This is a post about 3 outfits I chose for a boudoir photo shoot and the process I went through to get to that point. And it has very little to do with outfits, or with boudoir.
Take it as you will.
About a week ago, I shared a secret on Facebook that I'd been keeping for over a year and a half: I'd won a boudoir photography shoot in an auction back in May of 2017. Several months ago, I finally booked the appointment.
I'm usually on the back end of the camera, but I don't have a fear of having my photograph taken. At least ... more traditional photographs in front of sunsets and with my kids. Selfie versions. This was a whole new territory.
And as so often happens, I gained more from it than I could have ever expected.
After I booked the appointment, thoughts of the session slowly slipped from my mind. Day-to-day needs took over, and only once in awhile would anxiety or excitement pop up as I remembered the photo shoot for a split second - and then boom, back to mundane life.
Three weeks before my appointment, I was busy preparing for an 8-day family vacation that we were taking the following week. In all of the preparations, I realized I would only have 2 days when we returned from that vacation to finalize plans for my boudoir session (that I'd conveniently put off thoughts of until then).
Did I mention that my husband still knew nothing of this? And, of course, neither did my kids? They simply couldn't understand why mom was so frazzled.
My thoughts were overwhelmed with remembering swimsuits for the beach, plastic bags to protect from sand, hiking shoes, making sure the kids and my husband packed enough undies and socks and at least one pair of jeans and 2 pairs of shoes and beach flip flops, making lists for snacks for the car and food for the condo, contacting neighbors to water the plants, figuring out driving times and coordinating with others on when and where we would meet ....
anxiety over what I'd wear (and what I still needed to buy) for the photo shoot, who would watch the kids that day, the final financial payments I needed to be sneaky about shifting from an unsuspecting husband to the studio, how I would avoid creating obvious tan lines after a week at the beach, my weight, the belly rolls, the 3 fingernails that just broke so low they required bandaids (do they have time to grow back??), the hair appointment I needed to sneak in before we left, my belly rolls (did I mention that already?), what I'd eat over vacation and would I bother to lose weight and strength train and look even more fit for these possibly once-in-a-lifetime photos or just say screw it, this is me in my full, semi-but-not-all-the-way-motivated glory?
I'm stressing now just remembering all of the stress.
If only I would have known then what was going to come from this....
It would have been easy to cancel. Returning from vacation, making up some excuse, and just postponing the appointment until that magical (and imaginary) time when I finally felt ready.
I didn't do much research or planning for the session over vacation. (It's hard to Google "boudoir outfit suggestions" without feeling as though I needed to hide my phone every time the kids or my husband walked past.) So when we returned late on Saturday, I had 48 hours to plan (and, if necessary, purchase) the outfits I was going to wear on Tuesday.
Sunday, I researched. Thankfully, my husband was working. I let the kids have far too much electronic time as I poured over every shot that Unveiled (the photography studio) and Samantha McGranahan (the photographer) had ever posted online. I googled. I journaled. I posed in front of the mirror. I pulled items out of my closet that I'd forgotten I even owned. My bed became a display board similar to that electronic planning system that Alicia Silverstone used to find the perfect matching ensemble. (High five to anyone who gets that reference.)
Monday was shopping. I'll share those amusing stories in a later post.
It would have been fairly easy to copy 3 outfits from what I'd found online. But there was one very crucial component to this entire experience that I knew would make or break it:
I wanted these photos to be representative of ME.
I wanted this experience to document a time that I felt free to be all parts of me, not just a time that I got my hair and makeup done and looked and felt glamorous ... but like someone else.
When I really thought about why I was doing this (which was a necessary question to answer so that I didn't back out at the last minute), it was 100% for me. It was to provide several hours where I was able to play with all parts of my personality, and to have those parts documented so that I could remember, as often as I needed to remind myself, of who I am.
The outfits were secondary.
Because I was permitted to choose 3 outfits for the photo session, I decided to categorize "who I am" into 3 attitudes to represent.
Finally naming the 3 was the beginning of an understanding that still grows, and is changing my life, to this day.
