My boudoir sessions are my most popular. When I first started my photography business, I completely underestimated how powerful a boudoir session could be for some women.
In May this year I opened a studio near Pymouth City Centre having started off holding sessions at my home. There is a dedicated makeover and dressing room, and two bedrooms just for boudoir photoshoots. One room is light and airy in all white and has a dreamy, peaceful and serene vibe. The other is completely the opposite with dark colours and is amazing for those contrasty black & white shots. Both styles are very different but I love them both!
A lot of ladies worry about what to wear for their session and tell me that they don’t have anything to bring. I encourage every lady as part of the process to go out and buy themselves something. I also have quite a large range of lingerie and this collection is growing all the time! I also have heels, kimonos, neck / shoulder jewellery, cropped tops and beautiful robes. I am a massive fan of bodysuits. I find them very flattering for all body types because most ladies don’t like their tummies. When a session is booked, I send out a guide to help you prepare, and this contains advice about lingerie and other options if fancy lingerie isn’t your thing.
One part of the session that a lot of ladies look forward to is the makeover. A lot of ladies have never had a makeover before so this is an exciting part for them. The make up artist will establish the level of intensity so that you decide together how natural and how glam you’d like the makeover to be. Lashes are also available. We do not contour or highlight as I like to do that using natural light and shadows. The aim is for the skin to look flawless, with a touch of blush in the cheeks, enhance the eyes and then add volume and bounce to the hair.
My sessions take up to 4 hours as no part of it is rushed. I only tend to book one shoot a day so that I don’t have to feel pressured to be done within a certain time frame. The makeover takes around 1.5hrs (sometimes more if there is a lot of hair!) and the photoshoot takes 1.5-2hrs. I create a bespoke plan for you based on outfit choices, your preferred poses and poses that will flatter your body type. I then spend several hours retouching your images. I retouch responsibly. It isn’t my aim to change you, I use poses and lighting to enhance and retouching to finish off. I remove any bruises or blemishes on the skin.
In December 2017 I set up a closed, ladies only Boudoir Group on facebook that now has over 2k members. This is a safe place for ladies to share their images, stories and experiences and I absolutely love it. Ladies are so kind to each other and offer advice and support to each other. www.facebook.com/groups/rubylightboudoir
Later this year I will be attending Gok Wan’s roadshow. I was lucky enough to be invited there by Gok’s team after being recommended by a lovely lady who had a session with me. Gok’s ethos is similar to mine and he will be holding his styling and confidence masterclasses. I will have a stall there to showcase my boudoir sessions. I’m very excited!
I have seen so many ladies find the courage to have a session despite their nerves and despite having little or no confidence. They know they want to do it, they know they want to see themselves how loved ones do. I encourage ladies to give themselves a little pep talk ahead of the session. Remind themselves of the reasons for having a session and to focus on positive feelings, such as excitement and looking forward to the end result. The worst part is always the anticipation leading up to the session (just like anything that we are nervous about). Most ladies say that once they arrive and are welcomed and pampered with a makeover, the nerves fade away. So much so that most ladies really enjoy their session and feel on top of the world for the whole day afterwards.
Most ladies arrive at their session feeling very nervous, they think that all the other ladies in the photographs look so confident and it won’t be the same for them, but the truth is that everyone feels the same. They worry that they won’t be able to pose like that and that they won’t look like the other ladies do. Well, that’s my job! I have absolutely no expectation for anyone to know how to pose. I know how to flatter all body types and I listen and take on board the areas that ladies want to avoid. I pose ladies from head to toe, so the only thing you have to do is follow my lead.
Every lady has different reasons for having a session, but I would say about 95% of the ladies that I have photographed are all on a journey to love or accept their bodies, coming to terms with how their bodies have changed after childbirth or through the process of ageing.
I have photographed several ladies who have lost a significant amount of weight, yet their self-image has not yet caught up with their physical progress. They still see the previous version of themselves in their mind’s eye. I’m always so happy to show these ladies how far along their journey they have come.
I’ve had ladies who have had such low confidence in themselves that after seeing themselves in a different light, has given them the freedom and peace of mind to let their husbands and partners see them naked for the first time in many years, and one lady the courage to walk away from her unhappy marriage because she realised she was worth much more.
It isn’t always like this for everyone. Some ladies have such deep-seated low self-esteem that a boudoir session is just a small part of their self-acceptance journey.
I am naturally quite a caring person and a good listener. I don’t set out to take on a counselling role with all the ladies that come for sessions but sometimes it just goes that way. Some ladies open up to me about how they feel about their bodies and we explore that together. I try to remind ladies that their little ones don’t care if they think they are how ever many stones overweight, they are so loved regardless.
Everyone has a right to be happy. I have learned myself through meeting all these amazing women that even though I’m not the size 10 that I would like to be, I can still be happy and I deserve to be. We don’t have to wait until we lose / gain a certain amount of weight or have surgery and procedures done in order to feel happy. We can still have goals but be happy now. Be happy for everything that you have and grateful for those who love you. Be grateful for having a body that keeps you alive on a daily basis.
