Boudoir Week 2019: Melody Smith Portrait

Today we're hanging out with boudoir photographer Melody Smith.
Melody tells us about how she fell into boudoir photography, what makes her studio unique, and she shares her tips for how to make a boudoir shoot successful! 

Woman laying down wearing a red dress and heels

Hi Melody! Tell us about your photography journey.

By first grade, I had developed a love of art and beauty and began experimenting with drawing and painting. Photography became an obsession at only 8 years old as I watched a photographer at a wedding where I was asked to “assist” them for a few moments. Envisioning a beautiful masterpiece with light rays surrounding the bride and groom, I was disappointed in the final image when it was printed for the album. There were no dramatic rays, just a dusty pair of mini blinds and a couple. I began trying to recreate what I envisioned that photograph to be and became obsessed with photography.
Throughout high school and college, I photographed friends, family, and acquaintances for merely the cost of film and developing using old painters lights and a simple white wall in an apartment or bedroom. In 2005, I launched Twilight Images, a photography studio specializing primarily in wedding photography but also staging and creating portrait sessions from newborns, old Hollywood glamour, couples, boudoir, and fine art portraits and in 2012 I turned a new chapter and created Melody Smith Portrait.

Your work is so stunning. How would you describe your style?

I specialize in fine art portraiture of men and women between the ages of 8 and 80, with an emphasis on individual portraits. I would say my rich color pallet, expert posing, and feminine aesthetic mark my style as timeless, sometimes whimsical, and refined.

 

two women sitting down

What do you enjoy most about boudoir photography? 

While I don't shoot traditional boudoir photography, my work still screams sexy and confident. I spent many years struggling with self-esteem and body confidence so naturally creating images of women which only show the parts of their bodies they are the most confident with became my motif. I love to show my clients their own beauty reflected back to them with the most loving eyes and intentions. Seeing a woman’s self-esteem change after a portrait session is, for me, the best part of the entire process.

What would you say to someone who is interested in boudoir photography but is hesitant to take the leap? 

Boudoir photography does not have to be thongs and lingerie. Most women are insecure about some part of their body or physical features. This isn’t about your body at all or trying to impress or arouse someone; this is about infusing you with confidence, providing a safe place, and with coaching to bring that expression to the surface!

 

Two women posing

Boudoir by nature is very intimate. What's your approach for getting clients to feel comfortable?

I meet with every client during an in-person consultation that lasts about an hour in my studio. During the consultation, we discuss not only logistics of the shoot and product pricing, but also have a deep conversation about why the client wants to do a session.
The connecting doesn’t end there. On the day of the shoot, I spend about 2 hours in meaningful conversation while I do the hair and makeup for every client. This is when clients open up the most about their fears and tell their story. By the time we are done with hair and makeup, the client feels safe and free to be themselves with no judgment.

How do you empower women with your photography? 

Every woman has her own set of insecurities, a past riddled with both triumphs and tragedies. Many women forbid themselves self-love for fear of being selfish or narcissistic. Infusing these women with powerful energy, encouraging and coaching them to be their own truth, and finally showing them the reflection of that personality in a photograph gives each client a blazing reminder of the woman they always knew but feared no one saw.

 

Woman sitting on couch wrapped in towel

What is the most rewarding part of a boudoir session?

The most rewarding part of any session is showing the clients their photographs in person. Many women are overwhelmed with emotion.

The best part of boudoir photography is the keepsakes! What gets your clients excited about receiving their physical products?

During the consult, we fully discuss all of the products offered and offer advice about how they can use their images as both wall art, gifts for those that love them, heirlooms for family members, and a reminder of a day they felt on top of the world.

 

Woman in lingerie standing against wall

If someone was hoping to pursue a career in boudoir photography what advice would you give?

Practice! Work with family and friends. Even if you have to photograph the same person a hundred times. Learn to find confidence in directing your clients through the entire experience.

 

Melody Smith Headshot

Melody Smith is an international award-winning master portrait photographer, makeup artist, and costume designer. In 2014, Melody entered the WPPI 16x20 print competition and scored a gold award and placed 2nd place in the premiere category, her first time ever entering any print competition. Over the next 6 years, she would continue to achieve over 60 awarded images with WPPI and have placed 10 times. She also received Gold Photographer of the Year in 2017 with PPA’s IPC. She is based in historic Petersburg, Virginia. See more of her work at melodysmithportrait.com.

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