Hello everybody! In case we have not been formally introduced, I’m Ali! You’ve seen me around on Michelle’s website and Facebook page, sometimes as a model; more recently as a colleague of Michelle’s. I have been apprenticing to Michelle since February 2018, and I’ve been working shoots with her since we reopened in August. When I tell people I work in boudoir, the number one response I get is cautious interest. A lot of this: “Oh, how interesting! Do you enjoy it? What’s it like?” If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to be in the boudoir business, keep reading, and I’ll give you an inside look at our process!
There is a lot that goes into each shoot. Michelle recently sat down and outlined all the steps on paper with me, and the list was three full pages long. For a single shoot. The whole process usually spans several weeks. Everything from making sure the shoot gets onto our calendar to getting the client’s product in the mail is something we need to be thinking about. Even little things, like making sure we’ve always got wine chilling in the refrigerator to offer clients on shoot day. We’re thinking of each client for weeks before they even step foot into our studio. Through Facebook messages and emails, we figure out what they’re looking for and do our best to prepare for it. Sometimes, this requires adjustments on the fly when we see what outfits they brought with them to the shoot. I have spent time moving sets around, changing furniture angles, lighting candles, and building something completely new in an unused corner while clients have been in the prep room getting their makeup done.
After the shoot has wrapped, Michelle then has the photos processed and product ordered to the client’s specifications. We send out a follow-up email. Lots of logistical things happen here. We reset the studio, launder the robes and sheets, and start preparing for the next client.
During the shoot, though—when the client is in the studio with us, and we’ve got the music playing, lights glowing—is when the real magic happens.
Michelle and I are both serial encouragers. Nearly every woman who walks through our doors is nervous, and with good reason. A boudoir shoot is an intimate, vulnerable thing to do. Most women are so unaccustomed to seeing themselves like this that they start off somewhat shy. Which is completely fine! Because Michelle and I have inevitably become enthralled with them from the minute we met them.
We love every single client who comes into our studio, and every one of them is a muse for us! We gasp and cheer and support each woman we shoot, and we mean it from the bottoms of our hearts every time. We genuinely feel that every woman is a beautiful goddess. Watching them unfold from that shy prison is the most glorious thing in the world to us. These women think that we’re the ones who make the pictures look so good, when, in reality, it’s them! Every woman is different, and they all come into the shoot with different confidence levels. Our goal is, by the end, for each woman to see what we see when we look at them. We are obsessed with each and every client, and we want them to feel without reservation that they are beautiful by the time they leave us. This, to me, is what working in boudoir is all about.
Michelle has helped me grow in confidence and understand myself better as a person since we met in 2016. When she offered me the opportunity to affect the same change on other women by working with her, I jumped at the chance. I feel that working in boudoir is one of the most nuanced, fulfilling careers in the world. I literally get to inspire people and love them as a living, and that is such a beautiful thing to me. I get to help these women—our incredible clients—see themselves in a new and exciting way. And hopefully, they will love what they see as much as I do.
What’s it like to work in boudoir? It’s pretty amazing, beginning to end, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.