I pride myself on being open honest and real and in this post I want to talk about how my perception of beauty has changed from when I first started my business back in 2005 as Vintage Imagery. At the time I was looking for someone to take sexy photos of myself, to help ME embrace and love my body. I suffered from body dysphoria. I suffered from anxiety. I was going through a rough patch in my marriage to my ex husband. I needed an outlet, a boost to my self esteem but sadly, I was living in Great Falls, Montana and NO ONE took the type of photos that I wanted.
So naturally I wanted to fill that hole in the market.
I had a fairly good understanding of photography, film at the time, and had worked a few years at a company that did family photos. I thought to myself, “If this is something I want, there must be other women out there like me”. So with that, I purchased my first digital camera and started to practice on my friends.
I had so much fun…but there was a problem.
My perception of “beautiful” and “sexy” was so far off that it wasn’t even funny. I had idolized the pinups of the 1940s and 1950s. I don’t mean ACTUAL human pinups, I mean the cartoon representations of women. I loved pinup artist like Elvgren.
These images were of women with impossibly tiny waists, curvy hips and legs that were so long that they were literally unobtainable.
Even the models for these paintings didn’t look like their cartoon counterparts.
Lets just say I had a VERY skewed idea of what women “should” look like.
When I opened my first studio in 2006, reproducing the look of the painted pinups of the 1950s was my jam. My thought was that knowing how retouched and photoshopped todays models are in magazines that it would make women feel better if THEY were also retouched and photoshopped so they could see that they were no different from those models.
Ass backwards I know.
Over the course of time I worked with hundreds of women of all shapes, sizes and ages. I wanted to transform them into living works of art, into a cartoon version of themselves, in the hopes that it would help them boost their self confidence.
And it did!
But there was something that just felt off to me. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but as the years went on I started to understand what that feeling was.
I was going against my own beliefs.
Here I had all these absolutely beautiful women, perfect the way they were, and I was changing how they looked through editing. Sometimes only a little, sometimes a lot. It was my style, it was what I was known for, it is what got me clients.
and I was scared to change.
Could women REALLY embrace themselves, “flaws” and all?
Lets get something straight. I was providing the best experience and photos that I could at the time, and they were still gorgeous photos, they just weren’t what I really wanted to do anymore. My clients were already beautiful. I didn’t need to change them!
It was around this time that I finally started conquering a lot of my own body issues and coming to terms with how I looked and accepting my body for what it was. I was finally feeling beautiful. A huge reason that happened is because of all the amazing women I had photographed. Seeing so many shapes, sizes, stretchmarks, scars, folds, wrinkles and yet they all were so stunningly beautiful.
Hundreds of clients and I never once met a women that looked like a cartoon pinup.
They were all beautiful in their own way, the way they were, which allowed for me to finally see that I was too and I wanted to show them just that…
Flaws and all.
To say it was an eye opening experience would be an understatement. That was the shift that I needed to fuel my business to the place that I wanted it to be. A place were ALL bodies were photographed and retouched as little as possible. A place were I could show my clients that they are beautiful without all that jazz, just as they were.
I almost shut my studio doors in 2012. I felt so far removed from what I WANTED to provide to clients and what I was providing that it felt dirty. If I could see how beautiful they were WHY did I need to change anything about them?!
I ended up taking a much needed break and took time to think about what I wanted to do moving forward. I ended up finding the perfect house to move my studio into (which is what I ended up doing) and I only took a handful of clients a month, working on improving my skills and living up to the potential that I knew I had.
I finally felt ALIVE. I was doing what I wanted and I didn’t lose any clients as I had feared. Instead, just the opposite happen. Why? Because I was living my TRUTH. I wasn’t promoting something I didn’t believe in.
I was practicing what I preached and it felt amazing!
Fast forward to 2018. The year I FINALLY got to really showcase unretouched, REAL bodies. Clients actually gave me permission. Not only that, they were excited to show their raw images to other women. They embraced their stretchmarks, scars, folds, wrinkles…all the things we are told should be covered up.
Guess what? Normalizing airbrushed and overly photoshop images in magazines and online is NOT ok. As women, we look at these fake images and judge our own bodies against them, even though most of us know that not even the models or celebrities look like that in real life.
So I’m here to start the revolution I wanted to so many years ago. To showcase real, raw, beautiful female bodies of all shapes and sizes. There is no wrong way to have a body!
Here is an example of the same client. Photoshoot from around 2011 vs this year. The first retouched and the two from 2018 unretouched (minus color/exposure adjustments but no retouching to the clients body or skin).
All beautiful images in their own way with different vibes but you can FEEL the raw, realness of the images from this year…
The images that embrace my message.
You are enough, You are worthy, You are beautiful.
Here is a special gallery of clients that have given me permission to share their unretouched images. The only adjustments that are made are color correction to the entire image and small exposure adjustments.
Enjoy all the beautiful bodies you see.
All bodies are good bodies. All of these women are beautiful in their own, real way.
St louis boudoir
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Part 2 coming soon. Continue down the rabbit hole with me when i’ll share unretouched images of myself showcasing all of my beautiful, imperfect flaws ❤
Ready to book your own session and see yourself in a whole new way? Visit us at Glammarr.com
Also see more unretouched images weekly on our instagram
Instead of creating a new blog this week I wanted to link back to a blog I did last October to highlight one of our amazing clients who is a 2 time cancer survivor. This shoot was so empowering to do and I am in love with the images and the message.
