WINNING DESTINATION!!!

It’s official. WE HAVE A WINNER FOR OUR TRIP!!!! In November 2020, we are going to be headed to…….drumroll please………..

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com


TANZANIA TANZANIA TANZANIA TANZANIA!!!!!!! African safari, here we come!!!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Stay tuned for a detailed itinerary as well as dates and final pricing! GAH!!! I. CANNOT. WAIT!!!

Japan & Boudoir Photography: Part 4

Before our crew headed to Tokyo, we went to Nachi Falls to see the gorgeous waterfall. The only problem…it was like 1.239 gazillion stairs to get there! Ok…maybe not that many, Wikipedia says it was only 297, but I realllllyyyy think it was more than that. The view was definitely worth it though!

 Worth all those stairs, right!?

Worth all those stairs, right!?

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Now for what was definitely my craziest story of the trip. That night we stayed in Toba at this hotel that was perfectly situated in the rocks. When I got there and looked out at the epic scenery, my jaw dropped. I knew I had to shoot a woman out there! We all went to the onsen (public bath) together and I realized that this onsen was basically in a CAVE!!! It was SO incredible. I couldn’t get out of my head how stunningly beautiful that spot would be at sunrise. So I cautiously approached one of the women on the trip to ask if 1) She’d allow me to shoot her and 2) If she wouldn’t mind getting up at sunrise for it even though we were all running on not a whole lot of sleep? She agreed even though she “didn’t think she’d be the best model for me” which is pretty much what most of my clients think before I get them in front of my camera-which meant she was perfect!!!

 The view from our room-RIGHT!?!

The view from our room-RIGHT!?!

We showed up right when they opened at 5:00am to try to avoid other women. I thought that we’d surely have the place to ourselves for at least half an hour or so. Enough time to really get some epic stuff. Nope nope nope. Apparently, sunrise time is onsen primetime. There were about 60 women inside. I gave my client a look and she assured me that she didn’t mind there being people around and I certainly didn’t want her to have nothing to show for getting up so early so we decided I could still probably grab a handful of shots by the mouth of the cave. That was the farthest point from the rest of the bathers and would place everyone else about 10 feet behind me making it impossible for anyone else to be in my shot besides my willing subject. I really wanted to make sure no one got uncomfortable. In case you didn’t have a chance to read Part 2, keep in mind we’re ALL 100% naked. All of us. Including me.

So I pose my client, get into position (with my bare butt to the entire cave of women) and snap a shot. Apparently, an older Japanese woman did not like the shot. At all. She started yelling in Japanese while at the same time trying to splash me. Then as I turn around, she whips me with a towel right on my bare ass cheek, and then screamed the only English I understood, “CRIMINAL! I CALL THE POLICE!” As she ran (again, naked) to call security. We also did a naked dart to the locker rooms, threw our robes on as quickly as possible and retreated from the onsen. As we exited, security was rounding the corner with a walkie talkie pressed to his ear FBI-style. I remember thinking, “I’ve always thought I’d eventually make a call to my husband from jail…guess this is it…” As he approached, my heart nearly exploded out of my chest only to have him softly say, "no pictures, please" with a bow. Thankfully, that was it. My client and I got back toward our rooms (she was laughing about the whole thing, while it took me a solid hour for my heart rate to come down.) And we only got that one image…the image though…totally worth it. The most impressive part was my client's ability to follow my directions and hold the pose, stay serene with shoulders relaxed throughout what was probably only a 20 second ordeal, but felt like 20 hours.

SO. Lots of firsts that day. Never shot while being naked. Never been assaulted. Never been assaulted naked in front of 60 other naked women. And don’t worry-for the trip AdventureWomen and I are planning in the future, everything will be figured out ahead of time and we won’t risk the craziness that ensued, lol! Ahhhhh…the learning curve. I am so found of it.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

On the way to Tokyo we had lunch with two traditional Ama divers. Ama divers are Japanese women who deep dive without equipment for all sorts of things: types of seafood, pearls, etc. They dive every day during the warm season for hours at a time. They actually cooked for us what they caught the day before and it was definitely some of the freshest fish I’ve ever tasted! What was more fascinating though, was them telling us about their lives. Apparently, traditional Ama diving is dying out. Both women said they couldn’t remember a generation in their lineage where the women weren’t divers, yet they both have daughters who aren’t pursuing the trade. They also explained that the reason behind not using equipment was because it helped them “not take too much.” I thought that was such a beautiful reason. Especially when my life always seems to trend towards whatever is fastest, easiest, and most convenient. Their hearts were so honest and authentic. OH! And they are 55 and 66 years old! Seriously, ladies. Age really is just a number.

 Such beautiful souls.

Such beautiful souls.

 Delish!

