When these two gorgeous ladies reached out to me about combining their steamy boudoir sessions into one, I was, understandably, excited.
I was even more excited when they said they wanted a theme: Pastels!
Now, those of you who know me, know that I love themes. I love cohesive, story-telling vibes that catch the eye and, in the words of Severus Snape, “ensnare the senses.”
This boudoir session did all that and more. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out, and it is quite possibly the most fun I have ever had with one session. (Though, I should have guessed that double the women = double the fun.)
The session took place at a gorgeous Wolf Creek apartment, which we swiftly took to decorating with glittering foil streamers, ALL the colors of tulle, fluffy pillows and rugs, and who could have a pastel party without balloons?
We embraced all the giggling and goofing around, and it made for some seriously stellar photos.
Both of these gorgeous women are warriors for body positivity and self-love. They are all about owning and loving your human form, and not only do they shout their awesome message from the rooftops, they follow their own advice (which is seriously rare).
Everything about this session was pure magic, which is why I couldn’t resist making it a feature on the blog. It’s not often that a client comes to me with a clear idea and plan for their session.
It’s actually quite rare. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going into a boudoir session with only the word “sexy” in mind. Most people in Utah that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through my work are boudoir virgins. They all still end up with breathtaking photos for themselves or their spouses (or both), regardless of their initial vision (or lack thereof) for their session. So, a concrete theme or vision isn’t exactly a requirement.
But, that’s why this session stands out so brightly from the rest! When I’m given an idea, I tend to run with it, and these ladies kept up, and even outpaced me, every step of the way. It was wonderful to be able to bring their gorgeous vision to life in their photos!
Their session is up in its complete awesomeness on the Galleries section of this site. To see the whole thing, just click here. I promise, it is SO worth it!
Don’t forget to follow Austa Feller Photography, @afellerphoto on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with all the amazing things coming this month and in May. I’ve got some goodies in store that you won’t want to miss!
I’ve been getting requests to expand on a couple things I mentioned in this post. Specifically, what the process is for creating and carrying out a boudoir session with me. It’s a wonderful question, which is why I’m doing an entire post about it, so that others can refer back to this whenever they have questions, and so that it can be expanded upon in the event that new questions are brought up.
So, once a person has moved past the “reaching-out-for-prices” stage and decided they’d like to book a session, we set up an initial meeting called a consultation.
During this meeting, I ask you questions regarding your goals for the session; what, if any, body parts or features you’d like to focus on (most people want their booty to be the focus, while others want to highlight their scars, and then some don’t have anything specific they want showcased. All answers are good answers.)
The initial consult is also where we go over contracts and model releases, and also where you will put down the initial deposit to hold your session date. The deposit is not a separate charge, it is put toward the total session fee, so think of it like putting a down payment on the session.
Model releases are what most of the questions were revolving around, so I’ll describe them more in-depth here.
Every photographer has a different contract and a different policy regarding the use of their photos online. Because of the intimate and vulnerable nature of boudoir sessions, I have two separate contracts.
1) The Legal mumbo-jumbo contract.
This contract is just the basic agreement between you and I. It goes over copyrights to the photos, you agree to arrive promptly to your session, and there’s even a super-fun and exciting no-sexual-harrassment clause that I threw in there for both yours and my safety.
2) The Model Release.
Like I said before, this one is a separate contract because I don’t like the idea of locking you into an agreement to allow your photos to be used online just because you have to agree to the other legal stuff to even have a session. That seems sketchy and unfair.
So, my model releases are broken down into two separate permissions, the permission to use the photos on this website, as part of my professional portfolio, and a separate permission to use the photos on professional social media accounts. You are free to sign one but not the other, or simply not allow the photos to be used online at all.
The model release also offers the option to allow the photos to be used in any capacity online, so long as your name is not “tagged”. This way, you can still see your images on your feed, but none of your friends or family will.
What I’ve gathered from the emails I get is that this concept is a major road-block in some people’s minds. Because they were seeing my images online, they were assuming that theirs would HAVE to be shared too. This is not the case, though, as you now know.
