The Value of Self-Care

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while. This post isn’t entirely photography related but it is an important topic for us women to discuss. So, as always, grab your favorite drink and settle in!

I recently took a vacation to South America. It was AMAZING! Breathing in the cool, moist Andean air, relaxing in the high elevation of the northern Andes, sipping authentic Colombian coffee, and disconnecting from my normal life for a few days was absolutely wonderful. In some of those amazing moments, a thought occurred to me: I NEEDED this. I truly, deeply needed this–for my own sanity, I needed this escape. And then I thought “why?” Why did I need this escape so badly? Because I don’t often get to just be me and be responsible for just me. This is not a bad thing. I LOVE being a mom, a student, a wife, a business owner, etc. However, the weight of all those things is substantial and sometimes, I need to be able to put it down. I know I am not alone in that.

Most of us are always doing for others. We are moms, sisters, daughters, friends, employees, students, wives, girlfriends, business owners, and a plethora of other things–ALL AT THE SAME TIME! So when do we get to just be…for ourselves? The answer is never! Unless you consciously make the decision to do for yourself, it will never happen.

This is really nothing new. Even in the equality driven world we live in, where women are encouraged to wear many hats, this is not a new phenomenon. Think back to a century ago when women were tending homes, planting gardens, raising children, and sometimes even working outside the home while their counterparts spent the days reaping crops or working in mines or whatever. Women have always worn many hats but not usually one that includes their own well-being.

This needs to change. NOW.

There is a saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. To elaborate, this means that you MUST take care of yourself before trying to take care of others. Wait, what? Did I really just tell you to be selfish and take care of you first? Yes I did.

Society has it all wrong. We are told to give give give and that we shouldn’t be selfish and that we should always think of others first. I’m here to tell you that mentality is bullshit. We (and by we I mean women AND men) need to reverse our thinking. If we first focus on ourselves–this includes our mental, physical, and emotional well-being–we can then better serve others. Does this make sense to anyone else? Am I alone in this thinking? I know that when I am worn out, frazzled, pulled in 18 different directions, wearing all the hats, and doing for everyone else, I do not give 100%. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I just can’t. I have to have time for myself to recharge, revive, and refocus my energy. This is the only way I can function and actually give 100% to everything I do. I often say that I don’t need to get things off my plate, rather, I just need a bigger plate.

Enter Self-Care.

I’m selfish. Not in the greedy kind of way but in the “I need to focus on me for a minute” kind of way. I’m a mom, wife, student, employee, and business owner. I am always doing something and generally doing it for someone else. This is not okay…unless I also make the time to do something for me, which I do regularly. I get a massage like clockwork every few weeks. My family knows this and they know how important it is to me to have those 2 hours of uninterrupted zen. I get my nails done every few weeks, because it makes me happy to have colorful nails and gives me a few minutes to be pampered by someone else. I stay up after everyone else goes to bed so I can enjoy a little quiet time to myself before wrapping up the day because that is the only time I can have those moments. In that time I may write, read, stare blindly at the TV, or any other number of other things I want to do. The important thing is that that time is all about me. Then I get a good night’s sleep so I can hit the ground running when I put all the other hats back on in the morning.

This is self-care. It looks different for everyone but is critical for success in life. Maybe you like to run or lift weights or do yoga. Maybe you’re an avid reader or watcher of classic films. Some people collect things, some people shop, some people love to meditate. Whatever it is that YOU love, like really deeply on a personal level LOVE, and brings you happiness and rejuvenation, DO IT. And do it frequently.

To come back to our cup. If the cup is empty, you can’t pour from it. But when it is full, you can then serve others a portion of the contents. The same is true for you. When you care for yourself first, your ability to do all the other things for all the other people increases exponentially!

