Male Boudoir photography- It's not a joke.

I love shooting male boudoir!  I've shot quite a few guys by themselves, and I've shot a lot of guys as part of couples sessions.  The reasons guys want boudoir photos taken are the exact same reason women want photos taken- to feel amazing about themselves.  

     Whether I am doing boudoir photography for men or women, my number one goal is to show each person they are absolutely amazing, just as they are.  A quick search of male boudoir images on google will show two things- ridiculously perfect male bodies, and shoots that are meant as jokes.  Male boudoir encompasses so much more to me.    It's not just for perfect bodies, it's for everybody, and I will certainly never treat anyone's body as a joke.  

Guys have just as many body image issues as women do, it is just not socially unacceptable for them to talk about them.  As a woman, I can say, "I feel fat today" and my friends will say "no you look amazing!"  If a guy said that?  His friends would say- "fuck yeah you're fat.  Grab me a beer fatass." 

The big question-"But Cindy don't you freak out when you see a PENIS?" 

NOPE

I shoot men and women nude.  I see naked people every single day.  This is my job.  I don't ever look at a client, male or female, in a sexual way.  My eyes go to how the light is falling on them, or how I can turn their body to showcase their beauty in the best way.  My eyes go to the way their nose wrinkles up when they laugh, or the happy tears in their eyes when I ask them to tell meabout the person they love.  I don't look at a penis any differently than I do an elbow or a back.  It's just a body part. Some guys get all the way naked, some don't, just like some women get naked and some don't. 

It's very common for a guy to tell me he's not photogenic, and I just tell him that's bullshit.  Everyone is photogenic, you just need to get comfortable in front of the camera.  I'm good at taking photos, I'm excellent at getting you comfortable.  We'll listen to music, talk and laugh, and sometimes you'll forget I'm even taking photos.  That's how I get to your true personality, and you being you?  That's the sexiest thing in the world. 

Maddison and Carrigan- Indianapolis engagement photography

Yes I take pictures of people with clothes on too!  I love engagement sessions, my favorite thing to do is capture the way two people in love look at each other.  I love relaxed, natural engagement sessions.  I have indoor and outdoor space at my studio in Franklin, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis with settings that are perfect for engagement photos.  I am so excited I get to photograph their wedding this weekend!  All of my wedding packages include engagement photos, it's a great chance for us to get to know each other a bit before the wedding.   

Every girl is beautiful, and beauty is not something to be feared.

    I've seen this over and over, from well-meaning, intelligent friends who are parents.  They'll post a photo of their daughter and say "I'm going to be in trouble with this one!"  The implication, I suppose, is that particular child seems to fit well into society's standards of what is beautiful so more boys will want to date her or she will be at greater risk of being the object of sexual attention?  

     I've seen people say it to a parent regarding one child in front of other kids.  "You're going to be in trouble with her, look at her eyes!"  That other kid over there- the not so pretty one-well that one's going to be easy because nobody will look at her.  I mean, people don't say that, but is that the implication?  How does that make the other child feel- the one who isn't "trouble?"  Also, what about the child whose beauty is being described as a problem, as something that is going to be difficult for the parent to deal with?  

EVERY child is beautiful.  Sadly, EVERY child is in danger of sexual abuse, to imply it only happens to "pretty" kids is absolutely ridiculous, and frankly it is dangerous thinking.  We need to teach EVERY child that their body, their soul, is beautiful and precious.  Every child will find someone who cares for them, who wants to date them, and that is a wonderful thing.  I don't believe we should ever single a child out and say their beauty is dangerous.  We should empower EVERY child, male and female, to make responsible informed decisions about their own bodies, to love themselves just as they are.  To never make them feel as if being beautiful is dangerous, or that not being society's narrow view of "beautiful" somehow insulates them from the "danger"  of attention from the opposite sex. 

