I am a podcast devotee. I listen to podcasts more than I listen to anything else. Typically, due to my morbid fascination with true crime it's podcasts like My Favorite Murder, Up and Vanished, Serial, Dirty John, Southern Fried True Crime, Teacher's Pet, Without Warning...basically any podcast that simultaneously makes my husband think I'm plotting an alternative ending for him in case he ever seriously crosses me. But I'm also a big fan of This American Life, Women Who Travel, Renovare, The Heidi Rew Show...both lists are pretty extensive.
I think I could put up a pretty fascinating podcast. Not about boudoir or shooting or anything you'd expect. I'd simply like to place a mic on my clients as they're sitting in the makeup chair. They could remain anonymous, but the stories I hear and the conversations I get to have throughout the week are incredible. I'm not 100% sure why this happens all the time, but my hypothesis is how a woman feels about herself directly impacts how she acts. When my client's walk through my door, they know in an hour or two they will be half-naked. Exposed. Vulnerable. Something about that expectation leaves them more open to share some of the most intense experiences of their lives.
Now, I don't come in guns blazing ready to push and pry into their lives. I usually sit, coffee in hand, facing the same way my clients face so we can see each other in the reflection of the mirror as my makeup artist begins. We talk about why they're having a boudoir session-whether it's for themselves or a significant other. We chat about what they do for a living or if they have kids/furkids or if they're nervous about their session. I may share about my life or the studio or something I'm considering adding to my business. In the past week alone we've chatted about everything from the crazy issues around birth control with a woman who sets up clinical trials, to how much wine consumption is required to plan a wedding in another state, to how penile implants work from a medical sales rep (fascinating!), to what social justice reform needs to look like from an attorney with 20+ years of experience.
Yeah. Our chats run the entire, beautiful spectrum. In the boudoir studio, there is no judgement and no such thing as over-sharing. It's in the midst of these tangents that some of my clients open up about something deep. That same week a client told us about how she lost her best friend to suicide. A few days before her, a client shared that her first husband became a drug addict and that she has internal battles daily about how involved he should be in their children's lives. I watch and listen as they begin to unspool a part of their life like a ribbon attached to a great treasure. They usually follow the story with "sorry to be a Debbie Downer," or "sorry if I'm over sharing." But honestly, I feel honored when someone trusts me enough to share something so personal.
I think that's why boudoir photography is so much more to me than "sexy pictures". Sure, some of the images are erotic and enticing, but when you are being intimate with another person, you are simply trying to communicate yourself on a soul level. Not as a "mom" or "career woman" or any of the other titles we use to label ourselves. Just as a woman. A woman who has dreams and passions, ideas and desires. A woman who in that exact moment in time is the sum of all of her experiences. Every soaring excitement and every crushing disappointment. In that way, these images aren't just of you. They are a picture of your soul.