Little Boxes | Tulsa Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Human beings are very judgmental towards one another. We make snap decisions about a person based on what they wear, how they look, where they work. We like things to be neat and tidy and to fit into categories so our brains work really hard to quickly sort out a person in a short amount of time. Into the little boxes they go, judged. And there is probably a psychological reason for this, like maybe keeping us alive and safe.

But what about when you judge the lady ahead of you at the Target check out or the person begging on the corner or your brother’s new girlfriend? I doubt any of those people are out to do you harm. I bet most of those people, if you gave them a few honest minutes of your time, would reveal things to you that would make you realize that maybe you’re more similar than different.

My experience with people, mainly through working so intimately with women, is that they don’t fit into tidy little boxes. Or that the boxes they should be placed in based on certain factors just don’t fit who they are. We are all complicated beings bopping around this planet just doing our fucking best, okay? So let’s give one another a break and cool it with the judging. Or at least be more mindful and try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before making up your mind about someone.

I’m embarrassed to admit this but I made a snap decision about Kyra before I even met her. She was late for our shoot. I hate it when people are late, it’s my biggest pet peeve. So I was not the nicest I could have been right off the bat but I don’t think I was rude. (At least I HOPE I didn’t come off that way.) So already I’m thinking it’s going to be a waste of time and that the images are going to turn out bad because we are half-way through our hour allotment before we even get started and people need time to warm up to the camera. A lot of thoughts are just flying around in my head and they are all negative. WHY DO WE DO THIS? WHY DO WE LET ANGER CLOUD OUR JUDGEMENT SO SWIFTLY? There are a million legitimate reasons why she could have been late. Like the fact that she’s never been to the hotel I’m at, that parking is really confusing here and that traffic that day was backed up. But no, I judged. And I feel like an asshole because of it.

We basically skipped all the usual chit-chat get to know you stuff and went right into lingerie and shooting. And from the first image to the last I was just in the flow with her. She opened up to me in such an honest way with her movements and her soul that few can do right away. I think you have to be very in touch with your pain to be able to deliver like that so swiftly, at least that’s my experience.

These images are some of my favorites ever taken. But I can’t look at them without a little part of me regretting how quickly I judged her. She’s a beautiful soul, inside and out, and I am privileged to have gotten to capture her on camera at this moment in her life.

Luckily I get to know how she saw the experience because here are her words! —-

“Doing a boudoir shoot definitely scared me. Not because I had never done one before and not because I wasn’t comfortable in lingerie. To be completely honest there was a point in my life where my job revolved around being comfortable in lingerie and being exposed to any eyes to see. And back then I was full of confidence. But that feels like another lifetime and another person. So doing a boudoir shoot at this stage in my life scared me because I feared I wouldn’t be able to bring out that sexy confident woman I once was. I used to be a lot more fit and toned, my body was at its prime back then. I’ve let myself go over the years and grown to really hate what I see in the mirror. Doing this boudoir shoot with Paige was the best thing that could’ve happened to me this year. Paige made me feel beautiful again. Being in gorgeous lacy lingerie brought back a confidence I didn’t think was possible for me anymore. It inspired me to love the woman I see in the mirror and accept my flaws as beautiful. It helped give me the courage to walk outside with my head held high. And ultimately it gave me that voice back in my head that says “Kyra you are one badass bitch.” I am so grateful to have been able to work with Paige. I’ve never worked with a photographer that has such a creative vision and knows exactly how to portray it to you. She had all this brilliant ideas and worked with me to execute them and in the end they turned into flawless images. Thank you Paige for bringing out my inner sexual goddess again.”

Same story, two different sides. And I was on the wrong one. I tell you this (if you even read these) because I want you to know that I’m far from perfect. I judge too quickly still even though I work on combating that every day. And I hope that you can work on it too. Because the world needs more compassion and less Judg-y McJudgertins in it.

Okay here are the bomb-ass images (there are a lot more but I narrowed it down as best I could!)——-

Mother Morpho | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I’ve had the Mother Morpho concept floating around in my head for awhile now. To say it came to me in a dream sounds corny, but it’s 100% true, at least the name for the shoot did. And this shoot almost happened with someone else a year prior but it was pouring rain and we were downtown St.Paul and it just was not meant to be. So I put it on the back burner and waited. And waited. But then, when I thought I was going to have to shelve the concept for good I found out my favorite model Ashley was preggo! AND I was going to be in the Wisconsin area with Elle and everything aligned. We shot in my favorite spot which is just for realz MAGIC and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

I used one of my STUNNING Catherine D’Lish gowns as the base and paired it with Free People lingerie, a necklace as a crown, a long ethereal wig, and some butterflies. (All come from the Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet so this could literally be YOU if you want it to be!)

Elle did her magic with the hair and makeup and kept it equal parts weird and dreamy in a way only she knows how to do and Ashley basically just ate a panini, hopped on the 4-wheeler, and then struck a pose (she’s THAT good).