     This is my daughter.  She is beautiful.  Not any more, or any less, than any other girl.  I understand the fear- the desire to protect her, body and soul.  I can look at her and see the little girl she is, that needs protected and nurtured and that I sometimes want to sweep away to an isolated island to protect her forever.  But then I can look at her and see the young woman she is becoming, her strength in body and mind, her loving soul, her hope for the future, and I look forward to that wonderful energy pulling others into her life that are like her.  I want her to be adored, body and soul, by someone other than family someday.  Yes,  I absolutely want her to find a partner in life that sees her magic.  And yes- when the time is right- I want that relationship to be sexually empowering and fulfilling for her, a trusting place to explore her body and the amazing bond of sharing your body with someone you love.  I don't want to shield her from that.   I want to show her that physical beauty is just a small piece of this amazing life and is in no way the most important thing.  It's not dangerous to be beautiful, it's not safe to be something less than what society deems beautiful.  That someone will love her not because her body is beautiful- but because her soul is beautiful.  

My daughter is beautiful.  So is yours.  And none of us are "in trouble" because of it.  

Release- fine art nude session: chronicling grief

     Sometimes, boudoir isn't about sexy.  Actually, with me, it is never only about sexy.  There are so many more sides of your personality than that, and it is my goal to capture many sides of who you are.  

     This beautiful lady came to me and told me she wanted to chronicle her grief, the emotions she is experiencing right now.  I'm always so thankful for everyone who gets vulnerable in front of me, who trust me enough to let me in to an intimate part of their soul.  It is an honor to be present for raw emotion, emotion that we often hide from the world.  Editing her photos, I have to admit, I had some tears.  They brought me back to places of vulnerability and grief.  But those moments where she smiled?  She absolutely lit up the room, and reminded me that joy can always be found, even in grief.  

     There was very little direction in this session.  I believe our movements in grief, the way we hold our hands, the way we bow our head, the way we crumple to the floor, are so personal and tell our story.  We put on some music, we talked a bit.  And I took pictures.  Some tears, some laughter.  She told me at the end of the session that it was cathartic to her.  Every year, I pick a word that sort of is my goal for the year, and I didn't really pick one yet.  Inspired by her, my word is now release.  Releasing those things not meant for me to make room for those that are, and to help others release negative feelings about themselves, negative experiences.  

      Thank you, my client and now friend, for the inspiration.  Thank you for letting me see you, letting me into your soul.  And honestly?  That is the sexiest thing ever.  

 

 

    

You be you, I'll be me: a note to photographers on pricing

     If you are a member of any photography groups, I can guarantee you've seen the issue of pricing come up often.  One of the favorite activities of some photographers seems to be analyzing/criticizing how others run their businesses.  It's wonderful to be able to ask for advice in these groups, but unsolicited criticism, or random rants on how everyone else is doing it all wrong and you're doing it right, are never ok. 

     One of the main complaints I see is "you are devaluing my business by charging less than me."  I know, right?  I mean that's a complaint in every business.  I wish Louis Vuitton would quit running all those ads talking about how Target's $20 purses are devaluing their product.  Oh, you haven't seen those?  That's because it's a ridiculous mindset.  If you are going to price your product at a premium, if you are going to charge top dollar, freaking own it.  Be top-notch, be in demand, be the luxury experience that top dollar prices necessitate.  Realize that different people have different priorities, different budgets.  And different in no way means inferior.  There is no way in hell I would buy a Louis Vuitton purse.  My last purse came from Goodwill, it was $3, and it serves its purpose very well.  I would never complain about someone who buys luxury purses, just as they shouldn't shame me for having different priorities.  Some people can't, or simply don't want to, spend thousands of dollars on photography.  And that is ok. Some do, and if those are your prices, you need to work hard to find those people.  

     I've heard often from more expensive photographers, in condemning cheaper photographers, "well you get what you pay for." I mean, maybe, if you're comparing heating/cooling systems for your home?  Or pricing out roofing materials?  I suppose if you see your work as simply another consumer product, you might think that way.   But I'm an artist, and art doesn't work that way.  It simply doesn't.  So many factors go into pricing- demand, trends, popularity, area of the country you're in- that the saying "you get what you pay for" simply doesn't apply.  Pricing does not necessarily correlate with "quality" of art, whatever that even means.  