At this point, when your session is booked and reserved and all contracts are signed, I’ll send you a cute little guide that gives you tips and tricks for preparing yourself for our session. This includes everything from how close to the session you should or shouldn’t get waxed, get facials and chemical peels, and other fun little bits of information that help the session go as smoothly as possible.
All that’s left after all this is just to show up to the session itself!
The process for getting a session into the works can seem daunting for some, but hopefully the information above helped a bit.
A quick note…
I have recently changed my package system to be more convenient for everyone! Now, instead of having to choose between three pre-fab packages, I have added a fourth, “sample” type package called the “Mini” and I have also added an A la Carte menu, where you can build your own custom session from scratch that fits your needs!
As a boudoir photographer, the number one excuse I receive from hesitant potential clients is, “I would love to have sexy photos taken, but I’m just not confident enough in my body right now. Maybe after I lose a few pounds.”
I definitely understand feeling this way, I’m currently on a health-focused weight loss journey, myself. Losing weight can be empowering and, yes, it can help you feel more confident. However, letting your size be an excuse to not do something is about the worst decision you can make. Trust me. I know.
I have no photos from my high school graduation because I felt too fat to have my photos taken. Actually, there are no good photos of me from the time I turned about sixteen to when I had my engagement photos taken in 2015. Why? I felt too large to be pretty. I thought I wouldn’t look good in those photos, so I wouldn’t let anyone take them.
Now, an entire 7-year chunk of my life is a memory-less black hole because I was too focused on the traits I considered my flaws. I thought it would be painful to look back at those times because of my size. And you know what? It is painful, but not because I was “fat”… It’s painful because I want those memories, and they’re gone.
Now, I let people take my photo whenever they want, and I get photos taken professionally every chance I get. Even when I’m not feeling my prettiest. How did I get to this point?
In the moments when I’m not feelin’ myself, I actively work through a few of the following 10 things. I put this list together over the last week or so, whenever I found myself engaging in one of the activities that help me feel better about myself.
So, without further ado:
1. Allow Yourself to Occupy Space
This is important. Too many people try to shrink themselves to fit into the space they think they deserve. They do this both physically and by hiding key parts of their personalities. It’s a defense mechanism seen everywhere in prey animals. They make themselves small, cowering and showing their bellies in order to not make a fuss or draw the attention of predators. Never shrink yourself for the comfort of others. Think big, and TAKE UP SPACE.
2. Walk Tall
Walking tall is more than just good posture. Slouching is an unconscious form of shrinking yourself. Even just carrying yourself upright, with your chest out and your chin up, can help you feel more confident. Treat life like a runway and work it. Strut your stuff and all that jazz. Bonus points for actually doing the catwalk stomp and letting your hips sway with sass.
Right now. Even if you just pace around the house or take a stroll around the block. Get up and move your body in some way, and you’ll feel this little spark of pride for having done something good for you. While you move, think about how amazing it is that your body allows you to go anywhere and do anything, just with a few electrical pulses from the wrinkly ball of smart-mush inside your skull. You are an incredible creature!
4. Tell Your Body What You Love
This one was my least favorite at first, because it felt so fake and insincere. But, did you ever hear the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”? This is that phrase in action. It could be your gorgeous eyes, wavy hair, or that booty. Just make an effort to find and consciously point out the things you like about you! Even small things, when remembered during those dark moments of self-loathing, can help remind you that it isn’t all bad.
5. Take A Shower
The simple act of caring for your body can elevate your mood greatly. Let all the negative juju float away with the hot steam and focus on feeling clean and refreshed. Wash yourself with care and take your time. For me, this is particularly helpful when I’m going through one of my depressive episodes and haven’t bathed in days. Show your body some TLC, and you will feel better, little by little.