I have stopped berating myself. After so many years of telling myself ‘my boobs are too small’, ‘I’m too fat’, ‘my nose is too big’, I don’t tell myself those things anymore. Because the more you say it, the more you believe it to be true and the more this affects your entire self. I encourage ladies to talk internally about themselves like they would to their best friend. Be kind and pay yourself compliments. Accept compliments from others. I don’t want to reach the age of 80 and look back and realise I spent my entire life feeling negative about my body, what a waste!
Us ladies have had it hard for many decades with the media’s portrayal of the perfect woman. We have been comparing ourselves for years. It’s so important for us to take steps to change that. The young ladies in our lives need to grow up feeling beautiful and being surrounded by their role models (their Mums, sisters, aunties, grandmothers) showing them how to be body positive. If they see us putting ourselves down, inevitably they will do the same about themselves. We must build up our young queens :)
I believe that every woman should have beautiful photographs of themselves, no matter what age or size they are. Everyday women who aren’t models, who aren’t used to posing in front of a camera and who have the same body hang ups as everyone else. Because bodies should be celebrated. I am so happy to be part of a movement towards self-love and self-acceptance. Let’s get away from what society has deemed as beautiful...every body is beautiful.
I thought I’d tell you all a little bit about me and my story.
I’m Rachel, 38 and I live with my partner and two pets in Beacon Park. I’m a Portrait and Boudoir Photographer with a studio in Cattedown, close to Plymouth City Centre.
Photography has been a hobby of mine since I was very young. When I was a teenager I always had a camera with me and in those days, we sent off our little film cartridges to Truprint and I still remember the excitement when the prints arrived back! I covered my walls in photos of my friends, family, pets and landscape scenes. When my niece, Darcie was born 10 years ago I decided it was time to get a proper camera. I took photos of her with my family at every opportunity and made her a photobook for every year of her life. I love sitting with her every now and again and looking at her books together.
A year later I gained a Diploma in Photography ahd while working full time as a manager of a residential care home for people with Learning Disabilities and Autism, I set up a studio in my spare room at home. I was a little naive about what goes in to being a good photographer and I thought that if I bought some cheap lights and a backdrop I was all set. I managed to get a few nice photos but also made many mistakes with posing, lighting and editing and with my full time job I didn’t have the time to dedicate what I needed to in order to learn the craft properly.
A few years later, for many reasons it was time for a change from my job in care. I really wanted to start my own business. My partner has his own established business and I wanted to be as successful as him. He totally inspired me. With his support, I handed in my notice and began portfolio building, put in hours and hours of training and used savings to upgrade my kit, equipment (and to buy lots of beautiful dresses and props!)
I knew I wanted to build a portrait business that didn’t just focus on babies and children or weddings.
I wanted to see ladies in photographs more. I wanted them to feel amazing and be just as important in photographs as the rest of the family.
I was passionate about ladies having beautiful portraits that they could treasure themselves, look back on in years to come, and to pass on to future generations as a sort of legacy.
This still forms my ethos for Ruby Light Portraits. For all my maternity, newborn and family sessions, Mum has the option of a makeover and a choice of beautiful dresses and outfits to wear, in order to give her that little bit of extra confidence to step in front of the camera.
Boudoir Photoshoots are my most popular. I have photographed hundreds of women of all shapes, sizes and ages. Before I started, I completely underestimated just how powerful a boudoir photoshoot can be for some women. It is so much more than having pictures taken of you in your underwear. Some ladies totally step out of their comfort zones to embrace their bodies, mostly after having children or the changes that come with ageing. A lot of the time they have nerves and anxiety that almost stop them from going through with it. The courage and determination that I see on a weekly basis is inspiring. The difference that a shoot can make to someone’s life is incredible.
I worked at my home studio for around 18 months. My partner was so patient and supportive while I gradually took over pretty much the entire house! I always worried that it was unprofessional, but I also felt lucky that I was able to build my business at home, and received plenty of feedback that my home was welcoming and comfortable. Low and behold though, it was time for a change and to seek out my own space to create the studio that I needed.
I was fortunate enough to come across a property near the city centre that had exactly what I needed - an ex house that had been used as a commercial property for many years. Because it used to be a house, there are many homely elements to it. There are two bedrooms that I use just for boudoir photoshoots, another room that I use just for makeovers and dressing, and a large area that I use for studio portraits. I’m still pinching myself. The place needed a lot of TLC so my family and I spent around 7 weeks decorating thoroughly! I am so glad to be able to offer a professional yet homely and comfortable space.
I love my ‘job’ and every time I get that review from a lady telling me how special she felt in her session and how much she loves and treasure her photographs, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I made the right decision to venture into this totally different career. I can’t imagine doing anything else X