     Another popular argument in groups is "if you're not doing in person sales, you're doing it wrong.  In fact, here I'm posting a receipt from my latest session so you can see I made $2000."  Um, ok.  I think it's in somewhat poor taste to brag about what you make, I usually don't see people in other professions posting their paycheck on their FB walls.  Also, simply showing the money you brought in has no relevance to actual business income.  Perhaps you have much bigger expenses than I do, so you have to charge a lot, and that's totally cool. But it doesn't mean you're making more money than I am.  Or perhaps it does, and that's fine!  The awesome thing about running our own business is that we get to make our own decision for what works for us.  The mentality of "oh that poor photographer doesn't charge enough" is ridiculous.   I will assume everyone has thought about their own business plan, their own needs, their own expenses, and are charging accordingly to those.  Just like I won't say to someone "Oh my god that's ridiculous you're charging way too much" I would never tell anyone they are too "cheap" either.  Oner of the best local photographers I know doesn't charge a dime for her sessions.  And that's fine. 

     I charge $350 for a boudoir session, includes images with print release.  I think $350 is quite a bit of money.  I am thrilled to get that for a photo session.  I realize most of my peers charge upwards of $1500, and that is awesome that works for their business plan.  For me, I don't want to have once-in-a-lifetime prices. I get to see women who just want sessions for themselves to feel great, then they come back when engaged, then they come back for a couples session, then they come back for maternity photos, then they come back with baby for a mommy and me session, and come back to reclaim their confidence in their post-baby body.  I love being at a price point that makes that possible. I love having other things that contribute to my income, such as amazing client trips and events, so that I can keep my sessions as reasonably priced as possible. I absolutely love what I do, and I love being able to do a lot of sessions.  That is what works for me.  

     I've had people tell me- well if you raise your prices you'll get a higher class of clientele.  What kind of arrogant elitist classist bullshit is that?  I love my clients, thank you very much.  I've worked with stay at home moms, fast food workers, nurses, doctors, teachers, every profession you can think of.  For some, that $350 is nothing, they can pay it easily, and for some, they save for months to have the money for a session, and I value them all exactly the same.  

If your business plan is working for you- awesome!  That doesn't mean you should impose it on anyone else.  And if it isn't working for you?  Look at your own policies, procedures, pricing, service, and adjust accordingly.  Don't blame me. 

You be you, I'll be me.  

 

     

 

Autumn : Indianapolis maternity boudoir

I love maternity boudoir!  I love sharing in your excitement and joy.  We can do a mix of traditional maternity photos that you can share with everyone, and some boudoir style ones as well.  This lovely lady happens to be my friend and my hair/makeup artist.  If you choose to add hair/makeup to your session, you'll get to meet her!  I can't wait to cuddle her new baby girl.  She brought this gorgeous gown to her session and she gave it to me to keep in the studio, so it's here if you'd like to use it! I recommend messaging to schedule your boudoir maternity session early in your pregnancy so I can make sure to get you in right when you want to come.  

Boudoir Plus Baby

I love when my clients come back to me for sessions through different stages of life.  I had the opportunity to photograph boudoir for this beautiful woman, then maternity boudoir, and I was so happy she brought her newborn back for photos!  I don't do posed newborn photos where they are propped up in front of a backdrop- if you want those I know some great photographers I can refer you to.  But I love relaxed baby photos, in their mama's arms, just being a baby!  I can do newborn photos in your home, or in my studio in Franklin, Indiana near Indianapolis. 

Friday Feature- Ms. T- Indiana Boudoir Photography

In her own words:

"I decided to do a boudoir shoot for two reasons.  For myself, and also for every women/girl who has ever felt uncomfortable with their body.  I would constantly give myself hell because I hated the way I looked, but one day I just decided that every body is different, but beautiful.  So, I want every woman to feel that they should love themselves too.  I also did it because my friends always see me as "cute" but I wanted to show them that I'm more than that.  I was nervous before, but during and after the shoot I felt empowered.  I would absolutely recommend my friends to do it.  I would recommend anyone to do it!"  

I loved her sweet easygoing spirit, and I love that she wanted to use her images to inspire others to do a shoot.  I'm happy that women walk away from a boudoir session with me with beautiful images, but I am even more happy that they walk away from their photo shoot with an empowered soul.  

Lindsay and Aric- Indianapolis Engagement Session

These two encouraged me to leave my little happy bubble at my home studio here in Franklin and go downtown to the White River Canal in Indianapolis for their engagement photos, and I'm so glad they did!  It was the perfect setting for their engagement photos, and we just happened to have one of those amazing Indiana early fall evenings where the light was perfect.  I am so excited that I get to photograph their wedding next fall.  They chose this location because it was where they got engaged.  Couples and engagement sessions with me are really laid-back, I love to just watch couples interact and get genuine emotions.  

