t hate myself as much. Like, seriously." There is even a lesson in a boudoir shoot and I don't feel ashamed to admit it. It isn't vain for you to say you have great hair or a great ass and it isn't vain for me to say that that I can help you change your relationship with your body while battling my own issues.  I have never qualified my people by their sizes or their shape but instead of how they have made me feel so why do we try to measure our own worth by a different standard than by which we measure others?

If you can like something about yourself, you can learn to love something about yourself. There is no actual destination. Well, death. That is the actual last stop. You telling yourself you will be happy or do something "when" is the Mom equivalent of "maybe". We all know maybe is a 95% No but the 5% leftover  is just enough hope to keep us going.  I can't math but I suspect that if we gave ourselves 95% hope and 5% maybe we'd all be far better off in every aspect of our lives.

Today's lesson. Release the shame.  Do your best to forget about timelines. Toss your destination out the window.



Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, How to ruin your boudoir session, Pittsburgh Boudoir

*******Disclaimer! Even though the headline is dramatic, I want to be clear that she had an insanely awesome shoot. She did not ruin her shoot by any stretch of the imagination! She did everything right! So can you!

This might ruffle some feathers, I am ok with that. 

  1. A shitty attitude

Believe me, people do show up with a shitty attitude. Shitty attitudes aren't nerves. The main difference between a shitty attitude and regular ol' nerves, is hope. Nervous clients are hopeful. They want the full experience. Nervous clients are invested in the outcome and want nothing more than to see themselves in photographs and for once, to love them! Shitty clients hold some pretty deep insecurities that they are looking for me to prove wrong. But I can't. A shitty client is daring us to tell her she is wrong. A nervous client already realizes that what she sees or thinks about herself might not be authentic and is HOPEFUL about the outcome. A shitty client thinks she knows what she is doing. A nervous client knows she knows nothing about what is about to happen. A shitty client might be doing this for her partner. A nervous client is doing this for herself and her partner. A shitty client thinks she is doing me a favor by walking through my door. A nervous client is hopeful this experience will change her. We are living in the time of the motivational meme y'all. So what I am about to say will be familiar and more importantly you will understand; Your vibe determines your tribe. Please don't come to us with a shitty attitude. I check out the second you walk through the door with your bad energy. I can feel your hope from a mile away and I will give you every little bit of my abilities. Dessa spends her entire time 2 inches from your heart and your head, if I haven't picked up on it, she will. A shitty attitude is a waste of your time. Come with an open heart and an open mind and be open to creation! I want to collaborate with you not play tug of war. 

2. Telling me what looks best on you

Pointing out what images you don't care for and all the reasons why. What we see in the mirror is not an accurate representation of what we look like at all in any other point in our day other than what we look like when we look like in the mirror. Yet, we let that reflection dictate how we feel, how we function, how we move.......and how we do or do not want our photographers to photograph us. I have had clients scroll through our 'gram and point out why certain shots won't work for her. I will audibly roll my eyes. Yep, you will here them knock against the back of my head. You only see what you see in the mirror. You partner sees you in so many amazing ways that you will never even be able to grasp. I can see you that way. So I can show you what he sees. If you don't love what you see in the mirror, why would you would trust that image to be best there is? You've never seen yourself through the eyes of your partner when you roll over in the morning. You've never seen your bumbum when you are climbing into bed.........

3. Talking but not listening-moving but not responding

I don't mean in the classroom sense of the word. I am going to struggle to explain this but hang in there with me. I hope this makes sense in the end. I am your one stop shop photographer. I model for you, I verbally direct, I demonstrate the facial expression, I coach you through your entire session. If you have ever taken a yoga class, you have been implored to set your intention. This is the same idea. The flow is also very similar. You will ride the wave with me. In order to do that, you must listen more than you talk, you must not just move but respond to my words.  As I demonstrate what the pose you will be in and as I verbally direct you through and I emote for you, your body language is mimicking mine, your face is copying mine. I move myself more than I will move you so there will be conversation points during our session but that isn't what I am talking about. I love talking to my clients!! I mean lot's of "ok's, got it's, yeps....". For example,

Me--I am going to have you bring your right arm across your body, let your fingers graze your hip...... You--OK! Me--take a deep breath.....You--(cutting me off) OK!

I've not completed my direction, you've not actually performed what was were busy talking but not responding. The response is in the demonstration of the followed direction. This makes your session more smooth, produces more consistent photographs, more dynamic images. Every word that is being said and physical direction has a purpose; an intention. I do not need affirmation that you heard me with a verbal "Ok!", I need to see you moving and breathing with the directions being given.

4. Bad wardrobe

I don't really think there is wrong wardrobe. I want you to feel pumped to wear what you bring but fit is a big big deal. One size too big is always better than too small. Shape is more important than color. Fit matters more than style. If something feels good on your body, you will will move with more confidence and perform with more ease than something that has to be constantly readjusted. Just because you own it doesn't mean it you love it. Better to bring less wardrobe that you love than a bunch of items you are lukewarm about. 

We provide so much info about getting ready for your shoot that I don't encounter these types of situations often but when I do, I feel like I have these clients down. I do not want to affirm your insecurities by tiptoeing around your rules, your attitude, your choices etc. I do however want to show you what possibility looks like when you let your walls down and you trust us. 





Pittsburgh Boudoir Photography, Boudoir Photographer Pittsburgh, Who to bring

This is a first for The GFE Boudoir blog. Which is a huge shocker to me but for some reason over the years, I have never blogged a session with multiple women. Yet, we get friends who come in together all the time. Sharing that you are having your own boudoir shoot is strictly off limits for some gals and that is just fine. For some women they feel more secure having her friend there to support her. Either way works for me but I do have some rules for your friend.

This beautiful pair both wanted shoots and it seemed logical for them to come in on the same day. This is the ultimate! You can shop together, prep together and get excited together. This is something they will look back on as something they had a blast doing together, which is what friendship is, enjoying as much as your life as you can with your best loves. On their shoot day, they decided who would go into styling first, as this is the first client to be photographed. The second woman is in styling while the first is being shot so you don't have the pressure of feeling like you are being watched; if that scares you. The first client almost always asks her friend if it is ok if she is in the shooting area while she is being photographed. There is coffee shop right downstairs, you can go grab a drink and a cookie and come back up and get cozy under blankets on one of the sofas while your friend is being shot, if either of you feel uncomfortable with extra eyes on you.  You can do this together but never really see one another if that is too much. Some girlfriends have traded off days, where they come to support one another but have their own shoot on a separate day. That works too!

Some things to considerate if you think you want to bring your bestie along!

A. She must be a cheerleader. No Debbie Downers or Negative Nancys. Some best friends bicker like old married couples and if your friend might ruin your vibe, or mine, best to leave her at home. 

B. I don't care if she has been shot by another photographer. All photographers work differently and the experience she had must not have been all that rad if you are here with me, so if she wants to say, "My photographer did this...." she could be asked to leave. It just isn't helpful. It will make you anxious. Basically, it is like going on a date and talking about your ex. So,.....

C. Is she supportive? Honestly supportive? Does she get excited for you when good things happen? Is she helpful when you need it? Would having her around make this experience even better for you?


I love when best friends come in together who are really excited to be there and really excited to do this along side their friends. I have asked just a few girls to step out, but these are the friends that come as pure support and aren't both being photographed on the same day. If you are both having your boudoir shoot that day, this will be one of your best memories together!