As is my new custom I like to ask all of the people who get in front of my camera to talk about their bodies. the relationship they have with it, and anything they want to share. It’s kind of like an emotional baggage spewing catharsis for the writer and I think, well I KNOW because you all tell me, that it helps the people who read it.

I asked Ashley to stick with the theme of pregnancy because generally she is such a body positive force of a woman and I thought it would be interesting to hear her take on growing a dang human inside of her!

Here’s what she had to say-

“Pregnancy is a beautiful and life-changing experience but that doesn’t mean it has to change who we are as a person. 

 

I’ve noticed that as a society we tend to view pregnant women in a different light. Suddenly, because we are carrying a child, literally the product of our sexuality, we can no longer be seen as sexual beings. There is a great divide between the conception of pre-pregnancy women and mothers-to-be but in reality, are we not the same person we were prior to pregnancy?

 

Even with all the changes my body has and continues to go through during my pregnancy it’s been important to me to stay as true to myself as possible. Shooting boudoir has always been empowering to me and continuing through my pregnancy has helped to remind me that even though my body looks nothing like it did 7 months ago, I am still beautiful, I’m still sexy, and I am still me. 

 

Like every woman, I have moments when  I break down, when I feel I feel like my body is failing me, nothing fits, my skin is stretched to the max, I’m exhausted, and I look in the mirror and wonder who I’m looking at. I let myself feel feel the feels but quickly remind myself that my body is doing something amazing! I’m literally creating and nurturing a new life. My body deserves my respect! 

 

I hope to always inspire body positivity and through my continued boudoir work I hope to show society that moms-to-be are still sexy.”

Hellz yeah to THAT!

Sometimes You Just Need To Go Through Some Shit...| Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Amanda is a special person to me. Over the years we’ve bonded through our mutual love of lingerie and she’s probably just as obsessed with vintage clothes as I am, always scoping out the best deals in the coolest places.

I’ve photographed her a few times but never really feel like I truly capture her raw essence. It remains elusive but someday I’ll get it! Either way, the images always turn out gorgeous so I must be doing something right.

One thing I really love about working with Amanda is that she trusts and encourages me to create whatever I want with her as the subject. Last year she wore only a veil in the sunlight and the year before that she was one of my first boudoir clients. This time around we went with this awesome brightly dyed vintage girdle set with a sheer tulle skirt on the top (because why the hell not) and then her own Lonely lingerie set paired with one of my kimonos. Perfection!

When I asked her to do a write up for me I knew I was going to get a story because I had seen, through social media and photographing her, the weight changes throughout the years but I had no idea the personal struggle that went behind it and how far back it went. I feel like a lot of us can see ourselves in this story and relate to temporarily losing our way when it comes to relationships and the struggle to stay true to ourselves above all else.

And without further ado, Amanda’s words-

“When asked to write about my journey through weight loss, body image, and self love, I chuckled to myself and thought, “Shit, where do I begin?” I honestly can’t remember the first time I felt ashamed of my body but if I had to guess, I’d say about 8 years old. That in itself is troubling to say the least. I knew that I was bigger than most of my classmates but it honestly never bothered me until the teasing started. Looking back it’s clear how the downward spiral of self criticism began: we usually are comfortable until someone else makes us question our image and self worth.

Creating an identity and having a sense of style was a struggle for many, many years, which I can laugh about now. In fifth grade my favorite shirt was a thin cotton tie dye poncho that I wore constantly. I was a “tom boy” for years and remember refusing to wear a bra to the point where my mother would check me before I left for school. I was an early bloomer and just wasn’t having it. Floppy boobs or bust, baby. Puberty was just a vapid ole bitch in general. I was terrified of shaving and had hairy armpits for a while until one of my friends moms said something to me.

My parents were always very gentle about the way they handled concerns about me, which I will always appreciate. Around the end of elementary school they started taking me to a dietitian. I knew that they were just trying to help me but I was so embarrassed whenever we went to the clinic and prayed that we wouldn’t run into anyone that we knew. I never even told any of my friends about it and eventually buried it so far in my memories that it didn't resurface until a few years ago. Toward the end of middle school depression set in and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life. I tried explaining my feelings to my friends and they just didn’t understand why I was sad.

At my largest I was a size 18/20, weighted 230lbs, and was incredibly depressed. I became convinced that I would probably have heart problems, develop diabetes, and would never find love if something didn't change. I started working out at a small fitness center and felt good about my path until a friends dad approached me one day and offered his advice on building muscle vs. burning fat. I’m sure he meant well but again, the stomach cramp of embarrassment set in and my workouts became less frequent because of it. I struggled with yo-yo dieting into my college years until I eventually managed to maintain 160lbs. In 2013 I contracted a parasitic infection called, cryptosporidium, which was part of an outbreak in the Midwest linked to contaminated lettuce. I lost about 15 or 20lbs in two weeks and it was the sickest I’ve been in my entire life. My diet changed quite a bit after that and I became more active in attempts to slowly heal myself.