Friday Feature: meet Beth and Jonathon: Indianapolis couples boudoir

I am so excited to share this week's feature shoot with you!  I absolutely adore shooting these two, and they always have unique ideas that make me panic for just a minute worrying about whether I'll be able to bring their ideas to life, then I just go for it and we make magic!  This time they told me they wanted to play with images of power, with the contrast between Beth's small size and Jonathon's larger frame.  We used the fields and barn at my Franklin Indiana studio, on a misty magical early fall morning.  

     One of the awesome things about this couple is that they aren't a couple- not in the way you might think.  They are "just" friends.  And I hate saying just friends because it relegates friendship to something subpar, something below romantic love, and that is unfair.  I love the easy kind of friendship where you are comfortable baring yourself, body and soul, to another person.  They were so fun to shoot because they would be trying to look at each other super sexy and then just burst out laughing at trying to be serious.  

 I hope you find a love like this.  A friendship where you can laugh, and be silly, and carry each other, and create art together, and be naked with each other.  That love can come from a spouse, a family member, a romantic interest, or "just" a friend.  

Friday Feature: Meet Dawn and Brian: Couples Boudoir

This week's feature is a wonderful couple I had the honor to do a boudoir session for this summer.  Here are Dawn's words:

"We decided to do the boudoir shoot because we were both turning 50 and we were recently married, starting a new life together.  We had both been in nightmare marriages before.  We were both WAY outside our comfort zone,  Brian has always considered himself the big fat guy that is supposed to work.  I see him as a caring, loving man.  When we saw pictures you had taken of others I told him we just need to do this!You were amazing at keeping us at ease and not judging (body images and all), I tell everyone I know about you!"

Seriously.  My hope for every single person who sees this is that you have, or will have soon, a love like these two share.  The way they look at each other just melts my heart.  

Friday Feature: Erica

Friday Feature: Erica.

This is a special one for me.  Clients often become friends.  It's a funny thing, when you get naked in front of a stranger, a pretty quick bond develops.  I am so honored that people are willing to get so vulnerable in front of me.  This is my wonderful friend Erica.  I am going to introduce her to you with her own words. 

"I first scheduled my boudoir pictures to be used as a gift for my fiance.  I remember reaching out to Cindy and telling her that I wanted to make sure things that made me me would remain in the pictures.  At the time of scheduling I was a cervical cancer survivor, had scars from cancer related surgeries and from having a cyst removed from under my arm, had done weight watchers and lost a hundred pounds, as well as had a child.  I had plenty of scars and stretch marks but I didn't want those removed.  They are a part of me and a part of my story.  The day I was scheduled to have my boudoir shoot was instead spent in a hospital.  My cancer had returned with a vengeance, a nephrostomy tube placed because the cancer had grown outside my uterus and eaten away at my right ureter causing the connection from my kidney to bladder to be non existent.  When I tried to cancel the shoot Cindy said no and had me come in a few days later.  (I told her I wanted to do the shoot at no charge for her,) My fiance had to drive me, so it was no longer a surprise.  It became so much more.  The first time I had pictures allowed me to get pictures in my wedding dress with my long hair.  Hair I wouldn't have at the wedding.  The pictures show a piece of my cancer story.  I cherish the pictures with my nephrostomy tube showing, I think it shows people that beauty can come, even with a tube coming out of your back.  

These are not the only pictures I've had.  The first time I lost my hair Cindy did an amazing bald shoot.  Later I attended a retreat and one of my favorite pictures was taken, a picture in the beautiful window showing my port.  As a woman going through cancer, for the third time, I know many women just "want to get through and forget"  I'm glad I didn't make that choice.  I'm thankful to have amazing photographer friends to help me document and celebrate my cancer experience.  The photos Cindy has taken for me have been valuable in another way.  They help me to visually tell my story.  They've been used on my blog, www.tealelfs.com, as well as Cure Magazine, multiple news outlets, on Cervivor www.cervivor.org (a cervical cancer advocacy group I'm an ambassador for) and First Descents www.firstdescents.org (an organization for young adults with cancer). "-Erica

