As the owner of Donna Lane Photography, I'm always scouring the net for inspiration and resources that will help me evolve my services. I was recently watching an interview with a well-known portrait photographer who said "I'm not sure how posing in your underwear is empowering". I paused the video for a moment to think about my experience as a boudoir photographer and wondered if I was truly empowering women. How was I furthering the cause? Was making a difference? I thought about some of my dear friends (no, not customers; once I've seen your boobs, we're connected! lol!) and decided "hell yes, what I'm doing has a purpose!!"
Now don't get me wrong, not all of my new friends do this for "healing" reasons. Sometimes a boudoir shoot is scheduled just for fun or to ignite a spark with a loved one. For other women though, there is serious healing power involved. Skeptical? Read on and decide for yourself...
Mandy was one of my first clients and she'd experienced the hardest year of her life in 2017. After being married for 10 years she found out that her husband had a 5 year old son with another woman. Mandy was completely devastated. When we spoke during our initial conversation she broke down in tears and said she didn't know how she was going to heal and pick up the pieces. Mandy was embarrassed, ashamed and no longer felt beautiful. What little confidence she'd had was completely eroded. When I asked her "Why now?" her response was "I need to see myself through the eyes of someone other than my husband before I lose myself completely".
When Mandy arrived for her shoot, she was anxious and scared to death but determined to get through it. I turned on the most empowering music I could find and we got started. About 20 minutes into our time together I showed her a few shots on my camera and the first thing she blurted out was "Holy shit! that's ME??" she shed some tears, we fixed her mascara and shared a toast- then got back to business!! When our time was over, she gave me the biggest hug and said "you've just given me my life back". I KNEW at that moment that my life was going to change- I felt it to my core. We still chat from time to time. Mandy and her husband decided to work things out but things between them are very different now; Mandy got her power back.
Karen was a super single mum; worked tirelessly in corporate America, drove the kids to swim and soccer practice daily, stayed up to help with projects well into the night, and made sure she was at EVERY event in the front row (so incredibly relatable!). Karen said she'd chosen me from the competition because she didn't want a "skinny young photographer" who couldn't understand the disappointment of things "going south" and "wrinkling up" (not sure how I felt about that but I digress! haha!). We had a few laughs on the phone, discussed her wardrobe and set a date.
On her shoot date, Karen showed up with a huge old suitcase filled with 40 awful clothing items that we didn't agree on beforehand because she decided she was having a "fat day" and didn't want to feel exposed. I made the executive decision to do an entire shoot with a simple white sheet. Best. Decision. Ever. After Karen saw her first few images on the camera, she asked me if we could lose the sheet completely because she LOVED the way the contrasting shadows/sunlight hit her body. Seeing the confidence in her face as she arched her back and caressed her gorgeous skin made my heart swell. Unfortunately, Karen still puts herself last BUT she has her second annual shoot scheduled for the summer. Karen told me that as long as she has something to look forward to that she can keep doing what she's doing. She has committed to doing this once a year as a reminder of who she is and all that she has accomplished.
Ahhhh sweet Beverly. Beverly was one of the kindest women I'd ever met. Beverly was actually referred to me by her friend Karen (shoutout to Karen! Woot woot!). Beverly had gone through a painful second divorce only months prior and she was questioning everything about her identity. Beverly had no idea that her husband wasn't happy and the divorce wasn't her idea. Beverly wanted to work on the marriage but her husband had thrown in the towel. When she showed up at the door for her session her eyes were puffy, her hair was a mess and she exclaimed "Give me a reason not to cancel and go home!". The only thing I could come up with was "because I have mimosas and your session fee is non-refundable!!!". We both laughed at the door, I gave her a hug and ushered her in.
Over the next hour while I did her hair and makeup she shared things with me as though we were life long friends; because that's how it felt. I gave her a mirror so she could see herself and she smiled and said "yep, I'm ready". I knew that she wasn't just ready because she had a pretty face and gorgeous tight curly hair, she was ready mentally and emotionally. After the session was over she ordered the largest album I carry and she keeps it propped up next to her bed in her bedroom; she said it's her daily reminder that she's invincible.
Do I think this type of service heals people? Hell yes I do. I see how it changes people firsthand. Do you have to get half naked pictures taken to feel better about yourself? Of course not. That's the beauty of life; we have options! I'm simply one of them. Even if you don't choose me, do something to get your "mojo" back. Take a trip, spend time with friends, find a great therapist! We only have one life so let's make it matter!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of my friends :-)