Just as I was starting to feel healthy and got accustomed to a smaller self, I met a guy. At first I thought his sense of humor was just strange and that teasing was his shtick, but as the words became more hurtful and specific to me, my arms, my belly, my stretch marks, my legs…the voice of denial faded and the truth set in. “You can just get plastic surgery to fix that.” “You shouldn’t wear shorts. You just don’t have the legs for it.” His words cut me deeper than any childhood dickweed. When things finally ended I fell into a deep depression of guilt, constantly asking myself how I had let that happen to me. Why didn’t I leave early on? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? The answer is fear and it is a powerful motivator.

I desperately needed to regain my independence and sense of empowerment. I caught wind that Massive Attack would be playing a festival in San Francisco so I bought myself a ticket and went on a weekend trip by myself. My family thought I was crazy but it was one of the best things I ever could’ve done for myself. I felt like a new person when I got home and decided to cut my bust length hair to my chin, got bangs, and a tattoo. It comforted me in a way I can’t describe.

It took a long time to build up the courage to open myself up to someone after that. The first guy I saw was super fit and always had been. He knew about my journey but just couldn’t relate and that’s okay, but the first time he saw me naked he said, “When is the next session with your personal trainer?” and my heart sank. Really dude? Needless to say that didn’t last long and I didn’t date for a while. The next guy shared a similar story to me and also lost a lot of weight. It was so relieving to meet someone that I didn’t have to explain anything to, because he had been through it too. But over time it became clear that we were very different and that gas lighting had been happening for a while.

When things ended at the beginning of the year it was obvious that the things I was “overreacting” about were true. I felt betrayed, miserable, and enraged. I soon realized that those feelings were unsustainable and that I should transform that negative energy into something better. I was interested in boxing for a while and decided to take a class with a friend. She bailed out at the last minute and I almost did too, but then I realized that it would be good to do something for myself and by myself. The feeling after that first class was so intoxicatingly empowering that I’ve been hooked ever since. Nothing has ever made me feel more strong and confident in my entire life. I made a promise to myself from that day that I would put myself and my happiness first before anyone else. Live a bit more, take more chances, and embrace change. I dyed my hair, got new glasses, met a new dude, and finally feel like everything has fallen into place. Going to the gym regularly has been great for my stress, anxiety, and confidence. It’s kind of funny how things came full circle from dreading gym class to missing the gym when I’m sick or reschedule a workout. Everyone’s journey with health is different and sometimes it just takes a while to figure out what your body needs.

Losing a substantial amount of weight is often glamorized to the point where all we really talk about are the physical changes, when it is really a long, hard, and emotionally draining process. I still worry about moving out of the way for people and exaggerate the amount of space to give them. I have stretch marks and extra skin, especially around my belly. The most frustrating part is that I’m strong now and have hard abs underneath, but no matter now many crunches I do that extra skin has nowhere to go. I’ve considered surgery and felt guilty/vain about it for the longest time. When I talked to my boyfriend about it recently, he told me that I should do whatever makes me happy. What a great dude, eh?

Looking back to the awkward chubby girl with Cheeto stained fingers, I still wouldn’t change a thing because I wouldn’t be the same person. Sometimes you just need to go through some shit in order to become the person you were meant to be.”

Find Your Fire | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I talk a lot about how a boudoir session isn't just a boudoir session if it's done right. How it can really change you if you open up to the experience and let yourself be vulnerable for me.

I talk a lot of what might seem like 'fluff' to some people.

But the truth is that it's just that...true. 

This is Holly. And these are her words. 

"All people have their story, whether it’s full of rainbows and butterflies, or tears and dark, sleepless nights. How they choose to write the next chapter in that book is up to them. I was one of those individuals whose story is filled with a lot of dark and stormy nights. I have been through a lot of trials and tribulations in my 33 years of life that utterly crumbled me and knocked me to my knees. For many years, I chose to bottle the hurt and emotions to formulate a person I no longer knew when looking in the mirror. Battling weight issues, eating disorders, and verbal abuse for years forever changed who I was. I looked in the mirror to see someone who was ugly, fat (regardless of the number on the scale), not good enough, scarred, and a shell of her former self; essentially an empty body. I was extremely unhappy and kept thinking “there has to be more to life than this.”  I decided the only way that I am going to defeat the battle I face in my own head, is stand up to it head on; forcing myself into a position that would typically break me. A boudoir session. 

The thought of being in lingerie in front of someone I never met was completely nerve racking.  I don’t like being in a swimsuit, let alone lingerie. When it comes to bed time wear, I am a gym shorts and tank top kind of girl! Nothing sexy, nothing fancy, nothing to make me feel beautiful and something that blankets my skin. Security….safety. That was my go to.  I wouldn’t have to worry about the dimples or cellulite showing that I thought haunted my body.