6. Treat Yourself Like Your Bestie
As I suggested in this post, treat yourself with the same care, patience, and kindness that you would give to your closest friends and family when they’re feeling low. What would you say to your bestie, or your sister or brother, if they came to you with words of self-hatred? Give yourself that same pep-talk, and remember, you deserve the same treatment as you give to the ones you love. Be gentle with yourself.
7. Have a Healthy Snack
Don’t worry about calories or sugar content for a minute and eat something that will fuel your body in all the right ways. My personal favorite is a sandwich of hard-boiled eggs and cucumbers, with mustard, on whole grain bread. Nom. The conscious choice to eat something healthy, for me, is always enough for a little confidence boost. Every little choice affects us, and this decision to eat, maybe, ONE vegetable today is a choice that affects you in the best way. Nourish yourself, and don’t be ashamed of feeling proud of that one vegetable!
8. Humbug to Humble
Being humble is overrated AF. Be proud of your best traits and accomplishments, it isn’t narcissistic, it’s healthy, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Brag about yourself! Anyone who tries to beat your pride down is someone you don’t need in your life.
Story time. My grandfather has repeatedly said something to me throughout my life that has stuck with me through everything:
“Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn… No one else is going to do it for you.”
Only the worst type of person tries to muffle or silence someone else’s horn. So, for the love of whatever you believe or don’t believe in, don’t do it to yourself!
9. Modest is NOT Hottest
I’m from Utah, where “Modest is Hottest” and “Porn Shoulders” are two unfortunate traits of our little corner of the Rockies. Here’s the thing though. There is nothing good or positive about shaming people into hiding the parts of their bodies that make you either uncomfortable or a little too comfortable.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s reaction to you. So, you love your booty? Wear the short shorts that make it look ah-mazing. To hell with the opinions of others. NEVER hide yourself for fear of what other people will think of you if you didn’t. You don’t even have to leave the house, if you’re not quite at that level of no-fucks-given, yet. But, you know that one outfit that makes you a little horny for yourself? Throw that baby on and Work. It.
Work it, even if you’re just doing house chores. Trust me, when you find yourself catching your own eye every time you walk past your reflection and thinking, “Hot damn.” It’s so worth it.
10. Get Physical
No, this is not a second exercise entry. I want you to literally love your body (or invite someone else to love your body with you) by exploring it!
Yes, guys, I’m telling you to masturbate, because even if it’s just for one moment, you will feel sexy. Plus, you get a bonus rush of happy chemicals in the process, and what’s better than that? Not much.
I don’t do ALL 10 of these things every day, but even just taking the time to focus on performing ONE act of self love from this list will massively help your confidence, and if you make a daily ritual of it, who knows? You may even truly love yourself one day.
My last post was focused on the questions I receive from so-called “plus-sized” people regarding whether they could be portrayed as sexy, and it got such a wonderful and supportive response that I’ve decided to address another insecurity I see too often:
The hatred of the mom-bod.
During boudoir sessions, I’ve had women who want me to avoid photographing their tummies or breasts or thighs. I’ve had clients who ask that I not share their photos in any way, which I obviously respect, but it is always with a touch of sadness. These women love their photos, they tell me how shocked they are that they “actually” look sexy. So, asking that I not use the photos online is not out of hatred of the photos themselves, but out of a deeply rooted fear of being seen as they are.
Obviously there are clients who simply wish to keep their intimate photos private, and for only their eyes and perhaps the eyes of a significant other, and that is alright as well, but today I’m addressing the women who are afraid of being torn to shreds at the hands of the ruthless online world. It is an incredibly vulnerable thing, to bare yourself, body and soul, in front of a camera, and it is even scarier to think of your bare self being shared with anyone.
So, to those of you who are terrified that having a boudoir shoot means that your photos will be shared, rest assured, YOU have all the deciding power. YOU get to decide whether your photos are shared at all, and in the event that you decide to allow it, YOU get to decide exactly how they are shared. You choose whether they only go up on the galleries page of this website, or my professional social media accounts, or both.