Delish!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Last, we headed to Tokyo for a few days. It was everything a sky-scraper filled, concrete-jungle, city-on-steriods should be with it’s own unique flavor. We saw the weird, wacky and flashy as well as the meticulously, elegant gardens and greenery. We also traipsed around eating our little hearts out because all of the food in Japan was SO GOOD. Including our last night there where we dined high above the gorgeous city. There was a moment during that final dinner when I looked around and realized that just two weeks before, all of the women talking and laughing around me had been strangers. Now, some of them felt like family. We’d laughed, adventured and built a thousand memories over our trip. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences, rounds of cards, great conversations, glasses of wine, walks in the wilderness, connecting with women whose lives are so different than ours, yet finding we aren’t that different at all. Each little moment built in me a special bond with these incredible women. Traveling together is definitely my favorite way to build new friendships.

 Gorgeous view from our dining table.

Gorgeous view from our dining table.

 Some truly, exceptional women.

Some truly, exceptional women.

Japan & Boudoir Photography: Part 2

Day 2 began with a trip to Nara Park. As I’ve said before, Japan is a straight-up magical place and our visit to Nara seemed like a page out of Snow White. Imagine you’re at a park and there are squirrels. Now double the amount of squirrels your’e imagining. Now pretend those squirrels are actually deer. That’s what Nara Park is like. The legend is that one of the four gods of the Kasuga Shrine appeared on Mount Mikasa riding a deer. After that, deer were seen as divine and sacred and up until 1637 killing one of these deer was punishable by death.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

It was the craziest, coolest thing to experience. The deer are everywhere!!! Walking through shrines, reaching into your unattended purse/pocket for a snack, wandering through the streets. You can also buy little wafer crackers to feed them and they will actually bow to you to get one. Seriously!!! We spent the day wandering the park with the deer and visiting the Todaiji Temple (the largest wooden structure in the world that houses a 50 ft tall Buddha. I was also able to have a quick photo session with two willing, beautiful girls! GAH! I could’ve shot there all day!!!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

After the deer-we enjoyed a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and then went back to the hotel to take a dip in the onsen. An onsen is a geothermally heated hot spring and Japan has thousands of them due to the volcanic activity on the island (thanks, Wikipedia!) It’s supposed to be both relaxing and great for your skin and I’m all about trying anything that will leave me glowing and supple. Some traditional hotels (ryokans) would build up around these springs. They can be indoors or outdoors and almost every place on our itinerary had one. I love that AdventureWomen really plans our stays at hotels that are more authentic to the country you’re in rather than sticking us in a Hilton or Marriott. There are a lot of rules in Japan, so I assumed onsens would be no different. I was correct.

First of all, when we got to the hotel, we were all given a robe (a yukata), socks and sandals to change into. When you check into your room, you were expected to don your yukata, socks and sandals to wear around the grounds of the hotel-both men and women. When you were in your room, you were to leave your sandals at the door and just wear your socks. In the onsen, you enter into a locker room where you leave your sandals, socks and yukata in exchange for a tiny towel (think washcloth) and your birthday suit (don’t worry, most onsens are separated by gender). You then strut in all your glory (or hunch over and walk fast depending on your style) into the onsen area.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com


The next step is to shower before getting into the onsen. Another interesting thing-most of the showers had a stool and you showered sitting down. I was super confused about this at first and the only thing that clued me in was the mirror hung at crotch level and the little seat. That, and I saw another woman do it. I really tried mentally to prepare myself to be that naked in front of a bunch of strangers, but I was still nervous. And, not gonna lie, I also expected that somehow once in the onsen I’d be less exposed...I dunno, maybe there’d be bubbles or something. Nope. No bubbles. Just a seat where the water came up maybe a few inches on my thighs and was very, very clear.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Honestly though, I came to truly love going to the onsen. Especially while we were hiking the Kumano Kodo (which I’ll get to in part 3!). There’s nothing like hiking all day and then getting to the hotel, slipping into a cool, cotton yukata and then laying your sore body in silky, warm water. Not only that, but while it is incredibly vulnerable, it’s also incredibly equalizing. There’s something about being naked in front of strangers that strips you on a soul level. Suddenly it doesn’t matter how much money you make or if you’re a CEO or a student, if you’re a mom of 3 or never want kids, if your married or single. We’re all just women who simply want to relax in an onsen—and maybe get some glowing, supple skin while we’re at it.

Japan & Boudoir Photography: Pt. 1

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve traveled quite a bit this year-the first place being Japan. Disclaimer: It will take four blogs to even *mildly* begin to flesh out the magic of this place (because there is SO much magic)...but we’ll eventually get through it. I’m mostly writing this because a lot of you have questions regarding the international photography opportunity I posted about here and I completely understand why.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Here’s the short version-Meagan O Photography is partnering with AdventureWomen to create one epic trip that includes a photography session as a part of the itinerary. That's it. Because I'm not completely sure what cost/place/time frame works best for everyone, AdventureWomen and I are currently collaborating around 5 possible options. Shells of itineraries, if you will. These 5 trips will include the where, when, how much and photography locations. We'll release these options October 17th to be voted on by YOU! The one with the most votes is the spot we’ll go that year! Until then, I’m sure you’re wondering what that will look like/what types of things will be included in those trips. I can tell you it will be once-in-a-lifetime and epic, but how so is tbd. So let's walk through my experiences thus far as an example…