The day finally came for my boudoir session. I was nervous, but locked it deep down inside. I forged forward telling myself that this was for ME and ME alone. As I reached the location and shut my car off, I took a deep breath to calm myself. It was then Paige met me, for the first time, outside with open arms. I felt like I knew her for years and this instantly calmed my nerves. She felt like the friend I haven’t seen in years and we picked up right where we left off. As I began my transformation into a boudoir babe, I couldn’t help but see the beauty that was lying beneath the negative exterior that I had painted on myself. I smiled.  This couldn’t be real.

As the photo session began and progressed, I started to feel the fire that I had been longing for for so many years. The fire I once had that had been covered from years of debris, negative comments, and harsh thoughts. At that point, I had completely let go. I was ME for the first time in years.  When the session was done, it felt like a dream come true. I waited in anticipation to see the final product. 

The day had come… to see the final product. As we were scrolling through the pictures that I had deemed impossible to be me, it occurred to me; the one thought I NEVER thought I’d say. I am a beautiful person…inside and out. For some this is a simple statement. For me, it was life changing. The boudoir session that I had set out to do to break me out of my comfort zone, to flood myself with positivity, in hopes of breathing life into the person I once was, had happened successfully. What this did for me, no one can put a price on it. I never felt more beautiful, empowered, and most importantly, at home in my skin in 20+ years. A thank you could never be sufficient enough gratitude for what this has done to me, mentally and physically.  Something so simple as a boudoir session completely wiped away years of personal opinions of myself. I feel as though I am a brand new person who can look in the mirror and say “I AM pretty, I am NOT fat, and I AM good enough.” 

Thank you for the bottom of my heart. Thank you for helping me find that fire again. And thank you for breathing life back into me."

Thank you Holly for coming into my life and sharing your soul with me. Until next time babe! 

 

Vegas-City of Artists | Vegas Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Vegas, in my mind, is the City of Artists. Showgirls, burlesque stars, singers, aerialists, pole dancers. I recently went to Vegas to work with some of these amazing beings in a whirlwind two days of back to back shooting in collaboration with Spoil Me in Rhinestones. I didn't get very much time with any of these women but we created some amazing stuff!

This is Dani. She's a gorgeous woman who knows her way around a pole. (If you haven't taken a pole class before I suggest you do, it's SO HARD but gratifying!) Here's what she had to say about her experience and how pole dancing has helped her to love the body she's in- 

"I had a really exhilarating shoot with Paige at The Cosmopolitan, I wish we had more time. I love to dress up, put my face on and pose for the camera. The lingerie was stunning, the rhinestones were shining and I truly felt beautiful in that moment. I feel free to be myself, to follow my dreams and to seek my true potential. That is what everyone deserves.

Body confidence for me came from mostly pole dancing, it really is a sport and there is so much athleticism but it's more about the way it makes you feel. It's sexy and the more you do it the better you feel, it became sort of addicting to me. You need your skin exposed so you can grip so I needed to feel comfortable in a two piece. Once I started taking pole dancing classes I became more confident in myself. I noticed that the more I loved and took care of myself the more I realized that it does not matter what anyone thinks as long as you are happy with yourself. I spend time with people who have a positive influence on me and are interested in similar things. I still have body issues and things I would like to work on but overall I am happy and healthy. I am very thankful for all of the positive things that are happening and many more to come!"

And without further ado, DANI! 

 

Embrace Your Weird | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

From the very beginning when I first picked up a camera Rachel was down to pose for me, no matter what the concept. I would throw her in pouf dresses and mohawks and even once, with the help of my entire family, I suspended her in a cobweb of ropes from a few trees. She's always trusted my vision and never hesitated to help make the pictures in my head a reality. 

I fondly call Rachel my beautiful alien, weird and unique and true to herself. But it wasn't always that way. I remember a completely different girl in high school. I remember someone timid, shy and trying to blend into the background. 

Luckily, being out of school can help change things and Rachel found her voice! But you don't need me to talk about it, here she is in her own words-

"When I was growing up, I was the awkward lanky kid, never to be caught dead in dresses and shorts. I was too skinny, too pale, too quiet. I only started wearing makeup when I was 17, because my twin sister begged me to try mascara. I struggled a lot with my body confidence because people told me I was too thin, or I should tan because I look like a ghost. After a few years of growing up, I feel like I'm the ghost with the most. I started changing my look with my vivid colors, and my own artistic expression. I found confidence in myself by looking at the differences not as weaknesses- but something that makes me stand out in crowds, and that makes me feel unique and beautiful." 

I'm going to try to take Rachel's words to heart, to look at my differences as strengths instead of weaknesses. It's kind of interesting to me because I've always been the different one and embraced that to the max but when it comes to my body I still find that I want to be the same as the Instagram stars with millions of likes. I want the big, toned booty and the tiny waist and the perky boobs and the clear, unblemished face. But I'm not that, I don't have that, I can work really hard and get close to it...but is it worth it? I don't know. I really like chips. 