Now, before I am jumped on for excluding the dad-bod, I need to clarify that by mom-bod, I don’t mean the result of a busy life where one simply becomes softer because they no longer have the time to dedicate to keeping themselves rock-solid with washboard abs. I mean the physical and psychological changes that come with carrying and birthing a child.
I saw this photo earlier today that I felt needed to be presented alongside this topic:
That quote screamed at me to show it to mothers who now hate their bodies because of the marks from past wildfires and the new growth resulting from them.
You have repeatedly heard the “tiger-stripes” analogy, about how your stretch marks are a badge of honor, and that you’ve earned your stripes.
I love that analogy, but as someone who has never had children, I can’t exactly relate. I can’t expect to spout lines that you’ve heard before and completely change the way you perceive yourself. It would be like asking someone with anxiety to just “try calming down.”
Here’s what I can offer you instead:
I love the human form. I love marks of all kinds, because they represent a story; they are the remnants of the person you were, and the experiences you’ve had. I, personally, think your body is beautiful.
I know that nothing I can say or do will change your self-image, and so I won’t waste my time or yours trying to do that. All I’m going to do is ask you one simple favor, your homework, per se.
I want you to give yourself the same care and gentle love that you give to the other people in your life.
If someone you love comes crying to you that they feel unattractive, what do you do? You tell them that they are beautiful. You shower them with love, and even though it may not change the way they see themselves, it lifts them up.
If one of your friends comes to you for comfort after being turned down by a love interest, what do you do? You remind them that their value is not reliant on whether someone else wants to be with them. You tell them that their value is inherent and cannot be taken away just because someone failed to see it.
All I am asking is that you perform these same acts of kindness and reassurance on yourself whenever you feel that the marks on your body define your beauty.
Beauty is internal. Your worth is internal.
The views of others, and even your own views, cannot take that away.
You may not feel able to flip your self-image 180 degrees, but again, I’m not asking you to.
I’m simply asking you to show yourself kindness.
Because, as Aesop said:
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
At least twice each week, I get an email from someone wondering whether I can still “make them look sexy” with stretch marks, or scars, or a few curves. And my answer is always the same.
Because I’m not really “making you” anything. You are sexy. All my photos are doing is showing you that.
Yesterday, in my boudoir Facebook group, a member posted this image:
Everyone is sexy to someone. No exceptions. Yes, even you.
The very same day, another member posted this gem:
These memes are super funny, but they’re also super accurate.
Here’s the point: Every body is different. That is a fact. You could have two people with the exact same height, weight, and body type, but they would still look different.
Because of this, every body photographs differently. This is a good thing!
Long story short, I know how to pose and light for every body type, which is why this is my job. I’m good at what I do.
I have a process that I work through with my clients to help me get to know them and what they expect from their session.
The most important questions I ask them are these:
What are some of your goals for this session?
Of which parts of your body are you most proud?
These questions allow me to learn their intentions and motivations for pursuing a boudoir session. They let me get the client into the mind-frame of searching for things they like, rather than things they hate or want to hide.
There is a reason I chose boudoir. I love the human form. I love everything related to sex and intimacy and beauty. When you put those two passions together, you get magic, regardless of what my subject looks like to him/herself.
My job is to see things the way others may not, it’s why people hire me, so I can show them.
So I can show them the way their curves dance with the light, or the way the shadows flirt with the dips in their abdomen or clavicles.
I promise you, you are beautiful. You just need to stand in the light long enough for yourself to see it!
Ever since I had my “Embrace your Magic” epiphany, I have been on a motivation high. I feel absolutely beastly, and I am loving every moment of it!
I feel fantastic, like an enormous weight of self-doubt and deprecation has been lifted from my shoulders. No clue what finally made it click in my head, since I’ve been trying to work toward self-love since I can remember.
A little background info for those of you who don’t know me all that well.