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Let's start with Japan-the entire reason I went there was to meet the owner of AdventureWomen. I wanted to experience a trip as a patron if I was going to potentially partner with this company in the future. To sum it up in a word, Japan was magical. I've got to be honest, Japan wasn't originally super high on my travel list. Don't get me wrong, I want to go EVERYWHERE...but Japan was just a bit lower on my list than other places. Boy, was that backwards. My experience in Japan-from the people, to the nature, to the culture-absolutely blew me away. This blog has been a frustrating one to write, mostly because I know my descriptions of my experience are going to fall short. But I'll try. And, even for this long-winded lady, it'll still have 4 parts...that helps.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

The day I arrived in Japan was...different. I’ve traveled a lot, but I’ve never officially been in a country where everything is different. The language is different. The characters are different. It’s the first place I traveled where it’s obvious that I’m not from there purely based on the way I look. There are exactly 1,234,309,304 rules, but the people are SO graceful when you break all 1,234,309,304.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

The first few things I observed immediately upon arrival: we lucked out and cherry blossoms were everywhere (blooming season only lasts about 10-14 days and was 9 days early this year), Japanese wear long sleeves/sweaters a lot-even when it’s so warm I’m sweating, there are so many tiny dogs, the toilets there will change your life, the food is incredible and there is a lot of bowing, which is a beautiful way to respectfully greet one another.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

At the welcome dinner, we got to meet all 14 of the women who would be on the trip. The trip was going to be 12 days long, so to me this was a super important moment. I mean, what if they were a bunch of crazies?!? I first noticed the range between ages, which I love. The youngest person was in their late 20s and the oldest was in their mid 60s and everyone else was sprinkled in between. As the conversation picks up, I realize that these women are impressive, bright, funny, talented, and full of awesome stories. Of all the incredible things we did and experienced, getting to know these ladies was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

One thing about AdventureWomen’s itineraries is that they are packed with epic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Our first full day there we went on a walk along the philosopher’s path, visited the Ginkakuji Temple AND met a real life maiko (a geisha in training)! The other thing I love about AdventureWomen, is that they aren’t just travel agents. They don’t just figure out your flight/hotel info, book you a few dinner reservations and a ticket to a show or two. They are curators of an adventure experience. A lot of what we got to do was through their specific contacts they’ve built over the past 40 years.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

For example, there are only 230 or so real, working geishas in the world and about 80 maikos. And she didn’t just perform on a stage in front of us-she performed for us and then chilled with us at lunch where we got to ask her a ton of questions. She told us (through our adorable translator and guide, Yuki) about how they only get 2 days off per month, they aren’t allowed to have social media and they can have a boyfriend, but if they want to get married, they have to quit being a geisha. I asked if there were physical height or weight restrictions (I dunno...kinda like models or something) and she giggled explaining that she actually gained 30 pounds because the costume looks better on someone with a fuller figure. And you know I asked to have a mini-photoshoot with her...which she was totally excited about!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com
 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

All of that in the first 24 hours! Look for part 2 next week where I’ll talk about visiting the bowing deer and getting naked with strangers…












Boudoir Photography Goes Abroad!!!

SO MUCH has happened this year and we're only halfway through May! We finally moved into our house in February (why yes, those are angels singing), I went to Japan for two weeks in April and just got back from being in Paris/Italy a few days ago. I know. This is literally the coolest my life has ever been or will ever be again, lol! Don't worry though. I'm still my geeky, silly self even when I'm halfway around the world. 

If you follow me on instagram, you've already seen all the globetrotting going on and I'm sure some of you are wondering what that's all about...wellllllll, I'm thrilled to announce a new addition *no, mom, I'm not pregnant*  to my business! 

In addition to my Atlanta studio, I am rolling out an International Boudoir Photography option! Since I went full time with photography, I've chased what inspires me, worked toward it with everything I have and the clients have come. I love photographing people in love, which is why I started in engagement/wedding photography. I love empowering women by showing them how beautiful they are, which is why I opened the boudoir studio. Another thing I love is traveling-I know, I know-who doesn't, right?! Not just to beautiful all-inclusive resorts to relax (although, I never mind planting my behind in the sand with a good book and a beer), but adventurous travel. The kind that gets you off the beaten path, away from the hoard of tourists, to the more authentic experiences a new city has to offer. Where you get to see real life and connect with incredible new people. The kind that allows me to create jaw-dropping, epic images of my gorgeous clients. Pictures that truly embody their strength, character and soul.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I know. I know. You're all thinking what my husband said to me when I first started chewing on the idea a few years ago..."isn't this all just a ploy so you get to travel the world?" Um. YES. Absolutely. 100%. #sorrynotsorry

