When one of your bucket-list items is to honor yourself
 

I got a couple of emails from some members of GRRRL clothing brand [I’ll wait while you go check it out, do it, you’ll love it too] and met up with Kortney Olson, the founder, athlete and amazing human being and we had some photo time in the studio. J was watching the insta stories as a follower of GRRRL ARMY and knew that the excuses she was telling herself about not doing a shoot was well…excuses.

When I chatted with J, I immediately connected with her and we started planning right over the phone. What to wear, what to expect are just a few of the things we went over. I connected with her reasons for wanting to do a boudoir session because I myself am going through a self acceptance phase in life where I celebrated my “rising phoenix” moment with my own boudoir shoot.

I could go on an on about how amazing this session was, but she does an even better job at describing how her experience was better than I can.

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When I turned 38 (almost a year ago) I made a "40 before 40" bucket list of sorts. I put "personal photography session" on it because I was too scared to put "boudoir session" in actual writing. Shortly after that I stumbled upon Kortney Olson's personal Instagram (after having been a fan of GRRRL and part of the online community for over a year). Her personality and her wisdom started chipping away at the negative self-talk and body image I'd been struggling with for forever. I'd been "working on it" since having my daughters, but without having a role model of sorts that I respected and identified with, it was like trying to swim without instruction without drowning. Over the past year I'd been working on being more true to myself, getting back into weight lifting, doing crazy thinks like shaving the side of my head and dying my hair, etc. I'd been slowly accepting the skin I was in, and honoring it's imperfections. I was still scared about that one line on my "40 before 40" list that I wanted to accomplish. Then Kortney posted on her IG about this awesome boudoir photographer and the photos were breathtaking. "If only she was in my area...." I thought (or, worked up as an excuse...kinda both)...and then I saw that you WERE. It was now or never...either I could walk the walk of being brave and loving my body like I talk to everyone about, and preach to my own daughters, or I could keep making excuses. I decided to get over myself. One of my favorite quotes is by Amelia Earhart "The fears are paper tigers." My fear of boudoir was a paper tiger I decided to set fire to.

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As a photographer myself for the past 8 years, I knew plenty of folks who had done boudoir sessions with other people, but they never quite came out like I would have wanted my session to go; kinda sleezy looking, or just somewhat uncomfortable. And it was always a male photographer which I wasn't okay with. After stalking your website, and your IG, I *knew* without a doubt that you were the only one I'd trust with a session and with photos like this. Your vision coupled with your talent, and then our conversation on the phone where I could sense your awesome personality, sealed the deal for me. I also really appreciated that you had your own studio (not a rented hotel room), and that you posted photos of yourself that you had taken. I love seeing the work that photographers can produce of themselves in addition to others, and I know that takes a certain kind of bravery to do so, I sincerely admire that.

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My biggest fears for doing a boudoir session:
1) I wouldn't know what the heck to do with my body, or my face (I have some wicked RBF, and I also am not a naturally smiley person so I feel awkward when forced to smile for photos.) REALITY: Not only did you make me comfortable the entire time so that I didn't have to think about what to do with my body, I just had to move it, there was no insistence on smiling for the camera. I was free to be myself, just guided naturally for the photos.
2) I'd see the photos during the reveal and have that awful "I look horrible/I shouldn't be in these photos/I wasted my time" feeling as I tore myself apart which has happened with a lot of photos (not boudoir) over the years. REALITY: Didn't happen once. I thought about it afterwards and I really think that post-photo session shifted my perspective on my entire body. I have an average mom-bod that's been through a lot in almost 40 years. Who cares? I'm still effing awesome. Those thighs? They've always touched, but they're strong as hell. That waist? Not as thin, or as well defined as in my 20's, but they've carried and sustained two lives. The reality was, that for the first time, I was able to sit back and admire the heck out of myself in photos. That feeling of empowerment, just like I had after my photo session, came back again.

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Getting to meet you, Julie, and finding out that there's this local, badass, funny, kind, photographer out there that can help change another womans outlook on herself just with a couple hours of their time and a camera. The session itself was great, looking at the photos was wonderful, but I love connecting with other strong women who are being true to themselves and doing what they love while also making the world around them better. So, it might seem weird to say, but my favorite part was getting to meet another GRRRL out there being a total badass babe. :)

I'm planning on doing this to a bunch of my close girlfriends. :) I haven't refined my message yet, but I think it'll be along the lines of, "This is the best gift you can give YOURSELF. It makes a great gift for your significant other, but do it as a way to honor yourself. To see yourself as the fierce badass you are. From start to finish you'll feel empowered, and perhaps even more awakened to your own strength in your sexuality."

 

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When you panic a week before your session but come out feeling like a GODDESS
 

Remember that time I talked about how important picking a photographers style was really important? J had been in instagram and was saving a lot of black and white photos she really liked and then after taking another look at where these photos came from, she saw that they were from the Northern Virginia area and were all my work. If that doesn’t say she found her style, then I don’t know what does! It’s easy to fall in some kind of rabbit hole in instagram but when you find what you’re looking for, that justifies the bucket loads of hours spent scrolling and saving. Girl, I know.

