Hi, Jessica! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Well, hello! I'm a boudoir and wedding photographer from Pennsylvania; I am based in both in Philadelphia and in the mountains of Northeast, PA. I have a love for shooting film, vivid colors, fluffy dogs, salty snacks, binge watching Netflix, sarcasm, and napping. My road to becoming a photographer isn't a very poetic or adventurous story: I was a painter and had always pursued the thought of going to school for fine art. I took an introduction to film photography class in my senior year of high school and just fell in love with the medium. I've pursued my own photography business ever since and am still shooting with film!
What drew you to boudoir photography?
I was drawn to boudoir photography initially because of the opportunity to allow women the chance to celebrate themselves and their bodies. As a plus size woman, I've always had major insecurities about my body and loved the concept of boudoir photography and it's celebration of the female form. What I really love the most about boudoir is seeing what it has done for my clients and their confidence.
Was boudoir photography something you always had in mind to add to your business? How do you think your business has benefitted from incorporating this niche?
Boudoir was definitely something I always had in mind for my business because it was what I initially focused on. I've since incorporated weddings + engagements into my repertoire, but boudoir was my first specialty. The biggest steps for marketing boudoir for me was social media. When I first began shooting boudoir, it was before the trend really took off and not many photographers offered it at the time. Being able to share the images on social media and tag my clients (with permission, of course) was a huge marketing tool as most women seeing my work weren't familiar with boudoir, so they came to me as I was the only photographer they saw posting them. Now, I keep the momentum going with Instagram, which is such an amazing free marketing tool if using some hashtags that your target client is searching. My business has benefitted from this niche in a big way because now that I've switched my focus to weddings, all of my brides are loving the option of boudoir as an added touch to their wedding experience and a sexy surprise for their spouse-to-be.
Why should a woman have boudoir photos taken?
A woman should consider boudoir photography simply for the chance to celebrate herself and her body. I have and always will say that a boudoir session is really a gift for the woman who's getting them done. A boudoir session is such a beautiful way to show an over-critical mind that they're sexy and beautiful with their flaws, and because of their flaws. It's a game-changer in remapping how we think of women's bodies and 'perfection'. Being able to see yourself as sexy and beautiful, when you've been telling yourself your whole life that you're inadequate, is a highly empowering and rewarding experience.
You’re not just a boudoir photographer! You also photograph weddings and engagement sessions… How do you balance it all? What products do you use to ensure that you have a smooth workflow?
Balance, what's that?! I'm always striving for balance and definitely am still learning, but some products have really helped me stay organized and are real time savers. The biggest lifesavers in terms of balance for me have been 17Hats and the Design Aglow templates like the Luxe Boudoir Magazine and the Wedding Welcome Package. 17Hats keeps everything in one place for me like emails, calendar, invoices, contracts, booking keeping, and more that helps me stay on top of all aspects of my business. The Design Aglow templates have also been huge lifesavers because I just don't have time to design my own investment guides, welcome packets, brochures, etc. With Design Aglow, I am able to tailor each template to incorporate all three specialities so my clients know what I offer and how it all works together.
Boudoir by nature is very intimate. How do you get your clients to relax and feel comfortable with you?
Boudoir is super intimate! My biggest weapons in terms of getting my clients to relax and open up to me during their sessions are a Spice Girls playlist, my constant chatter, and self-deprecating humor. I mean, Spice Girls, come on - no explanation needed there. Being an extrovert and able to constantly chat and talk is a great tool because I just talk with my client the whole session and make it feel more like a girl's day hang-out rather than an intense photoshoot. We're just two girlfriends hangin' out and chatting - one of them just happens to be in their undies, no biggie. My other tool of the trade is being able to make jokes at my own derpy expense - that gets them laughing and relaxed pretty quickly.
What is the most rewarding part of a boudoir session?
The most rewarding part of a boudoir session by far is the response I receive from my clients. Every single client I've photographed has told me what a life changing experience their session was and how much it has changed their view of themselves. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I can't believe I really look like that." Women see themselves through society's eyes and what we've learned to see as the 'perfect woman', and naturally we fall short of that false standard. Being able to show women how beautiful they are in real life and seeing the impact that has on their psyche is the most rewarding part of my job.
If someone was hoping to pursue boudoir photography, what advice would you give them?
My advice for anyone wanting to pursue boudoir photography is to aim to document your subject's true spirit rather than just focus on their outer appearance. In my opinion, boudoir photography is all about each individual woman's beauty and sensuality within herself. I could talk about the technical aspect (like what equipment to utilize) or the business side (like what can be done to react your clients) but I believe that successful boudoir portraiture lies in each woman and who she is. If you're conscious of that and aim to celebrate each woman in her own right, you'll make some incredible and meaningful portraits.
A big part of boudoir photography are the keepsakes clients get. How do you get clients excited about receiving those physical prints?
The keepsakes clients takes home are my favorite! I'm able to get my clients excited for the physical product by showing them in person what their prints and albums will look like. When they're able to touch the pages, feel the texture of the covers, the thickness of the pages, it shows them that tactile prints and albums are the way these images should be presented and remembered 20 years from now. There's no comparison between a screen and a print or album, and being able to show them in person makes all the difference.
What would you say to someone who is interested in having boudoir photographs done but is hesitant to take the leap?
If you're afraid to take the leap into a boudoir session, my advice is to just jump. Everyone is so critical of themselves and their appearance, so no matter how much you can try and prepare, you will always go into a boudoir session nervous and a little scared. One thing I can assure anyone who is thinking about a boudoir session is that you will be shocked at how comfortable you'll feel after the first five minutes. You won't believe me, but I promise. Once you get over the initial fear of a stranger seeing you in your underwear and having a camera document it, it'll be so much fun and like a weight has been lifted. My biggest advice is to go with a photographer who makes you feel comfortable right off the bat even if just through emails at first, whose images you love, and whose personality you connect with. It makes all the difference.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just book that session already!
I'm a boudoir + wedding photographer based in both Philadelphia and the mountains of Northeast, PA where I live with my handsome woodworker hubby and our goofy Golden Retriever named Zero. I'm a film photographer who loves lots of vibrant color, natural light, anything with lace, and all things vintage. I celebrate all things offbeat and different, and I'm an adventurer at heart.
My husband and I craved some sun and sand for our honeymoon. We wanted to go on an adventure together, to come back with an awesome experience and not go on a “standard" honeymoon. We were able to settle on Cuba.
The turquoise waters of the Bahamas, the dramatic Rocky Mountains, the vistas of Iceland- endless romantic images pop into our minds when we think of destination weddings. And that is why, almost every wedding photographer at some point wants to give them a go.
So we’re going to tell you how to find them, book them, and prep for them.
The formula is simple.
clients you love + photography you are excited about + doing it your way = happy photographer
We think a shift should be made in photography. A happiness shift. You likely got into photography because you love taking photographs. And then the reality of making a living at it started to creep in, and you became bound to jobs you didn’t really want to do, because you needed the money. We’ve been there, and yep, it stinks.