I've done a few sessions in other places in the US, but my biggest hangup with taking it international has always been logistics. There are just so many things I don't know. How do I know the places I want to shoot won't be covered in roaches when we get there? How do I know the beautiful pink-sand beach isn't also home to a rare, deadly jellyfish? How do I know the rules to follow so you don't get screamed at and popped in the butt by a naked, towel-weilding woman in an onsen...that last scenario *may* have happened...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Enter AdventureWomen. AdventureWomen is a company who specializes in small group travel for women and they are INCREDIBLE. They've been recognized by Conde Nast, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, Forbes, USA Today, The New York Times...the list goes on and on. They are legit and they know their stuff. I went on my first trip with them to Japan in April and it blew away every expectation I had. We got to have lunch with a maiko (apprentice geisha). We got to hike a mountain alongside a mountain priestess. We got to meet Ama divers (women who free-dive without equipment) and they cooked us a lunch from what they caught on their dive the day before. We got to hike the Kumano Kodo to a small village of 400 people where local women taught us how to roll sushi (*clears throat* I'm basically a sushi-rolling pro now). I had so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, PLUS I met incredible women both on the trip and in Japan who I know will become lifelong friends. I also got to meet the owner of the company, Judi Wineland. Y'all. She is one of the most fascinating, engaging, energetic and just plain fun women I've ever met. Plus, she's been doing this since the 70's and MAN! has she got some stories...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Next, I'm headed to Indonesia with AdventureWomen at the end of June along with some of my past clients as a trial run (ya know, to figure out all the other things I don't know yet.) THEN if all goes well...

AdventureWomen and Meagan O Photography will partner in 2019 to host the Trip of a Lifetime for 8-12 women, which will include an EPIC boudoir session as part of the incredible itinerary!!!! AdventureWomen will create the itinerary and handle the logistics and I will bring my camera, creativity and enthusiastic self!!! *Queue confetti, music, fireworks and dancing monkeys* 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Maybe it will be in Paris and we'll shoot in a glamorous chateau with magnificent, sprawling gardens! Maybe it will be in Italy and we'll shoot in an old castle turned winery! Maybe it will be in India and we'll shoot in an ornate palace! Maybe it will be in Bali and we'll rent a gorgeous private island! GAHHHH! The world is our oyster and I'm SO SO SO EXCITED!!! (For my past clients, YES! The trip will be announced to you first, giving you first dibs if you want your second/third/fourth boudoir session to be abroad!) 

Have you got an awesome idea about where we should go?? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

 

 

 

Beauty Detective

I don't like feeling unattractive. Whether it be because I haven't showered in a few days and I'm starting to get a little ripe, or because my attitude has taken a nose-dive and I'm taking it out on the human closest in proximity. I don't think anyone enjoys feeling unattractive. We're social creatures who want other people to desire our presence. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

One particularly unattractive movement for me happened during first nap I took with my husband back when we were dating. It was ten years ago and we'd been dating for a few months-it was getting more serious, but was still pretty new. My sweet grandfather who'd been diagnosed with Sundowners Dementia was admitted to the hospital. Sundowners just means you experience your dementia symptoms more intensely at night (confusion/paranoia/fear/etc). We knew it would be easier for him if someone he knew was there in case he woke up in the night. Due to some of the drugs he was on, he would also hallucinate. So he and I spent most of the night waving at the "red balloons" in the "parade" instead of sleeping. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

The next morning, Matt picked me up early and took me straight to look at apartments because my lease was up the following week and I *still* hadn't found a new place. We looked until around 3:30pm, then headed back to his condo where he cuddled up with me so I could take a little nap. When I woke up, I realized my cheek was wet. I groggily picked my head up off his shoulder and realized with horror that there was a HUGE, wet, drool spot on his chest. It was the size of my freaking hand!!!! I turned to the clock and saw it was past 7:00pm. As in-I'd been asleep like that for over THREE HOURS!!! As I'm taking in each little horrific nugget of information, I realize that Matt is awake and is starting to chuckle. Turns out, he didn't sleep AT ALL and had been awake the entire time. He then (still chuckling) says, "do you always snore like that?" OMG...OMG...OMG!!!!!! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

That is most definitely NOT how I pictured my first nap with Matt going. I'd imagined gently drifting to sleep cuddled up together. Him waking before me to silently take in my beautiful, sleeping face. My hair spilling perfectly over the pillow, skin luminous, cheeks slightly flushed, lashes long, breath somehow minted. NOT mouth open, drooling like a faucet, sawing logs like my father while Matt looked on for over three hours. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Now, Matt doesn't look back on that memory of me as unattractive. He says for him it was sweet and intimate and he was thankful I was getting the sleep I needed. I'm pretty sure he was met with an impressively dramatic eye-roll from me. The thing is it doesn't matter how much Matt means it. In that moment, he could've performed a one-man show about my beauty complete with singing, tap-dancing and glitter, but if I don't feel attractive there's no way I'm going to believe him. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

How women feel about themselves matters. A lot. This is the reason I tell my clients who are gifting their images to their man that he isn't my client. A quick iPhone pic of you half dressed would thrill them. No, my client is the woman in front of me. She's who I want to reveal her beauty to. That's why the medium I use is so important-she won't believe me telling her she's beautiful either! Nope. She needs to decide for herself. I'm like the detective. My job is to survey the scene and take pictures of the evidence. Then she can piece together everything I've gathered and conclude that she is indeed beautiful. Attractive. Alluring. Worthy. Enough. Beautiful.