It is absolutely normal really get nervous right before your shoot and J let me know she was having hesitations about not being able to pose or look the way she wanted in her own mirror so how was she supposed to do that in front of a camera. I reassured her that 98% of my clients have never had a shoot like before and don’t know how to pose. And that I was going to guide her into all the poses and expressions and to just trust the process. I got you!

What was even more incredible is that J drove all the way up from the Charlottesville, VA area to have her shoot with us and I’m so glad she did! She had some amazing Honey Birdette lingerie and I was so excited to have her feel amazing and to create a very personal surprise gift for her soon to be husband.

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My search for a boudoir photographer began on instagram...like most great searches ;-). I typed in a tagline and I began to see the most beautiful black and white photographs...the bookmarking had begun. As a returned back to my original search, I began tagging more and more photos all from the same original tagline. Once I had established quite the collection, I investigated the photos further and found that they all belonged to the same photographer...Julie. Her style was breathtaking and her ladies looked sexy and natural. Once I found her website, I was blown away by how calm and informative she seemed without ever having have met her. Her website had women of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities in the most flattering light and poses. My boudoir shoot was nothing more than amazing! I made the absolute best decision in picking Julie.

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With my wedding approaching, I wanted to surprise my future hubby-to-be.I had never done anything like a boudoir shoot before so I knew he would never expect it! The album that I purchased from my session was the gift that I gave my husband during out first look on my wedding day. He was more than surprised!

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My biggest fear in doing a boudoir session was the feeling of being exposed. I had never done anything like this before....and frankly am not the best at posing sexy. Prior to my shoot, I remember sending Julie an email freaking out, realizing I had NO IDEA how to pose myself to look attractive and flattering after many failed attempts in my bathroom mirror. Julie sent the most sensitive and kind email response, telling me not to worry and that she would guide me along the way. Julie was 100% honest. Throughout my shoot, she guided me every step of the way: "purse your lips...arch your back...more...I know you can give me a bit more...amazing." She was kind, thoughtful, and encouraging! I never felt confused or embarrassed....she made me feel like I had been doing this for years.

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What was your favorite part of your boudoir session?: There were too many to count! However my two favorites would be hair and makeup and post-shoot. I LITERALLY FELT LIKE A GODDESS! My hair and makeup was completed to absolute perfection...I felt so beautiful and it was just how I envisioned it would be. Following the shoot, Julie showed me a sneak peak photo and it looked amazing! WAYYYYY better than I could ever have imagined. I felt so beautiful and free...it was a feeling that every woman should experience.

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Feeling confident and comfortable was really important to her.
 

I’ve always wanted to go back to Belize for our honeymoon where we could spend more time to explore the area and relax on the beach. While, I do still plan to do this one day (even though  it’s been a 6 year marriage and we still have not honeymooned, LOL) why have I made the reason to only go for our honeymoon?

I’d admit, traveling to another country, or anywhere other than the states, I tend to make a reason for it. It is outside my comfort zone, being somewhere totally foreign gives me some anxiety, but it shouldn’t have to be that way! Traveling there IS the occasion.

Thinking of doing a boudoir shoot is the same for a lot of women. We need to justify this investment with an occasion and weddings are just one of those reasons. And it’s not that you need to justify it, I think it’s that we feel like now we have a really good reason to do it and there really isn’t an excuse you can tell yourself to put it off.

S decided to do her boudoir shoot for her wedding and when she was looking for a photographer, the style, quality and feeling comfortable was top on her list.

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After looking at numerous websites in the area, I was the most attracted to Julie's. I loved the style and quality of her photos, and when we had an introductory call, I found her to be someone I was comfortable with, which was obviously very important to me for such an intimate experience. I also really appreciated her empowering attitude!

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My biggest fear was honestly my face. I do not normally wear a lot of makeup, but wanted to do more than usual for the shoot. I also was not a fan of my 'serious' faces in my engagement pictures, and since boudoir is definitely less smiley than most photo sessions, I was worried that between the extra makeup and trying to be seductive during the shoot, I would come off looking ridiculous. 

Thankfully, that didn't happen! Julie and her make-up artist worked with me to make sure I was comfortable with the makeup, and during the shoot, Julie made me feel super confident and comfortable, so I wasn't focusing so much on my facial expressions. When I got the photos, I thought that my expressions in them looked natural, not the forced serious faces I had in my engagement photos, and the makeup looked great!

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The session overall was just fun! It felt great to be able to get dressed up (or down!) and take pictures that were all about me. The session made me feel confident and sexy, and kind of bad-ass, and Julie was a huge part of what made me feel that way.

Go for it! Julie is absolutely amazing, you will have a blast, and the final product is superb. Julie works with you every step of the way to make sure you are getting exactly what you want. She does a personalized photo reveal with all of her clients, where they go through all of the pictures to pick exactly the ones they want (which is tough because there are so many good choices). Her process is so much fun, and ensures that the final product is perfect.

 

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