My Boudoir Journey // Truth + Lies

So I've been writing this post for over 5 months. It's one I've wanted to push "publish" on more times than I can count....and probably wanted to delete just as many times, or more. This isn't a "how I got started in boudoir photography" post, although I probably should write that someday. No, this post is to summarize MY personal boudoir shoots. But before we start, I have to confess something.

I lied to my clients. When I started shooting boudoir, I LOVED what it did for my clients. I could see the way it changed them but I didn't have the desire to have my own shoot. I didn't feel great about my personal appearance and I, like so many of my clients, thought "someday....when I've lost some weight, and am feeling better about myself, maybe I'll do it." Which is totally NORMAL. But, on more than one occasion, I'd have a client ask me if I had done a session. I preach body positivity and self love so I felt like I couldn't say "no, I'm at my heaviest weight and there is no way I'd do it looking like this". So, I'd casually explain that I had a session, but the images weren't very good (so I wouldn't have to show them) and we'd move right past the topic. But it was all a LIE. I had never had a session, the poor imaginary photographer was thrown under the bus so I could attempt to give my clients a little more encouragement. The real truth was, I didn't think I would like images of myself. There was NO WAY I would put myself through that.

And for almost 2 years, that was true.

Then in December of 2017, I planned a trip to visit my friend Rachel (who runs her own amazingly successful boudoir studio outside of Philadelphia). She was planning a shoot with two other boudoir photographers from across the country and I was invited to join. It was an opportunity I couldn't say pass up, but I was also scared af to do.

So I went to Philly, met my bestie in real life, and the next day, faced my fears head on. The few images I have from that day changed my life. The experience itself was life changing. I flew home on freaking cloud 9. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a different person. I saw a woman not a girl. A beautiful body not an ugly one. A person worthy of affection and compliments not a person that should stand in the back of photos and laugh off affirmations. It started changing my mind, my beliefs about myself, my self worth and they confirmed what I desperately wanted to believe deep down all along; that I am a beautiful woman

 Image by Kelley Stafford -  The Boudoir Belle

Image by Kelley Stafford - The Boudoir Belle

 Image by Kelley Stafford -  The Boudoir Belle

Image by Kelley Stafford - The Boudoir Belle

Fast forward to this April and Rachel and my friend Caroline flew to Toledo to celebrate my studio grand opening. We planned a full day to shoot each other and I ended up with a few more images to add to my personal collection. I can't tell you how much these images have impacted my life but I can tell you that it's an experience that every woman should have. 

 Image by  Caroline Talbot
 Image by Caroline Talbot

Image by Caroline Talbot

 Image by Rachel Jasmine Studio

Image by Rachel Jasmine Studio

 Image by Caroline Talbot

Image by Caroline Talbot

So no more lies. I've had my own shoot. Felt the same nerves, had the same thoughts as so many of my clients and lived to SCREAM about how awesome it was. I loved being on the other side of the camera and I'm about to do it again in June when I travel to Canada for a boudoir workshop. Caroline, Rachel, myself and over 100 other boudoir photographers will be hanging out at this bomb ass camp. Learning, shooting, fulfilling all my childhood summer camp dreams and doing allllll the things. Can't wait to tell you all about it. 🖤