2017: A Weighty Joy

I love the contemplative reflection a new year brings. That feeling of turning a new page or starting a new chapter. For me this contemplation begins at the start of advent (the church season leading up to Christmas) and continues through the new year. Advent is about sitting in the darkness and creating space for God to move in you as you wait for the promised Light. I've never been one who enjoys New Year's Eve itself-it seems to be one of those holidays where my expectations always exceed my reality. I find myself wanting to experience something momentous and dramatic, as if it were possible to bottle six weeks of reflection and squeeze it into a 10 second countdown. Which is why this year I rang in the new year watching The Crown, drinking wine and eating a Papa John's cinnamon roll dessert. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

2017 was a conundrum. A year of blessing and pain. Abundance and loss. Excitement and devastation. In business, it was my best year yet. I met so many stunning women who inspired me with their stories and trusted me to photograph their unique beauty, which allowed us to create art together. My family continued to heal and grow stronger together after the emotional loss we experienced two years ago. I found an incredible therapist who has helped guide me towards profound insight into my life. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

2017 was also the year Matt and I spent building our first house. We waited six months for the city to grant us permission to build our house. Selected every paint color and drawer pull. Every light fixture and appliance. Poured over financials to get the lenders the information they needed. Wrote the Thanksgiving menu we'd serve both our families as first time hosts. Pictured where we'd put the Christmas tree. Waited and waited and waited. Only to have it burn down 5 days before we were supposed to close. As in start completely over. As in take the house back down to the slab and wait some more. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

It's a strange sort of loss to lose something you never actually experienced. You can't reflect over memories because all you have was what you imagined. I hear about this from clients all the time-my women who want desperately to be mothers, but can't have a child. Women who enter into or walk away from a marriage only to find their new reality isn't at all what they imagined. Women who become mothers, yet recognize themselves less and less. There is a type of grief that can be born when our imagined reality meets our actual reality and finds it unrecognizable.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

But the opposite is also true. There is a strange sort of joy that comes when you expect things to be unbearable and they end up being something you savor. A different joy. A dark joy. A weighty joy. I fully expected the last few months of the year to be full of pain. I thought I'd be sad when we drove to our families homes for Thanksgiving instead of having it in our new house. I thought it would break my heart to put our Christmas tree up in our condo again instead of the new spot where I imagined it standing all year. But isn't it the very fingerprint of God that He can take such deep pain and bring about deep peace. He reformed the season into something I savored. He walked with me through my devastating disappointment and brought me a season I never would have had if our plans had gone the way we expected. A season of "one last time's" instead of a season of "this again". A season of growth and solidity. A season of hardship as a pathway to peace.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I have great expectations for 2018. It will be the year that begins with us getting to finally move into our house. It will be the year I roll out international boudoir with trips already planned for Japan, Paris, Italy, Indonesia and Bali. It will be the year I continue to be intentional in carving out space for God. I'm sure it will also bring expectations that don't match reality-as every year before has brought, but those will just be places where I'll wait expectantly for God's fingerprint. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Selfie: A Woman's Boudoir Photography Experience

This is a blog written by one of my GORGEOUS client's!!! It details her experience in the studio-it's long, but SO SO SO worth the read if you're considering a boudoir session!!!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I think I was around 13 when I first had a desire to know what I looked like. I remember buying a handheld mirror and studying my face in it. I looked unfamiliar to myself and I wondered if somehow I had missed an important milestone in my childhood. I committed my features to memory and promptly lost interest.  

I count myself very fortunate to have been generally absent any unhealthy body image issues as a teen and young woman.  To my mom's credit, I wholeheartedly embraced her wise mantra, 'beauty is on the inside' and was spared the agony so many young women inflict upon themselves, striving for a beauty ideal only obtainable through photoshop and eating disorders.  

Perhaps this is the reason that my minds' selfies are all time-stamped. I have a handful of discrete images in my memory of my appearance.
The first, mentioned above, at 13, handheld mirror, indian style on my bed.
Another at 16, likely an attempt to understand what my newfound first love saw in me.
Then my next mental selfie isn't until 23, a new mother with Baby Todd in my arms. I know exactly what I looked like then.
Another time stamp in the year 2000, when I came out at age 26. I immediately cut my hair short in celebration of my new identity and wanting to look the part.
34 years old: a brush with my mortality had clarified much in my life..suddenly, looking the part wasn't as important as looking like myself. I let my hair grow out, embraced its newfound curl and my femininity.

And then, at 35, there's a shift in my mental selfie album, from snapshots to a flickering film strip. Paradoxically during some of the happiest years of my life, I was my most body self-conscious...perhaps it was the hyper focus on my fitness or perhaps the constant desire to document the joy in my life, or more likely - the combination of the two.  Regardless, both came to an abrupt halt when my marriage ended and with that loss, the film strip snapped. 

In the years since, while I've healed in many ways, I've also resigned myself to the loss of my 'glory days' and accordingly my mind's selfie camera hadn't bothered to document my appearance, instead creating a self-image from behind my eyes that was essentially adequate and unremarkable.

And all of that is the prologue to what has spurred me to write today. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Amid an internet search for a lifestyle photographer to document myself and the boys, before the imminent empty nest, I stumbled upon a photographer of an entirely different nature and fell in love with her work.  Her eye for composition and lighting and the mood her work captured - I felt an immediate connection to her art.  (Because there was really no other word for it.)  