And because I really like metaphors, let me put this another way: When your cell phone battery runs out, your phone stops working (and panic ensues). You plug in your precious device and leave it to recharge for a while without bothering it. When it is fully recharged, it serves you fully and completely without fail, until the battery dies again. Why is it that we give so much love to our phones but neglect ourselves? You are like your phone battery. You need time to recharge on a regular basis so that you can fully and completely live your life and do for others as you desire to do!

Lastly, because I just have to relate this to photography somehow, if you haven’t cared for yourself much lately, perhaps you should contact me to book a boudoir session. Boudoir photography is a fantastic way to recharge and recapture your inner badass and her energy. You get to spend about 3 hours getting pampered and photographed and you get to hang out with my super cool assistant and me the whole time! Invest in yourself, recharge your batteries, refocus your energy, and reignite whatever drives you. Do it for you, do it for those around you. I promise they will notice a difference in you when you make YOU a priority!

Until next time,

Keep it REAL!🖤

Client Post: Ms. T

As part of my plan to take over the world with boudoir photography this year, I plan to start featuring my clients in a blog post to show the world how badass they are. Of course I won’t be sharing ALL the sessions because of privacy and all, but the clients that want to be featured will get a post all their own!

So here is the first one! As always, grab a drink, relax, and enjoy!

This is T. She was so excited for her boudoir session and since it was on Super Bowl Sunday, she came decked out in her favorite team’s gear. Now those that know me, know that I am an avid Packers fan and hater of the Patriots…turns out T is an avid Patriots fan so of course we joked about how bad my team was this last season and how hers was going to the super bowl…again!

T brought a beautiful purple outfit to wear and as a bonus I gave her a few minutes for a second outfit and suggested that she wear her cute Patriots shirt for a few photos and for good luck (apparently it worked because they won…again!).

T is a tough, badass woman. And when she told me a little about her and how she had worked so hard for a very long time to get to a point where she was confident enough to appreciate her body and go for a boudoir session, I was so happy for her. Seriously, I am the world’s biggest cheerleader for anyone who is trying to make a change in their lives. To see her light up as we started moving through her session was amazing!

I know this is a short post but client features will be more about showcasing a few of their images and just giving a little bit about them without being too revealing…we will let the photos do that 🙂

Until next time,

Keep it Real <3

What I Learned in my 1st Year of Shooting Boudoir

When I first decided to birth my photography business 4 years ago, I really didn’t know what I wanted to “specialize” in. There are so many talented photographers out there that shoot a variety of genres and it is daunting to think about what you should shoot when you first start. So I just shot everything. I shot weddings, bands, military parades, the ocean, plants, animals, landscapes, maternity, families, kids, and events. It was all fine and dandy but none of that really spoke to my heart. Then I found Boudoir photography. I had found my niche. I decided in April of 2018 that I was a Boudoir photographer. I had shot a whole 1 session but I knew that was my calling with my camera. The empowerment that my lens gave to my first client was all I needed to know that I was on the right track. I wish I could say it was easy and I knew all I needed to know out of the chute…that was not the case. So, in normal fashion, grab your favorite adult beverage and sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.

I finally found my calling with photography. But how on earth was I going to do it and be good at it? Practice, trial and error, some good laughs, a reshoot or two, lots of editing, and tons of note-taking and watching online classes on the subject. Surfing Pinterest for pose ideas was very helpful although now I try not to rely on Pinterest but rather to guide my clients into poses that are comfortable for them and that flatter their bodies in the best possible way. Just as there are hundreds of different body types, shapes, and sizes, there are equally as many poses that those bodies can rock. However, I didn’t have a clue how to properly pose, so I studied and stalked my favorite boudie photographers on social media and finally developed a sense of what poses to use in individual shoots.

After several months of study and a shoot or two under my belt, I decided that 2019 was going to be my year to totally step up my game and get out there to do this thing that spoke to me so strongly. I did a 4 hour promotional shoot with an amazing model (who is also one of the most amazing people I have come to know) and shot all of my promotional material for the whole year except for Halloween and Christmas and I decided I was going to host a Valentine’s Day Boudoir minis event. I was terrified. But I was also committed.