The more bodies I photograph the more I really, truly realize how incredibly STUPID we all are with our insecurities about our differences. Every person that gets in front of my camera has hang ups about themselves and their outer appearance. And it's so mind-blowing to me to be on the outside looking in at you and only seeing your beauty and your strengths and your uniqueness. All I see is perfection and I wonder why you can't see it too. But then I go back into my little bubble and beat myself up about how I look and feel like I'm a fraud for telling everyone to love themselves when I am honestly not fully there yet. It's a mind-fuck I tell ya. 

I guess the moral of this story is embrace your weird. 

Here's my beautiful alien in all of her glory wearing Sweet Tooth Lingerie styled with a vintage beaded thingy I had lying around. This was photographed in my newly decorated Wisconsin 'studio' and the amazing hair and makeup is of course Elle HMUA.

A Part of Me | Omaha Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I think artists are always just trying to create things that will give their lives worth. Things that will be there long after they are gone. Things that live forever, or at least for as long as anyone cares to look at them. 

I create for all of those reasons.

I create because if I don't I literally feel like life is pointless. 

I also create because I have so many fucking feelings inside of me that need to get out. 

So in a way it's my therapy. 

If you know an artist and you think their work is awesome PLEASE TELL THEM. Like their photos, comment on their work, buy their things, tell your friends.

Being an artist can be so terrible sometimes. You put your soul into something, put it out there and...crickets. Suddenly a flood of feelings hits you like a wall. Does everyone hate it? Does it suck? I suck. I'm horrible. I should quit. No one cares. If no one sees my work or likes my work does it even exist? Do I even exist? What is the point of living? 

I can't be the only artist that goes through this.

I know rationally that my worth isn't determined by likes and comments. I KNOW this. I know that the social media algorithm is not in my favor and a whole slew of other things can effect how many people even see my images. But when you are an artist that has reclusive tendencies and putting your work 'out there' on the web is the equivalent of going to a party and no one says "hi" it fucking sucks because that's what happens at the real life party too. So it can seem like you're failing at everything. And that is a dangerous place to be in for sensitive souls. 

BUT. Sometimes we create something that is so in alignment with our feelings and emotions and psyches that it doesn't fucking matter what anyone else thinks. You want to share it with the world and you do not care if people 'like' it because YOU do and you just want everyone to see a part of you.

And that is this session here. 

I've been going through a lot of stuff lately. I'm not going to hide it or pretend I'm okay and that everything is hunky-dorey. There are way too many people out there acting like everything is fine when there is a fire going on inside of them and I really don't want to add to that list and help fan the flames of the stigma around mental health. So anyways... I had this session coming up and it was supposed to be nice and light boudoir-y but I just could not do that. I was feeling too dark. Some stuff had just happened that really (I hate to say this word but it's so true in this sense) triggered a lot of things I've stuffed way deep down for far too long, things that I thought I was over but clearly am not. 

So I talked to my model Lola a bit about it. And from the minute I met her I just knew she got it. She truly understood what I was feeling. 

And then we made art. 

Thank you for helping me express some of the pain I've been feeling. Thank you for being an emoter and an artist and a muse. Thank you for giving me something that I'm proud to have live forever long after I'm gone. 

All of the leather pieces are made by AudioHelkuik. I was so impressed with the quality and the amazing human who makes these pieces that I ordered one (the first of many!) for myself. 

Unpredictable Magic | Indianapolis Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Photo shoots in nature are my absolute favorite...but I've said that many times before.

I keep trying to think of why exactly I love them so much (besides the fact that I freaking LOVE nature) and I finally know why- 

Everything is up to chance. The scenery changes not only by the day- things blooming and fading- but also by the minute-one moment full sun glare and the next dappled shadows. 

I have to be in artist mode when I'm working outside- looking, searching, seeking for inspiration and then meshing that with the person in front of me to produce images that we can both be proud of. And it's such a thrill! Things never go as planned, and that's why it's so moving when we capture what we do. 

I hiked around the location of this photo shoot multiple times leading up to the day with my pup and had very specific ideas of what I wanted to do where. I should have known this would be pointless but nevertheless I wanted to be prepared. There was a gorgeous carpet of flowers I wanted to work with and the curvature of the nearby lake was going to make for some stunning fine art style imagery. I was very excited.

Well...nothing with nature is ever predictable! The flowers had all disappeared with the recent rain and the lake curve area was in full sun. After walking around for honestly 1.5 miles and me refusing to get mediocre images we stumbled upon a bunch of great locations! A gorgeous forest that let just the right amount of light in, a hidden fishing spot straight out of Huckleberry Finn, a grassy lane behind a porta potty of all things, and finally we went to a spot that I had hoped we could have time to get to- a gorgeous algae-covered pond complete with two geese! 

Everyone always wants to do the nature shoots but the truth is that no one thinks about the logistics.