Pilar is #Fearlesslyfem
Click the link to see her blog and scroll down to the bottom to watch her behind the scenes video as well!
Special thanks to Pilar for sharing her images and her inspiring story!
Hello! Im working on a VERY special blog that is going to take me another week to complete. Its so intensive and in depth that I need that time to make it absolutely perfect. I’ll be spilling the tea about a lot of things and I’m really excited to share it with you.
Ill be featuring work from the beginning of my career as a pinup photographer and how and why my work, focus and perception has changed.
I’ll also be sharing some very special, VERY RAW images that no one has seen before including past clients and myself.
So mark your calendars. This post is going to be worth the wait!
Ever see a photo of yourself and think to yourself “that looks nothing like me!”? Well, you are not alone. I myself have looked into the mirror and then attempted to take a selfie and the two just didn’t match. I looked… different. Is it your mind playing tricks on you or Is it something else?
This is a phenomenon I deal with in the majority of my boudoir sessions. Women do not perceive themselves the way the rest of the world does. One of the biggest reasons is because we often see ourselves through cell phone photos.
Did you know the average cellphone lens is 26-28mm (equivalent). Ok, Alaynna, why do I care about lens (focal) lengths?
Because focal lengths depict how an image is rendered and how much compression we see! Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words so here is an example. These images were taken with different focal lengths but distance and everything else remained the same. Did I just blow your mind?
A simple way to understand focal length and lens compression is to think of it this way–The longer the focal length the more compression, which flattens the image. When an image is flattened, all points tend to look like they are on the same plane. Meaning there is less depth to the image. When a lens is wide angle (like our cellphone lenses) then what ever is closer to the camera will appear the largest and have more depth.
So from the 19MM example above (one pretty close to your standard smart phone). You can see that the nose, eyebrows, lips and forehead look distorted. Those areas are a few centimeters closer to the lens. This is why when you tilt your head toward the phone camera in a selfie your forehead looks disproportionately large. In the middle image you’ll notice that her face has a more flattened, natural appearance. Our human eye sees about 50mm (full censor camera) or 35mm (crop sensor). I wont bore you with all the technical details of distance from the lens, censor size or anything else but this gives you a general idea of what I’m talking about. So the middle image is pretty close to what we’d see when we look in the mirror. In the last image, you’ll notice the face looks wider and more flat, there is less depth then the 70mm example.
This also goes for body parts. Try it yourself! Take out your smart phone, flip it to selfie mode and hold it about arms length from your face. Now hold up your hand next to your face and slowly move your hand closer to the camera while keeping your face at arms length. You’ll see that your finger looks HUGE in comparison!
This is a trick that Instagram models have figured out a long time ago! A popular one when taking a photo of their bodies is to stick their ass out so its closer to the camera while leaning their upper body back. This makes their booty look huge and their waist look smaller in comparison. I don’t want to call anyone out so I’ll avoid inserting an example, you get the idea.
So what happens when we live in a world where we are constantly taking selfies? We start to form a mental image of what we look like through these distorted images that don’t match what we see in the mirror! I haven’t even delved into how lighting, angles and Facetune further distort our perception or how we compare ourselves to the “beautiful” people online who also use these techniques to portray a person that doesn’t quite fit what they really look like.
Another way cell phone cameras can affect how we see ourselves are when we are having OTHERS take images of us. We’ve all been there…a night out with the girls and we ask a stranger to take a group shot. The people on the outer edge of the photo will look larger and the women in the middle will look smaller. Lens distortion happens more often than you think.
So again, this doesn’t cover many other reasons on how or why this happens but I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible.
Another issue that can affect how we see ourselves is the mental image we have in our head. Our brains take a while to process change. Ask anyone who’s lost a lot of weight fast! They still see themselves much larger than they are. Same for those that have gained weight or had their body change with pregnancy. Our brains don’t register the change right away.
And lastly, we don’t often see ourselves in movement. We see one moment in time in a photo. We don’t see the little nuances that add to our beauty. Our personality, our mannerisms, our laugh, these are all things that add beauty to our physical forms. In fact, the way we hold ourselves contributes largely to how attractive others perceive us. Did you know that simply SMILING increases our attractiveness?
All this and more is why GlamMarrs’ mission statement is “Reconnecting women’s bodies and minds through the art of boudoir photography”.
My goal is to show you what you look like IN REAL LIFE. Clients are always surprised by how off their own perception of self is. I’ll be honest, I don’t shoot to flatter you. I shoot to show you what my eye sees before I put a camera in front of it. I use your movements to capture those little nuances I spoke of before. Your body is not what makes you beautiful. Your BEING makes you beautiful. Your personality makes you beautiful. Your soul makes you beautiful.
My goal is to reconnect your non-physical attributes to your body image. So you see more than just your physical reflection when you look in the mirror.
I tell all my clients that its a process. Because boy is it ever. Your mind will continue to fight with you about the images it sees during your reveal. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “That’s me?!?” I could retire…. today.
My clients love MOST of their images but there are always some that don’t appeal to them as much as others. That’s because I don’t just take flattering images. I take images that will force you to see EVERY part of you. Somethings that you love, others not so much. Remember that process I talked about? Yea, that’s a big part of it.
