With the season of giving right around the corner, many women are facing a familiar conundrum—finding memorable gifts for their significant others. Ladies, we might know just the thing: boudoir photography. Two local photographers give us the lowdown.
Don’t be shy!
“Every woman is self-conscious about something, but it’s my job to showcase all that is gorgeous about yourself and make you feel amazing!” says Miranda Zynda-Kneeland who crafts the Sultry Sessions for Reminisce Studio by Miranda & Adam, the photography company she shares with her husband.
“My nervous butterflies were gone after a few clicks,” says one of Zynda-Kneeland’s first-time clients. “I was very nervous and didn’t know what to expect at first, but Miranda was warm and welcoming. She made me feel at ease as she snapped away.”
Who’s boudoir for?
Women visit these photographers for all kinds of reasons: They’re getting married, it’s their anniversary, they’re starting a family, they’ve gotten divorced, they’ve lost weight…even just because!
“It’s encouraging to see women who are having milestone birthdays—30, 40, 50—coming in, and they’re embracing it,” says Melissa Yokofich, owner of Studio M Boudoir Photography. “They’re sexy and vibrant.” This type of photography can be relatable to everybody, she says. All types of women can look stunning in boudoir photos—she recently shot 21 women, sizes 0 to 20 to prove it.
Before every photo session, boudoir photographers talk with clients about how to prepare and what to expect. They also find out women’s inspirations for the shoot, whether it’s reminiscent of a vintage pin-up, high fashion or a men’s magazine. They certainly don’t have to take it all off.
“Typically, people start with a consultation,” says Yokofich, who has also shot couples. “I’ll ask them, ‘Why are you here?’” This way, she can start to get an idea of ways to tailor the boudoir session to the individual client.
Zynda-Kneeland emails pre-session tips (practice ‘smizing,’ for example), as well as a questionnaire that asks what the client finds most sexy about herself, as well as what her partner likes, if the photos will be a gift. They tend to be different things. Then, Zynda-Kneeland can play up both of those assets in her shots: “I like the photos to be a gift for each of them!”
“I think women, in general, have a ton on our plates,” says Shannon Turley, whose review of Studio M couldn’t be more glowing. “I work full time, run my own business, and I try to be a great mom, on top of maintaining personal relationships in my life.” As Turley prepped for her session, she was amazed how her self image improved. “It’s remarkable what a little waxing and a pedicure can do!” she says.
Creating your look
For boudoir attire, the choices are endless. Clients can wear pieces they already have, purchase something new, steal something from their significant other’s closet or borrow a piece or two from the photographer’s collection. As long as they feel sexy, Zynda-Kneeland says, they’ll rock your shoot.
If women don’t know what to bring, Yokofich recommends something black and lacy. “It’s classic, it’s beautiful, it looks great on everybody,” she says—that type of lingerie comes in a wide array of styles. Corsets flatter everyone, she adds.
And don’t forget props: “I always encourage my clients to incorporate things that make them unique or things that their partner loves,” she continues. “A woman recently brought some headphones as a prop to our session—her hubby is a DJ. It was so playfully sexy!”
“I send people everywhere…Frederick’s of Hollywood, which has really reasonable corsets, or Victoria’s Secret,” says Yokofich. “If this is a splurge and you have a reason to buy a fabulous set of Italian lingerie, you can go to Minoan Intimate Apparel in Whitefish Bay, which carries La Perla. For vintage stuff, Luv UnLimited is right here in Bay View.”
Hair and makeup are the icing on the veritable cake. Yokofich even brings in a hair stylist and a makeup artist from Roots Salon & Spa. She fills them in on the client’s tastes ahead of time, so they’re prepared to give her just the right look. (Don’t worry, they leave before the shooting begins.)
Most boudoir photographers won’t shoot anything that appeals to, as the Supreme Court would say, prurient interest. Some things are better left in your own bedroom, they say.
“My clients know ahead of time what types of photos I do and don’t do, so I’ve managed to never even get any pornographic requests,” says Zynda-Kneeland. “The images are supposed to showcase inner and outer sexiness—not give away the whole show!”
The boudoir session
The session begins in street clothes. The photographer helps make the final clothing and accessory selections and, Zynda-Kneeland says, “we just hang out for a bit so she’s really comfortable with me before starting her session.” She’ll also help the client into difficult lingerie, Yokofich adds—“a standard part of the job.”
Both of these pros have their own spaces dedicated to boudoir shoots, but they’ve shot in hotels and natural settings, too. Yokofich has an artist’s loft in Bay View that features a couple of dressed beds and other posh props perfect for posing, along with several textured backgrounds. In her new home, Zynda-Kneeland recently transformed a spare bedroom into the ultimate boudoir set, complete with luxe furniture and fabrics.
“I like to act out any poses for her so she has a visual example and is more confident when she does it herself,” says Zynda-Kneeland. “I really like the experience to be a fun and empowering one for her.”
“Melissa guided me through posing in a gentle and encouraging way, and we spent a great deal of the session cracking up,” says Turley, the Studio M client. “I actually almost forgot that I was nearly naked!”
A client isn’t left clueless about the way she looks. Both these photographers like to show the images on their camera screen. “I always get so excited for my clients to see their photos for the first time!” Zynda-Kneeland says.
In two hours, Yokofich says her clients typically wear three to five outfits. “Some want to rip the Band-Aid off and wear the skimpiest outfit first; others want to work their way up to it,” she says. “What feels natural and what looks flattering are often very different, and it requires a lot of twisting or arranging, so I allow for a little bit of extra time, just in case.” The result: 25 to 40 finished images, cellulite and stretch marks gone.
What happens next
When the photo session is over, take your fine self out on the town, suggests Turley (that’s her, below right!). Meanwhile, the photographer will be putting together the photo package. There’s a wide variety of ways to print them.
Women can order a large canvas print for, say, a bedroom wall, like Turley plans to, or give their beau a personalized 2013 calendar. They can even order a tiny accordion book or a CD of images if they’d rather not put themselves on display.
“A lot of women like to give a steamy little book of photos to their partner on their wedding day,” says Zynda-Kneeland, “while on their honeymoon, to celebrate their anniversary, spice up the holidays, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, to keep long distance relationships passionate, or as a gift to themselves.”
“I love all of those reasons, but I think my favorite gift was when a client mailed her book overseas to her man in the military!” she says.
So, should you schedule a boudoir session? “Do it! Now!” Turley commands. “Don’t wait to lose those 20 pounds…embrace yourself as you are and capture it!”