If you want to get 'the shots' you have to be willing to brave the mosquitoes and the creepy crawlies, roll around in the mud, and lay still when you feel a spider making it's way up your arm (don't worry it's almost always a blade of grass!) Sometimes the shoots are freezing cold in the water and sometimes they are sweltering hot in the sun but you won't ever be forced to do anything you don't agree to. 

In the end, we create magic together and the images are even more cherished because of all of the things that had to fall into place to get them. 

Here is the unpredictable magic that Kiann and I created that day!

 

To book your own nature shoot- CLICK THIS! 

I Needed You Ten Years Ago | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

If you actually read my blog regularly and not just hang around for the pretty pictures you will have gotten the hint that I have had a difficult time 'accepting' my body over the years. It's still an uphill battle, but at least it's no longer a full-blown apocalypse in the temple that houses my soul. And my work as a boudoir photographer has really helped me heal myself, and in turn heal others. 

One of the things in my past that really triggered me, or kept me in the downward spiral, was all of the magazines and fashion blogs I used to look at. All I saw in them were thin women. Thin, HAPPY women. And I wanted that. I NEEDED that. 

But. 

Being thin doesn't buy happiness. Loving yourself does. 

It's so easy to just fucking SAY that. Not so easy to believe it when you're staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering why you don't look like the perfectly toned, incredibly talented actresses you work next to every day. (UMMMM maybe Paige because you regularly eat Taco Bell, hate working out, and don't get paid to maintain a certain weight.) I'd like to tell you I'm all better, I'm above that but, newsflash, I'm still working through some shit. 

I'm not saying that if there was more diversity in social media at the time that I was using it as fuel to light my eating disordered funeral pyre I wouldn't have gotten sick BUT seeing people with curves and tits and asses and bellies and jiggly bits and all sorts of different bodies might have acted like a cold bucket of water to the utter hatred I felt about myself. Maybe if I saw people like me back then looking fabulous and happy instead of just used as the before picture to a weight loss program I wouldn't have been so UTTERLY TERRIFIED of becoming MYSELF. 

But the only way forward is forward and the future is looking pretty awesome! There have been a ton of body positive people coming out of the woodwork the last few years. People who I look forward to watching re-shape society's idea of beauty, people who are making a difference for the youth of tomorrow.

One of these people is Jalyn. She is a powerhouse of curves and beauty and brains combined with a humbleness that just instantly draws you in. I needed her ten years ago, but at least I have her today! 

I think we all have our body battle stories. And I believe that by sharing them with one another we can really start to relate to one another as women instead of competing. I asked Jalyn to answer a few questions for me so you can get a feel for the woman that she is instead of only seeing the gorgeous images. And I think it's going to become a regular thing because even I'm getting tired of talking about myself all the damn time!

So without further ado here is Jalyn's interview!

 

Q: How has your relationship with your body changed over the years?

Growing up I was always very insecure of my body. I didn’t like the way I looked or felt in leotards in ballet, I hated to way my oxford button down made me look like a box during grade school. I was always self conscious about my stomach, back, thighs, and arms. I wore nothing but sweatpants & hoodies to the beach for countless summers. I never wanted to be caught showing any type of skin. I lived in baggy tees with bulky jeans. As I grew older, closer to my freshman year of college, I started modeling (thank you Hunter McGrady for being a role model through out that process) I had to teach myself that it was okay to have self love and to be confident in the shape of my body. I became really involved in fitness and using running as an outlet for the trials of high school. I lost about 70/80 in that time and I really started to accept that my body was always going to have curves because that is how my body was sculpted. There’s nothing wrong with cellulite, rolls, bumps, dimples, or any type of beautiful characteristics. 

 

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful? 

I feel my most beautiful in 2 completely opposite ways. The first is, as soon as I wake up in the morning, fresh faced, hair slightly disheveled with nothing but an oversized T-shirt on. Skin glowing from being well rested and a beaming sun, shining outside. The second is, when I’m full glam shooting for a brand or company. Wearing a jumper with heels like in these images or even a sundress. Beachy, blonde waves, glimmering highlighters, peachy pout, with stilettos, strutting my curves on set.  

 

Q: Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today and why?

If I could have a career like anyone it would be Ashley Graham or Ashley Alexiss. Ashley Alexiss has been one of my most influential role models since I started my modeling journey back in 2015. She built her own career without an agent or someone managing her and continues to handle all of her own management. It’s inspiring that a single person can accumulate millions of followers, build her own net worth through social media and modeling, then be completely independent in finding jobs and opportunities. I am inspired by people who create their own lane, their own opportunities. They see what everyone else is doing and do something different. She built an entire swimwear line, has a modeling career, and a Masters in business. That is what I strive for. She’s not only a beautiful model, but she’s a boss babe, a business woman, an entrepreneur, and a trail blazer. 

 

What is your favorite body part on yourself?

