• Matt Graves

The Next Big Thing In Empowerment

What is empowerment? It’s one of those hotwords right now, right? Everything is about empowerment. Makeup brands, clothing brands, even technology brands are hitting on empowerment. And that’s great! For so long a part of marketing has been beating down customers to exaggerate their problems and give them a product that solves all of those problems. Crow’s feet, wrinkles, weight gain… etc. All I have to say is, “Who wears short shorts…” And anyone who was alive in the 90’s and early 2000’s knows it’s a Nair commercial.

But if we turn off the TV and the tablet and we sit, just sit, at the dinner table. What does empowerment mean? Can you think of three words that you might feel if you felt empowered? Strong. Worthy. Valued. Acknowledged. Valid. Independent. Are those similar to what you came up with?

What would life look like if you woke up every day feeling more empowered than the day previous? Instead of breaking yourself down in front of the mirror, you might appreciate what you see before you. Relationships seem brighter. You feel powerful and respected at work. Days just go smoother.

Boudoir is another hotword right now. Every photographer is offering boudoir. But the word itself is even less understood than empowerment.

Twenty years ago, family portraits were just something you did. It gave you a point of pride. You brought it to work and displayed it on your desk, you put a big print on your wall at home where all your visitors could see. But now a days that’s all been replaced by Facebook and selfies. We aren’t finding points of pride in our families. Even the idea of families is evolving. Being single for longer is completely acceptable where it wasn’t before. Choosing to be alone instead of bearing through a tough or even abusive marriage is something that is celebrated.

Boudoir is a type of portrait. What are some words you might think of when you think of boudoir? Sexy, racy, lingerie, daring. Right? What if I told you that while those are some words you can associate, they aren’t the most important. And unfortunately, the focus on just those words is why there are so many horror stories.

Boudoir comes from the old royal French world where a woman was at the mercy of society everywhere but her one private room; the boudoir. In that room she was the supreme leader. It’s the one place in the entire world where she could be fearlessly her authentic self. And that is what we are aiming for in boudoir photography.

Creating a situation where our clients can feel fearlessly authentic. For some, it might mean lacy lingerie. Others is might be leather. Some yet it might be nothing but a white sheet. And therein lies the problem with so many photographers trying to catch onto the boudoir fad.

Would you go to an optometrist for your OBGYN checkup? Of course not! Then why would you go to a wedding photographer for intimate portraiture? Don’t get me wrong, some photographers are just amazing photographers and they can take gorgeous pictures of just about anything! But if you are looking at investing thousands of dollars into a photo session, you want the best not a generalist.

What makes one woman feel empowered is likely to make another feel cheap or sleazy (words that should NEVER be associated with boudoir). And in knowing that, you should approach photographers to find which one is the best fit for you.

But what is your style?

With these five questions you will better be able to approach your perfect photographer:

1) What is the emotion you want to create with these images?

For most, approaching boudoir is about feeling sexy or feeling desirable. I ask all potential clients to give me three words to best describe the images they want to create. What are your three words?

2) Where do you feel most powerful in your life?

From the boardroom to the bedroom and everything in between, when you close your eyes where do you feel the most authentically you?

3) What’s the best part of your body?

Often, we are so critical of our bodies. But there’s gotta be something that you absolutely love! For me, unfortunately, my father never gave me a bootie. My kids are lucky, they inherited theirs from their mother. But I’ll tell you… my calves. That’s where it’s at for me. My shoulders are awesome! That’s the kind of thing you want to think about. You’re looking in the mirror and you can say, “ooo I’ve got it there!” It might be even the place your significant other constantly compliments you on.

4) How do you feel about your body right now?

I hear all too often, “I’d love to do boudoir photographs but give me three months so I can lose a little more weight.” But how do you feel right now? What would you give to change that feeling? This, unfortunately, is where we often feel so powerless. I want you all to feel like 10’s! That’s my goal with all my clients and everyone. For so many years, I’ve felt like a 2. It makes me not even want to get out of bed.

5) Who are these images for?

This is the real indicator of clients versus potential customers for me. If you haven’t given any thought to who you are giving these images to, you aren’t ready to go into a session. With boudoir, it’s not very often someone will come in wanting to frame these images and put them up in their family room. I have yet to meet any clients who want to keep these images on their desk at work. But I often hear that these images are for significant others or bouncing back from a divorce and many other life changes.

Once you have all five of those answers, you are better able to approach a photographer. To compare between photographers and find the one who is most like you. Remember, we aren’t all the same. Photography isn’t like Walmart, it’s a boutique experience.

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