“Um, I have to tell you something. I’m in my 50s and somewhat … curvy. Are you sure you want to have me in your boudoir photography portfolio?”
When Rose spoke to me on the phone, she was definitely pushing herself out of her comfort zone. But then, she had been doing that for a while. She described herself as a professional and a mother of 3 grown kids who had been through a divorce a couple of years ago. She was on a journey to love and accept her body, and felt she was ready to reclaim her sexuality and power by saying YES to new and challenging experiences.
I reassured Rose, “Heck yeah! You’re exactly who I want in my portfolio”. She signed up for a shoot. But as the day of the shoot approached, anxieties and fears reared up in her head:
I don’t look good in pictures usually – what if this is more of the same?
Do I have to do something I’m not comfortable with?
OMG – I don’t have anything to wear!!!
Even with all of that, she showed up for her shoot, nervous and brave, with a suitcase full of beautiful outfits. We took it from there.
My Adventure with Somatica
I first encountered Somatica as a client in 2014, working on my own sex and relationship challenges. Working with Celeste (one of the Somatica Founders) for over a year helped me clarify my needs, desires, and boundaries. This ultimately helped me navigate both my unconventional marriage as well as my partner’s gender transition. So, when Celeste asked me if I’d be interested in taking the Somatica Core Training in 2017, it was a no-brainer.
As part of the program, I learned how so many women are traumatized by their experiences around their bodies and their relationship with society and men; how creating a supportive space and a container of trust is critical to healing; how being in your own body can be so empowering for both men and women.
As the program ended, I felt that coaching wasn’t quite the right thing for me, but everything I had learned supported another passion of mine: photography.
I realized that the principles of Somatica – embodiment, attunement, vulnerability, boundaries – are all key components of a great boudoir photo session. This made me think: What if a photo session could also be a time of celebration, empowerment, and healing for my clients?
After that, there was no looking back. I dove into intimate and boudoir photography, and a few months later, launched my business: Shadows and Curves.
The Experience of a Boudoir Photo Shoot
We started Rose’s session with a quick check-in where we both talked about what we were feeling and our intentions for the day. Together, we then went through her outfits, laying out what she would be wearing and where. We talked about the story she wanted to tell about herself and her life. This was when she really started to relax. “It felt like a true collaboration, and not like someone just telling me what to do,” she said.
Throughout the session, my assistant and I stayed attuned to her, nudging her to try new things. We also made sure though she was relaxed, taking breaks whenever necessary. In her own words, “It felt like a really fun afternoon with friends, not like a photo shoot.”
The experience of a session itself can be transformative enough, but the real magic happens when a client sees her photos for the first time. In Rose’s case, her first reaction was, “I can’t believe that’s me!”
There’s a reason a picture is more powerful than a thousand words. Words get caught in our head, but an image can bypass the stories we tell ourselves and can carry a message deep into our bodies.
The Power of Boudoir Photography + Somatica
The tools and techniques from my Somatica training help me create a fun and supportive space where my clients feel completely in their body and comfortable enough to express their true, gorgeous selves.
I see so many of the women in my life struggle with a lack of self-worth; women who are dedicated to being professionals, partners, mothers and often don’t make enough time to take care of themselves. I’m constantly amazed by how beautiful and powerful these women are, and saddened by the fact that they’re unable to see themselves that way.
As a male photographer, I bring a special perspective and responsibility to my clients. Instead of the objectification and degradation that women often have to endure from men in daily life, my clients choose to have the experience of a man who supports their healing, true will, and self-expression. I want them to feel as deeply seen as they want to be in the world.
With women in their 40s and 50s, it’s about feeling that despite all of society treating them like they should be invisible, they’re still beautiful, sexy, and desirable.
With new moms, it’s about celebrating the changes in their bodies, reconnecting with their partners, and taking time for themselves amidst all the social pressures of being a mother.
For my transgender and non-binary clients, it’s about really, truly seeing themselves in their authentic gender identity.
For couples, it’s about exploring and (re)discovering their connection, capturing moments of true, vulnerable intimacy.
That’s the power of boudoir photography, and that is why I am a photographer. I’m incredibly grateful to Somatica for helping me find this path and this career.
I love working with Somatica practitioners and their clients to celebrate the end of their healing journeys.
I also plan to grow my boudoir photography portfolio quite a bit in the coming months to include more women, men, couples (straight and queer), non-binary and trans people, kink, erotica and more. I’ll be putting out regular model calls for those.