My favorite body part is either my hips or my hair. I have really wide hips but I love having a thigh brow and how my waist is smaller than my hips giving my body an hourglass figure. My hair is also my favorite because of how long and wavy it is. 

 

Q: What is it like shooting with me (Paige)? 

I had an absolute blast on set! It always makes shooting so much more memorable and fun when you can vibe with the photographer. You have a vision and it’s my job to execute it. It was such an honor to work with you and I can’t wait to do more shoots in the future. Your vibrant and joyful personality made shooting a breeze and I loved how well we work together!

 

Q: Why should other women consider doing a boudoir shoot of their own?

There is nothing more sexy or empowering than feeling like a boss babe in lingerie. You build up a confidence by working your body and realizing that all of your curves are so sexy when you really start stripping away the layers of insecurities and self doubt. 

 

Yup, Jalyn is a badass. Here are her images! 

If you want to be the change you wish to see in the world and book your own shoot- CLICK THIS!

Model Misconceptions | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

 

There are a lot of misconceptions about models. The way they look, their IQ level, and the ease of their job are constantly being dragged through the mud by people who simply don't know any better. Yes, models are beautiful (that's #1 priority of their job!) but most are extremely smart, a lot of them using the money they make to put themselves through school, and their job is anything but easy. You'd know if you spent just one hour posing like they do! 

I recently shot with Danielle Maddox, a professional model and actress who travels between Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and anywhere the job takes her! It was really refreshing not having to direct every move for once and just pretty much let her do her thing. And she is AWESOME. There's this thing she can do where she laughs on cue and it legit looks like she's having the time of her dang life! I mean, I know I'm funny but I'm not THAT funny. You'll see what I'm talking about when you get to the images.

I asked her to share a bit about the inside world of modeling for all of us and here is what she had to say-

"Not all models are created equal, just as much as in any industry, modeling is a multifaceted world full of all shapes, colors, sizes, and aged models. Though within the media we only see the glamorized runway super models that are human alien gazelles with perfect skin, features, and bodies, they are only a fraction of the job market. All types of people, including myself, are making a living by posing in ads, commercials, catalogs, e-commerce, look books, some of which are classified as "real people" or not Actor or Model types. Normal photogenic relatable  models. Some even make livings just being a "Parts Model" which includes hand modeling. I do it- and it is very much a Zoolander joke 24/7. Some of us lucky ones cross over from Commercial modeling to Fashion and dabble in all aspects of the industry. The biggest misconception is that being a model is easy and glamorous. Sure, it is a heck of a day job, and I love what I do. But I don't get sick days, paid time off, health insurance, weekends, don't have a salary, or always know when my next paycheck will come as it can take 30-90 days to get paid (almost always 90 days.) I have to 24/7 take extra care of my hair, skin and nails, and foot the bill on all of that upkeep. And most importantly I have to exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet, all while working on sets Monday-Sunday sometimes 10+ hours. It's a tough life, but it's also wonderful!" 

Yeah, now you don't think it's so glamorous do ya?

 

She also was kind enough to share with us how she preps for a shoot!

When prepping for a photo shoot there are a few important things I like to do!

First and foremost-

1. Don't stress! Stressing makes you break out, and boy do I break out!

2. Hydrate, hydrate. (You should be doing this daily anyways.) If your skin is hydrated it will glow and look fresh and smooth on camera!

3. Lower your salt and alcohol intake 1-2 nights before a shoot. Both will make you bloat and retain water! A little wine the night before is fine! Just not the entire bottle!!!

4. Get plenty of rest- posing can be exhausting and make you tweak or 'twerk' some weird muscles that you didn't know existed. A well-rested body will be more relaxed and flexible! You may be sore after!

5. Practice posing at home!!! This is important especially if you are doing a shoot in little clothing! Grab that lingerie and pop that booty and practice! Knowing your body and being confident shines through on camera!

6. Don't forget to shave!! Or don't- embrace your natural state! 

7. Moisturize! If you moisturize day of- use an unscented body oil so you don't stain or transfer to the garments. Use a clear deodorant for the same reason. 

8. Remember that your body is absolutely beautiful and don't let it hold you back from loving every inch!

9. Most importantly during the shoot BREATHE and have a blast!!

 

And without further ado...here is how a lifestyle boudoir shoot with a model looks! 

 

To The Fullest Capacity | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I talk about loving yourself and learning to love yourself A LOT. I practically shout, "YOU ARE A STUNNER!" to every woman who complains about their body anywhere within my earshot. But the truth is that it's not that easy to see your beauty when you pick yourself apart all the time. You don't just fucking wake up one day and feel at peace with the flesh cage that permits you to live this life. It takes WORK. And I talk about that a lot too. It's a real battleground for most women, and a lot of them are fighting on the wrong side. Wasting all of that precious energy attacking themselves instead of reveling in the miracle of being alive! This life is such a precious gift, something so trivial as your stretch marks should not control your thoughts. My goal is to help you flip that switch from hate to love, to show you just how amazing you really are, and to empower you to help others do the same. 

