In the bedroom
Is a boudoir photo session for you?
It’s time for the first photo of my boudoir session with Teri Fiske of Ciao Bella Boudoir. I’m laying down on the bed, legs up, knees together, toes pointed on the headboard.
“Run your right hand through your hair,” she instructs. “Like that. Perfect.”
The camera clicks.
My decision to have boudoir shots was like most other women’s—my then fiancé would love them. It’s a great wedding gift, isn’t it? But part of me was also saying you only live once. You’ll look back on this as something you’re proud of doing. Who doesn’t want to be photographed beautifully?
I’ve always envied the beautiful women in magazines and lingerie catalogues. They look confident, effortlessly sexy. That’s not how I see myself. I’m fairly awkward. But I know one of those girls is hiding somewhere deep down inside.
“A friend of mine once asked me to make her ‘look like those girls,’” says Fiske. “I told her, ‘you already do, and I’m going to show you how.’”
Fiske has been a professional photographer for twelve years, starting out photographing families and expectant mothers. Nine years ago she began to look into boudoir photography after being inspired by her maternity sessions.
“It was focusing on a woman’s body, her shape,” that drew Fiske in. She researched and found boudoir photos of women, mostly by male photographers. Right away, she noticed a difference.
“They were from a man’s perspective,” she says. “A man will pose a woman in sexual positions to make her feel beautiful. But when you focus on making a woman feel beautiful first, she will exude sexiness all on her own.”
Beautiful isn’t exactly how I’m feeling when I pull into the parking lot at Hanlon-Fiske Studios. It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m in jeans and a T-shirt and wearing no makeup, as instructed.
Fiske meets me at the door of the studio—formerly a house—on Winton Road. French doors open to the boudoir space: calming, rain-cloud-gray walls, a fireplace, a bed with textured comforter and pillows, a black velvet chaise lounge and an antique vanity. As I sit and chat with Fiske, I become less nervous than when I first arrived.
Makeup artist Valerie Schaubroeck arrives to do my makeup. As we discuss what look I’d like, Fiske brings me a glass of prosecco and hands me a slinky black robe to change into. I put on the robe and already feel old Hollywood glamorous—and my makeup isn’t even done yet.
We talk as I sip my prosecco and Schaubroeck applies my makeup. This is all part of the package when you work with Fiske on a boudoir session. The process helps get you in the mood and sets you at ease, rather than jumping right into pictures. I mention my nervousness.
Fiske knows the feeling all too well. When she first decided to get into boudoir photography, she did a session herself.
“I was totally nervous,” she recalls. “But as time went on, I felt empowered. I call it finding your fierce. At some point in the session, you’ll find your fierce.”
My makeup is finished, and it’s time to change for pictures. I brought a corset, ruffled panties and strappy high heels. This is a getup normally reserved for my husband alone.
As I fasten my shoes, I think to myself: “Am I really doing this?” I see myself in the vanity mirror and grin. “Yep.”
The shoot begins, and I’m a little awkward, trying to pose and trying to relax.
“You look amazing,” Fiske says, and shows me the image on her camera. I’m shocked. It’s me—and I look damn good.
I feel more at ease. With each pose I feel more empowered, and the poses begin to feel more natural. And when I start to move into the poses before Fiske instructs me, I realize I’ve found my fierce.
Anyone can find her fierce in a boudoir session, says Fiske.
“One client, who, like many of my clients, doesn’t fit the standard ‘skinny model’ mold, was nervous about how she’d look in her lingerie. She had her makeup done and wore beautiful lingerie that fit her perfectly. She looked amazing. In the middle of our session, I showed her a photo I’d just taken. She got teary-eyed, because she saw how beautiful she really was. Boudoir is transformative. I’m helping clients to see the beauty that everyone else sees.”
After my session is done, I change back into my jeans and T-shirt. I feel completely different—the clothes are the same, but I’m in a new skin. I leave the studio with my head a little higher and a swing in my hips. And I realize that when I decided to do the shoot, I really hadn’t done it for a man. I did it for me.
That’s what it’s all about, says Fiske. “My goal is empowering women. Your husband, boyfriend, partner is simply going to benefit from your session, but this is really about how you feel when you leave.”
And I’m feeling good.
Jennifer Taylor is a pseudonym.