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.
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.
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.
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.
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."