Its not all Oooohs and ahhhs. Sometimes women have an outdated vision of what they look like. They may be holding on to old memories or images of themselves and haven’t come to terms with how their bodies have changed. Its confrontation of the ego. This can take time to process. Women even have a hard time seeing themselves in a provocative pose or with a sexy expression, its a lot to take in! From an outside perspective we don’t see the internal struggle that these women may have. We see them for all the beauty they posses but they themselves cannot. Its like exposure therapy. It forces the mind to start to see the whole picture (pun intended).
In my experience I’ve only had two clients that outright told me that they felt like they looked larger than they perceive themselves in real life. There are probably more that feel that way (or something similar that they struggle with) but didn’t say anything.
Its OK. Its NORMAL. Its part of the process.
Its easy to love the images that we feel we look the best in, its much harder to love images that showcase that dreaded thing about ourselves that we tend to avoid.
Once acceptance comes, and its slow for some and quick for others, that’s when the mind can truly connect to the body. When they can start seeing past the things that they’ve been in denial about or haven’t come to terms with and start accepting themselves as they REALLY are and then seeing the beauty in that.
Because lets face it, we all do it. We pose in photos. We wear clothing and shapers to change how our bodies look. We do everything we can to try to accept our physical self in the reality that we have created but we seldom work on accepting our bodies at all angles, flattering or not.
We tell ourselves negative things when we stand, nude, in a full length mirror, we reinforce that we are not good enough the way we are. We then take 125 selfies to get the perfect one, smooth out the skin, pop on a filter and post it online and let our friends tell us how beautiful we look, reinforcing and further disconnecting our minds and bodies. We get positive reinforcement that the enhanced version of ourselves is better, even though our friends would give us the same compliments, maybe even more so, if we posted raw, real images of ourselves. We compare ourselves to other peoples perfectly posed and edited images online further perpetuating the issue.
Less perfection more authenticity is the key.
So do it. Get naked. Stand in front of a mirror and see yourself the way you look at your friends and your loved ones instead of picking yourself apart. Its gonna be tough at first. God help me I know! I told you it was a process…
Only tell yourself positive affirmations. Sounds hard but try it this way. Imagine you and your bestie were standing in front of a mirror. She’s in a bikini pointing out all of her things she hates about her body. What would you say to her? Would you let her stand there and harp on her body?
Fuck no you wouldn’t!
So be your own best friend. When you say something negative about yourself SPEAK UP and counter that negative thought the same way you would for your friend.
“I hate my big hips”….. Bitch are you kidding?! I wish I had curves like you!
And when you see someone online post a photo rocking their natural body (flaws and all) give them a fucking high five! But please don’t tell them that they are “brave”. You can read why here.
So this brings me to my featured client this Friday. Who also happens to be our resident hair and makeup artist, Mariah.
Remember I said that I have had 2 clients that spoke up that they felt like they looked “larger” in their photos than in their minds? Well Mariah is one of them and my inspiration for this post. She has had two shoots and a long process of reconnecting with her body after having a baby. Here is her words.
I’ve had 2 shoots with Alaynna and the person in those images isn’t the same person in the mirror, my selfies, or my mind.
I had my first boudoir shoot with GlamMarr in 2017… 10 months post partum. I’d gained 70lbs from bedrest and lazy eating after having my son. I didn’t feel comfortable with my selfies, the mirror or others photos. I DREADED seeing that “you’ve been tagged in a picture” come up on Facebook. I still had the image of 23 year old Mariah curves for day smooth thighs, nice perky boobs.
Where those curves were I now saw a mom pouch, my boobs weren’t so perky after a baby had a 24/7 buffet with them and those smooth thighs were feeling more like a drive down 255 in construction season.
Alaynna knew I wasn’t really feeling myself anymore. After years of her helping me become a more confident me, it was all gone. She suggested I do a boudoir shoot. I was so excited! All of the months leading to up my to my shoot I started collecting clothes I thought would look good on me buying clothes for my pre-baby body because I just knew I would be that size again by my shoot.
The day came and I hadn’t lost a single pound and the imagination my mind was creating of me was getting bad. I was avoiding pictures and the mirror at all cost.
The day of my shoot I was so nervous I was shaking and sweating like crazy. We had so much fun though!
I was trying too hard to be perfect for these photos because I wanted to be everything I felt like I needed to be more like “me” again.
The day I got my images back was a mix of emotions I loved them. The person in them was beautiful but she wasn’t me. At least not the way I saw myself at the time.
This girl had a tummy, and large arms, and her boobs were a lot lower than mine I didn’t know this girl at all and I really didn’t know if I liked her honestly. This girl looked tired, and she looked very unsure of herself and uncomfortable.
Not like the 23 year old girl in the selfies I’d been looking back on for months for some sort of confidence boost. How could that girl and the 70lb lighter, curvier, more confident girl be the same person?
I had a hard time picking my images because I didn’t feel comfortable with them. I didn’t feel comfortable seeing myself for what I was and how I had changed! I saw this woman uncomfortable in her own skin and I couldn’t help but feel bad. And slightly ashamed. I was supposed to love these photos and I didn’t at the time. What was wrong with me why didn’t I get that aha moment of self love?… But I did actually. I started eating healthier and making better choices and slowly but surely I started losing some weight and my health started improving and my self esteem started improving as well and I started loving myself again. It wasn’t just the weight loss. It was that feeling of getting back to the me I knew I was.