And now I'm crying.  I love this woman.  I am so lucky and happy to have her in my life.-Cindy

Friday Feature: Shelby

If I could describe her session in one word- it would be joyful!  We had so much fun together.  After her session she told me- "I feel like we're a team."  I totally agree!  That's how every session is, we are creating works of art together.  A little about Shelby, she is a 29 year old mom of 2 little girls.  She said she's been wanting to do boudoir for a few years and decided to get them done before she turns 30.  I've done sessions for a lot of milestone birthdays- 30,40, 50, and 60!  Boudoir is for every age.  She told me she was nervous before the session, which is completely normal, but felt relaxed quickly during and felt great about herself afterward.  That's what I love to hear! 

Queen Bee- 50th birthday boudoir shoot

I love that she scheduled this shoot to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday!  Boudoir truly is for everyone, there are no age limits and it isn't for just a certain body type.  I truly believe every body is beautiful!  I am so happy she said I could share all of these with you.  She is so gorgeous and I love her free spirit that just shines so bright in these.  I've had quite a few people bring vehicles of some sort to shoots, I love that we have plenty of room in our Indiana country setting to accomodate them!  I've photographed several cars, motorcycles, even a semi in a boudoir session!  

 

We did some of her session in my indoor studio, then moved outside to the barn and the gazebo.  I love that I can get a wide variety of shots at the Franklin boudoir studio.  This window is my favorite place in the world to take photographs. 

Going outside for photos is always fun because it's pretty much guaranteed you will have a goat yelling at you and chickens clucking at you.  If you're nervous, all the animals are definitely a great ice breaker!  I'm always saying- "Be as sexy as you can with goats yelling at you!"  I'd say she accomplished sexy even with all the animal interruptions and cat photo bombs we had for her session! 

Miss J- Outdoor Boudoir Photography

Beautiful day, beautiful light, beautiful girl.  Some days my job just seems too easy!  I love doing outdoor boudoir on our property, I am thankful every day to have such a beautiful place to work.  Our old barn is always one of my favorite shooting spots.  And her tattoos? Amazing! I love that I get to see amazing pieces by lots of different tattoo artists in my work.  And I love all her expressions, one of my favorite things to do is just talk and watch the different expressions and click away as I see them! 

In Defense of Selfies

I've seen so many posts complaining about people taking and posting selfies lately.  Often the word "narcissictic" is used.  Sure there are narcissists out there.  But I think we're at a point where a healthy self-esteem, body confidence, believing in ourselves is so rare that it's viewed as narccisistic when it should be seen as normal.  

Here are some negative things often said about selfies:

"You must think you look good" -snarky tone implied. 

Yes.  Yes I do.  I might think my hair looks good that day, or my lipstick is pretty, or my body has had some positive changes from exercise, or I just woke up that morning and thought- "Damn.  I look hot,"  Here's the thing.  There is so much push for body positivity, loving who you are, thinking you are beautiful.  But the moment you actually start to believe that, come to terms with the amazing body you live in, accept any "flaws" as unique features to celebrate, decide that you are, in fact, beautiful- everyone will jump all over you.  You're supposed to feel like you're beautiful- but not really. Only up to a certain point.  Screw that.  It's so difficult to hold on to these moments of feeling comfortable in your skin, it's a great idea to take a photo of yourself when you do feel beautiful.  On the days that we all have, where we're feeling uncomfortable with our appearance, it's wonderful to go back and look at the times when you did feel beautiful, to recapture that state of mind.  I want to see all of my friends beaming because they feel beautiful.  I can't think of anything more wonderful to fill my social media feed.  And if you don't want to see your friend's happy moments?  It makes me wonder what kind of friend you are.  And if you're "friends" with a bunch of people who aren't your friends who you don't want to see, there is this amazing feature called the "unfriend" or "unfollow" button.  Works wonders.  

 

"Your relationship can't be as good as you make it look."