I read every word of her website, (including three and a half years of blogs), embracing her bubbly enthusiastic personality juxtaposed with the creative intensity evident in her photography.

But --- Meagan was a boudoir photographer. Gulp. What did it mean that I felt this strong pull to book a session of nearly naked, sexy photos of myself?? I didn't think for a second that I would walk away from the endeavor with photos that looked like the women on her website. I've already established that I believed my glory days were behind me, right? But I emailed anyway, tentatively, asking for a price list and hoping both that I could and couldn't afford the investment. The latter would make the decision a lot easier, after all. 

Her nearly immediate reply began with: "Thanks so much for reaching out!!! I would love love LOVE to get you in the studio for a boudoir session!" and went on to explain the ins and outs of the process in similar exclamation-point-laden excitement. I could hardly believe this giddy woman was the same one with what must be serious, technical skills and a mad eye for finding beauty in women. (Spoiler alert: She's one and the same. Imagine tigger, from winnie the pooh, with a creative streak that rivals the greats.)  

I scheduled her first available date - which was six extremely long weeks away - and descended into an obsessive internet vortex of lingerie shopping and boudoir photography study. Being the information junkie that I am, I quieted my nerves with an overload of learning. My research bore out two things in very short order: 
1. There's a science to this art. The extreme technicality of the posing, lighting, and shooting gave me some reassurance that little relied on me.
2. Very few photographers in this space have mastered both aspects: science and art. Meagan's portfolio left no doubt I had chosen one of the best.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

As the day approached, my emotions were a curious mix of optimism and skepticism. 

The day of the shoot...well, it rolled out just like I expected. Hair, makeup, posing instructions, lingerie that did nothing to conceal my insecurities...but, as promised, Meagan left no oxygen in the room to feed my fear. Her supreme command of every finger, angle, and shadow required my full attention and it was only once I got home, afterwards, that my nerves found their voice in my psyche. 

I'd read blogs from dozens of women touting the confidence boost and empowerment they felt when walking out of their boudoir shoots. I, on the other hand, feared that I hadn't been able to relax enough or that I wasn't connecting enough in the ways I was supposed to. I feared that I wouldn't recognize myself in the finished images. And, to make matters worse, my anxiety post-shoot served to amplify my anxiety. Maybe I don't feel the way most women do because I didn't do it right! 

Thankfully it was only a week between my shoot and my reveal appointment. I don't think I could have held my breath much longer than that. I spent most of the week reviewing all the technical details I'd found in my initial research, reassuring myself that Meagan did it right, even if I didn't. 

At the reveal appointment, Meagan greeted me with a big hug, gushing about how much she loved my images. She says that to all the girls, my inner voice chided. 

And then she started the slide show.  'Seven minutes, two songs, five seconds on each picture' - she prepped me. 

I didn't hear the first song at all. I think my brain was receiving maximum input from my eyes instead and struggling to make sense of it all. That can't be me. But wait, it is!  
 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

As my shock took a step back, relief sidled up next to it and tried to make space at the table for pride, who had the assignment of rating images with 'one for no', 'three for maybe' or 'five for must have.' Going through the images one by one, I heard myself saying 'five' over and over, and then my voice cracked. Tears filled my eyes. As it turns out, pride wasn't used to having much of a voice about my appearance...not in a long time. The realization was startling and cathartic and overwhelming. 

I left my appointment with all the images. All 57 images, to be exact.  After fearing there wouldn't be enough to make a small album, I floated out on a cloud of disbelief. It's been three days and I think I've probably looked through them 57 times. I've shown only very few, to very few...and yet, the simple knowledge that they exist has fired up that selfie camera in my mind. 

I've come to realize - through this experience - that my selfie snapshots have been triggered by love, most often for or from someone else. But, for the first time in 30 years perhaps, I am both the giver and receiver of that love. I am beautiful in my own eyes and that's enough.  

This blog was originally posted here and if you want to read more of her gorgeous writing, DEFINITELY check it out!!!

Embarrassing Boudoir Questions

It sucks when you're in a situation where you have a ton of questions you feel like you can't ask because it will make you look stupid. I definitely felt that way preparing for my first brazilian wax. I had so many questions-lots of them embarrassing-what if I'm on my period? How long does the hair need to be? How long is too long? The LAST thing I wanted was to butterfly open for the technician only for her to arch an eyebrow disdainfully dismiss me. I mean can you imagine!?!?  Luckily, I'm have a fairly high embarrassment threshold-so I always just risk it and ask anyway. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