I started taking selfies again. I even started letting people tag me in photos on Facebook again without fear that I didn’t look okay in them because as we all know you don’t ever look the same in a selfie as you do in someone else’s photo.
Time passed and I was really starting to love myself again. 10 months passed and I wanted to try again. I had my second shoot with Alaynna. This time I was prepared I knew that I wasn’t going to look like the 23 year old I loved so much but I would look like the mom who has worked hard on herself and lost 60lbs and I was ready to see that!
I was much more confident the day of my second shoot. I hadn’t told myself a single time I need to lose weight for this shoot I bought crop tops and hey those undies I bought for my pre baby body they did finally fit!
Mariahs second st louis boudoir shoot
The day of my session my makeup was on point my hair was gorgeous I was ready! I went in with 1 shot in mind and let Alaynna do her thing and create beauty and she did!
I felt amazing after that shoot. I strut my stuff around like I was hot and I knew it. My last shoot I remember feeling so much confidence afterward I remember feeling so empowered.
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St louis boudoir
St louis boudoir
I love the way my body looks. I finally got my aha moment! I can’t wait for my next shoot. It took my awhile to realize the person in the mirror I see isn’t what everyone else is seeing too and I love who everyone else is seeing.
So what has this taught me?
My body has been perfect this whole time! It has fought through a difficult pregnancy and brought a beautiful baby into this world, but I didn’t see it that way then. My once perky, full boobs nourished and strengthened a tiny preemie.
I’m realizing it’s not about weight it’s about self worth. There was nothing “wrong” with me in the photos from my first session. I was beautiful then just like I am now, I just couldn’t see it then.
Like Alaynna always says, “Its a process”.
I’m already planning shoot number 3, and GAH! I just can’t wait I know it’s going to be absolutely incredible regardless of my size. I’m focusing on the beauty that is me, no matter how big, small, perky or saggy my body is. And I’m gonna rock it.
Whew! That was a long one I know! Thanks for sticking with us until the end and I hope you gained some insight from this post.
If you’re ready to start seeing yourself and loving yourself its time to book a session. We offer boudoir photography in the st louis area. Boudoir for EVERY body 🙂
Being your authentic self. What exactly does that mean? Let me tell you a little story about myself.
Spoiler alert. I wasn’t always the person I am today. I let the pressures of social media, press and magazines dictate who I was and how I saw the world.
Being yourself, your TRUE self, all the good traits AND the flaws, can be scary. We often worry what others think about us and act accordingly…but WHY do we do this?
Often the answer is “to fit in”. We want so badly to be accepted and to be part of something that we change who we are to fit that role.
What if I told you that there are infinite “tribes” out there who would not only accept you but LOVE the person that you really are?
Hi, My name is Alaynna and I’m a bit fucked up. I have self worth issues. I have body image issues. I struggle to lose weight or be active enough. I often worry about what people think of me. I have chronic pain issues. I’m diagnosed bipolar along with a list of many other co-morbid mental issues that most people shy away from. I cuss. I’m clumsy. I sometimes drink too much.
I’m 38 years old and I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate this thing called life.
I suffer everyday with the feeling of inadequacies. From my creative work to my role as a wife. I never feel like I do enough.
I’m anything but perfect but I’m REAL.
Some of you will HATE the real me. That’s ok. I’m at a point in my life where I recognize that I wont please everyone…but I don’t care.
What I have found is that when I am my authentic self I give other people a platform for conversation. The “me toos” and the “I feel yous”.
Im not only being myself but I’m allowing for others to be themselves too.
The people that this resonates with are MY PEOPLE. MY TRIBE. They struggle with issues of their own. Some exactly like mine, others have their own demons.
I. AM. NOT. PERFECT. but you know what? WHO THE FUCK IS? And what does it even mean to be perfect?
Its so easy to get lost in the endless slew of staged Instagram photos, the perfectly edited “selfies” the “look how amazing my life is” posts.
We compare ourselves to these planned moments; to these fined tuned for social media personalities.
“Don’t trust everything you see, even salt looks like sugar.” –unknown.
Its when you come to this realization in life that things start to click. When you are doing what YOU truly want to do the universe recognizes that.
So how do you become your own “authentic you”?
You just let all the bullshit go. You strip away the layers of masks that you’ve put on over the years, the expectations that society has on you.
You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cant please all of the people all of the time.
“Please all and you will please none.”
Don’t live to please people. Live to please yourself. You will be amazed by how many people that resonate with you.. You will become that platform for those like you to have a voice.
They are your people and you can rip that mask off and finally be YOU.
This plays into my experience meeting and working with Jamie. When I met her I had such a different perception of who she was. When that mask was finally pulled back it was a revelation. She showed me who her authentic self was and that’s where her magic really shined.
But don’t take my word on it! Here is Jamie’s experience in her own words.
“Witch witch, you’re a bitch. Witch witch, you’re a bitch.” If you’ve ever seen Practical Magic you’ll recall the reference. Jillie and Sally. Samantha. Sabrina. Winnie, Sarah, and Mary. Matilda. Stevie Nicks.
Notice anything about these women?
What a year this has been. I would definitely consider 2018 to be my “coming out” The year I fell in love with myself. The year I became real with who I am. The year I stepped out of my shell.
I have been trying and trying and trying, for literally all of my life, to fit in and be normal. Be accepted. Be liked. Failure after failure. I’m just weird. I’m just too much. I’m too average, too stand out and I’m too eccentric to fit in.