These were the three aspects of my self that I came to recognize:
1) Quietly Observant. This is the introverted part of me that just adores being alone, craves hours of solitude and silence, and loves to indulge in hours of documentaries or people-watching. This is the part of me that embraces not knowing and constant learning through observation and contemplation. In photos, this is peeking around a corner, soft & comfortable outfits, curled poses, gentle smiles.
2) Curious & Creatively Playful. This is my artsy part of me. This is the little girl who constantly rearranged the furniture in her parent's home, the mom who plays with sidewalk chalk, the woman who paints and dances and makes messes just to see what happens. This is the part of me that wants to engage in the world, to co-create it. In photos, this is playful poses and props, outfits with color, poses where I'm stretching or moving, glances that are inviting and curious, smiles that are bright or smirking.
3) Sensual & Seductive. This is the part of me that rarely gets seen anymore. When I started remembering her, I realized how much I actually missed her. This is the the part of me that is sexual, but so, so much more than that. This is the part that is uplifted by the scent after a good rain and loses all track of time when sipping a warm cup of tea. This is the part of me that loves flirtation for the thrill of seeing, being seen, and helping someone else to feel the same. This is the part that felt enlivened by this experience, and who will be making appearances far more often. In photos, this is a black, lace mask that entices the viewer, seductive (not suggestive) poses, fingers draped in sensual touch and invitation, and outfits that are textural, sensual, and encouragement for the wearer and viewer to engage with the sight of the body.
(photos cropped, by me, from originals for the purposes of this post, and are courtesy of UNVEILED)
Please note: I have only purchased 10 photos (thus far). These 3 are a representation of the many I LOVED. Each of these have been cropped, watermarked, and uploaded in lower quality (by me) for the sake of this post.
(Full images are being shared over at http://www.facebook.com/BeingBreath WITH the story behind the image. I feel it quite important to do this, because each photo isn't about the outfit nor the amount of skin I might be showing. It's about the story.)
(And if you will note, each of these has a bit of a seductive nature to them. Even though I certainly had all 3 aspects represented during my photo shoot, apparently my sensual / seductive side wanted to play. A lot.)
There are hundreds more stories to share about the planning, the emotions, the details, the experience, and the aftermath of the boudoir photo shoot with UNVEILED. There are infinite more lessons and insights to be shared and gained.
Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing them.
I'll be sharing these stories to empower other women who are on the fence about going through this experience, to invite and hopefully answer questions that may be arising in your mind.
I'll be sharing these stories to remind you that you don't HAVE to have a boudoir photo shoot or reveal even an inch more of skin to anyone in order to feel more sensual, alive, and empowered.
I'll be sharing these stories to remind myself of who I am, lest I forget in the midst of rushing kids to lessons, folding laundry, paying bills, and so on.
These stories are intricately connected to the process and practices of BeingBreath. They encourage embodiment, self-awareness, and creative play in the world. Alongside parenting, painting, photography, dining, daily walks, and deep contemplations, discovering one's sensual nature and embodying these practices that can reconnect you to your body and self are important parts of feeling alive in daily life.
For today, for now, I offer you this:
Prepare for a boudoir shoot with me. Don't book anything in the next hour, don't rush to the store. Just consider your 3 outfits. What do you want them to represent? Who are you when you are free to be YOU? Even if you never showed another soul, who and what would you want to see reflected back to you in the photos?
Really, it has very little to do with the outfits. And it has very little to do with boudoir. It has everything to do with who you are, who you have forgotten about who you are,
and what you will do to reclaim a sense of feeling free to be you ... ALL of who you are.
Are you in or around the Bloomington, Indiana area and interested in boudoir photography? If you know me, you know I don't offer promotions lightly. I only recommend books that I've read, courses I've taken, people I know well enough to know they aren't faking anything, ... and businesses that I trust. UNVEILED, Samantha McGranahan, and the team totally fit that bill, and provided me with an experience that went above and beyond what I ever expected. I highly recommend them.
You can message me with questions at Lisa (at) BeingBreath.com, comment below, or even join me for a coffee if you want to chat about the experience. When you are ready to book, you can use this code: 072418WILSON at http://unveiled-photo.com/ for an amazing 50% discount on the Signature Session (and help me work towards another session of my own! ... win - win.).