I remember taking an online photography course years back, and a piece of advice that has always stuck out in my mind was, “Your ideal client is someone who you’d want to be friends with.” While every session is special, and I actually do find connection with all of my clients, meeting and photographing Sylvia seemed serendipitous.
Sylvia initially contacted Sigala Photography, our wedding and portrait photography business, run by my husband, Yehoshua, and I, about photographing her wedding. We immediately fell in love with her and her fiance, Paul. Not long after, Sylvia and I began talking about her bridal boudoir session. At first she went back and forth, with the time and expenses dedicated to wedding planning, she wasn’t sure she could make it happen. As we spoke more, it was clear how much doing a boudoir session meant to her, and since Paul was usually the one designing elaborate surprises, this was going to be a surprise for him!
After the session happened and the afterglow of her beautiful wedding died down, I was able to ask Sylvia a little bit about her boudoir experience, and believe me, you’re going to want to read this…
Why did you decide to do a boudoir session, and what were you hoping to get out of it?
The original "trigger" that made me want to do a boudoir session, was wanting to do something special for my fiance as a gift on the night before our wedding. Paul is the first man I was ever with that truly respected and admired my body, and persisted every single day of our relationship to make me love my body too. As myself and many other women know, this is not a guarantee when it comes to significant others! Past boyfriends would tell me they preferred if I straightened my hair, or would ask me to put more make up on before going out. I was also in one very abusive relationship when I was younger that basically destroyed my self-esteem. When I met Paul, I couldn't even believe him at first when he would encourage me to leave my hair natural or beg me to not put any make up on. "You are so beautiful the way you are, and you never need to change a thing" he would say…
Slowly, over our almost 4 years together, Paul has helped me rebuild my confidence and regain my sense of independence and strength. So, in celebration of getting married to my best friend, I wanted to do something that would show him and thank him for bringing me to a point where I felt confident and sexy doing a boudoir shoot. Doing this session was proof to myself that I was where I wanted to be in regards to my mental perspective, that I loved my body. Having Rebecca do this shoot for me was a little treat for my soul, and a little treat for the one who helped me learn to love myself again.
Were you nervous leading up to the session?
A little bit. But after speaking with some of Rebecca's previous clients, everyone said they also felt a bit of nerves beforehand, but that the second I would start, I would love it. This couldn't have been more true!
How did your session go?
On a scale of 1 to 10, my session was a million billion trillion. I loved spreading out on my bed, or leaning against a wall in my hallway and just feeling naturally sexy. My thoughts throughout the session went back and forth from excitement about myself, and excitement for Paul to eventually see the results! I can't believe I kept it a complete surprise for him. On the night before the wedding, (we weren't seeing each other for a few days) my maid of honor called him with directions on where to find the album in our apartment. We decided not to speak until the wedding, but he couldn't help himself. He texted me and said it was the best gift ever! He loved the photos and said they were beautiful and sexy.
Did you get anything out of the session that you didn't expect?
This is a bit strange, but I actually had a very special moment with my mother after I received the photos and showed them to her. She smiled and said she was proud of me. She was happy to see her daughter love and respect her body, and she was happy for me that I was marrying someone who loved and respected my body too. Definitely wasn't expecting that reaction from her, but it really meant the world to me.
Did your boudoir session have an effect on your perspective or body image?
Yes, an incredibly positive effect. And the effect grows stronger each and every time I look back on the photos and remind myself to love and appreciate my body and all the little marks and curves.
Would you recommend this experience to other women? If yes, who would you specifically recommend it to and why?
My mother! I'm hoping to gift her a session for her 65th birthday. My mother is one of the most hardworking and independent women I know, plus she is the best example when it comes to loving your body. In her 60's my mom isn't worrying about chasing her wrinkles or fighting the aging process, instead, she became a half marathon runner. She wakes up every morning before work to run, stands on her feet each day for a 12 hour work day, and cooks all her food herself and eats extremely healthy. She never touches her hair or puts on make up and has always encouraged me to follow her example of loving my own natural beauty. I think she deserves a few hours of pampering and special photos to hold on to!
Photographing this absolutely gorgeous, loving and sweet woman right before one of the most meaningful milestones in her life was an honor. Her reasons for embarking on this boudoir journey was a personal one, and yet, her story is a celebration of all womanhood. Being in a place of self-compassion and truly knowing that we are worthwhile enough to be in healthy and fulfilling relationships is everything.
Makeup and Hair by Jaquelyn Mowszowski Lawrence