I guess this need for acceptance is probably what ultimately led me to my first marriage. Roller coaster love, shame and tears, passion and excitement, betrayal and abuse. This phase of my life closed leaving me homeless and having my daughter taken from me. Determined to rise from the ashes, I became an entrepreneur and now have a successful energy healing business, MandalaDiva and love to volunteer and support agencies like Violence Prevention Center and Call for Help.
Congratulations. Yes, it is something I’m proud of, but still not quite the “thing.” I spent the last 10 years building myself back up, and trying to heal that gaping wound. Trying to understand why hurt people hurt people, how people heal themselves, and the whole time still missing the bullseye that glared at me every day for all those years.
Becoming myself. My true authentic self.
Practicing in the field of bodywork, energy healing, vibrational therapy, auric healing, chakra balancing, reflexology, crystal healing, spirit healing, etc led me to fulfill a need of self help and enlightenment. Studying and practicing these different ideas for nearly a decade, allowed my mind to be exposed to an entire world of different ideas and bigger pictures. If there was a rabbit hole, believe me, I went down it.
I mentioned before my passion for volunteer work, so naturally there became an opportunity to help women in local strip clubs through my church. I was only in a few weeks before I was, in a word, kicked out.
Asked to leave.
Whatever you wanna call it, I remember I was sitting on Alaynna’s porch telling her about how I got kicked out of church and feeling so brokenhearted. I mean, these were the people that were supposed to accept you no matter WHAT and I got rejected. Me!! Business owner, notable networker, ambassador to such and such, community outreach volunteer…. Because I talk to rocks and listen to the colors of your aura!
In a moment if rebellion, I picked up a book called the Modern Guide to Witchcraft, knowing I’d fully burst into flames as soon as I opened the cover. All that scary stuff, the demonic, satanic evil awful horrible stuff….witchcraft.
And here’s what I found: healing, balance, peace, meditation, grounding, chakra balancing, crystal healing…everything I was already doing!
I saw a meme that completely describes the moment with complete accuracy: When did you decide to become a witch? I didn’t, I just realized I already was one. From the elements, from the earth, the sky, the water, the air, the fire, the dirt. All this new healing energy suddenly became crystal clear and all I had to do was revel in it. Now, I’m not trying to bash any religion or turn anyone faith wise in one direction or the other. This is just my experience, as I’ve lived it.
So, ok…I’m a witch. Now what? I can’t tell anyone, they’ll think I’m crazy. Wooo magic powerssss, ahhh, watch out she’ll hex you. Ok, I’m a closet witch. Still hiding, wanting to fit in, be accepted, but not let anyone know who I truly am.
The judgement. Owning a business, is a big deal, and without your reputation, you pretty much have no business. The fear of the judgement kept me hulled up a few months longer.
I celebrate my first sabbat, and the next week I did a photo shoot with Alaynna at GlamMarr. I wanted to try a character theme, make myself into this person I want to be. I still look back on that day, Valentine’s Day! As the best day of my life. I saw my pictures, I couldn’t believe who I was. Strong, beautiful, confident. Not someone who is dying to be accepted, but someone who accepts herself. Someone who draws strength to her, rather than trying to chase it.
Seeing these photos in the group, I remember being up until 2am reading the comments of all the amazing women sharing such kind words and support with me. I loved it, it opened me up to start sharing more of myself. Gradually getting closer and closer to the revelation.
This week, we did a fun inspiration shoot, and I finally shared some of my photos on my personal Facebook page. My body exposed. My truth exposed. Lol, and the first to comment of course is my DAD Akwaaaard…but. All of a sudden it was just like. This is me. I am a woman.
I am Jamie Rhiannon. I am the MandalaDiva. I am a suburbia housewife and entrepreneur. I am a white witch. I am not a good gardener, but damnit I try. I am a model. I am not a plus size model, I am not a size 0 model, I am just a model. I make my body become art. I am not my body, but I live in my body. It has gotten me here. I dress it up, I dress it down. It is not perfect and I love it for that. I wear my scars with pride, because I was stronger than what was thrown at me. I am an empath. I am an advocate. I am a survivor. I am strong. I am confident. I am #fearlesslyfeminine
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To book your own St Louis boudoir session visit our site at Glammarr
I wanted to talk about two things this #FearlesslyFemFriday: Body image & What goes on behind the scenes during a shoot at GlamMarr Studios.
This week we are looking at one of our Glambassadors, Lashonda. Being a Glambassador is an exciting position but it also can be hard to really put yourself out there and show all! One of the reasons I picked Lashonda to represent our brand was because of her healthy attitude toward her body. Don’t get me wrong, we talked about her struggles with body image during her first shoot as a client. She was nervous as fuck! (everyone is!) and we bonded, talked about life and how our bodies have changed over the years. After her shoot, at her reveal, I was so excited with how much she LOVED herself and her images. Lets face it, none of us are “perfect”… whatever the hell that is anyways. I tell my clients so often that I do not like to retouch images. Stretch marks are beautiful, some women only get them after carrying another life, some women get them because our bodies change, however you’ve gotten yours, they’re normal. Cellulite is normal. Scars are testaments to how much our body can take and still carry us through life.
There is a story to be told by your bodies lines and creases!
There are so many women that cannot see past these things themselves but when they see other women celebrating their bodies, they cheer them on, tell them they are beautiful…and they mean it.