I have struggled with major depressive disorder since I was about fifteen years old. I never felt like I was good enough for any of the wonderful things in my life, and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Everyone around me told me that I was beautiful and smart, and I even heard “good at everything” a few times. Sure, on the surface it sounded good, but for whatever reason, it never resonated with me. These compliments were like water rolling off the back of a duck; I couldn’t absorb them. I’d simply mutter “thank you so much!” and be done with it. (Even that, accepting a compliment, was a process I had to work up to. For the longest time I would argue with anyone who tried to compliment me, because I needed them to realize that they were wrong. I was none of the words they were lovingly showering on me.)
I hated myself. Really, truly, I did. Even now, I am at constant war with those bad thoughts.
So, then came 2016. The year I got married, the year I discovered aerial arts, specifically aerial lyra (hoop), and the year I discovered photography.
Above are a few of my favorite photos of me in the lyra.
I had a year of incredible growth, and with each new thing I learned, it was like I was picking up a lost piece of my heart.
Then, I discovered boudoir.
I saw how I could make someone’s eyes absolutely light up just by showing them a photo of themselves.
This was when it finally started to click. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful. Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves to see themselves as sexy. Everyone.
……… Including me.
And this began my whole “Embrace your magic” kick. I almost felt myself come alive. And for the past week or so, the feeling hasn’t subsided. It’s been a constant thrum of energy in my core that has pushed me to do some things that I never would have imagined I could do.
I’ve become a vocal advocate for sexual positivity and health.
I’ve met some of the most INCREDIBLE people.
I’ve grown my photography business from basically nothing, to something with a future, in the span of two, almost three, months; all because boudoir found me.
And the biggest leap of all:
I’ve begun to feel something less than animosity toward myself.
I don’t love myself yet, but for the first time in my entire life, I feel as though I’m actually getting there. << That is HUGE for me.
This brings me back to my original point.
If I can get to this point, from YEARS of veritable self-loathing, to finally being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel, so can you.
I mainly decided to actually write this post to tell you that you ARE worth it. You are amazing, and you are beautiful (yes, YOU), and you are strong.
I shot ONE boudoir session and realized that I need to spread that message. So, this is me, spreading the love.
And for those of you who are not yet at that point of self-acceptance, know that I accept you right now. I will believe in you until you can believe in yourself.
You are worth it. You are beautiful. You are strong.
I had a thought the other day, about the way our world views women who think and act for only themselves.
At one point in time, these women were called witches. Now it’s “slut”. The words change, but the sentiment behind them does not.
Here’s the thing. There will always be people who disapprove of what I do, and that is perfectly okay. I can’t be everyone’s cup o’ tea, and I fully accept and appreciate that. I love my job, I get to show people how beautiful their bodies truly are, and every time I hear “Holy shit, I’m sexy!” I do a little happy dance, because it means I’m doing my job correctly.
I am an open book about all matters sexual, and that makes people uncomfortable. They’re so used to people being ashamed of their sexuality and blushing at the names of genitals that it is disarming to them when they meet someone who is so unabashedly open.
Am I a witch for being this way? I sure hope so.
“Witch” was meant to be a term to inspire fear, and for a while it did. But it also had the opposite effect.
Witches are portrayed as these cunning, beguiling people who are utterly irresistible to those around them.
Witches weave magic and their mere presence is seductive. They are empowered and strong; they take no shit, because they know they don’t have to.
Oh, and we can’t forget that witches *gasp* embraced their sexuality.
It was meant to be a bad thing, but I can’t think of anything more wonderful. People are afraid of anything that doesn’t ‘fit the mold’, and boudoir photography is definitely a misfit subject. However, each time I see someone’s eyes shine as they look at themselves and see – possibly for the first time – how stunningly gorgeous they are, I also see a spark of magic ignite in their hearts.
That spark is my favorite. It means you’re falling in love with yourself in your most vulnerable, natural state. It means that you’ve seen yourself, truly seen yourself.
Our world has put these “witch” words into circulation, hoping to steer us away from our power, and instead, they have only highlighted it.
I posted one of my favorite images from a recent session on my social media today with the caption:
Putting myself first was a quiet thing.