I spent the money to do some hard core advertising and then I waited. And then the inquiries started coming in…and then one person booked, and then another, and another, and another. I had 6 bookings and was thrilled. I had 10 spots to fill so decided to go back through the inquiries and follow up with everyone that had messaged me. I did that 3 days before the big day, not expecting to fill all 10 sessions. Within 30 minutes of reaching out, I had the remaining 4 spots booked and paid for and there was no turning back!!

I hired my lovely model mentioned above as an assistant/pose coach for the day and off we went. Here is what I learned from that day alone that will definitely guide me as I move forward and solidified my resolve that this is the photography niche I need to pursue.

The first thing I learned is that no matter how well you plan, things will change. You gotta roll with it and make shit happen regardless. Also, wine is a must.

I learned that I absolutely cannot, no matter awesome I think I am, do 10 back to back sessions in one day ever again. Next time, I will schedule breaks for myself and not cram every session into one day!

I also learned that if I want to sleep at all the week following a mini event, I need to give myself more time to edit between the shoot date and the guaranteed delivery date. 10 days to edit and deliver 10 galleries, along with working a full-time job, kids, and grad school, is just NOT enough time. I did it though, and I delivered all galleries the night before Valentine’s Day. In addition, I learned that weird weather events, such as this years polar vortex, can and will delay the delivery of items…if the labs are not able to run and the post office can’t function, nothing gets delivered, such is life. Thankfully my clients are AMAZING and they all understood. Of course, regular communication and updates helped them all feel important and let them know that I wanted to keep them informed. Communication is key to EVERYTHING. Don’t believe me? Let’s chat…(my graduate program is in communications…but that’s another post for another day).

Anyway, back to the point. I learned that I truly enjoy editing boudoir sessions. Honestly, I usually dislike editing. It requires me to pay attention for way too long and gets a little monotonous. However, I love editing my boudoir sessions. I think it is because I love seeing that moment when the beautiful lady on the other side of my camera realizes that she is a beautiful, badass force of nature and in that moment, NOTHING can stop her. That moment is THE BEST moment! Lucky me, I get to experience it over and over with all the amazing women I work with.

I learned that flash is my friend. I also learned that using a giant white umbrella to diffuse the flash creates the most amazing lighting, especially in the white studio that I love to shoot in. I am very simplistic in my approach to boudoir photography. I like minimal distractions in the negative space and I like the eye to be drawn directly to the beautiful subject.

Of all the things that I learned as a rookie boudoir photographer, the most significant thing is that I realized just how amazing women are. I spent the day with 13 of the most amazing women (hair and make up artist and assistant plus 10 clients) and learned so much about empowerment, encouragement, and emotion. I learned the stories of 10 women who came from ALL walks of life (seriously, one of them drives a 40-ton rock truck!) some from abusive relationships, one about ready to pop with her first baby (who was born just 4 days later and is seriously such a beautiful baby girl!), business owners, moms, and wives just looking to have a little time for themselves and to recapture that which makes them unique. I learned that empowered women, empower women. Read that again: EMPOWERED WOMEN EMPOWER WOMEN. Ladies, there is so much in this world that tries to tear us down and make us feel like we are less than. Please for the love of all of that is holy, lift each other up. In doing so, you will lift yourself and also all of womankind.

Wow, this is a really long post. If you have read this far, go get some more wine…and maybe a cookie, you deserve it! I’ll wrap it up even though I think there were other things I learned but just can’t remember at this moment haha!! If you or someone you know has been considering or even just wondering about a boudoir photo session, hit me up. You can email me directly at realshotsphoto@gmail.com. Your inner badass needs a boudoir session…so don’t wait, book now! I can’t wait to meet you and create the boudoir experience that will empower you and remind why you should be proud to be a fearless, undeniable force of a woman!

Until next time,

Keep it Real! <3