I recently had an amazing session with Chelsea whose self-image is something to aspire to. I asked her to write a little sumthin' sumthin' for me and when I received the following response I swear to you I started crying in public. And you know why? Because SO MANY WOMEN HATE THEMSELVES THAT FINDING ONE THAT DOESN'T FEELS LIKE YOU'RE IN THE MIDST OF A MAGICAL BEING. I encourage anyone who is not okay in their body to print this passage out and put it on their mirror. Let's all try to get our Chelsea on! 

Here's what she had to say-

My body is my vessel. No, not in a religious, spiritual, or metaphysical way, but in the truest most factual sense possible. There have been times when it has failed me, made me feel like a complete outsider, and hate every inch of my being. But I've also rejoiced within it, worshiped it like an altar and anointed every curve I have. Only within the past few years have I learned to balance forgiveness and self love. At 21 years old I've helped myself see how strong and beautiful my body truly is, and see that every possibility is mine to grab. I've been in awe of my muscles, gotten lost in the stretch marks that map my thighs, and fallen in love with my self. This is the only vessel that I'll have in this lifetime, it's the only thing I have to get me through this journey and to survive. Why would I spend so much time beating it up and forcing it to be things that it's not? I'm going to nourish it with the love and affection it deserves. I'm going to celebrate every day I get to spend wrapped up in its perfection. I am going to love myself to the fullest capacity.

Holy shit right? 

And to top it off, her images are just going to blow you away!

Lingerie- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Corsets- Corsettery

To book your own Self-Love Experience- CLICK HERE

Lingerie Lovers Unite! | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I used to think that I was a pervert because I loved lingerie so much. I didn't really think that liking lingerie was sinful in itself but having a straight-up love affair with corsets and panties and balconette bras seemed somehow...wrong. No one else I knew gave a shit about 'underthings' past the point of going to the Victoria's Secret at the mall a few times a year to buy underwear on sale with the word PINK plastered on the back. Obviously something was wrong with ME.

So I sort of kept my obsession a secret. I'd scour the Goodwill's  and the thrifts stores for vintage garter belts and itty bitty bustiers that I, a 14 year old, really had no use in buying. I remember being ashamed at the check out counter, trying desperately to hide my newest score, a green velvet bra, in the middle of a pile of sweaters and jeans, all the while praying that the lady ringing me up didn't give me 'that look.' 

I eventually got older (as you do) and grew some lingerie balls. I also discovered the wonderful, anonymous world of online shopping! Ebay, and later Etsy, took a lot of my money (and still does). 

My tastes have changed as well. I now lust after and splurge on designer lingerie as well as independent brands because the quality, construction, and design are just so much more well-executed than your average JCPenny bra/panty set. And talk about unique! But I'm not a snob either. I still scour the thrift stores for vintage girdle panties, bullet bras and 80's Victoria's Secret finds. 

One of my main labors of love is the Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet. It's where my passion has turned into something beneficial. I have SO MANY options for you to choose from to wear at your boudoir photo shoot with me in a wide variety of sizes and styles. I get stuff so frequently that I have a hard time posting it all up on there for people to look at! I have things that people could only dream of wearing, such as a Catherine D'lish gown (I have FOUR so far) or an Agent Provocateur corset. Or discontinued Made by Niki. These items are out of most people's price range, considered an unnecessary extravagance (you can love lingerie but think it's crazy to spend $700 on a robe and still want to wear one for a shoot!), but when you come to me you can truly experience luxury lingerie for a day. 

I recently discovered a private Facebook group dedicated to Lingerie Addicts and I feel like for the first time I found MY PEOPLE. 

And one of those people is Melissa (@theheiresslingerie on Instagram)!

Melissa currently lives in Nashville and we have similar lingerie tastes. We both love Bordelle and Agent Provocateur and the store Baby Likes to Pony so I thought it only natural that we team up for a photo shoot. She kept insisting that she isn't a model. I kept insisting that didn't matter. She brought her favorite pieces, I added a green Corsettery corset and my black lace D'lish gown and we made magic! We didn't have enough time to capture the Bordelle set she owns which haunts me to this day (both not having the images or owning that set!) but oh well, there's always next time and vigilant searches on Ebay!

Here's what she had to say about the experience-

"The shoot was even more fun than I thought it would be. I've obviously never modeled nor am I a model but having someone say things like, "Yes fierce goddess!" to me was just awesome. I'm a little different in that I wear lingerie that's slightly...aspirational. I have very specific tastes and they're usually a bit expensive so every piece I own is like a little piece of jewelry to me. Meeting Paige through lingerie and then getting to live my 'fancy rich lady model' fantasy, if only for a few hours, was so joyful."

It was a joy for me as well, smooshing three things I love together- lingerie, nature, and making a woman feel amazing!