The moments that I take the photos that I post of us?  It is that freaking good. It really is.  But yes, there are ups and downs.  In fact, there are some really horrible times, just like in any relationship.  When we're screaming at each other I obviously don't hold my phone up and say- "let's take a selfie!"  I don't need to.  Those moments are vivid in my mind.  It can take 100 amazing moments to make up for one bad one sometimes.  We don't need a visual reminder of the bad times.  Our brains do that all too well for us.  But when times are bad, I can look through all those selfies of Tyler and I together, see the love in his eyes, see us smiling at each other, and I can instantly have a hundred moments to help defuse the trauma of a bad day.  I like using hashtags for that purpose on Instagram, so I can easily find a bunch of photos of us together being happy when things aren't so happy.  Go ahead, look up the hashtag #cindylovestyler on Instagram and bask in the cuteness.  

 

"You're just posting that as an excuse to show off your boobs."

Well, yeah.  Because boobs are awesome.  Why the hell wouldn't I? 

 

"You're just fishing for attention." 

This is a good one.  Post a happy feel-good selfie, you're being arrogant.  Post a sad one, you're fishing for attention.  You know what?  I am.  And that is healthy.  What better use for social media than to be able to tell a friend- I see you're sad.  I'm here for you.  What can I do?  And for friends to be able to tell you the same thing.  Sometimes something as simple as someone saying "you're not alone" can be all someone having a really hard day needs.  Yes, I get sad.  Really sad sometimes.  Posting a photo reminds me of the sad times, but looking back on those I can see how much I've overcome, and see the wonderful words of the people who support me.  I can look at them and think- "I've got this.  I've been here before.  And I made it through." 

 

"You think you're better than everyone else." 

This is where I fight back.  Hell no, I don't.  If I did, that would be cause for you to call me arrogant.  But I think for the vast majority of people, that simply is not true.  I think these thoughts come from a place of insecurity, a place of buying into the hype that a certain body type, a certain type of relationship, a certain type of family, is required to feel great about yourself.   There isn't a pie chart of self-esteem, that if I feel great about myself, I am taking anything away from you.  Life doesn't work that way.  I am amazing, I am beautiful in my own way.  You are beautiful and amazing in your own way too.  Humans seem to be hard-wired to reject anything they don't understand.  And if you have not found your way to loving yourself, it might be hard for you to see someone who has found that in themself.  If you feel uncomfortable when you see someone with a healthy self-esteem, I encourage you to let go of your feelings of inadequacy and embrace how freaking awesome you are, just as you are.  

Thanks to selfies, I am actually in photos with my kids, with my husband.  For years there were little to no photos of me, since I was always the one grabbing my camera.  I would come back from a vacation with no record of me even being there.  Photos are a huge memory trigger for me, perhaps that's why I love them so much. I have ADD and it does weird things to my memory.  Seeing a photo of myself is the best way for me to remember the emotions I was feeling at that time.  I don't ever want to forget the amazing moments I spend with my kids, and I want to have a record of those moments for them to look back on as they grow.  

 

It is never arrogant for someone to think they are amazing, beautiful, love their life.  It is only arrogant when it becomes- "I'm more (fill in the blank) than you."  We all can uplift and inspire each other to become comfortable in our skin and celebrate the bodies and the minds and the lives that we get for a short time on this earth.  If someone posts a lot of selfies and you really don't like it?  Unfollow them.  It's simple  If someone says mean things on the selfies you post?  Unfollow, unfriend, or even block as you need to.  We are not under any obligation to keep assholes in our online lives, you are welcome to make your online presence your little happy bubble and escape from negativity.  

 

 

Creepier boudoir- Fine art nude photography

Remember when I posted that creepy boudoir session a little while ago?  Well, shit just got creepier :-) And I had someone message before that they liked it they didn't think it was creepy.  I don't mean creepy in a bad way at all!  I define creepy as unsettling- art making you feel a bit unsettled is always a good thing.  I love to explore all sides of someone's personality in boudoir sessions, and I have had the pleasure of shooting this woman quite a few times and it is an honor that she lets her dark side out to play at shoots with me.  This doesn't really fall into the realm of boudoir, I feel like we created art together.  Celebrating the nude form is something I absolutely love.  Don't ever be afraid to ask for something completely out of the norm when booking a session with me- I would love to brainstorm with you to make your vision happen.  I love shoots that push me out of my comfort zone- it was completely dark in this space so I had to figure out how to get some lighting on her.  I love candlelight on skin, so this session is almost completely lit by candlelight.  I look forward to creating more art with her!