Soft and certain; a gentle rebellion, long overdue.
It might seem like the hardest thing in the world, but embrace your witchcraft. You only get one life, why live it in hiding?
Put yourself first. There is only one of you.
Work your magic, embrace your witchcraft, and love yourself.
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting and working with one of the most amazingly strong women I have ever come across. Her goals are almost as beautiful as she is, and once she allowed me to know her a bit, I practically begged her to let me share them.
The title of her feature, here, is “Taking Her Sexy Back” because her mission in life aligns perfectly with Austa Feller Photography’s mission. Claiming her body, her life, and her self back from a life and a world which have attempted to capture them.
Katie has never felt like her body belonged to her. It was taken by a series of abusive and toxic environments throughout her life, as well as by a couple of truly beautiful ones.
Recently, though, she had the most wonderful epiphany: Nothing, and no one, could claim her body, her sexuality, or her Katie-ness. These things are Katie. They belong to her, and upon making this realization, she began a journey of reclamation; a journey, to which I feel so very fortunate to have been a witness. She is truly taking her ‘sexy’ back.
The photos below are only a few of my favorites from her session, to see the others, feel free to view her entire gallery, here.
As soon as I met Abby, I could feel her sunshine. She has a spunky, bubbly, take-no-shit attitude, and the beauty of a fairy-queen, all in one small stature.
Obviously, I was ecstatic when she contacted me about having her portraits taken, and I didn’t quite know just how perfect she was until she arrived at her session.
We were chatting and she mentioned how excited her boyfriend was for the photos we would create, but she followed that statement with my favorite words: “But, I’m not doing this for him. I’m doing this for myself, because I love my body.”
These are my favorite words for a few reasons, besides the obvious ones (what is more beautiful than someone who loves themselves?)
When someone truly loves their body, and themselves, it SHOWS in their photos. It is a night and day difference, and Abby’s portraits definitely radiate confidence and self-love.
She is seriously goals. I’ve got a few of her images posted below, but if you want to see the rest in all their stunning glory, you’ll have to visit her gallery, here.
I had an amazing time creating for this beautiful woman, and I can’t wait until her next session!
When Tawni’s boyfriend reached out to me about a birthday session for her, I automatically accepted. It was going to be a fun session with four to six of her closest friends celebrating her birthday, what could be better than that? Turns out, a canceled hotel party is better. Why? Because it turned a besties session into a beautiful boudoir shoot!
I received a message from Chance, Tawni’s beau, saying that the friends could no longer make it, and asked if I would be open to a change of plans. He told me that Tawni had been wanting to start a journey into the world of boudoir modeling.
This was actually perfect, because for the longest time, I have actually wanted to offer boudoir photography, but I had no idea how to begin. And, believe it or not, this last minute change of plans was about to get even better.
When we arrived at the hotel, Tawni was ready to be open and vulnerable. She was excited for the session, and she trusted me enough to tell me the amazing reason she wants to be a boudoir model.
She has overcome hardships that would have made me crumble. Instead of letting her past define her, she is standing strong, unafraid and unashamed, and she wants to help others do the same. Tawni’s goal is one of love; that every scarred, abused, imperfect body is worthy and deserving of love, and that no one should ever feel that they have to settle for less than that.
This is not just another body positivity campaign filled with nothing but empty words. It is so much more. Yes, it is about loving your body for all of the wonderful things it is and does, but beyond that, it is about rising above past abuses and shames, and climbing up from rock bottom to stand at the peak to say, “My past does not define me. I am not the sum of the things that have happened to me or which have been done to me.”
It is about taking back control and demanding nothing less than what you deserve.
So when I heard this, I’m sure you can understand why I was so honored and excited to be a part of it!
These are just a few of the images we created during Tawni’s session, but more can be found in Tawni’s gallery on the new Boudoir section of the site!
Here’s to breaking boundaries, finding and nurturing our strengths, and being beacons of light and positivity in a world which is so often negative.