Why are we not our own personal cheerleaders? Why do we judge ourselves so much more harshly than we judge others?
Quit that shit. Quit that shit NOW. Start thinking about all the amazing things that your body is doing for you all the time, without you even thinking about it. Be grateful, be present, be YOU.
So for this session I wanted to showcase these areas!
st louis boudoir photography
st louis boudoir photography
st louis boudoir photography
Lighting can do a lot to hide and smooth the skin and angles and posing can make you look amazing too. I wasn’t trying to do any of those things. I was lighting to bring out the textures, showcasing the curves and capturing the true beauty of the female form.
I’ll tell you a secret. I actually do this every session. Sure, I walk through and demonstrate posing and expressions but what I’m really doing is waiting to capture those in-between moments where I can REALLY see you.
We did a live behind the scenes video during this shoot which you can watch Here.
Our first series of images were a mix of boho and vintage inspired. My images always have a hint of vintage style.
st louis boudoir photography
I also wanted to showcase Lashondas beautiful skin with the jewel toned piece that she brought in for the shoot. We added a little dry oil to really bring out those gorgeous highlights and lowlights.
st louis boudoir
st louis boudoir
From there we moved on to our final look, a total surprise for Lashonda. I snapped a few photos of her as she was looking in the mirror admiring her body, giving herself positive affirmations about her own sexiness.
What I had waiting for Lashonda was what I was REALLY excited for! I created a shallow water pool in our studios garage using a tarp and some other things laying around. It was far from looking like a gorgeous location…
You have to understand that with photography, what you see isn’t always what you get. You probably remember the #MichaelsChallange, and if you don’t, it was basically photographers shooting photos in the poorly lit aisles of their local craft store with amazing results.
This was my version! I had a vision and I was ready to roll with it…and wow am I glad I did!
You see. Its not the location. Its not the camera.
The devil is in the details.
I used a mixture of lighting and angles to capture every beautiful highlight, curve, texture and sparkle.
What you see VS what I see
And that’s what I bring to you as your photographer. A new perspective of yourself exactly the way you are. I want to bring OUT the things that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing photoshopped, smoothed or gotten rid of all together. I’m not here to change anything about you, that’s just not my jam.
I want you to see how beautiful all of those things that you call flaws really are.
We finished up with a little oil and glitter. This portion of the shoot was also streamed live to our FB group
and with that we were finished! I hope you enjoyed seeing the process and how beautiful the female form can be. If you’d like to see more or chat about booking a shoot with GlamMarr Studios for yourself visit us at our website GlamMarr.com
Special thanks to Lashonda for allowing us to share so much of her session! Check out another beautiful session at our other blogs
Lets face it. I hear it all. Women are nervous, afraid and down right scared of having photos taken of themselves.
But actually its not the photos that they are scared of. Its that peeling back of the layers of insecurities and the act of being vulnerable that terrifies them.
When I assure my clients that they are going to look amazing…no one ever believes me… At first that is. We have our phone consult and this is usually the time when women choose to tell me what “wrong” with them. Their bodies have changed after having children. Their bodies have changed by the passing years. Their bodies have changed from crash diets, bad relationships, illness or they’ve “let themselves go”.
I truly believe there is an epidemic within the women’s community. With the growth of social media outlets like facebook and Instagram, women are feeling worse and worse about themselves. Comparison is truly the killer of confidence.
This is NOT a new problem. We, as women, have been fed perfectly photoshopped images in magazines for ages and feel that we need to become these perfectly idealized images of what women “should” look like. This is not a new problem but its becoming more and more apparent as things like “facetune” and filters become more readily available.
So when I speak to potential clients who are comparing themselves to these highly stylized versions of women, I know what they’re going to say already. That they are not GOOD enough or PRETTY enough to do photos of this nature.
We’re so programmed to think that the filtered women on Instagram or the photoshopped models in magazines are the standard in which we should gauge ourselves that we CANNOT see the beauty that exudes from our own being.
The way we move. The way we laugh. The way we ARE. Our kindness, our hearts. That special things that makes us… US. We are so focused on being some basterdized form of beautiful that we MISS our own beauty.
So yes, Ive heard it all and I’m here to tell you that its all BULLSHIT. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You are beautiful and worthy of self acceptance and love. What makes you YOU is so much more than your own reflection in the mirror.
What makes you beautiful is so specifically you that no magazine, no social media outlet can portray that through other women.
But I can show you.
At GlamMarr, we give you that moment to pause, that moment to reflect. That moment to SEE yourself. REALLY see yourself. Your individual movement, the special way you laugh that perspective that EVERYONE else sees but you are unable to appreciate because we become so clouded by self doubt or expectations of what we should be.
But don’t take my word for it! Read on to hear a GlamMarr clients thoughts on the experience in her own words!
Ps. Ms. B finally took the plunge last year during our specially priced “Pink Saturday” Special. We will be running another black Friday special this year so if you’ve been on the fence its your time to take a chance. Have a leap of faith! Do it for YOU. You wont regret it!
On a side note. MS B was an absolute joy to work with. She has a laugh that is contagious and a smile that is sweet as pie. I was so happy to meet her and I really appreciate her giving us an insiders perspective on her experience.