In fact since September 2016, I have camped out in the "Hi, my name is Meagan and I have no idea what I'm doing" camp. It's how I introduce myself nowadays. My husband and I have been building a house for the past year. Our first home purchase. Yes, it is true what they say...it is a taxing, terrible process that will suck your soul dry and make your eyes bleed. Ok...maybe it hasn't been *that*  bad. But it's close.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Pretty much every conversation involves some form of me asking stupid questions that have obvious answers to all other parties involved. How many CFM's does that kitchen hood have?? Why is that important? Any ideas...???  ME NEITHER! But I embrace the awkward and ask anyway. Just be glad you don't have to hear my conversations with my lender...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I know, I know. It'll all be worth it when it's over. I mean, we won't have to get dressed to take our dog out anymore because we'll have a yard. We will have actual doors instead of our open loft so if the cats decide to lose their damn minds at 3AM, we can shut the door! The beauty of a closed door has never meant so much. We'll also have closets AND a garage-meaning under our bed will no longer have to house both the wrapping paper and Matt's car tools. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I say all of this to let you know that it is completely normal to have questions about your boudoir sessions-I expect it actually. You will have LOTS and some of them may be sensitive or embarrassing. Only they totally aren't because I promise-I PROMISE-I've heard them before. I also really really REALLY want you to feel as comfortable as humanly possible when you arrive at the studio. Seriously. It's so important to me that I wrote the sentence with three "really's" and bold font with caps-lock. If you're concerned or even just curious as you prep for your boudoir session, adopt the Meagan O principle and ask away! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Also, we close on September 15th. Pray for us.

What to Wear When You're Naked?

What does one wear when one is going to get naked...? Sounds like a weird Yoda-type question. Naked you are...clothes you need *read in Yoda's voice*. The world of lingerie is a strange, uncomfortable, overwhelming one. Everything from wearing the right size bra to what kind of thigh highs do I purchase? It's a lot to think about. I think most women immediately think matching bra & panty sets are the base for most lingerie looks. Which, of course, is pretty fear-inducing as the majority of women are also sensitive about that middle region of their body that is most prominently displayed in that look. But there is a lot more to lingerie than bras and panties! A few things you ought to know...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

1.) Teddies Not to be confused with the teddy bear. A teddy is basically the same as a one-piece bathing suit-but cut out of a lingerie material. They are usually sleeveless, as bodysuits are the ones with sleeves. Both are awesome lingerie choices. A few years ago I used to have to beg my girls to wear them, but they are making quite the comeback now. They photograph like a dream. They come up high on the sides, making your legs look extra long and cover the tummy area making most of my clients feel more comfortable. This is a flattering look for everyone! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

2.) Chemises The chemise (pronounced with an "sh" sound) used to be known as a loose fitting thigh-length nightgown. Now, they come in styles that contour your body (which is always preferable in images!) This is great for women who want to conceal the tummy and upper thighs. Plus, you can dress these up with some thigh-highs and you're ready to GO! Which brings me to my next point...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

3.) Thigh-Highs/Stockings I used to hate these little buggers. First off, they always seemed to come with that plastic stuff at the top, which squeezed my thighs right where I'd prefer them never to be squeezed. Secondly, they are so flippin hard to get on and connected! The first time I attempted these for my husband was when we were on our honeymoon. I tried over and over to get them on and ended up in the bathroom for 15 mins, sweating as the garters kept popping off. Yeah, those suckers ended up in the trash. What I didn't know then was that they made them without the pesky plastic at the top, which means everyone can wear them and they'll look awesome! And don't worry, I'll be there to help get them on you-I'm a pro now! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

4.) Robe/Men's Shirt/Over-sized Sweater If you do have a bra & panty look you love, but you're worried about showing your stomach, you can always bring something to throw over it. It's super sexy to have on some cute bra/panty set under an over-sized sweater. Just be sure it's on the thin side and that the neckline can hang off your shoulder comfortably. 

The goal is to push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone when selecting your outfits for your session while still keeping it "you". Be sure to buy the right size too! When in doubt, I'd rather it be too big than too small (we can always tie/pin/booby trap it tighter).  Happy shopping!

I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours...

The biggest fear most women have about doing a boudoir session is that at some point, somehow they will end up embarrassed. UGH. Is there anything worse? We will go to extensive lengths to avoid embarrassment. I should know-I do embarrassing stuff all the time! A few weeks ago, I finally stopped by the City Winery at Ponce City Market, which is down the street from the studio. I meant to run in and grab a bottle of wine...ya know, because it's the "City's Winery" and I assumed it was just a wine shop.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I park my car, ascend the stairs and walk confidently into a...restaurant. Or maybe a bistro...I'm not totally sure what the difference is. The adorable hostess was super nice and friendly when she asked how many were in my party? I feigned "looking around" and whipped out my phone as I said to her, "I guess they aren't here yet..." She said, "No problem, would you like to be seated now?" And I responded with a knowing glance and a roll of my eyes (whilst also looking intently at my phone-so my story was believable) "No, no. I'll just call her to see where she is...". **Giggle, giggle-silly imaginary friend...sigh...always late**. Then I walked out the door with my asleep cell phone pressed to my ear as if in rapt conversation. Here's the thing, the hostess was sweet as pie. I'm sure they sell bottles of wine and if I had just admitted what I was confused around/asked her if I could buy a bottle, I'm sure it would've been fine. But I couldn't! I was EMBARRASSED! 

