Advice I Would Give to Myself
As A New Boudoir Photographer
Are you wanting to get into boudoir photography? Do you love the idea of empowering women? I know the feeling! I was there. I've spent some time lately looking back at my journey, at all the advice I received and lessons I have learned, and decided if I could write past Emily a letter these are the things I think would have been most beneficial to me in my journey. Let me preface this by saying - things like learning business, learning taxes - those are things that are given. However, there were some deeper lessons that I think would've saved me some heartache, headaches, and a lot of sleepless nights had someone just kindly told me. But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20. So I hope that some of these kernels of advice serve you in your journey.
1. YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK
I think too often we think there is a shortcut or an "easy fix" to things. Regardless of your skill level with a camera, or posing, learning the nuances that are present in Boudoir is not something that comes quickly. It takes time to truly learn how to read your clients, how to create an atmosphere of trust, how to give beautiful images to each client who comes in front of your lens, and how to be confident in every single circumstance. None of those things can be learned through anything other than putting in the time and the work. You have to put in the time and the effort in honing in your craft. You have to critique yourself and actively strive to do better than the last time. You have to actively work at it and put the effort into it.
2. WORK ON YOUR OWN BODY IMAGE ISSUES
I wish I had taken the time in the beginning to unpack my own shame and issues around my body. I was so ready to tell everyone they deserved something beautiful and incredible, but didn't feel the same for myself. It also made conversations I had with women less than authentic. How could I tell women that they should book a session with me when I was unwilling to book a session for myself? How could I truly pass on a message of empowerment when I was unwilling to work on my own self? Taking the time to do a lot of self reflection and taking the time to tackle my own body issues led to a better experience for my clients and being able to share authentically from my heart about my journey. It has taken the aspect of "what looks flattering" out of the equation because I truly believe all bodies are beautiful, good bodies that deserve to be showcased and celebrated. There is no shame in the stretch marks, the curves, the flat areas, or anything else society and culture told me that I should change, hate, and hide. This never would've come about had I not actively worked on (and continue to work on) my own mindset and body image issues.
3. NOT EVERY "PRO" WANTS YOU TO SUCCEED
The algorithms will get you! Targeted ads will find you and you will seen an influx of "business courses", "success courses", and other "do this to start changing your life" type of "education" in your feeds featuring smiling faces of people who will tell you they were not always successful but you can learn their secrets and be just like them. I spent so much money on unnecessary and quite frankly, unhelpful education in the beginning from "educators" who were not giving good or even quality advice. I unfortunately learned that not every "pro educator" wants you to be successful, rather they are actively attempting to glean money from you under the guise of "investment". So many create systems that get you hooked in so when they release a new round of courses/education with the promise of "see how you too can attain wealth/riches/success" you instantly feel the need to buy. Or the fear of missing out will get to you. It is so easy for people to become "educators" now. Your "success" is used as marketing for their courses which will in turn bring them more revenue. Be careful of verbiage that you may here such as "if you really wanted this you would work for it, what can you sacrifice, give up your coffee" and other words that are intended to do nothing but manipulate you into feeling less than without their product. In reality most of what I see peddled as life altering, money making help is actually readily available through free resources such as Google, YouTube, and even other Facebook Groups. Always be mindful of people singing praises of educators and the hefty price tag that comes with education. You are a not a failure if you don't follow the 10 steps to success that certain "successful" people have put out. There are good educators out there and you need to research before you jump head first into thousands of dollars of commitment.
4. STAY IN YOUR LANE
Speaking on success, it's easy to look at social media and think you are failing. Or become jealous towards another photographer because somehow they seem to be doing more than you are. You can literally become distracted by every other photographer around and what you perceive is going on in their business because of social media. DON'T! It's okay to unfollow people, even if they have done nothing wrong, if it helps your brain stay focused and in it's lane. Always keep your focus on what YOU can do different, what YOU can do better, and what YOU have coming up. Also, don't take opportunities to give unsolicited advice. You don't have to show everyone in every comment section how much you know. It's okay to keep to yourself and stay in your corner. Speaking down on others and allowing jealous or bitterness to run rampant will backfire on you. You will not create the community you desire and you will not have the friends you need.
5. ALLOW YOURSELF ROOM TO GROW
Growing pains will happen. Making mistakes and messing up is part of the journey. The key is what you will do when you make the mistake or mess up. Give your self the time, the space, and the grace to grow as you need. Having the expectation you will be perfect and "have it together" at the beginning is so silly. And it will hinder you. Instead of never trying to make a mistake and not have growing pains, embrace them when they happen. Take what you need to learn and apply it. Be grateful for the opportunity that you can learn and do better for the future. It isn't a sign to give up and quit. It is a sign to continue to make space to learn the things you need to carry with you on this journey. And the growing never stops. In fact the longer I am doing this the more I realize that there is always something to learn, something new to try, and deeper truths I can discover. And I just need to continue to make room when I need to for the growth!
6. PROTECT YOUR SPACE
It is okay to have boundaries - both with clients and other creatives - in this industry. While you want to create an experience and culminate beautiful relationships, it can be necessary to protect the space you are forming. There are people who will come into your life as a professional and will not be professional nor have good intentions for you. It is okay to end relationships that needed to be ended. And even not allow a beginning to things. You do not owe anyone anything or any part of you no matter what their story is. Keeping solid boundaries and upholding them will only create a place of peace in your all ready stressful business. "No" is a full sentence. And you are not wrong or bad to use it without explanation.
I hope you find some of this useful or helpful. These are things I wish I would've known years ago, however like I said, there are some things you can truly only learn through time and just doing! If you are wanting more help in your boudoir business - such as posing, flow, how to create an experience - I do offer mentorship sessions and I would love to talk! You can contact me for more information. I hope you have a beautiful day and enjoy these lovely photos of the stunning Miss Z!