Also see this post on my wordpress account here:
What made you go into boudoir photography?
A few weeks ago, one of my clients asked me that question which startled, and ultimately, prompted me to discover my motivation. Now my friends will tell you that I tend to scoff at such blatant artisan rhetoric. (I have too much of my mother in me!) Generally, if something needs to be done, I just do it. Toss in a few words of praise, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Task accomplished.
But this was different. I know, because I find myself constantly looking at new ways to portray a model. I rifle through countless thrift stores and garage sales always looking for vintage props or unique costumes. Pinterest pinning has consumed my data plan. I plot and design, and research and dream pin-up and boudoir sessions. On actual shoots, I actually look forward to the sessions and at the end of the day, exhausted and staring at a computer screen of images waiting to be processed, I am still smiling.
So what inspired me to take a leap and start such a risqué business in an otherwise conservative locale?
My answer startled myself as much as my client, but for different reasons. I hadn’t realized the part my grandmother played in my motivation until then. My college roommate had been the first one to suggest the possibility and then had gone on to support my work. But the passion for the boudoir and vintage came from some place more deeply embedded in my memories and, yes, my heart.
My grandmother was unlike any other grandmothers I knew. While my friends’ grandmothers baked cookies, my grandmother slathered cake frosting on a cow patty and brought it to parties. Other grandmothers knitted or crocheted delicate blankets or toilet cozies. My grandmother sewed elaborate, bedazzled dance costumes. Other grandmothers either worked in the garden or ranch; my grandmother owned and ran a bar and dance club. She laughed and flirted, and schemed her share of mischief and I adored her.
She also collected mermaids and 50s comedic porn. Her house was a veritable shrine to the mythical siren and her antiques and collectibles represented an era of glamour and war, wealth and hardship. She had lived through the depression and canned every summer, but she owned 8 silver or crystal punchbowls. She had stunning antiques, closets full of bejeweled heels and colorful clothes, and more costume jewelry than the local store. This collection provided hours of entertainment for an only child who loved pretty things.
One of those antiques was a red velvet chaise lounge that came out of a local brothel. She used to call it her “hussy couch.” I was too young to know what a hussy or brothel was, but it sounded like a wondrous place if it had furniture such as this! I kept that impractical piece after she died, before I knew my passion for photography, before I even owned a stick of furniture of my own. I now use it for my sessions and often think how proud she would be that it once again has a purpose.
The infamous "hussy couch" is now one of my main boudoir props. She once shared with me her scrapbooks where she had collected pictures of Hollywood stars she admired and pinup art she liked. It was filled with 40 years of her passion for the glamorous life she had coveted, and in many ways replicated to the best of her ability. As her fingers lovingly turned the brittle pages, I was struck, even at a young age, at the fascination she held for what she considered elusive and exotic people.
Today, I think back upon my childhood days spent with her and realize that I am a lot like her. Only, while I love replicating the era, I also enjoy discovering the beauty in all women and making them the stars in my personal scrapbook. These clients are extraordinary in their own way, and they put their faith and trust into my hands to peel back the taint of the everyday life to reveal in an artistic and graphic way, how very special they are.
And always present is my grandmother, watching and criticizing, approving, and loving the business of the art form she so very dearly cherished.