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

Typically, what closely follows embarrassment is a big, dark, thick cloud of shame followed by a showering of guilt resulting in a litany of "how could I ever think I could do this" or "I knew this was a waste of money" or "obviously I'm too fat/old/ugly to have a boudoir session done". You think you'll be embarrassed about how your images will turn out or because you can't do the posing or because you won't know what to do or because you will be that one girl out of everyone who gets a puzzled look from me as I struggle to create a good image. For the record, you're wrong. (No shame intended!) 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

I know. Who here has ever been embarrassed-show of hands?! Oh...everyone?? We've ALL been there. And we all knows how sucky it is to feel like the odd woman out. I am here to tell you that your boudoir session won't be anything close to that. You will actually leave your session feeling like a goddess-like you can take on the world! You will have conquered something you didn't even know you were fighting with in the first place. Buuutttttt...I also know you don't believe me. The next best thing is for me to even the playing field. SO! Here are a few embarrassing facts about me:

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

1) I sweat. A lot. I'm not sure what it is...but ever since I've worked out with a trainer, I sweat like a man running a marathon. I know. It's gross. But that's just who I am at this point. 

2) Left and right are hard. I will almost always get it wrong during your shoot...I have no excuse. After shooting 300 women, I should have it down, but I don't.

3) It took me two months to say "boudoir" properly and confidently when I launched my business. You're welcome all you voicemailer's. I hear that tremor and pause in your voice. I know your pain.

4) I'm a true crime junky. Sometimes I may end a call in the checkout line at Publix and a bloody murder story will begin playing full blast..."and then her mangled body was found in the hollow of a tree..." I swear, anything you buy will be creepy after that...tampons, steak, apples...doesn't matter. 

5) I can't NOT fill silences. Example, at my home church:

*Guy with bandaged hand walks up to me*

Me: Oh no! What happened??

Him: I shook hands with a drill press.

Me: Ohhhh noooooo...ummm...did it hurt?

Him: Um. Yeah.

Me: ............well.......at least it didn't do any irreversible damage....

Him: *holds up his hand, which is now missing 2 1/2 fingers.*

Seriously. That happened. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Ok-now that you know mine, I hope you'll be more comfortable believing that this will be embarrassing (it won't!) And if for some reason it is...you'll be in great company! 

Woman.

Woman. The word is so powerful it can stand alone. It takes the understanding of a woman to comprehend the true complexity of the word. Woman. A woman is a daughter, wife and mother. A woman is a friend and confidant. A woman is a professional, a decision-maker and a trendsetter.   A woman is a communicator, motivator and an executer. Every woman I know effortlessly assumes the multifaceted role of woman. Unfortunately, every woman I know rarely experiences the opportunity to marvel in the simplistic joy of being a woman. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

To have someone obsess over my hair, as I do my daughter's each day before school. To have someone fuss over the small details, as I do my husband's tie each morning before work. To have someone cater to my needs, as I do visitors to my home. To have someone be completely consumed with my expectations, concerns and hesitations, as I do my clients at work.  These are the experiences that made the Meagan O Photography experience phenomenal.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

With each shot, I learned to embrace my imperfections. With each shot, I learned to own my place in this world. With each shot, I learned to aim higher. With each shot, I learned to love myself just a little more. With each shot, I learned to let go of all the things preventing me from being the best woman I can be. With each shot, I learned the true joy of simply being a woman; a bold, courageous, witty, strong, multifaceted woman.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Meagan O Photography was a liberating tribute of womanhood. Don’t deny yourself. You deserve to just be a woman. 

- T.D.W. Jackson

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Memorial Day Mini Boudoir Sessions!

April 2015 was the month I took my first full-service boudoir client in the Meagan O Studio. *Insert happy dance* It's been 2 years of incredible, beautiful clients, lasting memories and lots of laughter. To celebrate, for the first time in over two years I am offering one day of mini-sessions!

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

If I'm being totally honest, I don't love shooting mini-sessions...I know right, great way to start-lol! What I mean is I really prefer to shoot one girl per day and give her 4-5 hours of my undivided attention. I want it to be all about her! I like getting to know her during hair/makeup, making her feel at ease and comfortable and taking our time while we shoot different outfits in different spots around the studio. However, I also understand that lots of women flat out can't afford to spend $1,200-$4,000 on boudoir pictures. Mini-sessions are still super fun and a little easier on the wallet! This is extra special because I don't typically offer minis-so it's only good for Memorial Day! 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

This is perfect for that bride who wants to get something special for her man. Or the 1 year anniversary. Or the woman who just wants to have a few gorgeous/sexy images of herself. If you're super-shy or nervous, I'm really good at making the experience feel approachable and fun. If you're super duper DUPER nervous, maybe consider saving up and booking a full session instead so we can take a little more time with you.  

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Details: The mini-sessions will be held on Memorial Day (Monday, May 29th). You will be able to choose one outfit (although, you can bring more if you want me to weigh in on which one to pick). We will spend 45 mins shooting you in one set in my studio of your choice (the bed/the stairs/the window/etc.) I will then select your 10 best images to edit and they will be delivered to you via an online album. I'll email you tips and tricks as well as additional information and my boudoir contract once we get you on the calendar. 

Looking forward to getting y'all in the studio! :-D Happy 2 year anniversary to us!!! <3