In Ms B’s Own words:
I joined Alaynna’s Facebook group a few years back after seeing photos she had taken of a friend of mine. Those pictures were beautiful, as were the rest shared on the FB page and the Glammarr website. I so wanted to have a shoot; I wanted the pretty pictures, too.
There were a few reasons why I wasn’t ready to make the jump and do it, so it stayed on my list of things to do “someday.” I continued to follow the FB page for over a year, which also helped me to realize working with Alaynna was not just about getting pretty pictures, it would be so much more!
She helps women truly see THEMSELVES. When the Pink Saturday Sale was offered last year after Thanksgiving, I felt like if I didn’t do it now, I might never do it. So, I decided to make the jump and book a session as a 45th birthday present to myself. The months that passed from the moment booked until the day of my shoot were filled with a roller coaster of emotions that would play out over and over again – excitement, hopefulness, doubt, fear. Before I knew it, nearly six months had passed, and it was shoot day.
The day of the shoot, I had not lost all of the weight I had intended to lose (which was one of the apprehensions I had about doing a shoot). That morning, I stood in front of the mirror naked, took a deep breath and said out loud, “Well, this is NOT the body you wanted to have today. But this is the body you’ve got. So go in there and rock it.” And I headed over to the studio.
I was excited, but I was also still a ball of nerves when I arrived. Alaynna and Mariah set those nerves at ease pretty quickly. They were filled with an incredible energy of positivity, encouragement, acceptance and FUN from beginning to end. As the shoot moved along, Alaynna showed some of the pics as she took them. I was blown away. That was ME. No retouching, no filters. JUST ME. As it turned out, that’s what I was doubtful and afraid of — JUST ME, as I would be in that moment. And in that moment, I saw me, not just my body, but my entire being. It can be scary sometimes to let others see us. It can be even scarier to really see ourselves. But Alaynna and her team show us that it’s actually the most beautiful thing there is.
From this experience, you’ll get gorgeous pictures. But Alaynna really captures and celebrates the essence of all of you in those photos, so much so that in turn, something that happens to YOU which is awesomely and overwhelmingly amazing. We all deserve to see, feel and acknowledge how wonderful we are. Your body IS good enough to have a shoot. You are never too old to have a shoot. You deserve this experience, and I hope those of you that are on the fence about it will make the jump and do it. You will have no regrets. I didn’t, and I will DEFINITELY be a repeat offender at Glammarr.
PS – I also want to give a shout out to Monika, of the Glammarr Squad. Your encouragement and joyfulness also was a huge help to me
We’ve decided to post a weekly blog showcasing our clients boudoir shoots! This is our first #FearlesslyFemFriday and we’re excited to showcase our shoot with Ms. J. Ms J is a repeat client at GlamMarr Studios, located in Collinsville, IL.
For this shoot, anything went! She brought in several sexy outfits, including some Christmas related items. She also borrowed a few pieces from our client wardrobe closet (which offers sizes xs-6xl).
I was so excited to elevate her second shoot to a whole new level. We worked on posing her to create sensual looks and she nailed it on the expressions. We also shot her in front of our fireplace which added a whole new dimension to her photos!
The fireplace is used during January, February and march shoots.
If you are interested in booking a boudoir shoot of your own just head on over to our website at Glammarr.com
GlamMarr studio specializes in sensual photography for EVERY body! With over 13 years of experience working with women of all sizes, shapes, colors and ages. St Louis boudoir never looked better. Our mission is for you to fall in love with yourself all over again…or maybe for the first time ever! Our boudoir sessions are specifically for those struggling with their body image and confidence. We show you a different perspective of yourself, one you are sure to love!
As a big girl, I’ve really always struggled with putting myself out there. I’m always scared to see my reflection when I’m changing clothes, scared to see the number on the scale, and scared to know what people must think of me sometimes. I’ve not always been this size – it’s definitely been a gradual thing. As a child I was the scrawny, tan, barefoot blur running past people in the neighborhood. At least until puberty not so kindly put me in my place. So, for the last ten years I’ve slowly transformed into the woman I am today – the fair skinned, foul mouthed delight most people know and love.
Enter a very passive aggressive “thank you” speech to my Bipolar, Body Dysmorphia, PCOS, Schizophrenia, chronic pain, and all the pizza and donuts I ate. What can I say? I love food. I definitely didn’t get to where I am by accident.
For real though, self-esteem and I may not be on speaking terms very often, but it’s definitely something I’ve been working on and doing better with for the past few months. That’s always something to be proud of. I’ve become more comfortable with myself, and more comfortable with a body that – although it sometimes feels like it’s trying to kill me – has gotten me this far.
I even got to the point that I did something I thought I would never in ten million years do – a shoot with Alaynna! To blow my own mind even further, I did something I REALLY thought I would never do – I posted a picture of myself online the day of my shoot in one of my outfits because I was feeling myself just a little bit.
I’m not mad – I looked good – but damn I still can’t believe I did that! Part of me was so excited to give all these beautiful ladies a sneak peek of what was going on at the studio that day, but the other side of me was like:
“Girl, what are you doing? You need to go take that down ASAP. Did you notice everything you had hanging out?? Hello, stretch marks!”
I rolled with it though, and didn’t let me psych myself out. Most of the feedback that I got was amazing. As someone who really never put themselves out there, the compliments were a gift from God! Not only did I really feel confident after my shoot, but then I had all these ladies telling me how gorgeous I looked in what my brain was telling me was a really bad selfie. I was over the moon and feeling really great about myself. Then I put the brakes on it because I saw something I didn’t quite know how to react to – the “B” word.
