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.