“You’re so brave!” Say what?
Now, I firmly believe a compliment is a compliment, and it’s a matter of intent from the person who said it. This comes with a big “however” for me, though. When my brain saw the word brave – even though I knew exactly what these ladies were trying to say – I immediately took it negatively. I really contemplated taking that picture down. I wondered if there was maybe something wrong with me, like a reason they were telling me I was so courageous for sharing myself like I had? Why did I have to be brave to post a picture like that? And what did that even mean?
Was I doing something heroic by posting a half naked picture of myself? I by no means was saving children from burning buildings or any other fearless act – I had simply posted a picture. A picture I was on the fence about, but that I was still feeling confident in. This really threw my brain for a loop though – because I couldn’t see why everyone was calling me brave. How could a harmless five letter word have me questioning myself this much? I’ll admit, this was never something I saw as an issue until I had it directed at me. I guess it’s just not something you consider until it happens? Despite the fact it had been said with what I definitely assumed was love, it was really tanking my self-esteem a bit. Like an unintentional back-handed compliment. Now I was picking apart all of the flaws in that picture. Then I was thinking of other times that word had been used to describe me – when I wore a crop top that showed my larger stomach to the lake with friends as a teenager, when I showed my mom the tight dress I wanted to wear for my wedding, and when I decided to wear a bikini to the beach on a girls weekend. Was this really all centered around weight? Was being big and putting myself on display really that big of a deal? Did anyone say this to skinnier girls when they striped down and took some pictures? I never thought that I would be the type to have to think twice about a simple word, but I was.
I ended up not taking the picture down. One of the nice things about having a supportive group of women to show your mostly nudes to is that you know they’re going to be real with you. So, after some serious over thinking, contemplation, and talking to people, I chose to take a different train of thought. What if I was inspiring these ladies to maybe come out of their own comfort zones a little bit? The way I see it, I’m big and I’m not ashamed of it like I used to be because I love me and I’m a work in progress. If me being confident and showing off my body can help another girl come out of her shell a bit, I’m more than thrilled to get to do that, but I promise you that’s not bravery. It’s me being in the moment. It’s me being genuine. It’s me showing the world that there are people my size out there, and that we are just trying to let our freak flags fly, too. I mean, really, who doesn’t love some lingerie selfies? If more women felt confident in themselves enough to put themselves out there like that, maybe we really could normalize all body types. No woman should ever be ashamed of her body or feel like she needs to cover up. I just feel like confidence can be such a hard thing to come by for anyone, so why should someone putting themselves out there in all their half naked glory be considered some bold act?
All women are beautiful, regardless of our height, weight, age, skin color, etc… a body is a body. The 5’9” 300 lb beauty who wants to show off her body with Alaynna making faces in the background is no different than the 5’4” 100 lb queen who wants to share herself as well.
Next time, instead of brave…
Tell both women they’re GORGEOUS.
Tell them both they’re BEAUTIFUL.
Tell them both they’re SEXY.
Tell them both they’re GLAM AF!
As a boudoir and glamour photographer, I’m often asked by plus size women where they should shop for their photoshoot. It surprises the hell out of me that most women don’t know that there are other women out there, just like them, that are trying on and reviewing lingerie, bras and clothing.
Yes! There is gorgeous bras and lingerie for you to buy at ANY size!
My first introduction to this was as a plus size woman with a bra size of 42L. At the time I was squeezing into a 44DDD (Yikes). I stumbled across Georgina of FFFB (#1 on my list) around 2010 and she forever changed my life and perception on bra sizing, feeling good in your current body and she really made me feel like, I too, could be sexy. I mean look at her!
So without further ado, here is my top 5 plus size fashion and lingerie bloggers to follow. Even if you are not on the plus size spectrum there are still amazing things to learn from each of them.
Fuller figure fuller bust. Georgina is hands down my favorite blogger. She rocks the hell out of her curves and showcases a ton of lingerie, clothing and fashion for women with a more ample figure. She has a very active facebook page where she interacts with her followers, links really cool articles and just basically has a great time. She’s super down to earth and not afraid to speak about really important topics such as body image struggles. So, if you’re someone who says “Why don’t they make pretty bras in my size!?” you really need to check her out!
The curvy fashionista is an amazing blog that highlights various bloggers, articles and information from across the internet. You can literally spend an eternity looking through this site and I recommend that you do as its content is awesome!
Saucye West is a size 28 model that started the movement #fatandfree. I love her because she showcases sizes not seen as often. Her Facebook page is my personal favorite as she shares relevant content as well as videos of herself in fabulous outfits! check out her FB here
Charli Russen of Curvy girl thin does extensive reviews of a wide range of lingerie and clothing. Def one to watch!
Queen Charisma of The regal Fatty showcases amazing outfits and lingerie (usually at a great price!) She’s always looking for the best bang for your buck!
So who’s your favorite plus size fashion blogger? Who would you add to the list!?
Now that you know where to get all of the sexy lingerie and clothing you desire its time to book a boudoir shoot. Yes, plus size boudoir is no different than any other photoshoot. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL regardless of your size as these ladies above prove! GlamMarr Studios is located in Collinsville, IL (15 miles from downtown st louis MO) and is body positive and a plus size friendly boudoir studio. Learn more here.